Many of us benefit from health insurance coverage through our employer. In this, all employees are pooled together as a group to obtain health insurance under lower group rates. Group health insurance is very cost effective and sports lower premiums because the risk is spread among a wide group of members. Generally the employer also contributes to the premium, so that the employees pays less.
However, if your workplace doesn’t offer group insurance, or if you are self-employed, a freelance agent or unemployed, you can still opt for a good group health insurance plan through an association or membership organization.
Quite a few organizations offer group health insurance coverage to their members. As the member of such a group, you may be eligible for discounts on health insurance plans or access to a group health insurance plan.
What is a membership organization?
A group or association that provides resources and benefits to its members. These members may be those sharing a common profession, trade or interest that allows them to define themselves as an association. The benefits can include the likes of discounts in stores, subscription offers, education opportunities and also group health insurance benefits and discounted rates.
These kind of sponsored health plans – also known as association health plans allow members of a group or profession to come together and negotiate better premiums for their members. In short, very much similar to an employer sponsored health plan. The key difference is that the members of the association do not work for the same employer, but share an industry, interest or other common thread.
The fact is that you may already be in a membership group. This can be unions, alumni associations, or professional organizations – even the local chamber of commerce. For instance, the Writers Guild of America is a membership organization dedicated to providing resources and benefits to its member writers.
Keep in mind that such organizations do have very strict guidelines for membership.
Employer vs. membership organization vs. individual health insurance
A group health insurance plan provided by an employer will also have him pay a part of the premium resulting in lower payments for employees. Comparable individual health insurance plans are costlier. Obtaining health insurance through a membership organization may be a better option because of the collective de-risking and advantage of lower premiums.
Most importantly, with the current healthcare scenario and its constant likelihood of revision makes it worthwhile to explore all the available options.
James Eckardt is the founder of Peak Advisors Inc., a boutique insurance brokerage on Long Island, NY. The firm has a stellar record of service with three decades of experience in health insurance coverage and hundreds of clients including small businesses, commercial enterprises, sole proprietor-ships and seniors.
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