Today’s Pickup: Department of Labor opens door to association health plans

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Good day,

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that expands the ability of associations to offer health insurance plans. The proposal would allow small companies and employees to potentially purchase health insurance through larger associations as part of a Small Business Health Plan. The government anticipates that up to 11 million Americans could potentially acquire insurance this way.

“Today’s proposal is a step in the right direction for improving access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans,” said Chris Spear, American Trucking Associations (ATA) president and CEO. “We were pleased in October when President Trump signed an executive order allowing self-employed individuals to pool together to purchase health insurance plans sponsored by larger associations and groups, and we are happy to see his administration take the next step in advancing this plan today.”

The proposed rule applies only to employer-sponsored health insurance and would allow employers to join together as a single group to purchase insurance in the large group market, DOL said. “These improvements stand to open health insurance coverage for millions of Americans and their families by making it more affordable for thousands of small businesses and sole proprietors. By joining together, employers may reduce administrative costs through economies of scale, strengthen their bargaining position to obtain more favorable deals, enhance their ability to self-insure, and offer a wider array of insurance options,” the agency said in a release.

The rule would allow employers to form a Small Business Health Plan on the basis of geography or industry and allow sole proprietors to join Small Business Health Plans.

With more than 90% of the trucking carriers operating six trucks or fewer, ATA believes the plan will provide a large benefit to the industry.  

Did you know?

The U.S. trade deficit reached a six-year high in November at $50.5B as Americans continued to increase purchasing, and U.S. imports outpaced exports.

Quotable:

“President Trump and Secretary Acosta should be commended for their leadership in increasing access to affordable health insurance for thousands of Americans through this action. By allowing self-employed individuals and small businesses to pool their resources and offer affordable insurance options, this Administration is making good on its promise to improve our health care system.”

- Dave Manning, president of TCW Inc., and ATA chairman, on a proposed rule to open up association health plans to more businesses

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Final Thoughts

The Department of Labor’s plan to allow associations to sell health plans to non-association members within in industry could be a big win for so many small trucking companies that don’t have access to affordable health insurance. Like any proposal, the plan needs to work through the regulatory process and how it ultimately is implemented will be the key, but it holds promise.

Hammer down everyone!

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight has covered the U.S. trucking and transportation community for more than 10 years, winning numerous regional and national editorial awards, including a Jesse. H. Neal Award. Prior to working on FreightWaves, Brian spent 10 years at industry trade magazine Fleet Owner, and prior to that managed daily newspaper editorial operations.