Although the health insurance market catering to small businesses has largely remained stable amid the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, some health policy experts say there are reasons to be concerned about the market’s future. One recent threat is the surging popularity of so-called level-funded health plans, according to a new report produced by researchers at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms (CHIR) and the Urban Institute.

“I hope with our report that there’s more awareness that this is an emerging issue,” Megan Houston, a research fellow at CHIR, tells AIS Health, a division of MMIT. “The small-group market is not as discussed as it should be given the issues that they are facing.”

To produce the report, Houston and her co-authors interviewed health insurers, brokers and members of the small business community in six states: Arkansas, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Vermont. One key finding, their report says, is that “many small employers are shifting to coverage exempt from Affordable Care Act rules in response to rising costs, resulting in an unsettled market.”

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