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ICYMI: NC restaurant and lodging group offers health insurance to hospitality businesses with between 2 and 99 full-time employees

By Richard Craver — Thursday, November 20, 2018

The N.C. Restaurant & Lodging Association said Tuesday it will offer the state's first association health plan.

The association's benefit trust will be available to hotels, restaurants, country clubs, bars and other small hospitality businesses with between two and 99 full-time employees. 

How much the plan would cost employees was unclear. Association members have to request a quote for themselves and their employees, and rates are based on a variety of factors, said Julie Colman, a spokeswoman for the association.

An association health plan initiative, which was approved June 19 by the U.S. Labor Department, allows those business "to band together to purchase group health coverage typically only available to large employers." Some plans allow self-employed people to participate.

The association is linking its efforts to the National Restaurant Association and its state partners. The insurance is being serviced by UnitedHealthcare. For more information, go to Restauranthealthcare.org/Products/Health.

The association said there are about 482,3000 restaurant and food-service workers in North Carolina, about 11 percent of the workforce, and more than 18,000 food and drinking place locations.

“This benefit trust takes meaningful steps to help our members across the state address rising health care costs,” Lynn Minges, the association's president, said in a statement.

“We’re empowering small hospitality groups and operators to provide their employees with excellent health care at a reasonable cost.”

According to the U.S. Labor Department, association health plans include consumer protections and healthcare anti-discrimination protections that also apply to large businesses.

"AHPs may not charge higher premiums or deny coverage to people because of pre-existing conditions, or cancel coverage because an employee becomes ill," according to the department.

On Oct. 23, the Trump administration approved allowing states to apply for waivers to the federal Affordable Care Act to offer alternative health insurance options, including cheaper and limited short-term plans.

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