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Showing posts from May, 2010

COBRA versus Subsidy for COBRA (18 vs 15 months)

This week I have been asked about this so many times that I wanted to address some confusion concerning federal COBRA.

Federal COBRA runs a standard 18 months, not 15 months. There are cases where it can be 29 months (disability extension) or 36 months (divorce, separation, death of the employee, state extension or dependent age-off of parent's plan). Generally it runs 18 months for most people.

The subsidy for COBRA (for those who qualify) runs 15 months. It was originally set up to run 9 months but was extended.

You do not exhaust or lose COBRA at 15 months. You only lose the subsidy at 15 months. You still have 3 more months of COBRA (or more if extended) after the subsidy goes away.

You are not eligible for HIPAA at 15 months. You have to complete the 18 months.

Health Exchanges and Independent Agents

I am hearing and reading so much lately from the health insurance agent community about the future of agents under healthcare reform. Specifically as relates to the health insurance exchanges set for 2014. A minority believe that independent agents will have a place in the system while a majority, it seems, are suffering from "Chicken Little Syndrome". Truthfully, no one knows yet what place independent health agents will have in the new system. I do have some thoughts.

For those who know me and my business, I write a lot of HIPAA. HIPAA is guaranteed-issue health insurance, available kind of on an exchange (pick from available carriers and plans) and has no underwriting or medical screening component. Somewhat similar to the future exchanges (if you can get information which is generally only available on web sites like mine).

One would think that with the fairly small choice of guaranteed-issue plans (perhaps 25 at most in California) and fairly similar plan designs (HMO are…

MRMIP Clears Backlog (No Enrollment Waiting Period)

The California MRMIP (Major Risk Medical Insurance Program) has apparently received some additional funding and has cleared the backlog of applications.

As of today (5/19/10) there is no waiting list for MRMIP enrollments.

I am working on obtaining specific information regarding the federal temporary risk pool which is scheduled to open July 1. In the meantime eligible uninsurables may enroll in the MRMIP without an enrollment waiting period.

More MRMIP information here

Large Companies Contemplate Dropping Employee Health Coverage

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that several very large companies "have concluded that they might be financially better off canceling their health care coverage and moving their workers to government-subsidized exchanges that will be available in four years".

At least four companies have investigated to varying degrees the impact of dropping health care coverage and pushing their workers onto the new exchanges, where they will be able to buy their own insurance.

While doing this would subject companies to fines, the size of the fines would be substantially less than the cost of providing health insurance to their workers.

The four companies identified so far are:

*AT&T
*Verizon Communications, Inc.
*Caterpillar, Inc.
*Deere and Co.

If these four are looking at this option, it is a pretty safe bet that other large employers are doing the same.

HIPAA Enrollment Change (Yet Again) - Anthem

Anthem Blue Cross (CA) has made another enrollment change to the HIPAA plans.

Under the prior change, all enrollments in HIPAA were subject to approval followed by a premium notice. The notice would allow payments in two 15-day periods (1-15th, 16-31st paid or postmarked) to start on the first of the following month. Example:

*Premium paid or postmarked 1-15 June would start July 1 (30-day gap)
*Premium paid or postmarked 16-30 June would start August 1 (60-day gap)

Under the latest change, the premium payment period has changed as follows:

*Premium paid or postmarked 1-15 June would start June 1 (slightly retroactive)
*Premium paid or postmarked 16-30 June would start July 1

Also, Anthem Blue Cross CA has indicated that it will accept certain "substitute" documents in lieu of the Certificate of Creditable Coverage which is not issued until after the expiration of continuation coverage.

A Good Story (sadly not health insurance but life insurance)

Every day it seems the health insurance companies are making mistakes, denying claims, rescinding coverage and all of the rest. They pay claims grudgingly (if at all) and, according to many media sources, try to get out of paying as many as they can.

I asked my doctor during a recent checkup if it was true what 'Dr. Dean' says about doctor spending 1/2 their time working on patient files. He told me "not anymore", most of his time is spent fighting with health insurance companies. Sigh!

So, I wanted to share the following true story. It is not a health insurance story, but a life insurance story. I dream of the day even one California health insurance company could tell a story like this. I doubt any of them could..........

In 1999 I attended the annual agents meeting of Northwestern Mutual Life in Milwaukee, WI. This is an annual "must" for NML agents and it is both educational and a lot of fun.

Then-CEO Jim Ericson opened the first morning session with the f…

Blue Shield CA Adds 5th HIPAA Policy

Effective May 1, 2010, Blue Shield of California has added a 5th policy to the HIPAA guaranteed-issue individual & family portfolio.

The new addition, Access+ Value HMO, is a lower-priced HMO option than the Access+ HMO that was made available 3/2/10.

This is the first time I have seen a carrier offer three plans under one plan registration for HIPAA.