RISMedia's Real Estate Magazine

AUG 2019

Real Estate magazine is the industry's leading source for real estate news and information since 1980. Published monthly by RISMedia, Real Estate magazine offers timely and relevant real estate news to the industry's top brokers and agents.

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RISMedia's REAL ESTATE August 2019 27 eliminated or drastically altered, however—they are tied to the fate of the Affordable Care Act, which is once again in question, battling in court against claims that the health law is unconstitutional (at press time). NAR provides members with access to its REALTORS® Insurance Marketplace, a shopping platform that allows users to compare the costs and coverages of health and wellness insurance plans. With the DOL's rule, over 3,000 REALTORS® have been able to ac - cess cost-effective health insurance benefits through AHPs; however, only a few local REALTOR® Associa- tions are benefiting from the pro- gram, while for others, the imple- mentation has been delayed due to litigation concerns, according to NAR. Should the AHP rule be elimi- nated, thousands would be at risk of losing their current health insur- ance coverage. What are the DOL challenges, and has progress been made? In March, Judge John. D Bates flagged major provisions in the DOL's AHP rule as unlawful, citing that some "employers" were miss- ing a required commonality of inter- est, and using the rule to simply avoid the Affordable Care Act. This ruling, currently being appealed by the Department of Justice, could have major implications for REAL- TORS® looking for more affordable health benefits. In response, NAR received a flurry of support from over 200 industry groups and associations, many of which are currently offering AHPs to members, including Kentucky REALTORS®, Michigan REALTORS® in Alabama, the Greater Las Ve- gas Association of REALTORS®, the Indiana Association of REALTORS®, the Nevada REALTORS® and the Connecticut Association of REAL- TORS®, Inc. "Supporting the Department of Labor's rulemaking will continue to help safeguard our members' ability to join an association health plan," said Kentucky REALTORS® President Rip Phillips in a statement. "Ensur - ing the freedom to choose quality coverage is key to cultivating a deep participant pool and strong market- place, and Kentucky REALTORS® will continue to support the DOL's efforts to expand these options in Kentucky and across the nation." "Thanks to this overwhelming, out - spoken support of association health plans, the court and opposing states are beginning to recognize how truly valuable the Department of Labor's rule is to America's REALTORS® and to independent contractors across the nation," Smaby said in a state- ment. "We thank these REALTOR® associations for their support and will continue to do whatever possible to ensure affordable, high-quality op- tions are available to our members and their families." What other initiatives are tak- ing place within the real estate space? CENTURY 21 Scheetz recently an- nounced that it is offering cost- effective healthcare benefits to its 350-plus real estate professionals in Indiana as of July 1. According to the brokerage, the plan includes 24/7/365 care, reduced healthcare benefit costs (by up to 50 percent), patient advocacy, physician visits and a TruScript prescription plan. "By delivering comprehensive, af - fordable healthcare and health insur- ance to our agents, they will be able to focus on their clients and their businesses," Jason O'Neil, president of CENTURY 21 Scheetz, told RISMe- dia. "If we can take away one worry from our agents, we've made mean- ingful progress. We already have the very best agents in the business, and as a company, we are commit- ted to making the best better." In addition, JP & Associates REAL- TORS® began offering both health- care and retirement options this past February. "We strongly value the livelihood of our agents," Mark Johnson, CEO of JP & Associates REALTORS®, previously said. "Not only does our Agent Health Plan service offer ide - al benefits, but we are able to lower out-of-pocket expenses. Our agents may save up to 40 - 70 percent an- nually compared to their current plans, which could potentially be up to $15,000 or more a year." Keller Williams offers its agents discounted benefits through the KW Wellness Program, which partners with Stride Health. These benefits in- clude tax assistance, dental, vision, health, life and accident options. Last year, Compass partnered with IdilusHR to offer affiliated agents ac- cess to comprehensive health insur- ance benefits across 13 states. "When I speak to agents around the country, their No. 1 concern is gaining access to fairly priced healthcare plans they can offer their families and their businesses," said Robert Reffkin, founder and CEO of Compass, in a statement. "It is personally important to me that we find a way to deliver the best qual - ity of life for our agents. I believe it is wrong to prevent one of the larg- est groups of hard-working entrepre- neurs the basic human right to care for themselves and their families." HomeSmart made a similar move in January 2018, offering health benefits through Resourcing Edge to curb insurance costs for its agents. RE/MAX, meanwhile, offers ben- efits through its Health Plus plan, and Realogy has a comprehensive benefits and wellness program that offers numerous options for health- care coverage, retirement planning, and more. RE Liz Dominguez is RISMedia's associate content editor. Email your story ideas to ldominguez@rismedia.com.

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