RALEIGH – Tuesday at the N.C. General Assembly two Republican state lawmakers, Sens. Joyce Krawiec (R-Davie) and Dan Bishop (R-Mecklneburg) unveiled the Small Business Healthcare Act. The legislation would loosen rules to allow businesses with less than 51 employees to to band together for the purposes of securing health insurance at rates similar to those larger corporations enjoy.
Senate Bill 86 follows recent federal moves to allow more freedom for businesses and individuals to take part in ‘Association Health Plans’ (AHP) that can use the leverage of the scale of their member numbers to obtain better pricing in the health insurance market.
Krawiec and Bishop noted that the loosening of these rules could help over 100,000 North Carolinians, both employees and self-employed individuals, get more affordable health insurance. This stands in stark contrast to recent proposals by select Republican state lawmakers to expand health insurance coverage via a new government program that forces healthcare providers to subsidize costs.
The former is a free market solution that eliminates government rules that hinder access to affordable health insurance. The latter is Big Government solution many have compared to Medicaid expansion.
Present at the press conference were representatives of the N.C. Realtors Association, who said the change would be a huge benefit for their members because they often struggle to offer health insurance benefits to contractors and employees.
To form an AHP, members would have to merely share an industry, or a geographic location. In previous versions of this proposal, which got hung up in the N.C. House, you had to be in, both, a shared industry and shared geographic location.
These are the kinds of solutions that will actually have an impact on everyone’s stated goal, Right and Left, of reducing the cost of, and improving access to healthcare. It is no coincidence that the healthcare industry is one of the most heavily regulated and also one of the most prone to price inflation and market disconnects.
It bears repeating that another major area of needed reform is in the Certificate of Need rules regime. Until and unless the consensus arrives at the conclusion that getting government out of our lives is so often a better solution than making it more intrusive, these problems will remain.
For now, credit is owed to these lawmakers for taking steps to remove government barriers to free market solutions, a quality in exceedingly short supply from Raleigh to Washington, D.C.