New benefit program for NNA members

Nov 1, 2016

Editor’s note: A flash session on “Using Subscriber Benefits to Enhance Your Relationship While Creating Revenue Opportunities,” was presented by Affinity Group Underwriters Sept. 23, 2016, during the 130th Annual NNA Convention and Trade Show in Franklin, TN.


By Stephen Wyss
Managing Director | Affinity Group Underwriters

Affinity Group Underwriters, a National Newspaper Association Allied Member since 2001, introduced a new program at the convention called Community Group Benefits. It will offer benefits for subscribers of NNA member publications.

Community Group Benefits is designed to:

• Enhance the publication’s value proposition.

• Deepen customer relationships.

• Provide service to the community.

• Generate new revenue for the publication.

Initially, the benefits program will include two segments that are available now. One is a prescription drug savings card with average discounts of 33 percent. The other is a dental/vision/telehealth access program offering negotiated discounts at more than 40,000 providers. Acceptance is guaranteed for NNA customers with no age limits, pre-existing condition limitations or annual maximums.

For non-subscription publications, a reader version of both programs is also available.

Positioned as a “Thank You” gift, there is no cost to the publication or the subscriber for the prescription drug card. Savings are delivered at the counter at the time of purchase. It can be used at more than 35,000 pharmacies, including all of the major national chains that fill 92 percent of all prescriptions nationally. Participants during the flash session noted that because local pharmacies usually do not accept the card, publications in rural areas, especially those for whom the local pharmacy is a valued advertiser, may not want to participate.

The dental/vision access program is expected to have wide appeal. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that 108 million Americans do not have any dental insurance. Vision coverage is even less prevalent with more than 50 percent of the country lacking insurance according to The Vision Council. As a lower-cost alternative to insurance, the combined monthly fee for dental and vision charged for the new program starts at $9.95 per month, typically a reduction of around 75 percent compared to the cost of dental insurance premiums alone. For an added bonus, the $20 card activation fee is waived for subscribers of NNA members.

I cautioned publishers that most of the participating dentists are newer to the profession and trying to establish a patient base.

If you’re looking for that well-established dentist you’ve been seeing for years, it is possible that he or she will not be on the list. This program, however, is not necessarily for you. It’s more for those subscribers in your community who do not already have a dental relationship or whose dentist may be retiring.

The other component of the program—telehealth, providing 24/7 doctor consultations by phone for routine medical issues—was the subject of a great deal of interest and conversation among flash session participants.

Telehealth is a relatively new innovation that is rapidly becoming popular across the country because of the convenience and reduced cost compared to a traditional doctor office visit. Much of the interest was from communities that are a long drive from the nearest medical provider. In addition, a telehealth consultation can be an immediate alternative, for example, when a child is ill during hours when the family doctor’s office is closed.

Sponsoring publications earn $1 for each prescription filled using the prescription savings card. For the dental/vision/telehealth fees program, compensation of 8 percent of the collected fees will be paid.

Plans on the drawing board for Community Group Benefits include a supplemental family accident insurance policy to help fill the gaps caused by today’s high deductible health policies. Also under consideration are pet health coverage, identity protection and an online personal legal documents service.

Publishers’ Exchange Benefits Group, another new AGU service for NNA, was also reviewed and discussed during the flash sessions. First launched in June of this year, PBXG ( is a discussion group/blog where community publishers can gather online to learn about new laws and regulations affecting employer group health insurance and other employee benefit plans.

Session attendees were encouraged to complete the employee benefits benchmarking survey being conducted by AGU through PBXG. Results will be tabulated and shared with NNA and all participants to give editors a first-ever picture of common practices and typical costs for employee benefits among community publications.

AGU has a dedicated website for the programs it offers NNA members: