Recognizing that many Americans have lost jobs and the health insurance that goes with them during the coronavirus pandemic, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced a bill to allow organizations to offer portable insurance that can stay with an individual in and out of the workforce and across state lines.
The Healthshare Plans Act of 2020, introduced on May 5, would amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to allow membership organizations, such as Costco and Sam’s Club and associations such as the National Restaurant Association to offer health insurance to their members. Eligible organizations would also include small-business platforms for gig workers, such as Uber, Etsy, ebay, and Amazon, plus trade associations and other large groups.
Large-group policies typically offer lower premiums, but under current law they are not available to people who don’t work for companies with 51 or more workers.
An added feature of the proposed plans is their portability from job to job. Coverage would continue as long as the enrollee continues to pay premiums. Membership organizations can design plans that best suits members’ needs but would be prohibited from refusing insurance based on health status or preexisting conditions.
A companion bill is under consideration in the U.S. House. Neither bill has bipartisan support.
“Innovation has given us more options in more areas than ever before, and it’s long past time to bring it to a health insurance system that leaves too many on the outside looking in,” stated Paul in a news release. “The American Healthshare Plans Act will help remove one of the heaviest burdens from off Americans’ backs, putting more power in the people’s hands and using pure numbers to drive down insurance costs and expand opportunities.”
The Healthshare Plans Act is a step in the right direction, says John C. Goodman, co-publisher of Health Care News. “The individual market has been destroyed by Obamacare – with soaring premiums, outrageously high deductibles and skinny provider networks that omit the best doctors and the best hospitals,” said Goodman. “That’s why Sen. Paul’s proposal to give more people access to group insurance is so important.