The Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), released by the Senate GOP in mid-July, proposes to permit small-group health plans to be sold in all states so long as they meet certain criteria. This has the potential to significantly change the landscape of small business insurance plans by allowing such plans to function with essentially the same costs and benefits as plans available to larger employers. Read on to learn more about this provision and how it may have a permanent (and perhaps positive) impact on your small business's insurance offerings.
What does the BCRA seek to change about small-group insurance?
Currently, small-group health plans are offered and operated at the state level. This means that employers in states without a strong insurance presence may find themselves selecting from among a fairly limited group of plans, many with high costs to both the employee and the employer. This can make it hard to remain competitive against larger employers that are able to offer a much more robust benefits package.
The BCRA will instead permit states to allow multiple small employers who aren't affiliated with each other (or even in the same industry) to pool employees for purchasing purposes; this will allow these employers to bring much more heft to the bargaining table by forming a collective for better prices and a wider range of potential healthcare benefits. Small-group health plans that transition to one of these association plans can even create a national health plan tailored to this group's needs; this plan would then be exempt from many of the Affordable Care Act's essential health benefit provisions, like pregnancy and maternity coverage.
How can this impact the small business owner?
Although this health plan is a novice one and still needs to pass through several layers of approval before it can be rolled out on a nationwide basis, it does present promise for small business owners who are struggling to offer their employees a competitive benefits package. By partnering with other employers, you'll be able to have much more power than you would if you were going up against an insurance company on your own.
However, this is a double-edged sword. Bringing other employers (and employees) into your group plan can sometimes limit your autonomy. For example, if many of your employees are women in their twenties and thirties and your association decides to waive pregnancy coverage, you may find that your employees are worse off than they were under the ACA. It's important to evaluate all your options before jumping feet-first into one of these group arrangements. For more information, contact companies like Health Shop Inc.