The U.S Department of Labor (DOL) has finalized its long-awaited Association Health Plan
(AHP) rule to expand the definition of “employer” to include “working owners.” This change allows real estate professionals and other self-employed individuals to participate in association health plans. A key provision, forwarded for inclusion in the rule by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), will allow many REALTORS® who have access to coverage through a spouse to be eligible to choose an AHP option.
The ruling is a major step forward for NAR’s long-standing advocacy efforts to expand AHP eligibility to independent contractors. This ruling allows NAR to keep up its ongoing program to evaluate potential options for expanding REALTORS® options for access to health insurance coverage. It does not mean that a REALTOR® AHP will be available in the near term, but action continues to explore such options.
The road from the DOL ruling to the availability of an AHP is long and not without potential detours. Legal and other challenges could delay implementation of the rule. NAR has been advocating for an AHP solution for decades as a means to expand access to health insurance options for REALTORS® and this final rule makes AHPs one-step closer to achieving that goal. The result of our advocacy efforts, the strategic recommendations of our Member Benefits Team and consultations with health insurance experts have positioned NAR to analyze a potential AHP option in a comprehensive process to help secure best quality health insurance at the most affordable price for all of our members and their families. NAR wants to caution its members that the development of an AHP will be a long process and may not meet the health insurance coverage needs of all members.
For more information, visit NAR’s Health Care Reform
topic page which contains a number of resources on NAR advocacy efforts concerning health insurance availability, including policy statements, Congressional testimony and comment letters to regulatory agencies.