Most small businesses are familiar with the group health insurance market. Group plans provide medical benefits that are restricted to eligible employees and their dependents. Regulations and benefit requirements differ for a group health plan depending on whether the number of total employees qualifies as a “small group” or a “large group.” Small group health plans operate under the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, which include 10 categories of mandated benefits. Large group plans, in contrast, have more flexibility regarding what benefits they include within their plan, though there are some benefits that are mandated. Large group plans also restrict profit and overhead costs more than small group plans with respect to third-party insurance company practices.
Association health plans provide a means by which many small businesses can band together and access the large group health insurance market, a market that often costs less for the same benefits.
The resources below can help you understand many of the issues and options around small business health insurance.