ABOUT THE EASE ALLIANCE

ERISA Access Serving Everyone (EASE) Alliance is a nonprofit that promotes affordable healthcare plans for all, including self-employed Americans, like real-estate agents, Uber drivers, and small business owners.

News

Daily Caller

Self-Employed Americans Need Obamacare Alternatives

Ten years after Obamacare was signed into law, the “Affordable Care Act” has turned out to be anything but affordable for millions of hard-working Americans.

Read More...
Washington Examiner

New group will boost non-Obamacare plans halted by Trump administration

A nonprofit organization, ERISA Access for the Self-Employed Alliance, or “EASE Alliance,” launched Friday to get the word out about the alternatives.

Read More...
EASE Alliance

EASE Alliance Launches To Help Americans Access Affordable Healthcare

Nonprofit Will Support Efforts To Help Self-Employed People Access Affordable, Flexible Group Health Plans WASHINGTON – ERISA Access for the Self-Employed (EASE) Alliance, a new nonprofit that promotes alternatives to Obamacare for self-employed Americans, launched today and announced that Tracey Schmitt Lintott has been named the group’s first executive director. Tracey Schmitt Lintott previously served […]

Read More...

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR - ALEXANDER RENFRO

Alex Renfro is widely recognized as one of the leading national experts in the interpretation and implementation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, (“ACA,” also known as Obamacare).   He began analyzing ACA even before its passage, and was the first ERISA and welfare benefits attorney in the US to design and file a patent application for a health plan based around Minimum Essential Coverage.

Alex is an honors graduate of the University of Notre Dame, received his Juris Doctor, cum laude, from SMU Dedman School of Law, and an LLM in Taxation with a Certificate in Employee Benefits from the Georgetown University Law Center.  Alex lives with his family in Nashville, TN.

FAQ

What is an EASE plan?

EASE, which stands for ERISA Access Serving Everyone, supports plans that offer everyone including self-employed Americans, like real-estate agents, Uber drivers, and small business owners, the opportunity to form a partnership and gain access to affordable, flexible group health coverage. 

Self-employed individuals do not have the opportunity to purchase group health insurance plans through a traditional employer. More than twenty million self-employed people don’t have access to employer-sponsored plans or to Obamacare subsidies. Many of these individuals have been priced out of health insurance, as premiums and deductibles have risen, and do not qualify for subsidies. 

Under the law that governs employee benefit plans, a partnership is considered a single employer. Therefore, members of a partnership qualify to purchase group health insurance plans under ERISA.  

EASE Alliance supports plans that adhere to the following principles including: protection against discrimination, financial stability, compliance with federal law including ACA and ERISA, and access for self-employed individuals. 

View Answer...

Who is EASE intended for?

Many different types of people, including the self-employed, independent contractors (including realtors, truckers, ride share drivers, seasonal and temp workers, and other members of the so-called “gig economy”), as well as employees of small, medium, and even large companies that do not offer comprehensive health plans.  Many of these people do not qualify for Obamacare subsidies, due to income, immigration status, or other factors. 

View Answer...

How does EASE work?

EASE provides a structure under which people who do not have access to traditional employer-sponsored health coverage can nevertheless participate in large group market plans under ERISA. Certain companies which are structured as partnerships may serve as ERISA plan sponsors, and by becoming limited partners, individuals may participate in these plans. 

EASE plans do not discriminate against anyone, on any basis. Plan sponsors of EASE plans are required to permit all individuals, irrespective of health status, pre-existing conditions, medical history, race, ethnicity, gender, age, or orientation to join both the partnership and health plan. 

View Answer...

How many people currently have EASE plans?

More than 50,000, spread all across the US. 

View Answer...

What do these partnerships do?

Each partnership is different and has its own requirements. Currently, the most common EASE plan sponsors are data partnerships, like Data Marketing, which allow for individuals to share their electronic data from their use of computers and mobile devices in return for a share of any profits made off their data and access to affordable, flexible group health plans.  

View Answer...

What is the “Own Your Data” movement and what happens to the data collected from limited partners?

These partnerships are part of the “Own Your Data” movement, which has sprung up worldwide as a response to growing distrust of giant technology companies. These giant tech companies collect user data without paying anything to the people who create it, then sell it for billions of dollars.  

In these data partnerships, limited partners agree and consent to install software on their computers and phones that collects their data. These individuals have complete control over their information and its use, and these partnerships guarantee complete transparency. Any profits generated through the sale or use of the data is shared with the partners, who collectively own the partnerships.

View Answer...

Why was an Advisory Opinion sought?

The US Department of Labor (DOL) oversees ERISA.  In 2018, EASE requested that DOL issue an Advisory Opinion, to provide clarity and long-term security to the thousands of families and individuals who rely on these health plans every day. Despite having positive meetings and discussions, no formal response was ever issued by DOL. A letter from seven state Attorneys General to the Secretary of Labor, which asked for expedited consideration of the issue, even failed to generate a response. Nearly 15 months after the original request, DOL issued a negative Advisory Opinion. During that period, there was no formal interaction with the requester or any questions about regarding the request.

View Answer...

Why are these plaintiffs suing the Department of Labor?

Unfortunately, bureaucrats within the Department of Labor are trying to prevent an innovative solution to the problem of unaffordable health care. In doing so, they have put more than 50,000 Americans at risk of losing their affordable health coverage. EASE Alliance supports the partnerships and their efforts to prevent the Department of Labor from taking coverage away from the people who already have it 

View Answer...

Why are these people trying to join the large group health market instead of the ACA exchanges?

In order to get ACA passed, the Obama administration agreed to leave ERISA plans (and their 160 million members) pretty much alone. By contrast, the newly-created ACA exchange plans were required to provide ten categories – and many dozens of sub-categories – of so-called “Essential Health Benefits” or EHBs. Exchange plans also have other rules that, along with EHBs, make them very expensive for insurers to provide. (The giant carriers who dominate the exchanges actually like it this way, because their profit margins are set by regulators, and therefore the more they spend, the more they make.) ERISA plans, on the other hand, are not subject to most of these rules. That is why the employer-sponsored large group market is relatively stable, while premiums have more than tripled for individual market plans. 

View Answer...

Are EASE plans paid for by taxpayers?

No.  EASE plan participants pay all of the cost of their own coverage.  By contrast, the federal government pays premiums for Obamacare plan participants through subsidies. 

View Answer...

What benefits do EASE plans provide?

EASE plans provide a wide range of benefits, and are priced accordingly.  One of the main advantages of ERISA plans is their flexibility – people can choose the type and amount of coverage they need, rather than being forced into “one size fits all” plans.  Currently available EASE plans range from low-cost basic preventative coverage to full major medical. 

View Answer...

Who stands to benefit?

Our policy and legal goals will directly benefit the more than 50,000 individuals who already get coverage through EASE plans and the millions more who could join a partnership.  ERISA is a federal law that applies to everyone, and if Data Marketing Partnership wins its lawsuit against the Department of Labor, many other companies will create their own versions of the Data Marketing health plan.

View Answer...

Contact Us