October changes in federal healthcare regulations will allow consumers to buy short-term healthcare policies, that don’t have to comply with the Affordable Care Act protections.
The new rules also broaden employer opportunities to give workers money to buy their own coverage through Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs). Sometimes these are referred to as Health Savings Plans.
The changes help self-employed Americans and more small businesses to band together to buy health insurance coverage through “association health plans,” according to remarks by Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta reported in the Washington Post.
The changes allow small businesses of similar trades or geographies to join together and offer insurance to their employees. For example, jewelry stores and, or small food markets stores in Concord, could come together and purchase a plan for their employees.
These new policies could offer lower premiums, but also less complete coverage. Purchasers will have to select a plan that meets their needs.
Association health plans must comply with the same patient protections, including prohibitions against charging more or denying coverage due to a preexisting condition, canceling plans when you are sick, and setting annual or lifetime limits on benefit coverage.
There is a requirement to offer coverage to dependent children up to age 26 and the plan must provide preventive health coverage free of charge to the patient.
The Labor Department has been instructed to study how to make it easier for small businesses to join together, to buy health insurance through a national association of plans.
The changes reportedly could take six months or more to take effect.
There is a good explanation of these kinds of plans at this Bank of America site: https://healthaccounts.bankofamerica.com/a-quick-take-on-hra.shtml.
According to healthinsurance.com small businesses (less than 50 employees) can receive a health insurance tax credit if the meet these qualifications:
The small business has 25 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees.
Employees are paid an average salary of no greater than $54,200 (in 2019).
The small business pays at least 50 percent of employee premiums.
The small business buys a SHOP Marketplace Plan on the Marketplace, or from a partner such as eHealth.