Association Health Insurance

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April 19, 2007

Association Health Insurance Q and A

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Associate Editor

For small telecom businesses in particular, the cost of providing health insurance coverage for employees has grown tremendously during the past several years. Some companies no longer than afford to adequately cover the healthcare needs of their workers.
The solution to this problem is team power. Telecom providers can now join Ideacom—a group of telecom industry companies that decided to pool their buying power—and use that membership to access benefits like healthcare services at association health insurance rates.
TMCnet recently asked Bill Gillam (BG), Executive Director at Ideacom, to answer some questions about the benefits of association health insurance.
What is association health insurance?
Simply stated, it is employee health insurance offered to member companies of an association. Association health insurance received national attention a few years ago when the President mentioned this type of plan in a State of the Union Address. Since that time, Ideacom has pursued just such coverage.
Obstacles did exist to provide this type of service on a national basis, because of state-to-state insurance regulations, which slowed down the initiative. But today, we have been able to find insurance providers who have reduced those road blocks substantially, allowing our members to band together and reduce risks by spreading them across the entire group. Over time, this will assist our members in reducing costly yearly increases.
What is Ideacom?
What type of telecoms are Ideacom members?
Ideacom members include resellers, manufacturers, service providers, and providers of telecommunication educational programs. We invite all telecommunications companies to learn about all of our programs. Membership is by application and is highly affordable.
Why is health insurance important to today’s telecom companies?
A great number of telecommunications companies have fewer than 25 employees and find that obtaining healthcare insurance for their employees to be expensive and confusing.
Many of our members and vendor partners, alarmed by the continued rising cost of healthcare insurance rates, expressed the desire to band together and negotiate healthcare coverage for their employees with a single provider. We were happy to deliver this to them in early 2007.
How does Ideacom help telecoms provide affordable health insurance to their employees?
In order to maintain a very low cost, we designed it a bit differently than traditional association plans. The IDEACOM Group Health Insurance Plan is unique because each member company is rated individually upon entry into the plan. When the company renews, they are grouped with the entire association in order to determine their renewal rates. The first year rates will be extremely competitive in most states. However, when renewal time comes, there is a great likelihood of significantly reduced monthly premiums going forward for each member.
How much do Ideacom members typically save on health insurance?
After an applicant completes their census they will typically find significant savings during the first year of enrollment. Then, each year that they renew—because they are part of the association—annual rate increases will be better controlled. Also, many of our members have found “more for less” on their companies’ individual Ideacom plan. Because the plans are all “fully-funded” verses “self-funded,” risks are further minimized. We have already seen our members save as much as 45 percent on their monthly premiums. Results may vary.
What other services does Ideacom provide to its members?
Ideacom’s primary objectives are:
  • To act on behalf of our Membership as a group purchasing consortium. We have more than 25 vendor/partners, including Avaya, NEC, Tadiran (News - Alert), Vodavi, Tigerpaw Software and Graybar. IDeACOM members buy directly from these suppliers but receive all the benefits Ideacom has negotiated on their behalf. Our members receive group discounts for their individual business from these vendor/partners. Our members are not subjected to individual quotas. 
  • In early 2007, Ideacom introduced association health insurance for its member companies. There are several plans to choose from and all include major medical, coverage for doctor’s office visits, maternity, and other benefits typically found in group medical plans. Plans are so flexible that small and large businesses alike will find attractive offerings for their valued employees.

  • To provide educational opportunities not available from manufacturers such as business management, financial benchmarking and operational effectiveness. These educational offerings, through Ideacom University™, provide customized programs that are designed to assist our members in their pursuit of excellence and their destruction of the competition.

  • To create a national footprint that allows our members to pursue opportunities outside their region with installation and service resources they know and trust.
To learn more about how Ideacom helps telecom companies get access to healthcare services at association health insurance rates, please visit the company’s channel, Association Health Insurance.
Mae Kowalke previously wrote for Cleveland Magazine in Ohio and The Burlington Free Press in Vermont. To see more of her articles, please visit Mae Kowalke’s columnist page. Also check out her Wireless Mobility blog.

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