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National Restaurant Association adds health insurance options for small operators

More than 120 plans are available for companies with as few as two employees.

The National Restaurant Association is offering member companies a way to extend health insurance to their staffs at specially negotiated rates, a benefit afforded by President Trump’s removal of a regulatory restriction last fall.

The association health plan is intended to bring coverage within reach for employers and employees of companies with fewer than 99 staff members. The association said that 120 options are available to members, providing them with a choice similar to what larger concerns can afford to offer. The coverage can extend to companies as small as two people, according to the group.

The programs are technically provided by a newly formed entity, the Restaurant & Hospitality Association Benefit Trust Health Plan, which is insured and administrated by the giant insurer UnitedHealthcare.

The association has been working on the new member benefit for two years.

It comes as other trade groups are keeping an eye on Washington, D.C., because of a proposal issued by the White House in October that would loosen restrictions on health plans offered by associations. The new program from the restaurant association conforms to current regulations, according to the organization. 

"At the National Restaurant Association, we understand that association health plans offer much-needed benefits to small businesses in the restaurant industry," Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the association, said in a statement. "Fortunately for small businesses, we have partnered with UnitedHealthcare to pave the way for this innovative association health plan, a vital resource making it easier for companies of all sizes to provide comprehensive and high-quality, affordable health care for their employees." 

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