With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act — often referred to as Obamacare — membership is growing in the Mississippi Association of Self-Insurers. The association was founded in 1996 because at that time many associations in Mississippi were struggling to find workers compensation coverage. To name a few, the Mississippi Trucking Association, the Automobile Dealers Association, the Association of General Contractors and the Electric Power Association were early members. Since that beginning, individual companies, law firms and representatives of the service industry have joined.
“In 1996, they all got together to pool resources to create an advocacy for better self insurance,” said the association’s Executive Director Dan Gibson.
“In the beginning it was about workers comp, but it has really grown and expanded to also include health self-insured too. Workers Comp is still the backbone, and the early members still provide ideas, leadership and strong support.”
Currently, MASI has 140 members with two more on the verge of joining. Since last fall, 36 groups have become new members, an increase that Gibson says was spurred by Obamacare. “It’s been great,” he said of the membership growth. “Under Obamacare, a lot of groups are going into self- insurance. We worry that some may be going into it without a lot of knowledge. We believe a strong education basis is important for self-insurance.”
Providing member groups with education is a key component of the services MASI offers. “We do not provide insurance; we share knowledge, research and data, and employers who are members help each other,” Gibson said. “The better informed they are, the better and the safer their work places can be.”
Early on, MASI developed an education program to train members for the designation of Certified Self-Insured Workers Compensation Professional. It includes various modules and 24 hours of instruction. Now the association is building a similar program and professional designation for self-insured health care. There will be five modules and 30 hours of instruction. The first session will be held Aug. 13 at the Electric Power Association facility in Ridgeland and will feature eight experts. Named the Certified Self-Insured Healthcare Program, it promises to raise the standard for professionals involved in delivering and managing self-insured health care for thousands of Mississippians.
Gibson, who’s MASI’s only paid employee, is also a registered lobbyist. He provides weekly updates for members during legislative sessions and keeps them informed. In 2012, he helped secure passage of the most comprehensive workers compensation bill in the nation. “We’ve really gotten involved in advocacy because our members represent thousands of employees, and we’re responsible for our members,” he said.
Asked to predict the future of MASI, Gibson said, “We post record attendance at our events and I think the future looks extremely bright and extremely busy. We’ll grow the services we provide our members. I couldn’t do it without the help of volunteers and committee members.”