Association Health Plans: What's All the Fuss About?

Health Affairs-November/December 2006
Vol. 25, No. 6
November/December 2006
Kofman, M., Lucia, K., Bangit, E., and K. Pollitz
pp. 1591-602

Policymakers have tried to address the problem of the uninsured and to help small businesses with rising premiums by encouraging associations to offer coverage. Although supporters and opponents have made claims about the potential impact of this strategy, the association market has not been studied in depth. Examining current standards might explain why proponents seek changes. This paper discusses states' approaches to regulating health insurance offered by associations, including "self-insurance," as well as existing state exemptions from state insurance laws that otherwise would apply to coverage sold to small businesses, self-employed people, and individual purchasers. We also examine market problems such as insolvency and fraud.

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