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Rule Permits Associations Based on Industry or Geography

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a new rule that allows employers to join together as a single group to offer group health insurance coverage to employees, working owners (including those without other employees), and their spouses and dependents as part of an “association health plan.” The rule allows association health plans to be formed on the basis of industry or geography, such as by state, city, county, or multi-state metropolitan area.

The new rule subjects association health plans to the nondiscrimination rules currently applicable to large group coverage under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as amended by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These rules prohibit discrimination based on a health factor or within groups of similarly situated individuals, but do generally permit plans to impose different eligibility provisions and costs based on bona-fide employment-based classifications, such as full-time versus part-time status.

Click here for more information from the DOL.

For more on the nondiscrimination rules applicable to group health plans, check out our Health Insurance Nondiscrimination Rules page.