Money & Business

Hospitality Trade Group Creates Its Own DC Health Exchange

By / Jul 9, 2014 (Stockbyte/Thinkstock)

The relatively new group Industree hopes to assist restaurants and bars in the District with a problem that many of them have struggled with: how to comply with the Affordable Care Act. Its solution? It recently launched its own healthcare exchange.

It’s not always easy to stand out in the restaurant industry, but a new organization has found a way.

Industree, a hospitality trade group that started in Washington, DC, in 2013, last week launched Industree Exchange, a healthcare exchange aimed at making it easy for large restaurants and bars to comply with the Affordable Care Act, which requires businesses with at least 100 full-time employees to provide health insurance by the start of 2015.

“Every single option has been designed, negotiated, and built specifically for the demographics of the restaurant industry,” the group’s founder and CEO, Alisia Kleinmann, told The Washington Post. “They keep you in compliance with Obamacare, and they’re completely affordable.”

We want our employees to have healthcare, but it had to be affordable.

Kleinmann is acutely aware of the need for such a service in the industry. As a onetime employee of the DC-area pizza chain Matchbox, she noted that both she and her husband (who works as a bartender) have previously been unable to get insurance for their family through their hospitality industry jobs.

But Kleinmann, who has since received certification as an insurance broker, saw an opportunity to assist area restaurants with the issue. According to the Washington Business Journal, she worked with M&T Insurance Agency and Liazon, which runs private benefits exchanges for businesses, to launch Industree Exchange. The exchange offers insurance plans for hospitality businesses with more than 100 full-time employees.

Workers at participating restaurants will be able to choose from a variety of plans, with costs ranging from $61 to $92 per month for a basic plan to $175 to $425 per month for plans from larger insurers, such as Aetna.

The variety of plans is helpful for local restaurant chains such as RW Restaurant Group, which has 250 employees. The company found that if its current plan, which costs $400 a month per worker, were applied to the entire workforce, it would be unaffordable.

“We want our employees to have healthcare, but it had to be affordable,” partner Frank Shull told The Washington Post. “We have seven restaurants, but we’re not a big company like IBM.”

Because many hospitality employees tend to be younger and healthier, the less expensive plans tend to work well.

Kleinmann said Industree has big plans and may expand its efforts to work with related business groups, such as associations representing food trucks. While the exchange is currently focused on DC, she said she’s open to expanding it to other parts of the country, based on the need.

“Washington has been a great launchpad,” she told the Post. “There is a real need for something like this.”

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now and a former newspaper guy. More »

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