NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Association Health Plans

May 30, 2003

Congress is contemplating ways to make health insurance more affordable. One promising reform would encourage Association Health Plans (AHPs) and could bring coverage to as many as 4.5 million currently uninsured Americans.

Association Health Plans are health plans created for individuals and groups who belong to an association related to their jobs, careers, hobbies or interests. The United States has some 15,000 associations. By uniting many individuals and small groups with similar interests across the country, AHPs could provide economies of scale to lower health care costs for their members. Some six million Americans are already insured through associations and the number is growing. For example:

  • AARP offers supplemental medical insurance to all of the Medicare enrollees among its 35 million dues-paying members.
  • The National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) makes AHP insurance available to its members throughout the country.
  • With expanded availability, the National Restaurant Association could offer AHPs to restaurant employees in all 50 states, and the National Rifle Association could offer insurance to its members.

The potential for growth of this type of insurance is quite large -- given a favorable regulatory climate.

The answer to insuring the uninsured is to increase competition. By making AHPs more competitive, we can lower the cost of insurance for millions of Americans, including small employers, their employees and the self-employed.

Source: Donald L. Westerfield, "Association Health Plans," Brief Analysis No. 442, May 30, 2003, National Center for Policy Analysis; based upon Donald L. Westerfield, "Insuring the Uninsured through Association Health Plans," NCPA Policy Report No. 259.

For text

For Policy Report text


Browse more articles on Health Issues