The state’s chamber of commerce and largest business group is in the process of creating a statewide Association Health Plan (AHP) under new rules approved by the federal Department of Labor. The AHP plan to be created by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) will provide affordable health care coverage for employers to offer their employees.
Such plans had been rendered mostly obsolete by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, President Trump announced last year that his administration would loosen the rules for AHPs at a time when businesses across the country, including Wisconsin, report skyrocketing health care costs. In fact, in WMC’s most recent economic survey, rising health care costs were second only to labor availability as a major public policy concern.
“WMC’s mission since 1911 has been to solve problems for Wisconsin businesses,” said Kurt R. Bauer, WMC President & CEO. “Containing health care costs for employers has been a problem for businesses for decades, and now, thanks to the current administration in Washington, WMC has an important new tool to assist our members.”
Referencing the labor shortage, Bauer said health care is a double edged sword for businesses. They need to offer competitive benefits to attract quality employees, but the rising costs of insurance have made that a major financial burden.
AHP’s hold the promise of reducing businesses’ health care costs because they are exempt from certain mandated coverages included in the ACA. AHPs also broaden the risk pool, which helps hold down rates. AHPs are the only mechanism to offer small- and medium-sized businesses similar advantages of size and scale that larger businesses can leverage.
WMC hopes to have the plan available to its membership in the coming months to complement its other insurance lines, including life, disability, dental and vision. WMC, through its for-profit service corporation, also plans to offer property and casualty insurance.
People interested in learning more about AHP and WMC’s complete line of insurance products can visit the newly launched WMC Insurance website at wmcinsurance.org.