FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 5, 2020
Contact: Press@paul.senate.gov, 202-224-4343
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator and physician Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the American Healthshare Plans Act of 2020 to help more Americans get and keep affordable health insurance during this health emergency and modernize the insurance system to fit a 21st century economy.
With many Americans losing their jobs and health insurance due to the pandemic, and with many who are still employed remaining uninsured or underinsured because they work for themselves, the legislation would offer the negotiating power, benefits, and lower prices of large-group insurance to unemployed Americans, small businesses, and self-employed Americans — all on a level playing field, including for those with pre-existing conditions. This coverage would be fully portable for as long as the recipient remained a member of the group offering the insurance, helping relieve fears caused by unemployment or switching jobs.
“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. 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,” said Dr. Paul.
Specifically, the legislation amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) to allow any membership organization to offer health insurance to its members — and to do so across state lines — regardless of an employment relationship or a pre-existing condition. For example, this would include wholesale clubs such as Costco and Sam’s Club, who would be able to make the insurance available to their millions of members, but it would also enable any other organization or type of entity that wished to participate to do so, including businesses such as Amazon, Uber, eBay, and Etsy; trade associations; and more. Americans could also join together in large groups through new organizations to access this coverage.
Right now, the law arbitrarily locks people out of the large group market (and its more affordable rates) if they work for a company with fewer than 51 employees.
Moving beyond the pandemic, this would also adapt our health insurance system to reflect the growing “gig economy” in the 21st century, protecting workers who have been among the heroes of the coronavirus crisis.
U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Mike Braun (R-IN), Joni Ernst (R-IA), James Lankford (R-OK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), and Ben Sasse (R-NE) joined Dr. Paul on the legislation, and U.S. Representative John Curtis (R-UT-3) today introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Dr. Rand Paul’s American Healthshare Plans Act of 2020
A recent article in the American College of Physicians’ Annals of Internal Medicine estimates that coronavirus-related job losses will mean “7.3 million workers (along with several million family members) are likely to join the ranks of the U.S. uninsured population” by the end of June.1
In addition, a 2015 Pew study showed that 30% of the American workforce consists of self-employed people and those they hire,2 and a 2017 Treasury Department report revealed that 25% of the self-employed were uninsured.3
Under Dr. Paul’s legislation:
• Unemployed Americans and self-employed, contract, and gig workers can join healthshares to access better insurance rates on the large group market. Small businesses can, too.
o For example, the small businessperson with a storefront will be able to access large group insurance for herself and her three employees through the auction site where she has an online shop.
• Healthshares are fully portable from job to job and between jobs. Americans will no longer have to lose their coverage when they become unemployed.
o The seasonal worker whose job just ended could go into a wholesale club, such as Costco or Sam’s Club, and buy a plan off the shelf. Even though he doesn’t have a steady income, as long as he has that wholesale club membership, he’ll have his health insurance. Americans could also purchase insurance through any other outlet that would be willing to participate, including businesses such as Amazon, Uber, eBay, and Etsy; trade associations; and more, and they could also join together in large groups through new organizations to access this coverage.
• Membership organizations can tailor healthshares to meet the needs of their members. They can offer one plan or a menu of plans to choose from — as long as they offer the same options to all their members and do not discriminate based on health status or pre-existing conditions.
o The rideshare driver whose costs are soaring on the individual market can get health benefits through the app that connects her with fares — and that app can use those benefits as a way to retain her talent.