The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce announced Wednesday that it is partnering with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield to offer health plans to its members under a new Trump Administration rule that makes it easier for small businesses to collectively purchase insurance…………….
By Megan Messerly
September 5th, 2018
The neonatal intensive care unit at Sunrise Hospital as seen on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)
The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce announced Wednesday that it is partnering with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield to offer health plans to its members under a new Trump Administration rule that makes it easier for small businesses to collectively purchase insurance.
The chamber said in a statement that it has entered into an exclusive agreement for a two-year rate with Anthem to offer health insurance plans, some of which will be available as early as Oct. 1, to its members. The chamber will also offer dental, vision and life insurance benefits as part of its insurance package. According to the chamber, the plan will be the only one of its kind in Nevada to offer insurance to sole proprietors, small and medium-sized businesses and larger companies.
The announcement comes a little more than two months after the Department of Labor loosened rules on association health plans, exempting them from providing the essential health benefits required under the Affordable Care Act, eliminating restrictions based on geography and allowing companies in different industries in the same region to provide coverage together. At a June roundtable at the South Point Hotel & Casino, Trump touted that the new rule would give businesses “tremendous negotiating rights” and that the plans would soon cover “millions and millions of people.”
The chamber previously offered an association health plan that covered 20,000 people for nearly 30 years but stopped in 2014 after the Affordable Care Act began requiring all association health plans to cover what the federal health-care law deemed essential benefits, including prescription drug coverage and maternity care. Immediately after the rule was finalized in June, the chamber announced that it had been working for several months to develop a new Chamber Health Plan and that it would begin consulting with insurers to finalize a plan.
“We’ve listened to our members and brokers about what they need most,” said Las Vegas Metro Chamber President and CEO Mary Beth Sewald in a statement. “We are thrilled to announce this partnership with Anthem that combines robust health coverage with affordability and extremely competitive pricing.”
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Nevada President Mike Murphy said in a statement that the insurance company “is committed to making high quality health care more accessible and affordable for consumers.”
The chamber released few specifics of the plan on Wednesday, saying only that the plans will offer “robust benefits and coverages, as well as very competitive pricing” and that the details of the new plan options would be released to insurance brokers and chamber members in September.
Association health plans have faced significant criticism for potentially offering fewer benefits than those sold on the health insurance exchange because they aren’t required to cover the same essential health benefits required under the ACA, though Sewald told The Nevada Independent in July that the chamber wanted to “do it right” and offer the best coverage it can to its members.
Separately, three other chambers of commerce — the Henderson Chamber of Commerce, Latin Chamber of Commerce and Boulder City Chamber of Commerce — announced last month that they were banding together as the Clark County Health Plan Association to offer plans to their members through UnitedHealthcare, though those plans are limited to small group employers with between one and 50 employees.