Group Health Insurance

Group health insurance is a healthcare plan that covers a group of people through one main employer.

Generally, a business that has more than one employee may purchase a group health insurance plan, which means that the group plans vary tremendously in terms of size.

An employer may choose to use a group plan because it is more cost effective, and because risk is spread out across the whole group. As a result, employees may receive lower premiums and more affordable healthcare. They may also be able to cover their entire families on their employer’s plan.

If you do not receive group health insurance from an employer, you may be able to receive it in another way. For instance, you may qualify for group health insurance for certain services if you are part of a membership organization or another large establishment.

Depending on the organization, you may be eligible for certain additional discounts on your premium and supplementary coverage. Continue reading below to obtain a better understanding of membership organizations that qualify, important aspects of group health insurance, new regulations under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and more.

An Explanation of Membership Organizations

Having a basic understanding of membership organizations and health insurance terminology will help you make a well-informed decision on your healthcare. A membership organization is any group that allows certain qualifying people to join in order to receive benefits and resources.

The members usually have a common interest, goal, trade or profession. The benefits offered by the organization may be discounts on certain services or purchases made at certain stores. The programs may also offer members continued education discounts, complimentary access to periodicals and even group health insurance.

The group health insurance may be comprehensive, or it may simply be a supplemental benefit or a group discount on certain health care.

Another common form of group plans is the association health plan (AHP). An association health plan is slightly different from other group health plans because it is specifically intended to bring certain members together in order to negotiate a better premium for each person. AHPs are still defined as group plans because the people on the plan must members of the group or a certain profession.

Unlike group membership plans, AHPs do not require customers to be working for the same employer. However, employees who are part of a company that does not offer health insurance may band together in order to form a qualifying group. Note that association plans must abide by the same federal regulations as group membership plans.

How to Find a Health Insurance Group Organization

If you want to enroll in a health insurance group or a membership plan, you must already be participating in a qualifying membership program. In fact, you may already be part of a group that qualifies for health insurance. As an example, you may be a member of a union or professional organization, such as a local chamber of commerce or an alumni association, which offers group health insurance.

Groups including the Writers Guild of America, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Association for Computing Machinery and the Freelancers Union offer certain benefits and resources to their dedicated members. Keep in mind that some organizations require you to pay a fee in order to be part of the group.

If you are looking for a health insurance group to join, you may consider one of the following organizations. These are group membership programs, trade programs and professional organizations.

  • AARP Health
  • Affiliated Workers Association (AWA)
  • Alliance for Affordable Services
  • Costco Health Insurance
  • National Association for the Self-Employed
  • National Small Business Association

You may need to meet very specific eligibility requirements to qualify for group health insurance under one of the programs mentioned above. For example, the American Institute of Graphic Arts recently changed its policy in accordance with the ACA.

Consequently, it will only offer medical insurance to you if you are traveling abroad. If you are a member of the National Small Business Association, you may only qualify for insurance if you have a disability, need long-term care or have purchased life insurance.

You may also use your membership benefits to your advantage if you receive supplemental health insurance through your organization. Otherwise, your organization may help you obtain a healthcare plan but will not offer the plan directly through its program. This is true for the Artists Health Insurance Research Center, for instance, which aims to help its members qualify for affordable plans.

Why is group health insurance worth it?

Participating in a group health insurance plan may be much more affordable for you and potentially your family. It may be the perfect solution if you are self-employed and a member of an organization that offers insurance.

As a self-employed worker, your benefits may be different from those of a full-time employee for a large company. However, you will still be able to receive benefits at a lower cost. Your benefits may also differ depending on your state of residency.

Recent Changes to Group Health Insurance

In the past, customers may have easily been able to find a health insurance plan through a group membership organization or an association. This is because many of the regulations applying to group health insurance were put in place by a national association and by state governments.

As a result, some organizations had more flexibility and were able to offer comprehensive coverage packages. However, the quality of service varied tremendously, and some members of certain group programs received inadequate coverage.

The Affordable Care Act changed many of the regulations surrounding group health insurance. All healthcare plans are now required to cover certain essential health benefits, including hospital care, preventative care and regular check-ups. As a result, some organizations opted to end their health insurance programs altogether or switched them to supplemental insurance programs.

The health insurance benefits still offered by active organizations are still beneficial, because they can help qualifying individuals receive better and more affordable health care. To determine whether a group health insurance plan is best for you and your family, it is important to research the plan extensively and compare it to other private insurance options.