GHLIT participants already have protections of health care reform

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Over the next decade, the federal legislation to reform health care will usher in sweeping changes for much of the insurance industry designed to increase accessibility to coverage and care and to protect patients against loss of coverage.

"The good news for AVMA Group Health and Life Insurance Trust participants is that they don't need to wait to benefit from many of health care reform's most important protections," said Libby Wallace, GHLIT chief executive officer. "Our policies and practices already provide access to many of the key elements contained within the legislation."

The GHLIT guarantees coverage for AVMA members, for example, regardless of health status. The Trust also offers dependent coverage until age 26 and access to insurance for long-term care, and charges no gender-based variances in premium rates.

"In fact, GHLIT provides even greater protection, because our medical plans are portable," Wallace said. "Members can take their coverage with them when they move or change jobs or even if they leave the job market altogether, which isn't an option with employer-sponsored plans."

The health care legislation includes provisions designed to reduce costs and improve quality and efficiency. GHLIT trustees continuously monitor the health care and insurance environments to identify ways to contain costs and ensure that plan participants have access to high-quality provider networks. Recently, the Trust issued a premium credit to many plan participants.

Starting in 2014, the federal legislation requires most individuals to purchase insurance or pay a penalty. GHLIT's high-deductible health savings account-qualified plans can be an affordable way to meet this requirement. Although the legislation does scale back HSA-reimbursable expenses, HSAs still allow individuals to build a tax-free nest egg to offset future health care costs.

Another aim of health care reform is to reduce administrative expenses. The federal legislation requires insurers that offer coverage for individuals or small groups to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on medical expenses.

Keeping administrative expenses as low as possible is a primary goal of GHLIT. Currently, GHLIT's administrative expenses are just 11 percent.

"Keeping administrative costs down benefits GHLIT participants by helping to keep premium rates in line, which is as important to us as providing access to the highest-quality care," Wallace said. "GHLIT strives to provide coverage that exceeds industry—and now legal—standards."

Information on GHLIT benefits is available here. New York Life Insurance Co. underwrites GHLIT insurance. Veterinarians and veterinary students can obtain more information—including plan details, rates, exclusions, limitations, eligibility, and renewal provisions—or find a GHLIT agent by calling the Trust office at (800) 621-6360.