Colorado Insurance Commissioner comments on proposed rules for association health plans
Colorado consumers could be put at risk.
DENVER (March 12, 2018) – Last week, Colorado’s Interim Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway submitted a comment letter to the Federal Department of Labor regarding proposed rule changes concerning association health plans. Commissioner Conway is the head of Colorado’s Division of Insurance, part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA).
The Federal Government wants to broaden the ability of employers to join together as associations to offer medical insurance - a set up called association health plans or AHPs, which are a type of Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement or MEWA.
In the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (proposed rule revisions to 29 CFR 2510), the Commissioner found a number of troubling areas regarding the expansion of these types of arrangements, but his overall concern is that they could put Colorado consumers at risk.
Such plans have a history of financial instability, especially if they do not have enough state oversight. There is also concern that the Federal Government’s changes would weaken Colorado’s ability to regulate these plans and protect consumers.
From the comment letter:
"We are concerned with the language in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the potential for the Department to provide exemptions... from certain state insurance regulations. Any such exemptions could put Colorado consumers at risk of being harmed.
“We urge the Department to clarify that states continue to have broad authority to regulate AHPs/MEWAs, including the solvency requirements for these plans. States are better positioned to protect consumers from fraud and insolvencies than the federal government. Any movement to weaken state authority to regulate the solvency of AHPs/MEWAs will put consumers at risk.”
Also worrying is language that would allow AHPs to circumvent anti-discrimination requirements in Colorado state law and further erode protections for people who need health insurance.
“As the proposed rule is written, there is a lot of wiggle room for these association health plans to go off the rails in ways that would hurt Coloradans’ wallets and their health coverage,” said Commissioner Conway. “And to compound that harm, the rule appears to erode the ability of the state to regulate such plans and protect consumers. It’s a lose-lose proposition to chase lower premiums that may not materialize.”
The comment letter sent to the Department of Labor can be found on the Division of Insurance website - dora.colorado.gov/insurance, under the section “Get Informed.”
The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) regulates the insurance industry and assists consumers and other stakeholders with insurance issues. Visit dora.colorado.gov/insurance for more information or call 303-894-7499 / toll free 800-930-3745.
DORA is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the marketplace and is committed to promoting a fair and competitive business environment in Colorado. Consumer protection is our mission. Visit dora.colorado.gov for more information or call 303-894-7855 / toll free 1-800-886-7675.