HR Dive: ACA executive order still vague, but could impact employer healthcare plans

The executive order has made for a noisy discussion in healthcare circles, but employers are unlikely to make any changes, given that executive departments still must weight in. As it stands, the expansion of association health plans would supposedly make coverage cheaper for some small businesses, Shandon Fowler, Principal of Four8 Insights, told HR Dive.

“President Trump’s order appears to be expressly made to benefit a key GOP constituency ― well-to-do small-business ‘job creators’ and self-employed individuals who did not qualify for Obamacare subsidies,” Fowler said. “These individuals have seen the worst of the individual and small-group premium increases over the past two years and could certainly use new options, but the jury is out on whether Trump’s Executive Order is the right approach.”

Association plans allow those small businesses who are normally subject to small-group ACA rules to avoid them, in short. But those plans also risk causing a “race to the bottom,” whereby those businesses offer plans that don’t provide much in the way of coverage other than for catastrophic occurrences, Fowler said, especially if groups of employers with mostly young, healthy employees are able to pool together.

Read full story…