REALTORS® Tell White House to Support AHPs

May 9, 2019

President Donald Trump’s administration must continue to fight for the Department of Labor’s ability to support and promote association health plans, REALTORS® told government officials at the White House on Wednesday.

The Affordable Care Act, which was passed by Congress in 2010, brought various regulatory changes—and some significant price increases—to the individual and small group insurance markets where real estate professionals traditionally shop for coverage. As self-employed professionals who have traditionally lacked regular access to more affordable, employer-provided coverage, REALTORS® have identified AHPs as viable avenues toward quality health insurance coverage.

“The National Association of REALTORS® is actively engaging with White House officials in order to ensure the protection of working owners’ access to group health plan coverage under an AHP,” NAR President John Smaby said in a statement. “Because this issue is central to the lives of so many NAR members, we’re also pushing state governments to support policies that provide REALTORS® with the freedom to choose the health insurance plan they need.”

NAR senior health policy expert Christie DeSanctis was joined by Angela Shields, CEO of Tennessee REALTORS®; Wendy DiVecchio, the Greater Las Vegas Association of REALTORS®’ association executive; Nevada REALTORS® CEO Teresa McKee; and Shelia Dodson, CEO of the Baldwin County REALTOR® Association in Alabama. Wednesday’s roundtable also featured Department of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, several state insurance regulators, and other key administration staff members.

AHP Success Stories

Shields told White House officials Wednesday that the Tennessee association has enrolled over 800 individuals—reporting average savings of between 25% and 50%—with hundreds more applications still being processed. Similarly, McKee said the Nevada association has enrolled nearly 200 individuals in its AHP and is credited with bringing new insurance providers to rural areas of the state, providing a much-needed option to a depleted insurance market. More than 3,000 REALTORS® and their families nationwide have found cost-effective health insurance solutions through local AHP options.

The Las Vegas association stressed the need to protect the inclusion of working owners in pending AHP litigation, as its plan is currently providing coverage to over 1,000 members and their families. These options, which are offered through four separate United HealthCare plans, have delivered monthly savings of between $150 and $300 per participant, DiVecchio said.

In Baldwin County, Ala., Dodson was one of the first to take advantage of the new AHP rule, providing coverage for nearly 500 members and their families, with annual savings ranging from $2,000 to $17,000.

REALTORS® have a nationwide median individual gross income of $42,500, meaning many can absorb only modest prices increases before foregoing health insurance coverage altogether. The potential for AHPs to provide cost savings in an increasingly expensive market has been particularly appealing to NAR members.

“As independent contractors, REALTORS® have long struggled to find and secure affordable health insurance options,” Smaby said earlier this year after a D.C. judge struck down a Department of Labor attempt to expand association health plans. “The rule has been successful and is growing in many states, providing high-quality, lower-cost coverage alternatives to many of America’s 1.3 million REALTORS® and their families. As these discussions progress in Washington, we vow to continue to fight for more affordable, quality health insurance options for all of our members.”

White House officials were also armed Wednesday with AHP success stories as they continue the push to protect and preserve these options across the country.

For example, thanks to Baldwin County’s AHP, a recently widowed woman in her 40s was able to maintain coverage despite losing access to her late husband’s plan. In the very same month that she was expecting to lose that Cobra coverage, the Baldwin County association began offering its AHP, saving thousands of dollars and immeasurable peace of mind for her family.

Last month, NAR called on the Justice Department to defend the Labor Department’s regulatory authority to support AHPs. Wednesday’s meeting came partly in response to those pleas.