Two new rules from the Labor Dept. are designed to provide cheaper, and leaner, health-care coverage options to small employers and the self-employed. However, both are running into state resistance as some officials worry the rules could destabilize their insurance markets or defraud consumers.
One rule encourages the expansion of association health plans to small businesses and the self-employed. Firms will be allowed to band together if they are either in the same profession or industry or have a principal place of business within the same state or metro area. Starting in October, these AHPs will be able to sell health plans that are exempted from many Affordable Care Act coverage requirements and are therefore cheaper. They could, for example, exclude coverage for prescription drugs or mental health. However, they won’t be allowed to refuse coverage or vary premiums because someone has a pre-existing condition.
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