Self-employed owners and small businesses in North Carolina will now have increased access to affordable health insurance. Over the weekend, Senate Bill 86, the Small Business Health Care Act became law. This bill now allows easier access to large group health plans through an association for self-employed workers and small businesses.
Usually, when a bill becomes law, it is passed out of both houses of the General Assembly and signed by the Governor. This bill, however, became law without a signature from Governor Cooper. The bill was passed with bipartisan support out of both houses of the General Assembly and became law without his signature after ten days of the bill sitting on his desk.
The John Locke Foundation has been a strong supporter of AHPs since shortly after the Trump administration changed federal rules to make them easier to access and form. Here are some of the pieces of research and commentary that was available while the bills were being debated:
- Association Health Plans Are About Choice
- Update on Association Health Plans
- Evaluating N.C.’s Proposed Small Business Health Care Act
- State legislative Priorities: Association Health Plans
- Association Health Plans and the Future of Insurance
- Association health plans show promising trends
- AHPs offering robust benefits, projected to have little to no effect on insurance markets
- Washington Post highlights early success of association health plans
- NCGA should create more health coverage options for small business
- Trump pushes executive order to deregulate health insurance markets
- JLF’s Jordan Roberts assesses the potential impact of Association Health Plans
Of course, there are some legal challenges to be settled concerning AHPs. Currently, under the expanded rule, not every flavor of new plans can be sold. However, the Department of Labor is working on new guidance to allow the rule to go forward as planned. Also, there are bills at the federal level to codify the Trump administration rules. Regardless, North Carolina has passed meaningful legislation that will allow small businesses and self-employed owners to take advantage of this new type of coverage depending on what type of plan they would like to set up.