House passes small group insurance bill

A bill championed by business groups, state regulators and the health insurance industry to keep the definition for small group health plans at 50 or fewer employees was passed by the House this week.

The Protecting Coverage for Employees Act amends a section of the Affordable Care Act listing 100 employees or fewer under small group plans. The act would drop that to 50, unless states choose to set their own limits for the small group market.

The passage of the bill should result in lower premiums for plans purchased by companies with between 51 and 100 employees, the Congressional Budget Office said in an analysis earlier this month. The reduced premiums could come from businesses choosing to offer insurance plans that don't meet standards required by the current law, the office said.

Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate.