Alert: Blue Shield California Individual & Family Health Plans – Problems with Billing and Payments

(This concerns Individual and Family Health Plans either through Covered CA or Off Exchange direct from Insurance Carriers. This does not concern you if you are on Medicare or on an Employer group plan.)
We have been alerted to the fact that a good number of our clients have been experiencing payment issues with their Blue Shield individual health plans. This problem has affected members’ plans enrolled through Covered California, as well as plans enrolled outside of Covered CA (Off Exchange plans). In some cases, this has resulted in the cancellation of plans, even where clients have made timely payments.

We have discussed these payment issues with Blue Shield’s management. They are ongoing, known issues to Blue Shield. The payments issues stem from multiple factors such as:
1. Blue Shield is the only carrier that uses an outside billing vendor (one called HPS). Problems in their interface with this vendor is what caused many of their billing issues.
2. Blue Shield has been having problems in their interchange of information with Covered CA. These problems stem from an electronic file called Form 834 that is sent to Blue Shield by Covered CA containing enrollment details.
3. In cases where a member’s income or subsidy amounts have changed, there have been problems with incorrect transmittals from Covered CA. Some of these subsidy issues have to be corrected at the Covered CA level before being transmitted to Blue Shield.

We are told that Blue Shield is working on correcting these issues. In the meantime, please let us know at 925-284-2000, if we can help.

Lee Health Insurance Services 935 Moraga Road, Suite 240, Lafayette, CA 94549
Ph: 925-284-2000 Fx: 925-284-5484 plee@health-insurance.com www.Health-Insurance.com
Employee Benefits and Health Insurance

Update on Enrollment Deadlines: Extensions for OFF Exchange Plans

(Note: This alert relates only to Individual and Family health plans.  It does not relate to Employers with group health plans, nor to Seniors with Medicare plans.)

ON Exchange (Covered CA) plans:

As reported earlier, the 12/15/14 deadline has been extended to midnight Sunday 12/21/14.  Online applications only.  This applies to all Covered CA Exchange plans from Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield and Kaiser.

 

OFF Exchange plans (outside of Covered CA and direct with insurers):

Anthem:  The deadline has been extended to midnight Sunday 12/21/14.  Applications must be on paper.

Blue Shield: There are no extensions.  The deadline passed on 12/15.  (If you still want Blue Shield but do not need a subsidy, you may still apply through the Covered CA portal.  But you will still have to provide income and immigration status to the Govt.)

Cigna: The deadline has been extended to Friday 12/19/14 at 5 pm PST.

Health Net: The deadline has been extended to midnight Sunday 12/21.  Online applications only.  Applicants are encouraged to pay their initial premium by 1/1/2015, without waiting for their NOA (Notice of Acceptance).  You may use HN’s 24-hour payment line at 1-800-539-4193. You will hear the amount due as soon as HN has your enrollment in their system.

In all cases, the application extension plus the time required to process the files will impact timely receipt of the NOA (Notice of Acceptance) letters, initial premium bills, delivery of ID cards and policy descriptions.

If you need help, please call us at 925-284-2000 or email plee@health-insurance.com.

Phil Lee

www.health-insurance.com

800-286-7445

Last Minute Alert: Covered CA Deadline Extended to Dec. 21 for Individual Health Plan Enrollments

(Note: This alert relates only to Individual and Family health plans.  It does not relate to Employers with group health plans, nor to Seniors with Medicare plans.)

We just learned tonight that Covered CA, the State Health Exchange, has extended the previous deadline for Jan. 1 enrollments, from Monday Dec. 15th to Sunday Dec. 21st at midnight.  This extension applies only to Individual plans, and only to Consumer and Agent-assisted enrollments.

Covered CA also states that enrollments completed after Dec. 15th may see delays in invoicing as well as delays in proof of enrollment procedures.  To facilitate faster enrollment, they encourage submitting applications as soon as possible, but no later than Dec. 21st.

Please call us, Lee Health Insurance Services, at 925-284-2000, if we can be of assistance.

Phil

Philip W Lee MBA

Lee Health Insurance Services, BLIS Corporation

800-286-7445

www.health-insurance.com

www.yelp.com/biz/lee-insurance-services-lafayette-6

Open Enrollment and Renewal for 2015 Individual Health Plans

(Please Note: This information pertains only to those of you who are on Individual or Family Health plans.  This does not affect either Employer Group plans or Medicare.)

This past year just flew by.  But Open Enrollment is upon us again.  The Open Enrollment period runs from Nov. 15th through Feb. 15th.  (Any plan changes to start on the first of a month must be made by the 15th of the previous month.)   All of you should have received letters or emails from either your insurance carrier or from Covered CA, or from both.  Many of you may not need to do anything at all for your plans to continue.  However all of you who received subsidies through Covered CA will all need to take action.  Details on how to do this are at the bottom of this email.

NOTE: If you require assistance, but we are not your agent, you may designate us as your agent in order to receive our assistance.

If you have an ON Exchange Individual Health Plan

(i.e.  you obtained your Anthem Blue Cross or Blue Shield or Kaiser or Health Net plan through Covered CA, either with or without our assistance as your agent.)

You must “Renew” your plan if you want to continue receiving your subsidy for the 2015 year.  You do this by logging into CoveredCA.com using your User ID and Password.  Government regulations require that you so this in order to continue the subsidy.  If you don’t do this, the premium for your plan will jump up to the full non-subsidized rate and you will be billed for that.  Some may also lose the cost reduction feature on the Silver 70+ AV plans.  Details on how to do this are at the end of this email.

If you have an OFF Exchange Individual Health Plan

(i.e. you obtained your Anthem Blue Cross or Blue Shield or Kaiser or Health Net or Cigna health plan, outside of Covered CA.  You did not apply for a subsidized plan.   You may or may not have used us as your agent.)

Please read the letters from your insurance carrier carefully.  Most of your plans will continue and you may not need to do anything to continue.  However for some of you, especially those who are on Health Net plans, they have cancelled some plans and changed many from PPO to EPO.  You may want to research new carriers or plans.

How to “Renew” Your Covered CA Subsidized Health Plan

Log into your account on Covered CA by going to: www.coveredca.com and once you are on your account page choose Renew (yellow box).   Next will appear Household Plan Selection and click Renew Health Plan (yellow box).

On the next page, two boxes will appear: Choose either Keep the Plan you now have or Shop for a different plan.

If you want to keep your current plan click Keep (yellow box) and checkout (yellow box) check all boxes, put in your pin number, sign and click Enroll (yellow box). On the next page you can print out your confirmation page and make sure you click Done (yellow box). Submit your payment to the carrier no later than December 26, 2014 by either calling your carrier or logging into their website to pay online.

If you want to change your plan when you are on the page that says: Keep the plan you now have or Shop for a different plan you will “remove your plan” (yellow box) first and then click on “Shop for a different plan”. Next page you will review all plans and choose a new plan, check out, check all boxes, put in your pin number, sign and click “Enroll” (yellow box). You can print out your confirmation page and click Done (yellow box). Submit your payment to the carrier no later than December 26, 2014 by either calling your carrier or logging into their website to pay online.

Please contact us, Lee Health Insurance Services, at 925-284-2000 if we can be of assistance.

Phil Lee

www.health-insurance.com

http://www.yelp.com/biz/lee-insurance-services-lafayette-6

Covered California Announces Extension of Deadline to April 15th

(This E-blast pertains to people buying individual and family plans only. Medicare plans and employer plans are not affected by this announcement.)

Covered California announced that they are extending the March 31st deadline to buy health insurance through its Exchange website CoveredCa.com to April 15th. There are conditions. You may fulfill these conditions by working with a Certified Insurance Agent, like me. We are prepared to help you. Please call us at 925-284-2000 or email plee@health-insurance.com.

Re-cap of announcement from Covered CA:
1. If you were unable to create an online account or start your online application because of technical difficulties you can contact me, a Covered California Certified Insurance Agent, to explain that you attempted to get through on March 31 and experienced difficulties. You will have until 11:59 p.m. April 15 to complete your application and choose a plan. Your coverage will be effective May 1.

2. If you created an online account and completed the first page of the application by 11:59 p.m. March 31, 2014, you will be able to complete your application for the open-enrollment period, either by yourself online or with my help. I am a Certified Insurance Agent. You must complete your application and select a plan by 11:59 p.m. April 15. Your coverage will be effective May 1.

In addition, for those applying to OFF-Exchange (i.e. non-Covered CA, non-subsidy) plans, we understand that Blue Shield and Health Net’s online application links are both still working.

Please call us at 925-284-2000 if you still need help getting coverage.

Phil Lee
Lee Health Insurance Services
www.Health-Insurance.com
Blog: www.HealthPLanTalk.com

Covered California is not extending its deadline past March 31, 2014 for applying for a health plan

(This information pertains to Individual and Family health plans. Please ignore this email if you are on an Employer group plan, on Medicare or otherwise covered.)

Covered California is not extending its deadline past March 31, 2014 for applying for a health plan
Despite what you may have heard in the news about deadline extensions, these do not apply to California. There is no extension in California.
Based on our experience with past deadlines, Covered CA and possibly the insurance company websites may crash or be inaccessible on the last days. I highly urge you to apply before the end of Friday March 28th. If you miss the 3/31 deadline, you will have to wait until the end of the year to apply, and probably pay a penalty.
However, if you start an online application by 11:59 p.m. on March 31, 2014, you will have until 11:59 p.m. on April 15, 2014, to complete this application and to select a plan. To start an application, you must take at least the following steps:
• Create an online account.
• Fill out all required information on the “Apply for Benefits” page and click “Continue.” The page contains two required fields (see application screen images online at http://news.coveredca.com/p/blog-page_26.html).
• After clicking on “Continue,” you will be taken to the “Consent for Verification” page, where you need to click on “Save& Exit” or “Continue.”
• You must return to your online account no later than April 15 to complete the application and select a plan.
You also must make your first premium payment to the health insurance company by the due date in order to avoid the tax penalty.
How To Apply Online:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/hqbjyqdxcecrs1j/How%20to%20Apply%20to%20CovCA%20or%20Outside2.docx

Paper applications must be postmarked by March 31, 2014, to meet the open-enrollment deadline for 2014 Covered California plans.
Paper Covered CA Application: https://www.dropbox.com/s/olamsrnb43cv2xl/Fillable%20CovCA%20Application%20P%20Lee%20Agent.pdf
The mailing address for Covered CA is:
Covered California
P.O. Box 989725
West Sacramento, CA 95798-9725
We offer one stop shopping and can help you with all of these plans. Please call us at 925-284-2000 if you encounter any problems in this application process. We are prepared to help you.

Thank you for reading.
Phil Lee
www.health-insurance.com
925-284-2000

Tips on Applying to Covered California

Originally Posted on 3/25/2014
(This information relates only to Individual and Family health plans. Please ignore this email if you are on an Employer group plan, on Medicare or otherwise covered.)

Note: The last chance to apply for individual health insurance in 2014 is Monday March 31. However, based on our experience with past deadlines, Covered CA and possibly the insurance company websites may crash or be inaccessible on the last days. I highly urge you to apply before the end of Friday March 28th. If you miss the 3/31 deadline, you will have to wait until the end of the year to apply, and possibly pay a penalty.

Avoid these common mistakes on your Covered CA application:
• Designating an Agent — In order for us to help you during the enrollment process, and to troubleshoot problems, you must designate us as your agent on your online application. You do this by clicking “Finding Help Near You” on the upper right had corner of the screen. Please see screenshot instructions below:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ckzl7m70h9brnt6/Agent%20Designation%20ScreenShots.docx
There is no cost to you to have an agent. And we provide free ongoing service and advice throughout the year.

• Remember your Username, Password and PIN — If you lose your login info, you will have to call Covered CA to reset them. Hold times may be as long as 3 hours, or not even be able to get through at all.

• Try to enter the correct information into the online application the first time around — some of the inputs are difficult to change unless you start a new application or call Covered CA (hold times may be as long as 3 hours.)

• Social Security Numbers — If you have already started an application with one (or one set of) Social Security Numbers, the system will not allow you to start a new application with any of those numbers.

• Withdrawing an application in order to restart a new one — it may take up to 2 weeks before you will be allowed to start a new one. By which time, you may be past the deadline.

• Entering the wrong income amounts into the online application — Before signing and submitting the application, be sure to check the income amounts carefully. If you submit an erroneous income amount, it may be difficult to change later without having to submit an Income Change, or withdrawing the application

• Household Members — Household members include dependents, but only those dependents who are claimed as dependents on your tax return. If they are adult children, or elderly parents who are not claimed as dependents on your tax return, they are not considered dependents.

• Household Income — You must include income from all household members who are considered part of your legal or tax household, even if they are not applying for coverage. You must carefully check the correct boxes or circles to indicate this on your online application.

• 3 Categories of Coverage Depending on Your Income — There are 3 categories. (1) If your HH income is below 138% of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL), (or for children, 250% of FPL), you will be automatically slotted into Medi-Cal (the CA version of the federal Medicaid or welfare program). As you know, very few providers accept Medi-Cal. (2) If your HH income is between 138% and 400% of FPL, then you are eligible to receive a subsidy (Advanced Premium Tax Credit) to help pay the monthly premium. Furthermore, if your income is between 138% and 250% of FPL, in addition to the subsidy, you will also be eligible to receive Govt. assistance for reduced Copays, Deductibles and Max. Out of Pocket costs. These plans go by names like Silver 77 or Silver 93. (3) The last category of Coverage is for those with HH income over 400% of FPL. For those in this category, there is no subsidy from the Govt. You may purchase any plan outside of the Covered CA Exchange. Although you may purchase these plans inside the CovCA Exchange as well, for full price, it is advisable to go outside the Exchange (using the links below) because: (a) You will not need to provide income, immigration, or other private information outside, (b) Your private data will not be shared with Govt. agencies like the IRS, Homeland Security, etc. and not submitted to Govt. databases for verification, (c) there are more plans and more carriers available outside than inside, (d) the online application process with the insurance carriers outside of the Exchange is faster, shorter and the websites function much more smoothly, (e) the prices are the same whether outside or inside the CovCA Exchange, it’s just that subsidies are not available outside.

Links to Apply to OFF Exchange (non-subsidized, non-CoveredCA) health plans:
Anthem Blue Cross: https://brokerportal.anthem.com/ehb/web/bkr/acc/agentconnect/PHILIPLEE_1
Blue Shield: https://www.blueshieldca.com/bsca/ApplyNow?xyz=I%2Bc68ZizpmLi
Health Net: https://www.healthnet.com/portal/consumer/ca/getYourQuote.ndo?region=CA&a=10952
Kaiser: https://smu.kaiserpermanente.org/expressweb/ClearWorkspace.action?nextAction=/user/URLDecryptAction.action&refID=7o830apvbn8eyriuut5qmukks0hfomvhibykqt7emn1yam3vpqwgnp5t815gww

How to apply to Covered CA and Outside marketplace:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/hqbjyqdxcecrs1j/How%20to%20Apply%20to%20CovCA%20or%20Outside2.docx

We offer one stop shopping and can help you with all of these plans. Please call us at 925-284-2000 if you encounter any problems in this application process. We are prepared to help you.
Thank you for reading.
Phil Lee
www.health-insurance.com
925-284-2000

Obamacare Deadlines – March 15 and March 31

Originally Posted 3/7/2014
(This E-blast pertains to people buying individual and family plans only. Medicare plans and employer plans are not affected by this announcement.)

1. Obamacare Deadlines – March 15 and March 31

MARCH 15TH IS THE LAST DAY TO SIGN UP FOR AN INDIVIDUAL HEALTH PLAN WITH AN APRIL 1, 2014 EFFECTIVE DATE.

Saturday, March 15th is the deadline to sign up for an individual plan with an Effective Date of April 1, 2014. This deadline applies to Covered California subsidized plans AND non-subsidized plans purchased directly from an insurance company.

Our office will be closed on Saturday, March 15th. If you need help choosing and applying for a plan you MUST call us by March 14.

To apply to Covered California and designate us as your agent or to apply to a non-subsidized plan please follow the link below.

March 31, 2014 IS THE LAST DAY TO BUY HEALTH INSURANCE FOR 2014.

The Effective Date of insurance coverage will be May 1, 2014. This deadline applies to Covered California plans AND non-subsidized plans purchased directly from an insurance company.

If you do not have insurance as of May 1, 2014 you will be subject to a penalty (tax) of the greater of $95 or 1% of adjusted gross income. And you will have to wait until Nov. to apply for Jan. 2015.

Please call us if we may assist you in securing coverage for 2014.

How to apply to Covered CA and Outside marketplace:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/hqbjyqdxcecrs1j/How%20to%20Apply%20to%20CovCA%20or%20Outside2.docx

We offer one stop shopping and can help you with all of these plans. Please call us at 925-284-2000 if you encounter any problems in this application process. We are prepared to help you.
Thank you for reading.
Phil Lee
www.health-insurance.com
925-284-2000

Update of Obamacare Deadlines

Originally Posted 1/15/2014

(This information applies only to Individual and Family health plans. It does not apply to Employer Group plans or to Medicare plans.)

Covered California Payment Deadlines:
For those of you who applied for Individual/Family coverage with an Effective Date of Jan. 1st., either On Exchange (Covered CA), or Off Exchange (from the insurance carrier). Some of the deadlines for initial premium payments have been extended. Those deadlines are:
Blue Shield, Jan. 15th
Health Net, Jan. 15th
Anthem Blue Cross, Jan. 31st
Kaiser, Jan. 31st
Open Enrollment Period Continues
If 1) your plan was cancelled, or
2) you were mapped to a new plan by your insurance carrier, or
3) you opted for an extension to March, or
4) you are on a grandfathered plan, or
5) you are simply uninsured
You may still apply to a new or change insurance carriers before March 31st.
Open Enrollment Application Deadlines:
For Feb. 1st start dates, the deadline is Jan. 15th.
For March 1st start date, the deadline is Feb. 15th.
For April 1st start date, the deadline is March 15th.
For May 1st start date, the deadline is March 31st.
Last day of Open Enrollment for 2014 is March 31st.

We offer one stop shopping and can help you with all of these plans. Please call us at 925-284-2000 if you encounter any problems in this application process. We are prepared to help you.
Thank you for reading.
Phil Lee
www.health-insurance.com
www.HealthPlanTalk.com
925-284-2000

Applications to Covered CA On and Off Exchange Health Plans. Provider Search Update.

(The following information does not apply to you if you are on an employer group plan or on Medicare.)

There appears to be a great deal of confusion as to where to submit an application and the role of an agent.
Much of the confusion stem from the failure of the CoveredCA media advertising to mention that in addition to the Covered California Exchange, there is also a whole marketplace of health plans and insurance carriers available to consumers OUTSIDE of the Covered CA Exchange (Off-Exchange). The major difference is that you may only apply for a subsidy INSIDE the CoveredCA Exchange (On-Exchange). But if you don’t qualify or need a subsidy, you may apply outside where all the same plans are also available at the same rates, plus additional carriers and plan choices.

In addition, the Covered CA advertising also fails to mention that agents (Certified Insurance Agents) like myself are available to help consumers to quote, evaluate and apply to BOTH On and Off Exchange plans. And that there are no fees for our services. And no difference in premium. And that we offer free ongoing service.

(A) To apply to a plan INSIDE the Covered CA Exchange (On-Exchange):
You must go to www.coveredca.com to apply. Please designate me as your agent (look for “Find Help Near You”). Step by Step instructions for applying:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/9pas1gmsycqdrfx/Application%20Screenshots%20CovCA.docx

(B) To apply to a plan OUTSIDE the Exchange (Off-Exchange), please use the following links to apply:

Anthem Blue Cross (Deadline Dec. 23rd): https://brokerportal.anthem.com/ehb/web/bkr/acc/agentconnect/PHILIPLEE_1

Blue Shield (Deadline Dec. 15th):
https://www.blueshieldca.com/bsca/ApplyNow?xyz=I%2Bc68ZizpmLi

Health Net (Deadline Dec. 15th):
https://www.healthnet.com/portal/consumer/ca/getYourQuote.ndo?region=CA&a=10952

Kaiser: (Deadline Dec. 15th):
https://smu.kaiserpermanente.org/expressweb/ClearWorkspace.action?nextAction=/user/URLDecryptAction.action&refID=7o830apvbn8eyriuut5qmukks0hfomvhibykqt7emn1yam3vpqwgnp5t815gww

Note: If you miss the Dec. 15th deadline, you may still apply for a non-subsidized health plan through Covered CA. The only difference is that you will need to provide income and immigration information (to be shared by several Government agencies) even though you are not requesting a tax subsidy.

Provider Search

Anthem Blue Cross revised Provider Search
Go to www.anthem.com/CA
RHS under “Useful Tools”, click Find a Doctor.
On LHS Choose Doctor or Hospital #1
#2 Type Name of Doctor or Hospital
#3 Enter radius in miles and zip code.
#4 Enter State and Plan Type or network.
1. Plan Network for Covered CA Exchange:
a. Pathway X HMO Individual via Exchange
b. Pathway X PPO Individual via Exchange
c. Pathway X EPO Individual via Exchange
2. Plan Network for Non-Exchange:
a. Pathway HMO Individual
b. Pathway PPO Individual
c. Pathway EPO Individual

Blue Shield of CA Provider Finder
https://www.blueshieldca.com/fap/app/search.html
(Be sure to “Select a Plan” first before you search.)

Health Net Provider Finder
https://www.healthnet.com/portal/provider/providerSearch.do?region=CA

We offer one stop shopping and can help you with all of these plans. Please call us at 925-284-2000 if you encounter any problems in this application process. We are prepared to help you.
Thank you for reading.
Phil Lee
www.health-insurance.com
www.HealthPlanTalk.com
925-284-2000

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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