While NJBIA prides itself on its advocacy and services on behalf of New Jersey businesses, it also has to face many of the same challenges as those businesses. After all, NJBIA is a not-for-profit organization with about 50 employees doing business in the high-cost state of New Jersey.
That’s especially true when it comes to purchasing employee health benefits.
Last year, NJBIA switched its health insurance to Association Master Trust, and entered into an agreement that will provide its member companies with access to those benefits as well. Alice Gens, NJBIA’s chief operating officer and treasurer, is the executive who spear-headed the change, and she says the experience taught her some lessons that could help all types of employers as they prepare for the open enrollment season this fall.
“When it comes to smaller companies, insurers may only be willing to sell specific plans that look very different than traditional PPOs or HMOs, and the rising costs of these plans continue to account for a larger portion of their total business expenses each year,” Gens explained. “This leaves these smaller businesses jumping carriers or changing plan offerings to maintain basic coverage for their employees.”
Naturally, NJBIA was looking for a way to combat the rising cost and volatility of today’s healthcare market. The cost of health insurance has long been at the top of the list of members’ concerns, and since most members are small businesses, the association needed an answer that was right for them.
“Association Master Trust (AMT) provided us with a response to the healthcare concerns of our members as well as a strong healthcare plan for NJBIA employees,” Gens said.
AMT can offer small businesses the advantages of a large, self-funded health plan: claim and cost stability, administrative efficiency, a full menu of comprehensive benefits, and when appropriate, a dividend to participating members. Over the past seven years, AMT has returned about $16 million in surplus to its members.
According to AMT’s Harvey Mishkin, about 1,900 businesses participate in their plans.
“We can work with any size company,” Mishkin said. “That runs all the way down to those with a couple of employees, and we compete very, very well with the standard small employer products that are available in the conventional insured market.”
“NJBIA’s relationship with Association Master Trust has allowed hundreds of businesses to get quotes for new healthcare programs over the last few months,” Gens added. “Through the same program, NJBIA was able to provide excellent programs to its own employees, providing choice of plans at competitive prices.”
A business must be a member of NJBIA to take advantage of this plan. If qualified, the business will have access to:
- A full selection of competitively priced, self-funded health benefit plans including Direct Access , EPO, HSA and AMT OMNIA designs;
- Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ and the national Blue Cross Blue Shield provider network;
- Self-funded AMT Dental plans administered by Delta Dental;
- Group Life/Accidental Death & Dismemberment program underwritten by the UniCare Life & Health Insurance Company; and
- Prescription drug plans managed by Prime Therapeutics.