Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey will offer several of its Omnia health plans though an organization that provides self-funded health and dental benefits to 15 independent trade association employers, covering about 18,000 employees and their dependents.

The deal with Association Master Trust started Wednesday, Horizon, New Jersey's biggest health insurer, said.

Horizon's Omnia plans sparked protests last year because they lower premiums and lower out-of-pocket costs if consumers use a limited set of Tier 1 hospitals and health systems.

Hospitals excluded from Tier 1 worried that they would lose patients.

So far 235,000 consumers have signed up for the Omnia plans, according to Horizon, which had 3.8 million customers last year.

Horizon had net income of $107 million last year on $11.5 billion in revenue.