In what it says is the first programme of its kind for the spa and fitness industry in the US, the Arizona Spa & Wellness Association has announced a new partnership with insurance broker NFP and nonprofit health insurer EMI Health to facilitate new statewide insurance and health benefits for people working in those industries in Arizona.

Because the majority of this market is made up of small businesses, independent contractors and part-time employees, the effort is aimed at resolving rolling insurance challenges, employer costs and rising premiums. It will introduce new programmes to provide accessible coverage and competitive employee benefits with combined market leverage throughout Arizona.

The US does not have a government-run healthcare system, so individuals must purchase health insurance on their own, and often do so with the aid of their employers, who cover a portion of the costs, but this can be a challenge for small businesses.

“For many of these businesses, easing liability and risk, while improving workplace health benefits and recruiting new talent are top concerns,” said Arizona Spa & Wellness Association president and founder Mia Mackman. “In time, we hope the benefits of this partnership will help circumnavigate industry challenges, level competitive advantages and relieve some of the workforce shortages we are seeing due to lack of availability and access to comprehensive benefit options.”

The partnership opens new doors for people to explore a variety of competitive insurance programmes with pool and group advantages to provide greater coverage options and support industry growth.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to extend our resources to a wider network and include an innovative and independent workforce,” said Ed Kurowski, regional president of the Mountain States region of NFP. “We are thrilled to work with the Arizona Spa and Wellness Association on solutions to address these heavy-hitting problems facing so many people in these industries in Arizona.”