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Health Reform for REALTORS® Explained

By Robert Freedman, senior editor, REALTOR® magazine

About two weeks ago we ran a quick summary of what to expect now that health reform has passed. To fill in the details of that summary, I sat down with Marcia Salkin, NAR’s managing director for legislative policy, for a video interview.

Among the highlights of what she said:

Employer mandate. Few real estate brokerages will be subject to the requirement that employers either provide health insurance to their employees or pay into the health insurance exchange through which employees get coverage on their own. The lion’s share of brokerages are simply too small to be subject to the requirement.

Individual mandate. Many real estate practitioners will be eligible for tax credits to help offset the cost of coverage. Some practitioners will simply fall below the affordability trigger that will allow an exception to the requirement. Whether you’re exempted or how much in tax credits you get will vary by the cost of insurance in your area, your family size and your income (thecredits are graduated), so some will receive more help than others.

Quick hits. Many of the most prominent provisions, like the creation of the health insurance exchanges, wont take effect for three more years. But there are some provisions taking effect this year that you’ll want to know about. Among them: the small business tax credits (at least a portion of them); a prohibition on denying covaerge to childen for preexisting conditions; and an allowance to keep children up to 26 years of age on your health insurance (even if they don’t live with you or even have their own family).

In the video, Marcia goes into considerable detail on what you can expect. It should answer many of your questions about it.

You can learn even more in a free webinar we’re hosting on Thursday, May 27, at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, called Step-by-Step Walk-through on Health Reform for REALTORS®. Marcia Salkin will be presenting along with Linda Goold, NAR director of tax policy. Register for the webinar now.

Robert Freedman

Robert Freedman is director of multimedia communications for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. He can be reached at rfreedman@realtors.org.

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Comments
  1. Trust me costs will go up when you add more people we have seen it 1st hand.

    Since my husband and I are both REALTORS® we have paid for our own health insurance for the past 23 years. We carry BCBS of Michigan which does NOT charge you more based on gender or if you use it. They also do not look at pre existing conditions.

    Over the past 23 years we have seen costs go up but nothing like we have seen over the past few years. Why? Because in Michigan there have been tons of layoffs and since BCBS does not look at pre existing tons of people were added when they lost their employer insurance. However, since many of these people had a pre existing condition it is now costing BCBS more money thereby costing us much more. So costs will NOT go down.

  2. NAR has still not given an explanation why it did not take a position against healthcare reform. The taxes will take us all down as small self-employed Realtors. This was a slam dunk decision to reject it.

  3. G. C. Hans

    I agree with Lloyd, but it seems the Realtors Association always supports liberalism no matter what the cost or damage done to the little guy. That’s why I hate the need to belong.

    I remember that the after stumbling all over themselves to get Gov. Bill Ritter (D) elected the Colorado Assoc. of Realtors were complaining about a boatload of new taxes he imposed after he campaigned as a conservative. I e-mail them “What did you expect?” I never got a response.

  4. Joseph Webber

    Will any of the tax credits be available for me an independent contractor this year???

  5. Why has NAR not negotiated with a health carrier for a group plan for all Realtors?

  6. Suzanne Ryder

    The NAR should certainly be able to offer a good group plan for all realtors, it is a very large and well financed organization!

  7. One large step for socialism, one giant leap to Marxism!Our country was built on capitalism, and now we are shredding it along with the freedoms and liberties that our soldiers have fought and died for!!!!!!!

  8. NAR should propose as a group to obtain a bett er health packgage more affordable ane better benefits.

  9. Doug Day

    I agree with Anna Koncak and have been asking this same question for years about why NAR does not negotiate the group health plan for the thousands of members across the US. Surly we would have huge discount like other corporations receive. Now that the pre-existing conditions will be outlawed there does not seem to be any reason this could not be successfully secured. It does not seem to make sense that individual Realtors should be penalized with higher health care rates every year. I finally have gone to an HSA because of the annual rate increases and I am still paying $250.00 a month for a high deductable coverage plan.

  10. Ron Linck

    The NAR like every other group or organization is sooo! liberal! You can’t give tax credits without raising taxes. Stop all the big government giveaways. I would love to opt out of NAR. Everything you guys support does nothing but create more hardship.
    Stop the tax incentives for home buying. Stop freddie and fannie fom approving bad low credit loans. This was all pushed thru by a Democratic house and senate. Then they want to make you believe it was Bush. He warned and tried to fight this horrible legislation. Stop it! No more bailouts. If you fail, then fail. Capitolism works, and works better than anything ever invented. Downsize government! Let the free market correct, it will take 5 years. We will all be better off.

  11. B.M.Krueger

    I agree with most of the comments posted. Taxes will go up, less people paying in and more people getting the benefits. The health insurance exchange does not take effect for 3 years but our taxes will go up right away to pay for the new plan. Why did NAR support this terrilble health care plan. We don’t need socialism or more big government, we need more free market solutions and less government regulations.

  12. Thanks for all the comments. I’ll try to address some as best I can, but I would encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with not only the bill but the legislative history of NAR’s involvement in health insurance issues. There’s a complete explanation of everything NAR has done over the last several years. It’s all on REALTOR.org/healthreform.

    On the health reform bill, NAR did not take a position for or against the legislation. Prior to the introduction of this major bill, it worked with members of Congress to craft some very narrowly targeted reforms to the existing system to help small businesses and independent contractors get coverage similar to what’s available in the large group market. Among these reforms were elimination of preexisting conditons as the basis for denying someone coverage. Also, NAR worked with lawmakers to improve the ability of small employers and independent contractors to improve their negotiating position with insurance companies. These efforts took place before the major reform bill was introduced. Again, NAR did not take a position on the major reform bill. In its communication with lawmakers, its message was that any reforms that are enacted should address the inequities that small business and independent contractors face in the insurance market compared to large employers.

    On the point raised about the association providing coverage to its members, NAR did introduce the REALTORS Core Health Insurance (RCHI) program about a year and a half ago. (At REALTOR.org, search the term “RCHI” and you’ll get a URL for the Website.) It’s a limited medical insurance program, which means it’s limited to everyday illnesses and accidents, and the maximum benefits paid in each medical situation are capped. I encourage you to go visit the RCHI site, because it explains how it works.

    I’m not in a position to discuss what stands in the way of a large association providing major medical health insurance for its members, but insurance is provided on a state-by-state basis, not a national basis. Each state has its own rules that insurers must follow, so insurers historically have been limited in their ability to create coverage for a group that cuts across state lines.

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on this.

  13. nicole segal

    Did anyone notice who’s stock went up once the health care passed – take a good look
    at the insurance companies, are we at all surprised.
    United Healthcare raised my premium twice – yes twice- last year. I had a birthday so they could hit me twice!!!! It went from $460ish/mo to $602.00/month. Thanks to the
    health care passing, I just received a new premium hike – it is now $775.00/mo.
    That’s with a $3,500 deductible & no drug coverage until I’ve used up the entire $3,500.
    They call this “group coverage” I call it unaffordable & scary!

  14. Jan Cass

    Robert Freedman – I checked out RCHI as you suggested.

    This has to be the biggest scam ever. It has caps that are totally unrealistic!

    My late husband was hospitalized for two weeks. RCHI pays an absolute maximum of $1,000/day. So, they would have paid out a maximum of $14,000. The bill came in at $136,000!!!

    Although my husband died, I was fortunate that he was covered by Medicare. Had we had your “coverage”, I would have been stuck with a balance of $122,000!!!

    If you think RCHI is a good plan for your members, you have been living under a rock somewhere!

  15. Joe Krofchek

    As a self employed person for over 12 years I find that health care has always been expencive and the coverage is limited, I am hoping he new law can help me and my Family! I dont understand why so many folks can say we are headed into Socialism?this statement is bogus and we should be happy we have a presedent who is not scared to stick his neck out to get things done.
    it seems so many folks want to turn everything into a ploitical debate and I for one am tired of hearing about it. I also respect Realtor for not shoving a Right or Left political agenda down our throuts. I do have a life and a family and they are my first priority

  16. Jan, I certainly appreciate your comment. The REALTORS Core Health Insurance (RCHI) program was never intended to cover a major illness, as you describe. Only a major medical policy covers such a major illness. The NAR program is a limited medical plan that’s only intended for minor illnesses and accidents. It was set up to provide a fallback for NAR members who either cannot get major medical, perhaps because of a preexisting condition, or already have major medical coverage through a spouse or through another employer, and wanted something affordable for routine or minor office visits or accidents. The attractiveness of a limited medical plan is that it provides a more affordable alternative for routine care, especially for people whose fees or co-pays have increased on their major medical coverage. Again, the coverage was never intended to cover a major illness, so by definition it would only cover a fraction of the costs for a two-week hospitalization. I hope you find this additional explanation somewhat helpful.

  17. Ron Rucshner

    You can sure tell old Joe knows nothing about economics. They will be raising your taxes so high to cover all this bogus junk your health insurance will be an after thought.
    Joe is indeed thinking selfishly and not thinking about his country that is bankrupt. It will not be long until the whole system collapses.
    This is what the liberal/socialist want. Then they will control your life and decide what healthcare they want to give you.
    I hope you do not grow old or have aging parents because they may be deemed too old to try and help. Just send them to hospice to die.
    If the country collapses Joe who is going to pay for your healthcare ? Do you even understand how many trillions of dollars in debt we are?
    You better do some research before you destroy your own family while supporting a bankrupt socialist agenda.
    Have you seen the news in Greece ? Is that the future you want for your family ?

  18. Brad Schaffer

    Robert:
    Nice try at putting a political spin on an onging attitude provided by NAR to it’s forced membership. Your explination about NAR’s position and the healthcare bill. IF NAR would of taken a position maybe those of us who pay for your health care benefits would of not had this piece of crap forced down our throats. As for the NAR endorsed CORE program, all I can say is what a joke, and don’t give us the excuse that with all the individual states with their own regulations the NAR can’t provide a group plan. I worked for Blue Cross and we provided a national plan for both the members of the National independent Trucker association and the US Automobile Dealers association and all federal Gov. employees who picked it from their available choices. If NAR really wanted to accomplish a national plan you could.

  19. Chris

    The health insurance I have now is so bad I don’t see how things can get much worse. Luckily I have good health. If I didn’t, I’d have to quit working and utilize the health care system we have in our state for the indigent.

    We needed to start moving in some direction. Every administration in the last 16 year has provided lip service on health care reform and done nothing.

    I think its great that we have a president that is willing to do something even if it’s not perfect. I’m tired of talkers that never follow through on anything they say.

  20. Linda Maguire

    I am with you Julie. Are country is soon to be nothing of what it was. We are a strong nation because of our capitalist standing. This new regime is socialism under the name of Democracy. It saddens me.

  21. Brandon

    Since the government/ Obama took control of the insurance industry Premiums are based off of our income. That’s crazy! Is gas and food next?? Where’s the incentive to work? The government has engineered the system to reward those that are lazy and punish those that work hard. I’m a full time Realtor and I Pay a staggering $15,000 annual insurance premium cost and cant use the insurance until I pay another $12,000 deductible. That’s criminal!! I’m being extorted and the government will fine us and threaten jail time because its processed through the IRS. It doesn’t stop there. I’m also taxed 42% on my income. It has to stop!
    The alternative may sound better and no work, get section at $1200 per month rent, free health care, buggy full of groceries, sit around all day. Talks about stress free!

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