NAR: Final Labor Rule Holds Promise for AHPs
June 19, 2018
The Department of Labor released a final rule Tuesday that, for the first time, makes it possible for real estate professionals to be eligible to join an association health plan, although hurdles remain to be cleared. “After years of advocating for independent contractors’ right to pursue coverage through association health plans, NAR welcomes today’s Department of Labor ruling,” Elizabeth Mendenhall, president of the National Association of REALTORS®, said in a statement.
NAR is cautioning members that this rule is not a panacea when it comes to obtaining comprehensive coverage and the cost to provide that coverage. The rule makes “working owners” eligible to participate in an AHP and defines the term to include self-employed individuals or small-business owners who don’t have employees working for them, which would include most real estate professionals.
In an important win for REALTORS®, the final rule extends eligibility to all working owners, including those who have access to subsidized insurance through a spouse’s employer plan. In the proposed version of the rule, these working owners were excluded from eligibility on the assumption they already have affordable insurance available to them. NAR, along with state and local associations and individual members, urged the administration to remove that limitation—and it did.
Even with the favorable rule, hurdles might prevent individuals from enrolling in any AHPs immediately, NAR analysts say. Among other things, lawsuits challenging the rule are expected to be filed, muddying the legal picture for a period of time. NAR continues to work closely with insurance specialists on the feasibility of AHPs as an option for real estate professionals. About 11 percent of NAR’s 1.3 million members are without health insurance. About 31 percent have coverage through a spouse, and about 16 percent through Medicare.
—Robert Freedman, REALTOR® Magazine
Updated: January 22, 2021