On June 10, the American Booksellers Association and a coalition of book and publishing industry organizations announced a health insurance partnership with Lighthouse Insurance Group (LIG) Solutions. See the full announcement here.
To help members understand the partnership and what it means for their stores, ABA has created this frequently asked questions document. For questions not answered here, please contact David Grogan, ABA’s Director of ABFE, Advocacy & Public Policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is LIG Solutions?
LIG Solutions is a division of Lighthouse Insurance Group, an insurance advisor with experience in the health, life, and Medicare insurance industry. LIG Solutions offers insurance solutions for associations and their members, societies, membership organizations, and other affinity groups. LIG Solutions helps connect people to a variety of coverage plans through health insurance exchanges or marketplaces. LIG Solutions’ agents can help you understand your benefits and different plan options to determine what insurance is right for you. LIG’s services are free. Health insurance plans do not cost more if you buy through LIG’s agents.
Generally, health insurance agents represent one carrier. However, LIG broadens consumers’ choices and can sell insurance from many insurance companies in your state. For example, here is a list of some carriers LIG represents (this is not a comprehensive list and availability is based on your geographic location):
- Agentra Healthcare Solutions
- Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield
- Blue Cross Blue Shield
- Chesapeake Life
- Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company
- Health Net
- Kaiser Permanente
- Medical Mutual of Ohio
- Molina Healthcare
- Mutual Of Omaha
- National General Insurance
- Pivot Health
- Surebridge Insurance
Why did ABA partner with LIG Solutions?
ABA joined a coalition of book industry organizations in April 2018 to create an appropriate partner for an association-sponsored health insurance program. Initially, the coalition’s goal was to create an association health plan (AHP). The coalition was formed following a presidential executive order that expanded eligibility for organizations to pool resources across state lines to offer members health insurance at negotiated rates.
However, the coalition’s goal had to be modified when the executive order was deemed illegal. The government appealed the ruling, and the case is still in the courts. The coalition was hopeful there would be a court decision regarding AHPs that would expand health insurance options for all of our members. However, the partnership with LIG Solutions is a step in the right direction while we continue to await a decision on the legality of expanded AHPs.
With expanded AHPs currently off the table, the coalition began looking for a company that would provide coalition members with extensive knowledge of the health insurance market to help members navigate the wide array of insurance options, including ACA-compliant major medical, Medicare/supplements, short term policies, vision, dental, critical care, supplemental coverage, and small group/Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRAs) programs.
Additionally, it was important to the coalition that all stores and their employees could take advantage of the benefit, including: individual members and their immediate family; business owners and their W2 employees; 1099-employees/independent contractors; association volunteers; and association staff and their immediate family.
The health insurance partnership with LIG Solutions meets these revised goals. With LIG Solutions, health insurance coverage is offered concierge style to members in a centralized portal, eliminating much of the burden and cutting through confusion that normally accompanies shopping for health insurance. A variety of health insurance options are sourced from carriers in all 50 states and Washington D.C.
Will this partnership lower my health insurance costs?
No, this partnership does not allow ABA or the coalition to negotiate rates for insurance premiums as these are set with federal or state legislators. An executive order that allowed for associations like ABA to create Association Health Plans and use economies of scale to negotiate better rates for insurance premiums is currently tied up in courts. That said, LIG Solutions' knowledge of the industry, we hope, may result in some members finding better insurance solutions of which they were unaware. In general, however, you should not expect lower health insurance costs. LIG Solutions’ prime benefits are providing expertise and choice to our members along with many different coverage types.
How will this partnership benefit me and my employees?
The partnership with LIG Solutions will benefit you and your employees in the following ways:
- Expertise: LIG’s agents are licensed in all 50 states. In addition to providing health insurance services, LIG Solutions also delivers health and wellness content.
- One-stop-shop: ABA will have its own unique landing page managed by LIG Solutions that members can access to purchase health insurance. LIG Solutions offers concierge service that brings together all the traditional health coverage benefits (major medical, vision, dental, critical care, group/Health Reimbursement Arrangements, etc.). Normally, you would have to go to several sources to build similar coverage.
- Choice: LIG Solutions does not use one insurance carrier. Instead, LIG Solutions can build custom plans for you that include major medical, short term options, vision, dental, and many health-related supplemental options to cover your individual needs.
- Communication: Through the partnership with LIG Solutions, ABA will be able to continuously communicate with members on what your health insurance options are.
How will the partnership work?
The partnership will be co-branded between ABA and LIG and offered to ABA bookstore members and their employees. ABA will have a unique landing page just for our members, as well as a unique phone number, health and wellness content, and other no-cost tools.
When can I sign my store up?
LIG Solutions is in the process of creating ABA’s unique landing page. ABA will notify members once this page is up and running. ABA is committed to launching the program by the fall.
How do I sign my store up?
Once the landing page is live, you will be able to log in and enter your information via a form on the site. The form asks if you are seeking health insurance for just yourself or for you and your employees as part of a group/HRA program. As an employer, you can choose not to check the box for your employees and instead ask your employees to use ABA’s landing page to get their own insurance. You will then be contacted by a LIG Solutions representative who will walk you through your options based on your own individual/family needs or those of your business/employees. The latter option is the group/Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) program; if you choose to offer an HRA, your employees can then use ABA’s landing page to buy their own insurance with the pretax funds you provide.
How can my employees sign up?
If you prefer that your employees seek coverage on their own (or you have chosen to offer an HRA), your employees can simply follow the above process.
Can my employees keep their health insurance if they leave my store?
It depends on if the employees purchased an individual/family plan or are part of the group/HRA program.
If an employee is paying for 100 percent of their own plan, the employee can keep the plan until it becomes renewal time. The employee technically owns the plan since they pay for it even though the employee gained access to the ABA program through their employer. LIG Solutions has a couple of ways they can handle this at renewal time. Legally your store, ABA, and/or LIG Solutions can not make an employee stop using a plan that they pay for out of their own pocket. At renewal time, LIG Solutions can be given a list of employees who should not be able to utilize the ABA coverage program.
It is a similar situation if an employee is part of the group/HRA program. In this case, the employee still has an individual/family plan; however, the employer is paying for a portion of the plan (just like a traditional group plan). The biggest difference is that once an employee leaves the store, the store will no longer be contributing any money to the former employee’s coverage. The former employee will have to pick-up 100 percent of the costs at that point (or cancel). Similarly, at renewal time, LIG Solutions can be given a list of employees who should not be able to utilize the ABA coverage program. This will be done through the HRA as part of the established process for that part of the program.