Anthem Blue Cross to Discontinue Individual Health Plans in Most Counties in California

Anthem Blue Cross announced that they will discontinue selling Individual medical plans in CA in 2018 except for three counties, Santa Clara, Stockton/Modesto, and Redding.

I received the following email from Anthem to agents and brokers last week with details about this decision. Please click on the link below:

Anthem Announcement

Please review the following to be sure that you will actually be affected by this:

  • This change only affects those on Individual Health Plans, NOT Employer Group plans or Medicare plans.
  • It affects both On Exchange (Covered California), as well as Off Exchange health plans.  It affects both subsidized as well as non-subsidized plans.
  • It does not affect “Grandfathered” plans.
  • It will take effect on Jan. 1st, 2018.
  • This change does not affect these 3 counties: Santa Clara, Stockton/Modesto and Redding.

We might be able to help you find alternatives as soon as the insurance carriers such as Blue Shield, Health Net and Kaiser release their new rates for Jan. 1, in either September or October.

Phil Lee

Lee Health Insurance Services (BLIS Corporation)

925-284-2000

http://www.health-insurance.com

www.linkedin.com/in/philwlee  

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

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

Anthem Blue Cross Cyber Attack

This is important enough to warrant a special blog, for those of you who are enrolled in Anthem Blue Cross health plans.
Anthem Blue Cross announced yesterday that their information system has been attacked. We do not have the details of this hack but I am sharing with you below an excerpt from the announcement that we received from Anthem:

“Safeguarding your clients’ personal, financial and medical information is one of our top priorities, and because of that, we have state-of-the-art information security systems to protect your data. However, despite our efforts, Anthem was the target of a very sophisticated external, cyber attack. These attackers gained unauthorized access to Anthem’s information technology (IT) system and have obtained personal information from our current and former members such as their names, birthdays, member ID/Social Security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information, including income data. Based on the information we know now, there is no evidence that banking, credit card, medical information (such as claims, test results, or diagnostic codes) were targeted or compromised.
Once the attack was discovered, Anthem immediately made every effort to close the security vulnerability, contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and began fully cooperating with their investigation. Anthem has also retained Mandiant, one of the world’s leading cybersecurity firms, to evaluate our systems and identify solutions based on the evolving landscape.
Anthem’s own associates’ personal information – including our own – was accessed during this security breach. We join you in your concern and frustration, and we assure you that we are working around the clock to do everything we can to further secure your clients’ data.
Anthem will individually notify current and former members whose information has been accessed. We will provide credit monitoring and identity protection services free of charge so that those who have been affected can have peace of mind. We have created a dedicated website (www.AnthemFacts.com ) where members can access information such as frequently asked questions and answers. We have also established a dedicated toll-free number that both current and former members can call if they have questions related to this incident. That number is: 1-877-263-7995. As we learn more, we will continually update this website and share that information with you. And, we developed a memo template and FAQ to help you answer questions you may receive from your clients.
We want to personally apologize to you and your clients for what has happened, as we know you expect us to protect your information. We will do everything in our power to make our systems and security processes better and more secure, and hope that we can earn back your trust.”

Please note the toll free 877 number above and the website address www.AnthemFacts.com for more information.

The following Bloomberg article (link) sheds more light on the situation 24 hours after Anthem’s initial announcement and provides helpful steps to take to monitor your own information if you are an Anthem member :
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-05/what-to-do-right-now-if-you-re-one-of-the-80-million-anthem-members-who-got-hacked

If you are an Anthem member, I share your concerns and am sympathetic to your situation, as I and my family are also in the same position. I do not have any more information than what’s reported above. If you are affected, you will be receiving more communication from Anthem shortly.
Phil Lee
Philip W. Lee, MBA
Lee Health Insurance Services
800-286-7445
www.health-insurance.com

Health Care Reform (ACA) Implementation Jan. 1st, 2014 – California Updates

Latest Updates

Individuals and Families
• Insurance Carriers are expected to release their health plan offerings for 2014 on Oct. 1st.
• The major carriers offering Individual/Family plans in the Bay Area will be Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Health Net and Kaiser.
• Individual & Family purchase mandates and penalties will go into effect on Jan. 1st. Large Employer Group (50+ Employees) mandates and penalties, however, have been postponed to 1/1/2015.

Small Employer Groups (50 or fewer employees)
• Model Notices — All Employers are required to give “Model Notices” to all their employees by Oct. 1st, and to new hires within 14 days of hire. This is a Dept. of Labor mandated notice, that talks about employees’ and dependents’ options, under ACA, to employer and individual health coverage, Exchanges, subsidies and tax credits.
• Previously, this Model Notice law carried a penalty to Employers of $1,000 per employee for non-compliance. Last week, the Dept. of Labor announced a waiver of the penalty for non-compliance. But they still want employers to send out those notices.
• Anthem Blue Cross will not be offering any Small Group health plans within the Covered California Exchange. But they will be offering a wide selection of non-standardized plans outside of the Exchange.

Large Employer Groups (50+ employees)
• Model Notices — Penalties waived, see above.

Medicare Individuals
If you are on Medicare, you are mostly unaffected by the implementation of ACA on Jan. 1st.

Phil Lee

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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