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

Obamacare — What You Should Do Next with your Health Plan

(This information applies only to Individual & Family health plans. It does not pertain to Employer group plans, employee plans or Medicare plans.)

Today, everything has changed once again! In a press conference this morning, President Obama announced that he wants policy cancellations to be delayed for one year.

How and whether this will be implemented will be decided by the HHS (Dept. of Health & Human Services), the California Insurance Commissioner, Dave Jones, and each insurance company. The final information will trickle down to us after these decisions are made. We don’t know yet when that will be.

Our phone has been ringing non-stop since this announcement. I will give you what we know and suggest some next steps.

1. Before you make any move, please follow the instructions on the piece “Choose an On or Off Exchange plan” to figure out if: (a) you qualify for a subsidy, (b) if your providers are on the network of the 2014 plans and (c) if your prescription drugs are on the formulary lists of the 2014 plans.
2. If you are on a grandfathered plan, you do not need to change anything unless you want to. Your plan will continue as is with the same benefits, provider network, and formulary lists.
3. If you are on a plan where you have received a cancellation notice for Dec. 31. This may be delayed until Dec. 2014. We are waiting for information on this.
4. If you have received a notice that your plan will be “mapped” to a new plan Jan. 1st, this also may be delayed until Dec. 2014.
5. If you want to change plans on Dec. 1st, please contact us.
6. If you received a large rate increase and want to consider other carriers and plans on Dec. 1st or Jan. 1st, please contact us.
7. If you qualify for a subsidy and want a Covered CA plan, please contact us for advice, online enrollment instructions and a paper application.

Please contact me know if you would like me to receive the following attachments:
A. “Choose On or Off Exchange plan” helps you to choose a plan inside or outside the Exchange (with screenshots).
B. “Fillable CoveredCA application” is a fillable Covered CA paper application in pdf format.
C. “Application Screenshots CovCA” takes you step by step to start an application, set up a Profile and Designate an Agent with screenshots).
D. “Agent Designation Screenshots” shows you how to designate an Agent (with screenshots).

Phil Lee
www.health-insurance.com
www.healthplantalk.com
800-286-7445

Covered California Health Benefit Exchanges Open for Business

Today, Tuesday Oct. 1st, Covered California, the State Individual Exchange, and SHOP, the State’s Small Business Exchange, will open for business.
Although they will open for business, the Exchange plans and rates may or may not be available for comparison on Tuesday. We will have to wait and see. As of Monday, none of the carriers have released their rates online on the quote engines. Even if Covered CA does have rates on their website tomorrow, many of the carriers may not have their non-Exchange plans available. We may not be able to see a complete picture of the marketplace until all plans are released and available online through the quote engines.
Once all the rates are available, then your certified insurance agent will be able to help you by running comparison reports of all the available options. We will be able to provide one-stop shopping of all plans available in the marketplace, inside or outside of the Exchange.
Just to recap. The two Exchanges account for only one portion of the total marketplace. There will also be individual health plans and group health plans available outside of these 2 State exchanges. Carriers that offer standardized (or metallic level) health plans within the Exchanges, also have to offer these same identical plans outside of the exchanges, and at the same prices. However, outside, carriers may also offer a broader selection of plans, in addition to the metallic plans.
Consumers and businesses are free to choose health plans either within the exchanges, or outside. But if you want to apply for a tax credit or subsidy, either as an individual or as a business, then you have to apply for a plan within one of the exchanges.
Comparing Health Plans
One thing to remember when comparing standardized metallic plans across different insurance carriers and when compared against non-standardized plans. Since benefit levels and coverage are regulated and standardized, there will not be much difference when comparing metallic plans across carriers. However, insurance carriers are still allowed to vary premiums and provider networks. These two will be the two most important features to pay attention to when comparing carriers.

Decision Time For Small Employer Groups (50 or fewer employees)
If you have an existing Small Group Plan, the following are some possible options that you may need to decide:
• Do nothing. Allow your plan to renew at the regularly scheduled renewal date in 2014. At that time, all ACA regulations and prices will be imposed. (An exception would be grandfathered plans prior to 3/23/2010).
• Renew early on Dec. 1st. Take advantage of carriers’ promotional RAF’s. Lock in rates and plans for 12 months. Delay impact of most of ACA-imposed regulations.
• Use Dec. 1st Early Renewal to change plans and lock in rates for 12 months.
• Use Dec.1st carrier RAF promotions to change to a more favorable rate or plan at another carrier.
• Renew on Jan. 1st to change to an ACA-compliant plan, and accept new rules on probation and family ratings.
• Change to another carrier on Jan. 1st or later (even after you have early renewed on Dec. 1st).
• Ask your Tax Advisor to help you calculate if your company may qualify for a Tax Credit. If so, you may want to consider buying an Exchange and ACA-compliant plan on Jan. 1st.

These decisions are complicated. Circumstances vary and every company’s options are different. You should consult with a certified insurance agent before making a decision.
Decision Time For Individuals and Families
If you already have an existing individual health plan. You may have to decide on one of these possible options. The following example is based on someone on an Anthem Blue Cross plan:
5. Do nothing. Allow Anthem to map your current plan to a comparable 2014 ACA-compliant plan on Jan. 1st. You will still have the opportunity, until March 31, to change to any other plan, inside or outside the Exchange.
6. If you have a grandfathered plan (prior to March 23, 2010), you may keep your plan and remain unchanged, except for the rate.
7. Use Anthem’s calculator tools online to compare plans and decide whether to change plans or not, and if so, whether to move to an Exchange or Non-Exchange plan.
8. Use the Covered CA Exchange’s coveredca.com online subsidy calculator to estimate if you and your family may qualify for a subsidy. If so, you may want to consider applying for an Exchange plan for Jan. 1. (Please keep in mind that if you apply for a subsidy, you will be required to disclose financial, personal and tax return info, which will be verified by different Govt. entities.)

These decisions are complicated. Circumstances vary and every individual’s options are different. You should consult with a certified insurance agent before making a decision.

Tips
• Anthem will be providing online decision tools: www.healthcareform4you.com, www.changemycoverage.com.
• The Exchange’s Covered California website will provide calculator tools for estimating if you might be eligible for a subsidy. www.coveredca.com.
• Your certified insurance agent will have powerful online Quote Engine tools to help you compare all plans in the marketplace, both inside and outside the Covered CA Exchange.
• Please remember that everyone’s personal situation is different. What may be the right move for a friend or family member may not be the right move for you. You have to tailor the decision to your own circumstances.

Key dates to remember:
• 10/1/2013 — Carriers release their 2014 Rates and Plans, for plans inside as well as outside the Covered California Exchange.
• 1/1/2014 — Implementation of the ACA (or Obamacare). All plans sold with this effective date or later must be ACA-compliant.
• 10/1/2013 – 3/31/2014 — Open Enrollment Period for all Individual and Family plans.
• 3/31/2014 — Last effective date to enroll into an Individual/Family plan without a special qualifying event.
• 10/15/2014 – 12/6/2014 — Open Enrollment Period for 1/1/2015 plans.

Phil Lee
800-286-7445
www.Health-Insurance.com
www.HealthPlanTalk.com

Implementation of ACA (Health Care Reform)

California Health Care Insurance Exchange Updates
Many developments have occurred since my last update. I will give a brief recap of the most important items that may impact your personal health care insurance situation.
Due to the large number of regulations and sheer volume of information related to health care reform. I will give you brief summaries of the most important items, in bullet point fashion. I have divided the items into 4 categories so that you only need to read the category that’s relevant to you.
You may choose to buy health plans either inside the California Exchange (Covered California) or outside. The only difference is that if you want either a subsidy or a tax credit, you have to choose an Exchange plan.

Your objective should be to:
1. Be insured.
2. Find the most affordable plan for your needs.
3. Qualify for a subsidy or tax credit, if you are eligible.

Individuals and Families
1. Major carriers participating in the Individual Exchange will be Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Health Net and Kaiser.
2. The guarantee-issue rule for individual health plans will go forward as planned on Jan. 1st. Individuals and Families may enroll between Oct. 1st 2013 and March 1st 2014. Enrollment effective dates will be Jan. 1st or later.
3. Starting on Oct. 1st, Individuals and Families may start choosing and applying for Individuals health plans within Covered California (the State Individual Exchange) or from plans available outside the Exchange. Plan choices within the Exchange are likely to be more limited than plan offerings outside of the Exchange. However, if one needs a federal subsidy based on their income, they may only apply for plans within the Exchange.
4. Agents who are certified by the Exchange may offer health plans both inside and outside of the Exchange, and may assist consumers in applying for subsidies.
5. Federal and Cal Cobra will continue to be offered to terminated employees.

Small Groups (under 50 employees)
1. Major carriers participating in the Group Exchange, aka SHOP, will be Blue Shield, Health Net and Kaiser.
2. Tax credit will be available to employer groups with low salaried employees.
3. Most insurance carriers allow existing groups to renew early in Nov. or Dec. of 2013 so that they will not be subject to the new Jan. 1st ACA-compliant plans and rates for another 12 months.
4. 2 employee groups consisting of only the owner and spouse will no longer be allowed.
5. 1099 employees will not be considered employees for group eligibility.
6. Employer groups in CA must have 51% or more of its employees in CA in order to qualify. Out of State employees may enroll in an Individual/Family plan in their own state.
7. Agents who are certified by the Exchange may offer health plans both inside and outside of the Small Group Exchange, known as SHOP.
8. Flex Spending Account Salary Deferral limit of $2500 for 2014.
9. Employer Model Notices requirement – On Oct. 1st or within 14 days of hire.

Large Groups (50+ employees)
• The employer mandate to provide a minimum level of health insurance to employees, along with the associated penalties; have been delayed to Jan. 2015.

Medicare
• ACA and the Exchanges are not expected to affect Medicare.

For More Information:
Please go to the official website for the California Exchange, aka Covered California, at www.coveredca.com. You will find:
• Summaries of Exchange plans that will be available.
• Sample rates for Exchange plans for your age in your zip code.
• A calculator to help give you some idea if you might qualify for a subsidy.

Phil Lee
www.Health-Insurance.com
www.HealthPlanTalk.com

Guarantee Issue Health Insurance Coverage for Children in California

The California Department of Insurance has issued guidance on this one provision of the Health Care Reform legislation.
Insurers in California must now offer coverage to children on every non-grandfathered individual policy that it sells. The Open Enrollment Period goes from Jan. 1st 2011 to March 1st 2011.
Children, including those with pre-existing conditions who have previously been denied coverage, may now be guaranteed issue.
Click link below for full text of regulatory guidance from the California Department of Insurance:

http://www.insurance.ca.gov/0250-insurers/0500-legal-info/0200-regulations/HealthGuidance/Guide22441F.cfm

Click link below to obtain market rates:

http://www.health-insurance.com

© Philip W Lee, www.health-insurance.com, www.healthplantalk.com

Is Guarantee Issue Health Insurance for Children going into effect on Sept. 23rd ?

Some of you have been asking us about this feature of the HCR (Health Care Reform) bill. I’m going to share with you a clarification that I received from Anthem Blue Cross. This one aspect of the massive HCR law, which will take effect on Sept. 23 applies only to the following:
1) If an overage dependent has been dropped from a health plan in the past due to having attained age 23, this dependent will be allowed to enroll, guarantee-issue, back onto the parent’s plan after Sept. 23rd, as long as they are not yet age 26.
2) The no pre-existing condition rule for children means that children (under age 18) will no longer have to be subject to the 6 month pre-existing condition waiting period (which currently applies to all PPO plans for individuals who did not have continuous coverage, or did not have prior creditable coverage making them eligible for the 6 month pre-existing condition waiting period waiver.)
3) Rule #2 above does not bar insurers from still denying coverage or ‘rating up premiums’ for dependents (with pre-existing conditions) who do not satisfy Rule #1 above.
4) Rule #4 above has since been revised by the regulators after further discussions and negotiations with insurance companies.  The rules now mandate Guarantee Issue as well as the elimination of Pre-Existing Condition waiting periods for children.

© Philip W Lee, www.health-insurance.com, www.healthplantalk.com

Applying to the right California Health Insurance Plan

Depending on your health condition, you may not be accepted into some plans like individual and family health plans.
Since health plans and rates are vastly different between the individual/family health insurance market, the Small Group market, the Cobra and HIPAA markets. You need to determine which is the most advantageous plans to apply to first. Usually this would depend on which plans have the lowest rates. If in the event you do not qualify for your top plan choice, you need to determine which alternatives to explore and in what order.
Frequently this is dependent on certain deadlines. For example you may be given 45 days after your termination from an employer to decide if you want to accept the Cobra that you are offered. Or you may have a 63 day window to decide if you want to apply for a guarantee-issue HIPAA plan after your Cobra expires.
In addition, the cost of each of these alternatives will have to figure into your decision. If you are unable to figure out the best course of action on your own, you may need the assistance of an experienced health insurance agent to help you select the most appropriate plans to apply to in different markets and in different orders or priority, based on your personal health and medical care needs, your pre-existing conditions, your guarantee-issue options, your risk tolerance and your budget.

© Philip W Lee, www.health-insurance.com, www.healthplantalk.com

Who should buy Individual and Family Health Insurance Plans

Health insurance plans are not always provided by employers. In the 60 or so years since World War II it has become customary for employers to provide workers with their health insurance plans. But this was not always the case. During the wage freeze of WWII, Employers were not allowed to raise wages to entice women to join the workforce. Their solution was to provide benefits, starting with health insurance coverage. This has since become an entitlement.

If you are:
1. 0 through 64 years old.
2. Currently uninsured.
3. If you are paying too much for your current health plan.
4. If you change jobs frequently and prefer to have an individual plan as a backup in case you are disabled.
5. If you are self-employed.
6. If you own a small business.
7. If your employer does not offer group health insurance.
8. If your employer offers to pay for an individual health plan on your behalf.
9. If you don’t like the choice of plan offered by your employer.
10. If you are on COBRA.
11. If you are on an expensive guarantee-issue HIPAA mandated health plan.
12. If you are on an expensive out of state health plan.
13. If you are on a health discount program that are frequently disguised as affordable health insurance. These plans are dangerous and are not true health insurance.
14. If you have been laid off or are in between jobs.
15. If you are forced to seek individual coverage due to a divorce.
16. If your employer’s plan does not offer you the providers you need.
17. If you missed your employer’s open enrollment period for coverage.
18. If you got dropped from your parents plan due to age (19 to 24) or lack of full time student status.
19. If you retired before age 65 and need to bridge coverage to age 65.
20. If it costs too much to cover your spouse and children under your employer’s plan.
21. If you just started your own business.
22. If you just immigrated to the U.S.
23. If you plan to travel to other states or countries for a part of the year.
24. If you are uninsured and don’t want to rely on government run county or state hospitals and clinics.
25. If you are a physician with your own medical practice.
26. If you are on a work visa in the U.S.
27. If you are visiting the U.S. for an extended period of time.
28. If you are a Foreign Student.
29. If your College or University does not offer any medical care outside of an on-campus clinic.

© Philip W Lee, www.health-insurance.com, www.healthplantalk.com

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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