Opening the Book On Healthcare Insurance
Gaining a favorable foothold in the health insurance market is often a numbers game – more available participants will translate into more attractive and diverse plan options. Pooling the resources of multiple organizations to achieve a scale that leads to better health insurance options is certainly not a new concept. But doing so successfully to the satisfaction of most participants – in a way that allows each organization to stay autonomous – is a very heavy lift.
This was the crux of the challenge for a group of disparate book industry associations in pursuit of a health insurance offering for its myriad member bases. In May 2018, close to 20 associations took a formal step forward in the process and formed an exploratory group called the Book Industry Health Insurance Partnership (BIHIP) and began holding meetings to determine how to move forward.
The initial premise was sound. BIHIP representatives understood that they had strength in numbers and set out to gain member perspective around how to move the needle on creating an effective group health insurance plan.
The Survey Says
The group created a survey to get member input from across all organizations. Administered by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), the survey provided aggregated data for all respondents, as well as for each individual organization.
The survey served to confirm member support for health insurance, says Angela Bole, chief executive officer with the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), one of the coalition members.
“Members wanted affordable healthcare insurance and to be able to leverage numbers for an association health insurance plan,” adds Bole.
The survey also brought to light a lack of expertise among associations about the implementation of health care plans, and the inherent challenges created by the disparity of association rules on member access and communication. It became clear that the coalition members would require a more concierge approach to a healthcare program that one single plan could not address.
“The groups wanted to leverage numbers for an overall association health insurance plan but after much research it just didn’t make sense,” says Bole. “It was a holy grail idea at the start, but ultimately it was not going to work for us.”
It took a year of meeting, discussion, and no small amount of pain as it hashed out the issues, but BIHIP turned to outside vendors for proposals in the summer of 2019. By fall of that year, they chose to move forward with LIG Partners, and 10 of the original associations were on board.
Moving Ahead With A Plan
Getting to this point was difficult but was only the beginning of the real process for BIHIP. What the organization found in LIG was a trusted partner that understood the opportunities and limitations and moved methodically towards workable solutions.
“LIG was very clear on what they could or couldn’t do, and they were extremely patient,” says Brian O’Leary, executive director of BISG. “They understand and respect the unique aspects of managing associations. They were upfront, honest and direct.”
IBPA’s Bole explains that it was a complicated space with many different viewpoints, voices, and levels of knowledge among the associations and that if not for LIG these many members would have had to figure out all of this out on their own.
Transparency and communication were critical to gaining support for the proposed plan. And once people got their heads wrapped around the concept of concierge service vs. simply discount insurance, they began to see the value that was offered.
After months of reviewing proposals, BIHIP officially launched its alliance with LIG Solutions in June 2020, providing member associations with a full suite of health care insurance options. While there is one single agreement, each association has a custom plan through LIG.
When the program launched it was supported by an integrated marketing campaign spearheaded by LIG that included email, social media, videos, educational webinars, one-on-one conversations with members and through in-person and virtual events.
Bole and O’Leary both say LIG did an outstanding job working through the roll out, eliminating confusion, and explaining the program.
Keeping the Momentum Moving Forward
To keep trust high and momentum moving forward, LIG and BIHIP members meet regularly to discuss the program and get updates on insurance regulatory issues, and to review questions, comments, and concerns with the program. LIG also works with each association on member outreach and customized marketing programs.
In addition to providing an outstanding service to members, LIG provides associations with many side benefits.
“LIG gives us tools to communicate with members on something other than registration and membership renewal,” notes Bole. “Their communications are not simply e-blasts about buying insurance, they feature health and wellness messaging. It lets members know we care about them holistically. And it gives us another touch point that we don’t have the bandwidth to do on our own.”
“In associations we talk about selling vs. added value,” Boles continues, “and this program clearly adds value to members and gives them useful information.”
In the end, Bole and O’Leary advise anyone engaged in a multi-party partnership like BIHIP to exercise patience, transparency, and openness through the entire process.
“It’s real peace of mind for us and the membership to know they can call LIG for trusted, reliable advice on healthcare insurance,” says Boles.
BISG’s O’Leary says LIG took a complex issue and created a solution that works for all.
“Members are better educated on what healthcare coverages are available and LIG continues to play a significant role in that process.”
The LIG Difference
- Member Health Insurance Solutions – LIG has a dedicated team of licensed agents located at our Northeast, Ohio-based headquarters to best serve your members in navigating today’s complex health insurance market. Our team will find the plans that best fit your member’s health and financial needs for individual, family, and business solutions.
- Member Benefit Solutions – The programs offered by LIG are designed to help you provide a cost-effective member benefit that you can use to help keep your members engaged with your organization and attract new members with an exclusive benefit solution that is done at no cost for our association partners.
- Non-Dues Revenue Solutions – Our programs are done as a no-cost solution for our association partners. They include several different “marketing remittance” options that deliver your members the advantages of affordable healthcare pricing and a streamlined enrollment process while delivering your organization a revenue stream and a turnkey solution that delivers true ROI. The LIG program requires little to no staff time, with LIG doing all the “heavy lifting” for your organization as we administer the entire program.