Associations can offer group health insurance plans (association health plans, or AHPs) specially designed for their members and that give their members purchasing power because of the group’s larger pool of enrollees.
In October 2016, President Trump signed an executive order that calls for, among other things, “expanding access” to AHPs. The idea is to let small businesses (either in the same geographical area, or in the same industry) join together in order to offer large group coverage, rather than each small business having to obtain its own small group plan. This is an attractive idea for some small businesses (primarily those with healthy employees), because the ACA places far fewer regulations on large group plans. While small group plans have to cover the essential health benefits and cannot base premiums on the group’s medical history, those rules do not apply to large groups.