Association Health Plans



The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors® (NVAR) supports efforts to expand access to more affordable, high-quality health insurance coverage for Realtors® by allowing self-employed individuals and small employers to purchase health insurance through Association Health Plans (AHPs). 

Policy Positions Long Banner (345 x 900 px) (1)


As self-employed individuals, most Realtors® are forced to purchase their health coverage in the individual insurance market (or small group insurance market for those with employees), which are often more volatile and more expensive than the large group market - where most large employers purchase coverage for their employees.

Based on a survey of members by the Virginia Realtors®, more than 7,000 Realtors® in the Commonwealth have been forced to make the decision to go without health insurance, largely because of the high costs associated with obtaining coverage.

With nearly half of the population getting insurance coverage from employers (49 percent), the market for large employers tends to be more stable and offer better health care options at lower costs. So, how is the large group insurance market, where employers purchase insurance more affordable than individual markets, where many Realtors® purchase insurance?

  • The economies of scale benefit employers. The more employees participating, the more power the employer has to bargain with insurance companies for better coverage and lower premiums.
  • Federal law imposes fewer regulations on large employer plans, which allows for more flexibility in plan design to reduce costs.
  • As an employee benefit, some employers may subsidize employees' health coverage, which also keeps costs down.
  • There are administrative savings, such as streamlined billing, which promotes efficiency and allows employers to devote resources for other uses without jeopardizing health insurance services.


NVAR recommends legislation authorizing Association Health Plans (AHPs) open to sole proprietors and independent contractors, which would allow an association, like the Virginia REALTORS® and its nearly 34,000 members, the ability to band together to negotiate health insurance plans on the large group market.



After two years of lobbying, and despite strong bipartisan legislative support, Governor Northam vetoed the health insurance legislation introduced on behalf of Realtors® during the 2019 and 2020 sessions.  During the 2020 session, Senate Bill 235 (Barker) and House Bill 795 (Hurst), passed the Senate unanimously and the House of Delegates with only a handful of votes in opposition. Over the course of the past year, Realtor® association staff met with the Governor’s staff and addressed the administration’s concerns with the bill. Unfortunately, Governor Northam and his policy team maintained their opposition to the bill, which the Governor ultimately vetoed. The Realtors® won’t be deterred and will continue to fight for Association Health Plans.