Membership Organizations and Health Insurance
How to Get Group Health Insurance Through a Membership Organization
Many people obtain health insurance coverage through their employers. This is called group health insurance coverage because as a group, all the employees are pooled together to obtain low-cost health insurance with group rates. Group insurance rates have lower premiums because the risk is spread out among the group of members. In addition, the employer may contribute to the premium, so the employee pays less. If your employer doesn't offer group health insurance if you are unemployed, or a self-employed or a freelance worker, you may want to look into a good group health insurance plan through a membership organization.
What Is a Membership Organization?
A membership organization is a group that is dedicated to providing resources and benefits to its members which may be defined as those sharing a common interest, trade, or profession.
Looking for Group Health Insurance
Many membership organizations offer group health insurance coverage or services to their members. As a member of a group, you may be eligible for discounts on your health insurance or access to a group membership health insurance plan without a job because the group insurance is based on the membership in the group and not your employer.
These benefits may include discounts in various service areas or stores, continuing education opportunities, access to periodicals, and also group health insurance or supplemental health insurance benefits and group discounts.
What Are Membership or Association Health Plans?
Group membership sponsored health plans may also be known as association health plans. Association health plans allow members of a group, or profession to band together in order to negotiate better premiums for their members, similar to the way an employer-sponsored health plan would work. The members of an association or group do not work for the same employer, instead, they share an industry, interest, or other common thread that allows them to define themselves as an association.
When shopping for membership-based group health insurance keep in mind that the coverage may not be ACA compliant. Before deciding on a plan compare the coverages carefully to what you could get through the marketplace.
How Can I Find Health Insurance Through a Group Membership Organization?
The first thing for you to do is to think about what membership groups you may already be in. For example, unions, alumni associations, or professional organizations including your local chamber of commerce.
As an example, most of us have heard of the Writers Guild of America. They are a membership organization dedicated to providing resources and benefits to professional writers.
Among their many benefits, they may provide group health insurance to their members. They do have very strict guidelines for being a member, but their organization is just one of many available that provides group health insurance.
Examples of Places to Get Health Insurance Through Group Membership, Trade, or Professional Organizations
- AARP Health - Several options in supplemental health care benefits
- Alliance for Affordable Services
- Affiliated Workers Association (AWA)
- American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) - offers medical insurance if you travel abroad but no longer offers standard medical benefits due to changes with the ACA.
- Association for Computing Machinery (for computing professionals)
- Costco Health Insurance Marketplace
- Freelancers Union - offers free membership and a variety of resources to anyone who considers him/herself a freelancer.
- Writers Guild of America.
Group Membership Resources for Health Insurance and Supplemental Health Policies
Although this organization does not provide the health insurance directly, it has invested significant effort to help artists get affordable insurance: Artists’ Health Insurance Resource Center. The Small Business Service Bureau, a national organization, also provides similar help to its members.
Employer Health Insurance vs. Individual Health Insurance, and Health Insurance Through a Membership Organization
If you are looking for a group health insurance plan, your employer or your spouse (or domestic partner's) employer may also be able to offer health benefits to you. Many employers help pay a percentage of the health insurance premium and this can save you money. They may also contribute to an HSA or FSA for you, and this will also save you money as well as build savings.
Obtaining health insurance through a membership organization may be a better option than individual health insurance because the concept of group insurance is to provide an advantage to its members by offering lower premiums.
Overall, with today's current healthcare situation, and the constant potential of revision to health laws it is always going to pay off to check all the possible options.
Changes to Association Health Plans and Membership Group Health Insurance Since the ACA
It used to be more common to be able to find a health plan through group membership or association. This was because a national association could, for example, choose which state health insurance rules they wanted to follow when creating their plans. This allowed for more flexibility in coverage options for each organization. This may sound good on some levels, but it also caused a problem in the quality of health care plans associations were providing, there was no standard, and so the ACA changed this requiring plans to cover what was mandated by law, such as essential services. With these changes, some organizations that previously provided health plans discontinued them or shifted their focus to supplemental health plans.
However, there are still organizations and membership groups offering plans, help, and services to their members. It is worth finding out if you can take advantage of a group membership plan to save money on your insurance costs if one is available to you.
The best way to save money on health insurance is to shop around and learn about your options and how they compare to what you and your family need.
Many people do not realize there are programs out there that can help when it's tough to find affordable insurance. If you are looking for other ways to save money on health insurance check out the benefits of using an HSA or find out more about Medicare vs. Medicaid and who may qualify.
United Healthcare. "What Is Group Health Insurance?" Accessed April 24, 2020.
The Hartford. "Available Through Professional and Trade Organizations." Accessed April 24, 2020.
AARP. "Member Benefits." Accessed April 24, 2020.
U.S. Department of Labor. "About Association Health Plans." Accessed April 24, 2020.
Writers Guild of America. "Benefits, Coverage and Eligibility." Accessed April 24, 2020.
IRS. "HSA Contributions." Accessed April 24, 2020.
U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "Using a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)." Accessed April 24, 2020.
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. "Health Care Executive Order Would Destabilize Insurance Markets, Weaken Coverage," Pages 5-7. Accessed April 24, 2020.