On Tuesday, August 4, a coalition of 11 book industry associations, including the American Booksellers Association, launched the official Book Industry Health Insurance Partnership (BIHIP), an alliance with LIG Solutions designed to provide members from across the 11 associations with a choice of health insurance options.
As of August 2020, joining the American Booksellers Association in BIHIP are American Society for Indexing, Authors Guild, Book Industry Study Group, Graphic Artists Guild, Horror Writers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, Novelists Inc., Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and Western Writers of America Inc.
BIHIP was established in April 2018 during a meeting of the Book Industry Study Group’s Association Advisory Council (BAAC), a gathering of various associations serving many parts of the book publishing industry. During this 2018 meeting, Kent Watson, then executive director of PubWest, proposed that BAAC evaluate the feasibility of providing healthcare coverage to the various associations’ members. BAAC chair, IBPA CEO Angela Bole, took on the challenge, gathering a group that at various times numbered more than 20 associations.
Given the complexity of the topic, the work was intricate and required a good deal of education about how healthcare works in the U.S. The work has been cooperative, with at-times weekly calls spread out over two years. Over this time, BIHIP collaborated to evaluate alternatives, seek out options and potential partners, and structure a final agreement that could provide members of BIHIP’s coalition with extensive knowledge of the health insurance market in order to help them navigate the wide array of insurance options. This includes ACA-compliant major medical, Medicare/supplements, short-term policies, vision, dental, critical care, and supplemental coverage, as well as small group/Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs).
Additionally, BIHIP worked diligently toward its goal of ensuring everyone could take advantage of the offering, including: association staff and their immediate family; individual members and their immediate family; business owners and their W2 employees; 1099-employees/independent contractors; and association volunteers.
On June 10, 2020, 10 associations finalized the agreement with LIG Solutions with a launch date planned for later in the summer. Since then, Romance Writers of America signed onto the coalition, bringing the number of associations served by BIHIP to 11. BISG serves as principal point of contact on behalf of all for communications with LIG regarding the partnership.
Through this endeavor, BIHIP has demonstrated how cooperation can work across industry associations with significant differences in member profiles. Several BIHIP associations are made up of individual members, while others represent smaller companies. The health care options that make sense for individuals are not the same as those that make sense for companies with employees, but BIHIP’s partnership with LIG Solutions will serve both.
A key learning from the BIHIP process is that, as an industry, it is possible to tackle big problems and work collaboratively to solve them. This work can take time — in the case of BIHIP, more than two years — and requires persistent leadership, particularly in the face of adversity and some unexpected turns. In addition, longer term change efforts must be guided by agreed upon principles, and those agreements need nurturing and regular reminders for those involved. All things BIHIP took the time to do for the betterment of the coalitions’ various memberships.
Find ABA’s LIG landing page and unique phone number for members under “For Booksellers” and “LIG Health Insurance” on Bookweb.org. (An ABA login is required.)