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Phrases Made Easy: “Consumer Directed Healthcare”

January 28, 2013 2 comments

This is another post in our series called “Phrases Made Easy.” The purpose of this series is to help our clients and potential clients understand insurance jargon that has a tendency to be complicated.

Consumer directed healthcare is an important concept that sounds difficult… but it really is very simple! We’ve selected this phrase for a few reasons:

  1. It’s a concept that gives the consumer power to make their own health benefits decisions.
  2. It is an important concept in the post-healthcare reform environment.
  3. It is a phrase you will see a lot in our content at Policy Advantage Insurance Services (in fact, it was already in another one of our series’ called Benefits Chalk Talk: Consumer Directed Healthcare).

Easy

Here it is… this is the Policy Advantage Insurance Services definition of consumer directed healthcare:

Consumer directed healthcare is the idea that patients will behave as medical consumers. Patients will be the ones deciding how their healthcare dollars will be spent. Not doctors, employers, insurance companies, or the government.

That’s it… that’s all it is. You (the consumer) make your own decisions about your own health benefits.

As a consumer, you’ll need to know about all of the different “tools” that are available to you. You’ll also need to know whether-or-not you’re getting help from an employer, the government… or if you’re doing it on your own (there are also combinations of the three).

That’s where Policy Advantage Insurance Services comes in. We share valuable, up-to-date, relevant information that helps businesses and individuals finance (pay for) healthcare. In other words, we help you put all the pieces together. These are the kinds of questions we can help you with:

  1. What kind of health insurance plan should I be looking at?
  2. What do I need to know about healthcare reform, and what kinds of new options are available?
  3. How can my employer or the government help me?
  4. Are there any tax incentives when it comes to health insurance/benefits?
  5. Where does dental insurance and supplemental health insurance fit in?
  6. What is a health savings account, and a health reimbursement arrangement?
  7. …plus others.

There you have it… consumer directed healthcare, made easy. Thanks for stopping by, we hope you found our information to be valuable. Check back at our blog to get further information about funding healthcare. Also, please share with your friends, clients, colleagues, and family. Here are a few of our other information outlets:

Home Page: http://www.policyadvantage.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/policyadvantage

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/policyadvantage

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/policyadvantage

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/policyadvantage

Word Press (you are here): http://www.policyadvantage.wordpress.com

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Phrases Made Easy: “Federal Poverty Level”

January 14, 2013 4 comments

Welcome back to another edition of Phrases Made Easy.  This series at our blog takes all of those long, drawn-out insurance phrases and turns them into concepts that are easy for people to understand.

Today we’re going to be talking about the “FPL” or “Federal Poverty Level.” The reason that we want to discuss this phrase, is because it’s an important component in the new state health insurance exchanges which are set to get going by 2014. As you know, these exchanges are a large part of healthcare reform.

As mentioned in the previous blog article “Benefits Chalk Talk: State Health Insurance Exchanges,” a business or individual may or may not utilize these exchanges (depending on preference and planning strategy). However it’s a good idea to have an understanding of them. So here we go… this phrase is easy: Federal Poverty Level or FPL.

It'sEasy

Here’s the first simple question:

Q: What exactly is the Federal Poverty Level or FPL?

A: In the United States, the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is a measure used by the federal government to define who is poor.

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With that question answered about as simply as possible, here are some important notes about the Federal Poverty Level (FPL):

  • It’s origin was from Lyndon B. Johnson’s “War on Poverty” 
  • From this “War on Poverty” came many of today’s programs such as food stamps, Medicare, and Medicaid
  • The Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is calculated based on current “federal poverty guidelines”
  • These guidelines are issued and updated yearly by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
  • The Federal Poverty Level (FPL) is used to determine who is eligible for federal subsides or aid
  • In 2012, 100% percent of the Federal Poverty Level was $23,050 for a family of four (4 people), and $11,170 for an individual (1 person)

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Which brings us back to a few more important questions:

Q: Who is eligible for federal subsides (or aid) in a state health insurance exchange?

A: State health insurance exchanges will provide subsidies for individuals and families who fall within 100% to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (most Americans).

Q: What is 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), and how is it calculated? 

A: In 2012, 100% of the federal poverty level was yearly income of $23,050 for a family of four. Add (+) $3,960 per person for families that are larger than four, and subtract (-) $3,960 per person for families with less than four.

Q: What is 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), and how is it calculated?

A: Sometimes the Federal Poverty Level is used to determine subsidies for those who earn more than the poverty level (up to 400% of FPL in this case). State health insurance exchanges will provide subsidies for individuals and families earning up to 400% of the FPL. 400% of the Federal Poverty Level for a family of four in 2012 is $92,200 ($23,050 x 4). 

Q: What are the ranges of income that are eligible for subsidies in a state health insurance exchange?

A: Families of four (4 persons) with yearly incomes between $23,050 (100%) and $92,200 (400%) may be eligible for subsidies.

A2: An individual (1 person) with a yearly income between $11,170 (100%) and $44,680 (400%) may be eligible for subsidies. 

We hope this blog post helped you understand the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) better. It’s an important concept when determining eligibility for subsides in the new state health insurance exchanges. Contact us for further information if you may be interested in enrolling in a state health insurance exchange. 

Thanks for stopping by, we hope you found our information to be valuable. Check back at our blog to get further information about funding healthcare. Also, please share with your friends, clients, colleagues, and family. Here are a few of our other information outlets:

Home Page: http://www.policyadvantage.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/policyadvantage

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/policyadvantage

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/policyadvantage

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Phrases Made Easy: “Defined Benefit” and “Defined Contribution”

November 19, 2012 2 comments

Note: **this is the second (2) of a series of four (4) blog posts that require some knowledge of previous posts to be understood. We recommend that you read them in order. Here is the suggested order of reading:

  1. Healthcare Reform: The Major Players
  2. Phrases Made Easy: “Defined Benefit” and “Defined Contribution”
  3. The Great Transition: Healthcare Benefits & Defined Contribution
  4. Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs): The Employee Benefits Home Run

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Defined benefit and defined contribution are long, “scary” phrases. We’ve got news for you though: at Policy Advantage Insurance Services, we work hard to explain all this jargon in simpler terms. And even better news: these two are really easy.

That’s right, they’re actually quite simple to understand. Once you “get” them… you’ve got them (there are only two of them, and they won’t change). Understanding their concept will be a valuable tool for you… especially in the post healthcare reform environment.

In the past, these two phrases were most commonly associated with retirement planning. Now (as a result of healthcare reform), you’ll also want to understand them when it comes to health benefits planning. Here we go.

Phrase #1 — “Defined Benefit” made easy:

  • “Defined Benefit” Example in Retirement Planning: You’re a teacher, you retire, and the school district sends you a monthly retirement check! Simple. That’s a “defined benefit.”
  • Simpler Terms: The benefit (cash/check), has been defined (the dollar amount paid to you each month)
  • Examples of “Defined Benefits” in Retirement and Healthcare Planning: a) pension plans (our example), b) cash-balance pension plans, and c) any group health insurance plan (large or small).

Phrase #2 — “Defined Contribution” made easy:

  • “Defined Contribution” Example in Retirement Planning: You work at a software company. That software company matches your contribution to your 401k each month. That is a “defined contribution.”
  • Simpler Terms: The contribution (match to your 401k account), has been defined (usually as a percentage).
  • Examples of “Defined Contributions” in Retirement and Healthcare Planning: a) 401k’s (our example), b) ESOPs, c) stock bonus plans, d) profit-sharing plans, e) target-benefit pension plans, f) money-purchase plans, and g) health reimbursement arrangements (or HRAs).

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As mentioned, health benefits planning will begin to transition from “defined benefit” plans (ie: group insurance plans) to “defined contribution” plans (ie: HRAs). The reason: healthcare reform has created planning conditions that are suitable for this transition. Retirement plans evolved in similar fashion from pensions (defined benefit) to 401k’s (defined contribution).

If you followed along last week (“Healthcare Reform: The Major Players”), you would have read that HRAs were one of the “major players” we described. This is why: health reimbursement arrangements (or HRAs) will be the “vehicle” that will facilitate this change to defined contribution healthcare plans. We’ll begin to explain in our next blog post… so come back and read up!

Important Editor’s Note 11/22/2013: Since these original blog posts, federal guidance regarding “Stand-Alone HRAs” (which are addressed in-depth throughout these articles) has undergone significant changes. In order to stay in full compliance, please be advised that there are now many additional considerations when adopting this type of benefits planning strategy. Consult with a proper broker or insurance professional before utilizing employer dollars to purchase individual health insurance policies. 

That’s all for now. We hope this information was beneficial, as these can be important concepts for anyone.  Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to follow along at our other outlets:

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