January 15, 2005


 Fighting for association health plans

Posted on Jan. 1, 2005

Over the years, mounting state regulations and rising coverage costs have taken their toll on health care, and the small employer group health insurance market is struggling. Many veterinary clinics are among the small businesses struggling with the ability to provide health insurance to their employees. For this reason, the AVMA will continue to actively pursue passage of legislation that will allow association health plans to be available in all 50 states to association members and their employees.

On the basis of rough estimates, state regulations that restrict access to health care insurance coverage disenfranchise more than 200,000 members of the veterinary community. Currently, association or trade group members in seven states cannot purchase AHPs such as the AVMA Group Health and Life Insurance Trust.

AHP legislation would provide national uniformity of health insurance laws across all state boundaries. Revitalized AHPs would allow small businesses to band together across state lines, through their membership in a bona fide trade or professional association, to purchase health coverage for their families and employees at reasonable rates. The AHPs would operate the same way as health plans sponsored by Fortune 500 companies; small and medium-sized businesses would be able to obtain the same economies of scale, purchasing clout, and administrative efficiencies.

The House of Representatives passed AHP legislation in the past five Congresses. A new piece of association health plan legislation, which will probably be identical or similar to the Small Business Health Fairness Act previously introduced, is expected in the next Congress.