by Becki Gray
Former Senior Vice President, John Locke Foundation
What is the status of association health plans in North Carolina?
JLF’s Health Care Policy expert, Jordan Roberts has the answer:
During the 2019 legislative session, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an association health plan bill with bipartisan support. Governor Cooper did not sign or veto the bill, and after ten days, the bill became law.
SB86, the Small Business Health Care Act, aligns North Carolina insurance regulations with federal rules allowing the formation of association health plans among new populations. The new rules allow sole proprietors and small businesses in the same industry or geographic region to purchase a health insurance plan as a large business. Individual and small businesses are subject to more onerous regulations compared to their larger counterparts. Allowing individuals and small businesses to purchase health insurance creates a more level playing field for these populations to purchase affordable health insurance coverage.
Unfortunately, this Trump Administration rule was challenged in court by twelve Democratic Attorney’s General. The plaintiffs believe the Trump Administration’s rule, which allowed individuals and small businesses to purchase health insurance as a large business, was beyond the government’s authority. So, while the state of North Carolina has allowed for these health plans to be sold in the state, marketing and enrollment are on hold until there is a decision out of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court has not yet decided on this case.