In 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor issued a final rule to expand association health plans (AHP) to include working owners and sole proprietors/independent contractors (like real estate professionals). However, a federal court struck down parts of the AHP ruling in March 2019, including key provisions allowing sole proprietors to be eligible for this type of insurance coverage.
Due to expressed interest by members and local associations in a Texas REALTORS® association health plan, initial research began in May on the feasibility and viability of creating such a member insurance offering . Texas REALTORS® staff asked local associations to support a statewide offering, as such support would be needed to maximize the value of creating an association health plan for REALTORS® and W-2 staff of real estate brokerages.
Staff and leadership from Texas REALTORS® met with representatives from the HUB International, a full-service global insurance company that has worked in administering association health plans. This firm has technology-based solutions for gathering member questionnaire and census data and submits an insurance request for proposal to insurance carrier underwriters to determine plan viability and costs. This entity could ultimately be the plan administrator and be responsible for marketing, open enrollment processes, and premium collection and administration.
On June 3, 2019, the association received confirmation from our key representatives with the HUB group that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has advised that due to the current ruling, Texas REALTORS® is unable to move forward with the formation of an association health plan as the federal court has vacated provisions that would have allowed individuals, sole proprietors (independent contractors), and W-2 employees of real estate brokerages expanded access to affordable, high-quality healthcare options. Regardless of state legislation or a certificate of authority from the Texas Department of Insurance, the DOL will consider it a violation of ERISA policy and fines of up to $10,000 per day can be levied for this type of violation.
The next step for the appeal of this decision rests with the D.C. Court of Appeals. The court will hear oral arguments sometime between the end of July and September and issue a decision one to two months after that. Only then will the options be known regarding the possible creation of an association health plan for members.
Texas REALTORS® will pass along further updates.
Can someone please explain the argument against allowing this? Why would anyone be against it? It seems like it would meet the stated goal of insuring a higher percentage of the population. Where is the downside? When this is debated in Congress who stands up & opposes it, and what do they use as their logic?
Seems like a shoot-from-the hip Judicial response to what seems like a no-brainer. Why not allow trade
and professional associations to offer a process to get people insured? Anyone know the reasoning of the court?
I know that most everything is more complicated than what they seem. Does anyone have insight into what those complications are?
Are Scorps excluded also?
Narrow-minded legislators that are probably in the hip pocket of BIG Pharma and and the ‘racket’ they call the ‘health insurance’ industry. We might save money and be healthier if we were allowed to. Steams me to no end!
They wonder why people have such a hard time getting decent affordable health care, they go and pull this.. Something is not write about this. Maybe they need to get their own healthcare and get the terrible coverage that is available.. Just not right..
Has anyone received a response to your respective comments/questions?!? We’ve got to be missing something here. Which Federal court struck down the operative sections that pertained to associations’ abilities to offer collective, affordable insurance?!? Upon what grounds were the sections struck?!? The article needs to provide more detail and a call to action if there’s anything Realtors can do at this point to help influence the decision.
NAR has more background and answers to questions at https://www.nar.realtor/health-care-reform/association-health-plans-ahp-background
Per article…. NAR supports the final rule, which has already proven to offer cost-effective health insurance options for many REALTORS®. Shortly after the rule was finalized, twelve attorney generals (AGs) filed suit against DOL challenging the rule. The state AG’s include New York, Massachusetts, California, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, plus D.C. (SO WHAT GIVE THESE STATES THE RIGHT TO DETERMINE WHAT HEALTH INSURANCE I CHOOSE) The lawsuit challenges the rule’s conflict with the statutory intent of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to provide fundamental protections to the individual and small group insurance markets because… Read more »
What do our highly paid lobbyists have to report on this most serious subject? They are conspicuously quiet. Is the legal profession going to force Realtors to go the way of elevator operators?!! NAR membership offers strength through the high numbers of dues paying Realtors. There is something dark in play here. It’s not about Realtors being able to join a decent group health plan. It is all about the money. Busy Realtors don’t have time to be caught up in this hot air litigation. The named Attorneys General. should be replaced by fair minded people with common sense. Realtors… Read more »
Just wondering if the appeal has been heard on this issue, or is it still in the courts?