Employers finding a way around the ACA, looking at the 2018 Farm Bill for relief

OK, maybe we can’t scrap the #ACA altogether, and I’m not sure we should, frankly, but there is a piece of legislation inside the #FarmBill2018 that may provide some relief to the Agriculture Industry.  Inside the Farm Bill is the potential for up to $65 Million in loans for AHPs or Association Health Plans.  An AHP is basically a co-op of employers that share an industry or profession that can band together and purchase Group Health Insurance.  By doing this the AHP may be able to structure plans that don’t meet the current ACA standards.

AHPs can be set up cheaper, less comprehensive Health Insurance Plans, that don’t have certain “essential” services

Under the current proposal, the #AHP would be able to offer plans without things like Maternity, Prescription Drugs, even Hospitalization, some of the biggest cost drivers of the Employee Benefits industry.  By doing this, the AHP would most likely be much less expensive and attractive to employers trying to save money.  The Trump Administration will be finalizing new rules with these AHP plans, so we should be seeing something fairly soon.

Limited Medical Plans or Short Term plans are also being proposed to curb pricing, but not without skeptics

The Trump Administration is proposing Limited Medical Plans and Short Term plans for consumers that don’t want to pay for things like maternity or other benefits they don’t need.  These plans are not Guarantee Issue and people can be rejected, if they have a considerable medical condition.  Critics also say that by allowing these plans to flourish, we would be driving out healthier people from the ACA, who can qualify for these plans.  That would leave a skewed risk pool for the ACA type plans, and pricing would skyrocket.  All of this has yet to be proven, but makes sense.  Opponents also say that people would put themselves in a position to take on way too much risk with a Limited Plan and it could create financial hardship.

No easy answers here, but one thing is certain….we cannot handle the double digit price increases each year, year after year.

Steve Brauer is the Principal of Brauer Insurance Services, an Independent Employee Benefits Agency in the Bay Area, serving employer groups of typically under 100 employees.  www.brauerinsurance.com   (877) 421-4325

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