LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Association Health Plans Would Help Realtors in New York

Philip Weiden | August 2019

Health insurance is of the utmost importance to every American no matter what profession they are in. It can determine what type of care someone gets and what level of care they can afford. Realtors are independent contractors and, in most cases, cannot obtain health care through their brokerage affiliation. If the Realtor is a single person, he or she must get health insurance on the individual market.

New York State makes it too difficult for single Realtors to get affordable health insurance. The federal government is now allowing association health plans in states that wish to try it out. NAR has been pushing for this as an option for lower cost health insurance. New York State currently does not allow this. It is time that changed.

Allowing this option would enable single Realtors or married Realtors who don’t have health insurance through a spouse’s job to buy it on the individual market if New York would agree to this option. Some arguments against association health plans are that it would not cover everything that a doctor orders or that the coverage is “thin.” This however could be fixed by requiring modest protections by the State of New York.

Independent contractors would have peace of mind knowing they had insurance as a back stop especially among younger and healthy ones who forgo insurance in a normal market. According to NAR, “In an effort to expand access to more affordable, high-quality health insurance coverage, on June 18, 2018, the U.S Department of Labor (DOL) finalized its long-awaited Association Health Plan (AHP) rule to expand the definition of “employer” to include “working owners.”

Provisions in the final rule allow for the first time, self-employed individuals, including real estate professionals, to participate in association health plans.

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, 12 attorney generals (AGs) filed suit against DOL challenging the rule. The state AGs include New York, Massachusetts, California, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, plus Washington, D.C.” https://www.nar.realtor/health-care-reform/association-health-plans-ahp-background

New York would be well served by having more affordable options and association health plans are a component that can offer an alternative to the current options available. Stay tuned for more information.

Philip Weiden
Legislative Affairs columnist Philip Weiden is the Government Affairs Director for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.