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  • October 21, 2020

    Open Enrollment Ends Dec. 15: State Bar Association Health Plan May Work for You

    Open Enrollment runs Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, 2020. Initiated Jan. 1, 2020, the State Bar of Wisconsin Association Health Plan for members might be an answer for your health care needs.

    Annette Ashley

    health insurance stethescope and family

    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 premiums.

    Annette AshleyAnnette 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)
    (800) 637-4676

    State 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 performing.

    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 your firm.

    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:

    Bultman 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.

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