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MEWAs and Association Health Plans: Issues in Risk Pooling Unrelated Employers

(130 reviews)

Produced on May 21, 2019

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Course Information

Time 1h 2m
Difficulty Intermediate
Topics covered in this course: Insurance Health Care

Course Description

As health care costs continue their upward trajectory, employers are desperate to find new ways to bend the cost curve. Increasingly, small employers are exploring avenues historically only available to larger employer groups - expanding the risk pool. This path is not without risk, as for years federal and state regulators have sought to limit unrelated employers from offering combined health insurance due to the risk of fraud and insolvency. However, recent guidance out of the current administration has opened the door a crack to a new potential avenue - Association Health Plans. The regulations concerning these so-called AHPs in many ways mirror earlier guidance on multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs), but with some increased flexibility. Even so, employers considering this approach need to fully understand the risks.

This program, taught by Danita Merlau and Ben Conley from Seyfarth Shaw’s employee benefits and executive compensation practice group, will help employers identify the legal parameters and risks surrounding MEWAs and AHPs.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Explore the history of MEWAs and the current regulatory landscape
  2. Provide updates the new AHP guidelines and how the extent of their impact on existing MEWA rules
  3. Assess insurance risk implications surrounding these types of plans, including current litigation
  4. Discuss pointers on plan design, including administration and identification of plan assets

Credit Information

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Benjamin J. Conley

Seyfarth Shaw LLP

Mr. Conley is an attorney in the Chicago office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP.  He focuses his practice on employee benefit plans.  Mr. Conley has experience counseling clients on qualified retirement plans, health and welfare plans, and executive compensation.

Mr. Conley regularly advises clients on defined benefit and defined contribution plan compliance, including corrections for plan operational errors. He assists clients in drafting plan documents, plan amendments and participant communications. He also advises clients on health & welfare plan compliance, including medical and dental plans, cafeteria plans, flexible spending accounts and dependent care spending accounts. Mr. Conley counsels clients on plan design decisions relating to COBRA, HIPAA privacy regulations and health care reform legislation.

Mr. Conley serves on the Advisory Board of the Health Care Reform Center & Policy Institute, a newly formed national “think tank” made up of the nation’s leading lawyers, consultants, government representatives and state insurance agents to influence the development of new rules and regulations under Health Care Reform.  Mr. Conley is a member of the firm's Health Care Reform Team. This cross-departmental team of lawyers was formed to focus on how health care reform will affect our clients. Mr. Conley started closely following health care reform well before it was passed into law. He regularly consults with governmental agencies on health care reform developments and has submitted comments on health care reform interim regulations on behalf of clients.  Mr. Conley has presented extensively on health care reform and what it means for businesses, including leading the Healthcare Reform Certification Program offered by the Employer Healthcare Congress.

Mr. Conley also serves on the Steering Committee for the Worldwide Employee Benefits Network - Chicago Western Suburbs.  He has written articles concerning health care reform legislation, employer wellness programs, fiduciary responsibilities, claims review procedures and retiree medical benefits.  Prior to joining Seyfarth, Mr. Conley was a lead articles editor for the Washington & Lee University Law Review.

Danita N. Merlau

Seyfarth Shaw, LLP

Ms. Merlau is a member of the firm's Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Department. Ms. Merlau advises clients on all matters pertaining to health and welfare plans including medical and dental plans, cafeteria plans, Affordable Care Act compliance, HIPAA privacy regulations, and COBRA compliance.  She also counsels clients on qualified retirement plan compliance including plan drafting and corrections for plan operational errors.


Julie A. B.

This program helps employers identify the legal parameters and risks surrounding MEWAs and AHPs.

Adria B.

Well done and very thorough!

Charles C.

very informative....

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