Oct. 21, 2020 – Nov. 1, 2020, marks the start of the open
enrollment period – the most popular time of year to review health care coverage.
In your review process this year, consider the State Bar of
Wisconsin association health plan as another alternative to determine whether it
offers any cost-saving options for you.
For coverage effective Jan. 1, 2021, all paperwork needs to
be submitted by Dec. 15, 2020.
2021 Health Insurance Premium Predictions
U.S. News & World Report predicts an increase in
2021 health insurance premiums, with large employers seeing a 5.3 percent
increase over 2020 premiums, and small and medium-sized employers bracing for
an extra 5 to 10 percent increase largely due to pandemic-deferred care.1 While the study
was not specific to law firms, it’s an indicator of what to expect for 2021
Annette Ashley, Hamline 1989, is Director of Professionalism & Engagement at the State Bar of Wisconsin, Madison. She can be reached at (608) 250-6133, or by email.
Rising health insurance costs are a major concern to State
Bar members, particularly those working in private practice. According to the
2017 Economics of Law Practice survey, 35 percent of State Bar members working
full time report they are not covered by an employer-sponsored health insurance
plan. The percentage of private practice firms unable to offer affordable
health insurance coverage options is higher. Fifty percent of respondents
working in firms of two to five lawyers reported that they were not covered by
an employer-sponsored health insurance plan.
How Does the Plan Work?
The State Bar of Wisconsin Association Health Plan is
available to law firms of two or more employees in Wisconsin that are
considered employers under current association health plan law. The Plan is a
group plan option for employer firms to offer its employees (attorneys and
staff) and their eligible dependents.
Under current Federal and State association health plan law,
the Plan cannot provide coverage to individual attorneys either working as solo
practitioners without nonfamily employees, or as individual participants
outside their firm’s employee group health plan.
The Association Health Plan offers large-group coverage for
small groups that band together, resulting in large group pricing and potential
cost-savings for smaller firms. While there is an obvious benefit to small
firms as a result of pooling together and sharing the risk, large firms can
benefit as well by joining an even larger group to absorb the risks and help
the plan operate more cost-effectively.
Timeframe for Making Changes
While the open enrollment period beginning Nov. 1 is the
most common timeframe for reviewing health insurance, firms can change health
care coverage at any time throughout the year without disrupting deductibles
paid on existing plans. For coverage to be effective Jan. 1, paperwork must be
submitted no later than Dec. 15.
Town Hall: Could the State Bar Group Health Plan Save You Money?
Attend a virtual town hall on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 1-2 p.m., to find out.
At this free program, benefits specialists from Professional Insurance Programs (PIP) will explain how switching to the group health plan could allow you to:
Pool risks with others and achieve greater savings – whether you’re a firm of 2 or 1,000+.
See less fluctuation in your premiums.
Save more through combining health care coverage with tax-advantaged benefits accounts
Attract and retain talent through better, comprehensive health care coverage
Most importantly, the benefits specialists can answer any questions you have in real time.
For coverage effective Jan. 1, 2021, paperwork needs to be submitted by Dec. 15, 2020, so now is the perfect time to ask whether a group health plan could be the solution to your firm’s health care needs. You can join the group health plan at any time during the year.
Who is Eligible?
Health insurance must be offered to all eligible employees
of the law firm. An eligible employee is anyone who works 26 hours or more per
week. Employer contribution is recommended, but not required.
The Plan would not be available to State Bar members living
outside Wisconsin, individuals whose firm chose not to adopt the Plan, and solo
practitioners without nonfamily member employees. They will need to secure
their health coverage through the individual market or through another group
plan available to them such as through a family member.
Who Do I Call
to Get a Quote?
For more information on the State Bar association health plan, contact:
Professional Insurance Programs (PIP)
Bar of Wisconsin association health plan information
While there is no denying that premium is an important
consideration, the true cost of any health plan is more complicated than just
the outlay for premiums. The process of reviewing health coverage may be
daunting, but it’s worth taking some time to look at how your current plan is
Have costs increased? Has the claims experience been
positive? If the changes haven’t worked in your favor, the Association Health
Plan may provide you some cost-savings. Ask the benefit specialists at
Professional Insurance Programs to walk you through the myriad offerings and potential
cost-cutting measures and advise you based upon your specific needs.
The Association Health Plan may be an option for you as you
protect your employees’ overall health – not to mention the financial health of
For additional cost-savings measures, including the Group Dental
Plan through Delta Dental, the EyeMed Vision plan and supplemental Critical Illness
and Accident Coverage, contact:
Financial Services, Inc.
(800) 344-7040 or (262) 782-9949
1 U.S. News & World Report, “What
to Expect From Your Employer’s Health Plan in 2021,” Aug. 31, 2020.