While the legal future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) recently made the headlines, another legal decision related to the ACA also has a direct bearing on self-funded employers. On March 28, a federal judge struck down the Department of Labor’s expansion of association health plan (AHP) regulations.
The proposed AHP regulations allowed smaller employers located in the same state but not related by industry to band together for the purpose of providing self-funded health care coverage for their employees. But because the plans weren’t subject to ACA requirements, U.S. District Judge John Bates deemed them unlawful and “clearly an end-run around the ACA.”
The decision also impacts self-employed individuals who wish to participate in an AHP. Industry-related employers were not affected by the ruling, however.
In a written statement, the Self-Insurance Institute of America (SIIA) said that it was “disappointed by the ruling and continues to advocate for an appropriate path for the establishment of AHPs for self-employed individuals, and unrelated employers. In addition, SIIA feels strongly in the allowance of self-insured AHP formation under the same rules permitted for fully-insured AHPs.”