“We can’t do anything, and what we’re initiating here is to look at solutions that drive down costs,” Sen said. Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield) said.
Hwang was referring to the cost of health insurance for small businesses, which don’t get the same price breaks as large companies with thousands of employees.
On Tuesday, lawmakers and advocates discussed a proposed bill that would implement association health plans in Connecticut.
“If you have nine, 10,000, 11,000 people pooled together buying their health insurance, you’re going to get a much lower price than you will with 20 or 25 people buying the health insurance, which is the average size of our small business in Connecticut,” said Chris DiPentima, president and CEO of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.
He says to think of these AHPs like buying groceries in bulk at a wholesale club.
“It’s just allowing our small businesses to be pooled together, that’ll look like one big company for purchasing power leverage to mitigate that risk pool,” DiPentima said.
The majority of public hearing testimonies supported the bill, but Ernie Davis, government affairs director at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, was among those in opposition.
His concern is that based on the bill’s wording – that AHPs could adjust premiums for any single member-employer within the association based on claims made from others within the group.
He’s not alone in that concern.
“I’m not saying this is any worse than the plans that are available now, but they have the same flaw of being good as long as you and everybody in your firm and the firm’s family stays healthy,” said Ted Doolittle of the Connecticut Office of the Healthcare Advocate.
Davis also shared concerns as to how AHPs may affect prices for those using different insurance options.
“We think that the ability for folks in Connecticut to get healthcare should not be messed with at this point and AHPs only increase the volatility in the healthcare market in Connecticut,” Davis said.
His testimony also questioned the quality of coverage offered by APHs, but DiPentima said the coverage would be competitive with other plans already on the market.
“Those who have historically opposed it have been the organ associations who are perhaps concerned about skimping benefits,” DiPentima said. “These plans will have very robust benefits, and they will have to compete in the marketplace.”
Lynn Ward, president and CEO of the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce, said the proposed plan is a step towards providing relief to small businesses and their employees.
“If there are adjustments, I don’t believe they’re going to be anywhere near as harmful to business as the current adjustments are,” she said.
The bill will now go back to the committee for final revisions before being put up for vote.