Chef Roberta Montelione with the Association's Clinton Wolf

After years of searching for affordable ways to provide health insurance coverage to their employees, smaller restaurant operators say it is starting to get a little easier, thanks to their access to the National Restaurant Association’s ‘Benefit Trust’ insurance initiative.

At a May 8 White House policy workshop, Roberta Montelione, chef of Milan Catering in Sarasota and Tampa, Fla., told members of the Administration that her premiums were down 25 percent since enrolling in the Association Health Plan (AHP) late last year.

Montelione, who attended the two-hour meeting with Association Senior Vice President of Health & Insurance Services Clinton Wolf, and Director of Healthcare Policy Aaron Frazier, also said the plan’s focus on wellness is a big help in attracting and retaining employees.

Frazier noted that the beauty of the health plan initiative is that it allows small businesses with two to 99 eligible employees the opportunity to band together, achieve scale, and access large group insurance, which traditionally is offered exclusively to bigger organizations. The Association, he said, launched the plan in 2018.

“Not only is this an important benefit to members, it also serves a vital need for them and their employees,” he said. “It offers quality, affordable, and competitive coverage specifically designed for [our industry’s] businesses and their team members.”

Frazier added that sharing members’ stories with policymakers is an important piece of the Association’s work as it continues to offer these plans more of its members’ businesses. “We appreciate the White House’s engagement on the issue as well as Administration efforts to continue supporting this key industry service,” he said.

Also attending the meeting was Paul Belle, area developer and brand advocate for Firehouse Subs in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. He told Administration officials, including Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, and representatives from the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Health and the Human Services, and National Economic Council, that he appreciated the many benefit design options the AHP offers.

Learn more about the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant & Hospitality Association Benefit Trust.