ERISA rules may change to allow more insurance options

Employers are not required by law to offer health insurance benefits to their employees unless they have 50 or more full-time workers. In fact, many small business owners who would like to provide this option to their staff find it cost prohibitive. A proposed changed to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) could change that.

Under the proposal presented by the U.S. Department of Labor, about 11 million workers in Tennessee and across the country may be able to afford health care coverage. The DOL would like to change current ERISA rules to allow groups of small businesses and self-employed workers to join together to purchase health care plans for their employees. By combining their resources, small businesses can obtain health insurance options that are affordable, even when they only employ a few people.

Businesses can combine their health care plans based on their industries or their proximity to each other. This may be of most benefit to sole proprietors who are often unable to afford health care for themselves and their families. There will still be restrictions, including the prohibition for charging higher premiums or excluding employees based on particular health issues.

While the government irons out the details, many small business owners and employees may be rejoicing at the chance to obtain affordable health insurance. Because the insurance benefits fall under ERISA protection, workers can be assured that the terms of the policies will be consistent and lawful. Those in Tennessee who have questions or concerns about benefit plans offered by their employers can seek answers and guidance from an experienced attorney.

Source:, "Labor Department Wants to Expand Association Health Plans", Gregory A. Freeman, Jan. 8, 2018

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