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Government Relations

Small Business Health Plans

Association Health Plans (AHP) links:

Small Business Health Insurance Update (April 26, 2007)

Hearings Proceed on Health Care Insurance (March 28, 2007)

Push Resumes in New Congress for Group Health Coverage  (January 24, 2007)

Senate Blocks Small Business Health Plan Bill (May 17, 2006)

NCRA Supports Association Health Plans (May 28, 2005)

AHP Frequently Asked Questions [Acrobat]

The Small Business Health Plan (SBHP) Coalition, of which NCRA is an active member, is raising awareness on Capitol Hill of the many uninsured Americans and the need to address this situation.

Democrats and Republicans agree that the issue of healthcare is of paramount importance, and many legislative solutions are being examined. The SBHP coalition urges Congress to heed the growing call of small business owners nationwide for increased access to quality, affordable healthcare for their employees and their employees’ families. 

With so many of NCRA’s members working as independent contractors or owning their own firms, the crisis of affordable healthcare coverage is vital for our profession. During “Cover the Uninsured Week” in April, the SBHP Coalition urged Members of Congress to continue to work steadily toward a workable solution.

Congress has entertained plans going back into the 1990s for solving the health care situation facing small businesses and independent contractors. Since then, health care and health insurance costs have increased at a rate far exceeding inflation or the cost of living.

The 109th Congress came close to passing a bill in 2006. The Health Insurance Marketplace and Modernization Act of 2005 (S.1955), introduced by Sen. Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), would have allowed employers to join together through associations such as NCRA to buy health coverage. These Small Business Health Plans, or Association Health Plans (AHPs), as they also are called, would offer small businesses like reporting firms and independent contractors, buying power similar to what big business currently enjoys.

This legislation passed out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in March. Unfortunately, in May a vote on the bill by the Senate was blocked for mostly partisan reasons. Similar bills have passed through the House of Representatives, but this was the closest the Senate has come to voting on such legislation.

Benefit to NCRA Members

SBHPs would provide more choice in the health insurance marketplace by reducing premiums and making health insurance more affordable for almost all NCRA members, from independent contractors to firm owners. The smallest firms stand to save the most from SBHPs because their administrative costs, which account for a significant percentage of their expenses, will decrease.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that small businesses obtaining insurance through SBHPs would experience premium reductions of 13 percent on average and up to 25 percent (CBO, January 2000). That's about $450 to $1,250 saved per covered employee.
According to the CONSAD Research Corporation, as many as 8.5 million previously uninsured workers would receive coverage under SBHP legislation.

What is NCRA Doing?

NCRA has joined the SBHP coalition, which is made up of more than 170 associations representing over 12 million employers and 80 million American workers, to push for passage of this legislation.

In May 2006, while the bill was being debated on the Senate floor, NCRA called on its members to contact their senators in a grassroots final push in support of the legislation. Hundreds responded, contributing to the total of more than 450,000 petitions and 40,000 calls and letters urging action on SBHPs that were sent to the Senate in the days prior to the vote.

What’s next?

No bill has been introduced in the 110th Congress as of June 1, 2007, although that likely will change soon. Numerous hearings have been held by various subcommittees this winter and spring, and the subject continues to be a hot topic around Capitol Hill.

For more information

For information on NCRA's efforts in support of AHPs, please contact NCRA at or by phone at 800-272-6272.

October 5, 2009