Understanding Special Enrollment Period (SEP) and Qualifying Events (QE)

(This information concerns Individual & Family Health Plans. It does not concern you if you are either on a Medicare Health Plan or on an Employer-Sponsored Group Health Plan)

The year-end Open Enrollment Period for Individual Health Plans ended on January 31, 2016.  However, certain individuals may still be able to apply for a health plan in 2016. This special circumstance is called the Special Enrollment Period (SEP).  You need to have a Qualifying Event (QE) to qualify.  Here’s what you need to know.

You can buy health coverage outside of the open enrollment period when you have a qualifying life event—through a special enrollment period (SEP).  Most SEPs last 60 days from the date of the qualifying life event.
Qualifying life events for a SEP include:

  • Getting married or entering a domestic partnership
  • Child aging off a plan
  • Gaining a dependent or becoming a dependent through marriage, birth, adoption, or placement for adoption or foster care
  • Permanently moving to a new area that has different health plan options
  • Employer coverage not being considered minimum essential coverage
  • Losing other healthcare coverage that is considered minimum essential coverage, such as due to job loss, termination of employer health plan by the employer or expiration of COBRA coverage
  • Returning from active military service
  • Change in eligibility for advance premium tax credit or cost-sharing subsidies

Please note that voluntarily terminating other health coverage or being terminated for not paying premiums is not considered a qualifying event.

All insurance companies will require written proof that you have an acceptable qualifying event.  When enrolling during an SEP, please make sure to include qualifying events verification documents in the application.

This is a link to Blue Shield of California’s interpretation of the ACA laws regarding SEP and QE’s.  Different carriers may have slightly different interpretations and requirements.

https://bliscorp.egnyte.com/dl/QJhtXag1KT

Phil Lee

Lee Health Insurance Services (BLIS Corporation)

www.health-insurance.com

925-284-2000

www.linkedin.com/in/philwlee   www.yelp.com/biz/lee-insurance-services-lafayette-7Affordable

 

The Pitfalls of Leaving Original Medicare & Supplement Plan for Medicare Advantage HMO

(This information concerns Medicare Health Plans.  It does not concern you if you are either on an Employer-Sponsored Group Health Plan or on an Individual & Family Health Plan)

We frequently hear stories about seniors who made this change hastily because they attended a meeting, or an agent came to their home.  Frequently these agents would represent a limited number, usually just one, Medicare Advantage HMO plan.  They typically do not give prospects an adequate overview or understanding of the entire universe of plans in the marketplace because they have limited knowledge and products to offer.   They don’t fully explain the consequences of your making such a switch.

If you are contemplating such a change, you should not do so lightly.  You should only do this after much thought and research.  It’s not a matter of simply changing plans or changing carriers.  It’s nothing short of changing  from one world of plans, Original Medicare with Medicare Supplement, to another entirely different world of plans, Medicare Advantage.

These are the issues you must consider:

  1. This change may not be reversible in the future because Medicare Supplement plans are not guarantee-issue, except at age 65.  Supplement plans do not have an annual open enrollment period as Advantage plans do.   If you ever want to go back to Medicare Supplement from an Advantage plan, you will have to be medically underwritten and approved on your application before you will be enrolled.
  2. 90% of our clients choose Medicare Supplement F plans because of the freedom to choose their own providers anywhere in the country, and also because of the freedom from Copays, Coinsurance and Deductibles for all medical costs, excluding Rx.  However over the years, many non-clients have approached us for help to make the difficult transition from Medicare Advantage, such as Kaiser back to Original Medicare and Supplement.  This process is not easy, and is full of tricky timing and health approval issues.
  3. Medicare Advantage HMO plans like Kaiser Advantage or Scan Health require you to use only those doctors that are in their network.  You will not have the option to see any outside doctors such as from UCSF, Stanford, etc.  You will be required to obtain referrals and authorization for all specialists, procedures, etc.
  4. Advantage plans do not include Foreign Travel benefits.
  5. Kaiser Medicare Advantage does not cooperate with independent agents.  So we will not be able to service you on your Medicare plans at all.
  6. CMS (Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services) has ruled that Medicare Supplement F plans can no longer be offered to new enrollees after the year 2020. If you think you might want a Medicare Supplement F plan in the future, you must enroll before 2020.
  7. Medicare Trial Period and Medicare 24 Month Rule – Under very limited circumstances, Medicare beneficiaries who enroll in an Advantage plan at age 65 may have a 12 to 24 month Medicare Trial Period where they may switch back to Original Medicare, a Medicare Supplement plan and a Medicare PDP (Rx) plan, guarantee-issue.   But it must be done within 24 months from age 65 Medicare ICEP (Initial Coverage Enrollment Period).

Phil Lee

Lee Health Insurance Services
800-286-7445

www.linkedIn.com/in/philwlee

www.Health-Insurance.com

Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) 2015

(This information concerns Medicare Health Plans. It does not concern you if you are either on an Employer-Sponsored Group Health Plan or an Individual & Family Health Plan)

Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) 2015

(A) When is the 2015 Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP)?

Once again this year, Medicare AEP will run from Oct. 15th to Dec. 7th.

You may do the following during this time:

  1. Enroll or change your Medicare Advantage plan (MA-PD).
  2. Enroll or change your Medicare Rx (PDP) plan.
  3. Enroll in a Medicare Supplement and PDP plan (the supplement is not guarantee-issue).

(B) Is Medicare Supplement Plan F going away?

Yes, CMS (Center for Medicare Medicaid Services) has announced this year that they will not allow Medicare Supplement Plan F, the most popular supplement plan, to be offered after year 2020.

However, anyone who is already on an F plan at that time will be grandfathered and permitted to keep it indefinitely.

In other words, if you think that you may ever want a Plan F, you must enroll by 2020. If you lapse your F plan before 2020, you will never be able to get it back again. Those who will turn 65 after the year 2020 will unfortunately never be able to experience the benefits of Plan F.

(C) Are rates for frozen Supplement Plan F likely to skyrocket?

Some concerns were raised that the premium for F plans may skyrocket, after 2020, due to there being no new future new entrants into the risk pool. Although this is a possibility, it is unlikely to be a cause for alarm for the following reasons: (1) Unlike under age 65 plans, supplement plans are secondary payers (Medicare is the primary payer) and not subject to the brunt of the risk. (2) In the past when older supplement plans were frozen, such as the Anthem Classic J plan, there was no great increase in rates. (3) After the freezing of Plan F, other plans like G and N will still be available, although these other plans are not as comprehensive as F. (4) Even if premiums should escalate, the Birthday rule allows members to switch to like, or downgrade, plans, guarantee-issue, every year, on their birthday month.

The practical implication is that seniors may keep Plan F and take a wait and see attitude. If rates go out of line, then simply downgrade, guarantee-issue, on their next birthday.

We would be delighted to help you find affordable solutions to your health care needs.

Phil Lee

Lee Health Insurance Services
800-286-7445

www.linkedIn.com/in/philwlee

www.Health-Insurance.com

Premium Reimbursement is a Costly Violation

(This information relates only to Employer-Sponsored Group Health Plans.  It does not concern either Medicare Plans or Individual and Family Health Plans)

Re: Premium Reimbursement by Employers (outside of an ACA-Approved Group Health Plan) is a Costly Violation

Starting on July 1st, the IRS will begin assessing a penalty of $100 a day (per employee for each affected employee) to employers who continue to pay for employees’ individual health plans.  Please click below link to this article.

http://eba.benefitnews.com/news/regulation/premium-reimbursement-is-a-costly-violation-2746335-1.html?zkPrintable=true.

We would be happy to help your company find affordable solutions to comply with local and federal requirements regarding health insurance.

Phil Lee

Lee Health Insurance Services
800-286-7445

www.linkedIn.com/in/philwlee

www.Health-Insurance.com

Last Chance to Enroll into a Health Plan in 2015

(This information relates only to Individual and Family Health Plans, not Medicare or Group plans)

If you are uninsured and do not have a special Qualifying Event, Thursday April 30th is the last day that you may enroll into an Individual Health Plan using the Govt.’s special extension by claiming that you are unaware of the uninsured penalty.

If you apply by April 30th, you will receive a June 1st effective date. Otherwise, you will have to wait until the end of the year.
In order to apply for coverage during this extended enrollment period to a plan either On or Off the Covered California health exchange, most carriers require you to do so through a certified agent. Anthem Blue Cross further requires the application to be on paper through an agent.

At Lee Health Insurance Services we would be happy to serve as your agent. As always, there are no costs, no fees for our services. The premium rates you pay are the same approved and regulated rates whomever you get them from. If you qualify, you will receive the tax subsidies that you are eligible for based on your household income.
Phil Lee
Lee Health Insurance Services
800-286-7445
www.health-insurance.com

Extended Enrollment Deadlines for Individuals

(This information relates only to Individual and Family Health Plans, not Medicare or Group plans)

For those of you who are still uninsured or who just found out from doing your 2014 tax return that you have to pay a penalty, there is still time to enroll. If you are currently uninsured and can testify that you were not aware of the penalty, you may still enroll. However, there’s not much time left. The deadlines are:

April 15th, for a May 1st Effective Date.
April 30th for a June 1st Effective Date.

In order to apply for coverage during this extended enrollment period to a plan either On or Off the Covered California health exchange, you must do so through a certified agent or broker. We at Lee Health Insurance Services (800-286-7445) would be happy to serve as your agent. As always, there are no costs, no fees for our services. The premium rates you pay are the same approved and regulated rates whoever you get them from. If you qualify, you will receive the tax subsidies that you are eligible for based on your household income.

Covered California Application Problems

We are finding that many of you trying to enroll onto Covered California online got stuck or sent off to MediCal (Medicaid). E.g. if you happen to put an Employment End Date, you would likely be sent to MediCal.
We, at Lee Health Insurance Services, have figured out the “fixes” to these issues, and would be delighted to help you resolve them in order to secure coverage from Covered California.

Very sincerely,
Phil Lee
Philip W Lee MBA
Lee Health Insurance Services
Employee Benefits and Health Insurance
800-286-7445
www.Health-Insurance.com

Anthem Blue Cross Offers Free Identity Protection Service To Those Affected By Cyber Attack

To follow up on my alert regarding the Cyber Attack of Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem is now offering to all those affected, free Identity Protection Services.
If you are a current or former Anthem Blue Cross member, you may sign up as follows:
Go to www.anthem.com/ca
On the homepage, under the “yellow shield”, click “Learn More”.
On the 4th paragraph, click https://anthem.allclearid.com/
Please read and follow the instructions carefully.
We are happy to be of service to you.
Please don’t hesitate to call us should you need help on your health plan coverage.
Phil Lee
www.health-insurance.com
800-286-7445

Cyber Attack – Letter from Anthem Blue Cross

Anthem Blue Cross asked Agents to send this email to all their current and former Anthem members. I am sharing this with all of you whether you have an Anthem plan or not.
“Anthem wants to keep you informed about its actions in response to the cyber-attack. If members have given Anthem their email address, they will get an email about identity protection and credit monitoring services. Anthem is required to send this email, due to state laws around breach notifications. The subject line of the email will be “Important Message From Anthem, Inc.” and it will direct members to visit AnthemFacts.com to sign up for credit protection services. The email will not ask for personal information. Anthem encourages all members to read the email and visit AnthemFacts.com to sign up for the services provided by Anthem.”
Phil Lee
Lee Health Insurance Services
www.health-insurance.com
800-286-7445

Fixing Obamacare at Capitol Hill

Last week, I and my fellow board members from our agents and brokers’ Association of Health Underwriters (AHU) gathered at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. to visit with Congressmen and women from both sides of the aisle to discuss issues and challenges that affect health insurance for Americans. During the past 18 months since the ACA rollout, agents and brokers exceeded everyone’s expectations by excelling in their jobs, while the Govt. Exchanges and all other entities fell below expectations. Our association has received the recognition of lawmakers and regulators, and we strive to promote a system that would be more affordable, equitable, less bureaucratic to consumers and employers, while offering more choice and competition, and reducing the burden on taxpayers.
Thank you for your feedback and concerns which I incorporated into our conversations with legislators.

Phil Lee
Lee Health Insurance Services
www.health-insurance.com
800-286-7445

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Lee Health Insurance Services | Healthcare Insurance Agency, Individual Health Insurance, Family Health Plans, Group Medical Insurance, Small Business Health Insurance, Whole & Term Life Insurance, Dental Insurance, Health Care Reform Assistance, Covered California Insurance Exchange Plans, Medicare Supplement Insurance, Medicare Advantage, Medigap Plans, Anthem Blue Cross, Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield of CA, Health Net, Cigna, Aetna, Contra Costa County CA, Pleasant Hill, Danville, Concord, Berkeley, Martinez, Albany, Oakland, San Ramon, Alameda, Santa Clara, Campbell, Milpitas, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Saratoga, Fremont, Palo Alto, Newark | 935 Moraga Road, Suite 240, Lafayette CA 94549 (925) 284-2000 or Toll-Free, (800) 286-7445