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  

California Wants to Replace Your Health Plan with a Government-Run Single Payer Plan (SB 562)

The California State Senate is currently working on legislation to make a Single Payer System the only source of health care and health insurance in the state of California.  The Bill is named SB 562 and it will be reviewed by the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday, April 26, at 1:30 PM in the Capitol building in Sacramento in Room 4203.

SB 562 is very bad for you, your family and the future of the State of California for many reasons:

  • Single payer insurance will provide “one size fits all” insurance to all people living in California, including undocumented residents.  One plan will be offered to all Californians for cradle-to-grave health coverage.
  • All Private Health Insurance will be prohibited.
  • The plan benefits will be determined by an un-elected board of special interest appointees of the state government who will determine which benefits will be included and how much providers will be paid.  This will result in rationing health care and force doctors and hospitals to leave the state if they are not fairly compensated for their services.
  • There will be no Medicare for Californians 65 and older. Seniors and the disabled who currently have Medicare, Advantage plans, Supplement plans and Part D plans will be dis-enrolled and enrolled on to the single payer plan.
  • There will be no employer health insurance plans. Employers will no longer be able to attract the best employees in their fields because they cannot offer them benefits that are any better than the Single Payer plan.  If you work for a company that is located in many states, your employer will not be allowed to offer any plans in CA.
  • There will be no Federal or State employee health insurance plans.
  • There will be no union health insurance plans.
  • There will be no Medi-Cal or Medicaid.
  • All people living in California, whether legally or not, will have the same health plan.
  • Doctors and hospitals will be paid for their services by the State of California, who will need to create a monstrous bureaucracy to process and pay claims.  Fraud, abuse and waste are a given.  Other government-run health plans such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration regularly suffer scandals in billing, payments and sub-standard care.
  • State Senator Ricardo Lara, who is sponsoring SB 562, has not revealed how the state is going to pay for “free” health care for all.  Initial estimates are that the State of California would need an increase in current income tax of $350 billion for just the first year of the Single Payer plan. This amount equates to $9,200 for each man/woman/child in addition to what he or she is already paying in income tax.  A family of four would pay $37,000 more in income tax than they are currently paying.
  • Sick people, low-income people and the undocumented from across the country would flock to California.  Healthy taxpayers would flee California.  The result would be long lines to wait for sub-standard health care with costly procedures such as heart and kidney transplants and life-saving drugs rationed or not included at all in the Single Payer plan.
  • Senator Lara and his supporters have stated that California leads the rest of the country in innovative changes and now want to oppose Federal Government deliberations on changes to the health insurance market by being the first state to adopt the Single Payer system.  However, two other states, Colorado and Vermont, recently voted against Single Payer plans in their states due to the unrealistic tax burden it would put on its residents.

CALL TO ACTION:

If you object to losing your right to Medicare, losing your employer plan, being taxed an additional $9,200 per family member, losing your right to choose your doctor, your hospital and your insurance benefits, then please contact your State Senator to let him/her know.  Click on the link below to find your State Senator and his/her contact information.  Then click on the name to reach their website to communicate your message: http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/

Just say No On SB 562 to preserve your choice in health care and to keep California from declining into certain economic ruin.  Thank you for taking the time to read this email.

Covered California – Urgent Last Minute Alert

(This information concerns those who enrolled into Individual and Family Health Plans through the Government Exchange – Covered California – and received a Subsidy or APTC.  It does NOT concern you if you are either on an Employer-Sponsored Group Health Plan or a Medicare Health Plan. This information pertains only to California and may not apply to other states.)

As a courtesy, we are passing this information onto you.

December 19, 2016

 

Consumer Outreach for Consent for Verification

Yesterday, Covered California sent an email to consumers that are at risk of losing their Advanced Premium Tax Credit (APTC) and/or cost-sharing reductions for their 2017 health insurance coverage.  Consumers need to ensure that they have provided their Consent for Verification as this allows Covered California to electronically verify their eligibility for tax credits.

The following two fields are provided to help identify those consumers who need to provide consent.

  • Years of Consent – provides the number of years the consumer provided consent to using their information for verification purposes.
  • Date of Consent- provides the date the consent was provided by the consumer to use their information for verification purposes.

Without taking action now, consumers who have not updated their consent will lose their premium assistance including federal tax credit and/or cost-sharing reductions (lower copayments, coinsurance and deductibles). Read our Consent for Verification Quick Guide for additional information.

LAST DAY to Enroll for January 1 Coverage

Consumers only have until midnight tonight, December 19, 2016 to enroll in a health plan for coverage beginning January 1, 2017. Plans selected after this time may have a February 1 or March 1, 2017 coverage start date.

 

Covered California Service Centers

Consumers that need last minute application support can contact the Covered California Consumer Service Center for the Individual Marketplace at 800-300-1506, which will be open tonight until midnight.

 

Upcoming Outage

Sunday, January 22 from 8:00 p.m. to Monday, January 23, 2016 at 6:00 a.m.

Phil Lee
Lee Health Insurance Services, BLIS Corporation
800-286-7445
www.linkedIn.com/in/philwlee
www.Health-Insurance.com
plee@health-insurance.com
Employee Benefits & Health Insurance

Blue Shield of California Plans to Shut Down for 1 Week in September to Save on Payroll Due to Obamacare Losses

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2016/08/11/exclusive-losses-blue-shield-california.html

As reported by the San Francisco Business Journal, Blue Shield of California will be closed from September 3 to September 12 while its employees take the week of Labor Day off. Although Blue Shield announced there will be some customer service staff working that week we assume the phone lines will be jammed for the entire week.

It appears that Individual, Small Group and Medicare departments are affected by the shutdown.
We do not yet know whether the Blue Shield member portal, broker portal or employer portal will be accessible and will reflect current information during the shutdown.
ALL APPLICATIONS FOR BLUE SHIELD PLANS SHOULD BE SUBMITTED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE SO THEY CAN BE PROCESSED WITH AN ID NUMBER ISSUED BY FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 2. APPLICATIONS ARE CURRENTLY TAKING 10-14 DAYS TO BE PROCESSED.
This is an unprecedented announcement by an insurance company. We will do our best to provide service to our clients during this shutdown, but if Blue Shield is closed our ability to provide customer service will also be severely impacted.

(NOTE: This information relates only to Blue Shield of California, a taxpaying non-profit insurance carrier that operates only in California. Please do not confuse this company with Anthem Blue Cross, or any other Blue Cross or Blue Shield organization in states outside of CA.)

Phil Lee

Lee Health Insurance Services (BLIS Corporation)

www.health-insurance.com

925-284-2000

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

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

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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