Legislation could make health insurance cheaper for small businesses

Small businesses, including construction companies, could more easily afford health insurance for employees in the near future if legislation approved by a House committee April 8 becomes law.

The Small Business Health Fairness Act, approved by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations, is expected to improve healthcare access to 41 million uninsured Americans.

The legislation would allow the creation of association health plans in which small businesses and trade associations join together to provide affordable health care insurance. By combining small businesses, insurance rates would steeply decrease, making it more affordable for owners. Currently, rules about AHPs vary with each state.

“Giving American families access to quality, affordable healthcare is the top healthcare priority for this committee,” said John Boehner, R-Ohio, chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee.

Some of the most prominent supporters of the legislation include the Associated Builders and Contractors and the Associated General Contractors of America.

“ABC strongly supports the Small Business Health Fairness Act that will regulate AHPs under a single set of federally prescribed rules, rather than a patchwork of inconsistent and costly state rules and regulations,” ABC President Kirk Pickerel said. “[The legislation] will clear the way for America’s small businesses to help insure the millions currently in need of health insurance.”

The House bill, which was introduced February 11, has 120 sponsors. Companion AHP legislation was introduced in the Senate March 6. If passed by both chambers and signed by the president, the legislation could lower insurance rates for small businesses later this year.