From small animal practices to equine practitioners, it’s always a challenge to divert attention from the day-to-day focus on client health with operational decisions. With such a devotion to the health of your clients, it’s possible to forget the health and well-being of yourself and your employees. At times it might even feel wiser to not offer health benefits to your employees, especially if you’ve never offered a plan before. 

We understand. We know it can seem like yet another item that distracts you from your critical mission. But that’s where your AVMA membership can help. 

The AVMA Trust created this blog post specifically for you. It details three advantages of group health plans — and always considers the financial impact of offering a health plan.

Strength in Numbers

An association group health coverage compared to individual coverage in an open market and small group coverage:

  • Individual health coverage
    • More expensive than group health coverage, lacks employer cost sharing
    • Subject to premiums based on age, location and market availability
    • Uncontrolled risk pool which can lead to large, increased premiums
    • Paying an increased full premium cost with taxed earnings
    • No rate negotiation or purchasing influence with insurer 
  • Small group health coverage (2 to 50 employees)  
    • Lack in plan diversity, only a few basic plan options at price point 
    • Low purchasing power over larger groups
    • Tax-advantaged options (HSA and Cafeteria Plan)
    • Limited network access compared to large group coverage
    • The employer assumes a minimum set contribution toward each employee’s premium
    • COBRA eligible
  • Association group health coverage (2 to 50 employees) 
    • Pooling your group’s purchasing power (a potential 2% to 15% savings) and increased protection against rate hikes
    • Insulates your group in shared responsibility and risk by combining claims risk     
    • Tax-advantaged options (HSA and Cafeteria Plan)
    • Administration benefits of a large group offering (e.g., customer support, Benefit Value Advisors, online enrollment and bill pay platform)
    • The employer assumes a minimum set contribution toward each employee’s premium
    • COBRA eligible

Increased Plan Versatility

Coverage without choice isn’t really coverage. We understand that each practice — and as importantly, each employee — has myriad coverage needs and medical concerns. When you shop for group coverage, be sure to consider a group plan’s versatility. Consider the following: 

  • A choice in benefit plans that best tailors to the needs of your practice and the needs of your employees
    • The AHP offers up to 3 of 6 plans with choice of high-deductible health plan (HDHP) or Traditional PPO designs (all PPO plans include rabies and titers vaccinations as preventative)
  • The size of the network and the specifics providers available
    • The AHP’s broad national PPO network enables freedom in provider choice
  • Purchasing power
    • Through the AHP, you’ll increase your group benefit purchasing power by pooling together as an industry, affording additional medical claim buffers and lower rate increases annually.

Expanded Coverage through Tax-Advantaged Strategies

Health insurance is complicated. Navigating the various legislative and tax hurdles can help your practice receive more coverage for your dollar. By paying for medical premium through tax-advantaged strategies, you’ll see the benefits for your employees and your bottom line. Explore the various advantages that can be leveraged through tax strategies:

  • For full-time employees, small group health options (including the AVMA Trust AHP) allow for cafeteria plans — employee benefit arrangements in which employees can select from a range of benefits 
  • A salary reduction election agreement between the employer and employees is created. The employer allocates a portion of the employee’s compensation to pay the cost share of the employee’s medical elections pre-tax, with the added benefit of reducing the employee’s taxable income. Getting more for your dollar!
  • Employees pay monthly premium and Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions from this account
  • Employer contributions paid toward medical premiums are tax deductible to the employer
  • Medical savings accounts, available with HDHPs, provide a non-taxable account in which to pay for IRS qualified medical expenditures, including medical services, tests, provider appointments and prescription costs. Contributions to these accounts are finite and adjust annually.

About the AVMA Trust Association Health Plan (AHP)

The mission of the AVMA Trust is to protect veterinarians through it all with veterinarian-inspired coverage. That’s why a group health medical plan is a critical member benefit for practice owners. 

The AHP now offers six fully insured major medical plans to practices through BlueCross Blue Shield to 11 states with coverage rates guaranteed until 2022. 

To learn more and to connect with the AVMA Trust, please reach out today: