If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know we’ve been gearing up for the important changes to our health care system. We’ve spent months preparing and planning for the most significant changes since the introduction of Medicare in 1966. The key word here is “change”. We knew the new Health Care law was going to create a lot of it. What we know now is the best way to manage that change is with patience, flexibility, and when appropriate…a sense of humor. More of each will be needed.
President Obama admitted in his speech, the complexities of the market were clearly underestimated and that people need help maneuvering through this labyrinth. (I wish he’d suggested calling a broker…but that would have been asking a lot.) Are we surprised that, in an industry as complex as health insurance, a government-run website was not going to be the fix-all. (Why we went to Canada for code instead of Silicon Valley is mind-boggling!)
Well, the bomb he dropped, asking insurance carriers to extend policies for 12 months, indicates there is still a lack of understanding of the market complexities. It may seem a simple fix, but is anything but, and the insurance market is now in a new state of tizzy. Whether this plea for an extension can or will be implemented in California will be up to each carrier to analyze and decide. There will certainly be pressure to comply from the Insurance Commissioner and consumers but this request is more than “crossing a‘t’ or dotting an ‘i’. It would certainly be a welcome “re-change” for some consumers who got a glimpse of some sizable rate increases.
As a broker, we continue to move forward and adapt to this ever-changing environment. We are helping our clients sort through options, pointing out the new intricacies, and untangling the web of this new healthcare system.
Tip: Since the new private marketplace is offering plans with the same essential benefits as the public exchange, unless you qualify for a subsidy, there is no compelling reason to enroll on the public exchange (Covered CA). The private market will offer more options and a more streamlined enrollment process.
We are currently unable to directly assist our clients with enrollment in Covered CA due to technical problems on the website that won’t allow us access to client accounts. (This is what we were to have tested in July!) So we are advising clients who believe they will qualify for a subsidy to enroll directly through Covered CA’s website www.coveredca.com or by calling them at 800-300-1506.
Stayed tuned for more!
Heading into the fourth week of health care open enrollment there is no shortage of opinion on how things are going. Very few are favorable, and very few provide any help to the man/woman on the street. From the trenches, the level of anxiousness is rising but overall I’m impressed at the level of calm and patience. Maybe those on the pavement know enough not to get too excited…yet. I mean, come on, this is Uncle Sam we are talking about. Government rollout is a bit oxymoronic. Continue reading
Remember during the healthcare debate when President Obama was under pressure to allow people to keep their existing plan if they wanted to? Well, in the healthcare bill there is a provision for that but it does not apply to everyone. If you are covered under a policy that was in effect prior to the healthcare bill passing (March 23, 2010), then your plan is considered “grandfathered” and you can keep it and not have to turn it in for an ACA-compliant plan. Plan members will be notified by their carrier if they have a grandfathered plan they can keep. The question is, do you hold it or fold it? Continue reading
The curtain will rise soon on a new health insurance program, but it may feel more like a dress rehearsal than opening night. The Federal government (and California) is in the process of launching the largest public entitlement program in its history so we can expect some missed lines, costume malfunctions, and wet paint on the set. Implementing this program will be a large scale “Les Mis” type effort. It may take weeks before they pack them in. We know one thing; there will be plenty of critics in the audience. Continue reading
I am pleased to see there will be HSA compatible plans available in our new health care system. One of my first concerns after the Health Care Reform law passed was whether HSAs would be outlawed. It has been no secret that the current administration is no fan of HSAs; considering them another savings scheme for the wealthy. The State of California is no fan either and still refuses to allow the HSA tax deduction. Continue reading
There are a lot of new terms emerging with the onset of the new Health Insurance __???__. The federal government first called it a Health Insurance Exchange in hopes it would empower consumers to purchase their own insurance. What is an “exchange” and where do you find one? A shopping mall? Wall Street? The corner of 3rd and Main to see a guy in a trench coat? After surveying the public the feds determined “exchange” did not compute. Continue reading
In real estate location is key. In Health Insurance, for some, it’s the provider network. Whether a doctor or hospital is contracted with a carrier has a direct link to the level of your out-of-pocket costs and your peace of mind. With most health plans, providers are either contracted (in-network) or non-contracted (out-of-network).
Whether you are thumbs-up or thumbs-down on this health care reform law (ACA), it will bring some welcome clarity and simplicity to the health insurance marketplace. Though I have appreciated the creativity of insurance carriers in their plan designs over the years, confusion and complexity often tag along.
The major changes to our health care system are coming soon, but there has already been meaningful change such as mandated preventive care, removal of caps on annual and lifetime coverage, extended dependent coverage to age 26, and requirements for carriers to spend more on claims and less on admin costs. California also mandated some changes; most significant was guaranteeing coverage to children under age 19.
Exactly twenty years ago health care reform was a lead story in the news just like it is today. I had just moved the family insurance agency to a Corte Madera office and was feeling quite proud of the career I had chosen. Upon opening the morning paper one day and reading about “Hillary Care” I thought perhaps I had made a big mistake; was this the beginning of the end of private health insurance? And my career?! (I do owe the Clinton’s for encouraging me to diversify – more on that later). But reform never materialized.