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Posts Tagged ‘Healthcare Reform’

Covered California: There’s Still Time to Enroll in 2015

A couple of weeks ago, Covered California announced an open enrollment extension for certain eligible people. According to the Covered California website, the exchange is offering a “time-limited opportunity to enroll during special enrollment for consumers who did not realize there was a tax penalty in 2014 or learned they may face a penalty in 2015.”

In other words: there is still time to enroll in 2015 if you are uninsured. This extension will run from now (February 23rd, 2015), until April 30th, 2015. This enrollment period is called a “special enrollment period.”

April30

In order to enroll in this “special enrollment period,” the applicant will need to attest on the application that they did not realize that there was a tax penalty for being uninsured. There will be a new drop down option on the application that is called “Informed of Tax Penalty Risk.”

Avoid tax penalties in 2015! They’re getting bigger. Contact a Covered California “Certified Insurance Agent” today, to help you enroll. We’re certified at PolicyAdvantage.com. 1(800) 617-0089.

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

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

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Categories: Uncategorized

Coming Up: More Fresh Content

November 3, 2014 Leave a comment

Welcome back to our blog here at PolicyAdvantage.com. Thanks for stopping by.

If you haven’t noticed, we’ve taken an 8+ week hiatus between new posts, and have been working on some great things. It’s time to get back to some fresh blog content.

Here’s what we’ve been up to:

  1. Preparing for open enrollment. 2014 individual and family plan (IFP) open enrollment is here SOON. It runs from November 15th, 2014 until February 15th, 2015. We’ve been putting together quote sheets, advertisements, and more.
  2. Upgrading our website. Our website has undergone a major upgrade over the past 8 weeks. Feel free to visit at http://www.PolicyAdvantage.com. Among the new features: A) An upgraded layout and theme with a modern look, B) improved individual and employer sections, C) online applications make easier, and D) a new blog section.
  3. Developing our lion’s name & website. Our lion does have a name. We’re really happy with it, and it works well with our overall theme. We’re also beginning early preparations for his website.

Blog_Fresh_Content.

Thanks for your continued and ongoing support since our inception in 2012. We’ve enjoyed working with our clients, building the brokerage, helping people navigate the new healthcare reform environment, and more.

We’re back at it. We’ll continue to crank out valuable, up-to-date, relevant information that will help you (or your business) improve coverage and save money. Coming soon: some healthcare reform planning tips that you might not realize were available.

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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Categories: PAIS Information

Your Guide: Private Health Insurance Exchanges

Today we’re going to look at “private health insurance exchanges.” This has been one of the biggest buzz phrases in the health insurance industry over the past couple of years for a number of different reasons. The biggest reason though, is healthcare reform. With the implementation of new provisions required in the Affordable Care Act, the way that employers offer health insurance to their employees is changing.

We’ll take a look at the workings and the structure of private insurance exchanges. We’ll also describe the different components that make-up a private health insurance exchange, the types of businesses that should be taking the closest look at these exchanges, how private exchanges work, and why they’re growing in importance.

Private health insurance exchanges are exactly what they say they are: they’re exchanges that are set up privately through an employer. Many private health insurance exchanges utilize two important components:

  1. Technology and software: software programs help facilitate administration of private health insurance exchanges. Technology keeps the private exchange concept simple for both the employer and the employee. One example is http://www.liazon.com. Liazon’s platform allows an employer to define a contribution (much like an allowance), and then employees select their own health benefits. Simply, it’s an employee’s money to spend how he/she wants. The software keeps track of funds spent, shows the employee what kind of health insurance options are available in the private exchange, and allows employees to select plans they want.
  2. Group health insurance plans: in the past, many employers only offered one group health insurance plan. Administration of multiple plans could be a challenge. So to fix that problem, software companies (like Liazon) have arrangements with insurance companies that allow the employer to more easily offer multiple group health insurance plans, from multiple carriers. The important word here is multiple. With the software and technology that’s available, it’s not nearly as difficult to offer a selection of group health insurance plans anymore. This is important because one of the biggest goals of private health insurance exchanges is to provide choice. By utilizing a private exchange, employees now have choice.

There are additional ways to set up private health insurance exchanges, but businesses with +50 full time equivalent employees will almost always be utilizing the two concepts we’ve described above. And that’s who this article is intended for: businesses that are mandated to provide coverage. However, smaller businesses can also utilize this exact same strategy. If you’re a business that is at 20 employees or above, you’ll want to understand this concept.

Question: Why are private health insurance exchange becoming more important?

Here’s why:

  • Private health insurance exchanges give employees choices. Instead of being “stuck” in one group health insurance plan, they can more efficiently choose which plans fit them best. Having choices is now more important than ever before, because dependents (spouses and children) need to have affordable access to coverage. In the past, sometimes it was flat-out too expensive for an employee to include their dependents. The private exchange concept helps alleviate that issue.
  • Businesses with +50 full time equivalent employees are mandated to provide coverage. A private exchange is a cost-effective and budgetable way for employers in the “large group” category to provide coverage. You decide on the amount (called a “defined contribution”), and then give that amount to each employee. They pick the plan they want.
  • Efficiency. If employees are making their own decisions and picking their own plans, the whole system becomes more efficient. Instead of you telling them what they get, they instead pick what they want. When consumers are making choices, they’re more conscience about where money is being spent.

That’s the basic break-down of private health insurance exchanges. Unlike public health insurance exchanges (ie: state & federal exchanges), private exchanges are completely administered within the private workplace.

As mentioned, private exchanges can be an exceptionally important concept for those businesses in the +50 employee range. They accomplish three very important things: budgetability, selection, and flexibility. Those qualities will be very significant to businesses that are mandated to provide coverage. However, this same concept can work very well for smaller businesses too (in the 20+ employee range).

We work with private health insurance exchanges at Policy Advantage Insurance Services. If you are an employer that fits into the “group-sizes” we’ve described, contact us anytime if you have questions.

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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Covered California: SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program)

April 14, 2014 1 comment

Thanks for stopping by today, we’re glad that you here. Today we’re going to talk about the Covered California SHOP program, otherwise known as the Small Business Health Options Program.

As you know, Covered California is the new state health insurance exchange in the state of California. The new exchanges were major part of healthcare reform, and were designed to help extend health insurance coverage to eligible individuals and businesses. There are two different programs available at Covered California:

  1. Individual & Family Plans (IFP): these are plans that you enroll in outside of an employer (or group) plan. They are available with APTCs (or subsidies) at the exchange. These subsidies make premiums more affordable.
  2. SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program): these are group health insurance plans through Covered California that are available to qualified businesses. Depending on the size and average income of your business, you may be eligible for tax credits that can help reduce the cost of coverage. 

Many of you are probably familiar with the individual plans that are available through the exchange (option #1 above). A lot of you probably even enrolled — over 1.2 million people in California participated during the exchange’s first open enrollment period that just ended.

Even though you might be familiar with individual health plan enrollment at the exchange, this article is about option #2 above. Covered California can also help small businesses. 

SHOP

If you’re a small business owner (especially in a group with less than 25 FTEs), you may want to take a close look at Covered California’s SHOP. This program is specifically designed to help small businesses offer coverage. Here are some important facts about the SHOP:

  • It’s a new marketplace through the Covered California exchange designed specifically for businesses with 1-50 eligible employees.
  • Employers under 50 FTE are not required to provide health insurance, but this program could be a good option.
  • Important: unlike individual enrollment, Covered California SHOP enrollment is open all year in 2014. So, request information and a quote anytime this year.
  • An eligible full-time employee is an employee that works 30hrs per week or more for the month. An eligible part-time employee is an employee that works 20hrs per week or more for the month.
  • To be eligible for SHOP, an employer must provide a minimum 50% contribution to employee plans.

Question #1: What businesses are eligible for a tax credit?

Answer #1: Businesses that 1) have fewer than 25 FTE for the year, 2) have an annual average wage of less than $50,000 per FTE, and 3) who pay at least 50% of their employees’ premium costs.

Question #2: How much is the tax credit?

Answer #2: Starting in 2014, the maximum tax credit for businesses as a percentage of insurance premium expense is 50% (or up to half of your premium). The maximum tax credit for tax-exempt organizations as a percentage of insurance premium expenses is 35%. These premium subsides are available for two consecutive years.

As a small business owner, it’s a great idea to talk with a Covered California “Certified Agent” about this program. They can run a quote for you. You may be eligible for substantial premium savings. Policy Advantage Insurance Services is certified and can help you with your questions. Feel free to contact us anytime. For more information about SHOP, please visit their official FAQ page here.

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: “Advanced Premium Tax Credits” (APTCs)

April 7, 2014 3 comments

Welcome back to another edition of “Phrases Made Easy.” This series at our blog aims to help make all of those long, drawn-out insurance phrases easier to understand. One thing we notice when talking about health insurance (and health benefits in general) is that the concepts can be “wordy” and boring. We emphasize fixing that here.

Today we’re going to talk about “Advanced Premium Tax Credits” (or APTCs). And we’ve got great news for you: this one is really easy.

If you’ve enrolled in a health insurance plan at the new health insurance exchanges, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve already put “Advanced Premium Tax Credits” to work. We’re going to give you the long version of the definition first. This one comes directly from http://www.healthcare.gov (*note: skip below the “Easy St” sign if you want to make this easier):

The Affordable Care Act provides a new tax credit to help you afford health coverage purchased through the Marketplace. Advance payments of the tax credit can be used right away to lower your monthly premium costs. If you qualify, you may choose how much advance credit payments to apply to your premiums each month, up to a maximum amount. If the amount of advance credit payments you get for the year is less than the tax credit you’re due, you’ll get the difference as a refundable credit when you file your federal income tax return. If your advance payments for the year are more than the amount of your credit, you must repay the excess advance payments with your tax return. Also called premium tax credit.

Easy

OK. That was pretty wordy. Now let’s make this easy. Here’s what you need to know about “Advanced Premium Tax Credits” (or APTCs):

  • APTCs are the health insurance “subsidies” that you hear so much about.
  • They are credits that make your premiums more affordable if you purchase insurance through the new exchange.
  • The APTCs that you may qualify for are based on FPL or “Federal Poverty Level” (we made that phrase easy one time before, go check it out).
  • The more money that you make, the less of a monthly APTC you will get.
  • The less money that you make, the more of a monthly APTC you will get.
  • If you get too much credit for the year (because you under-stated your income), you’ll have to pay it back at tax time.
  • And (you guessed it), if you don’t get enough credit for the year (because you over-stated your income), you’ll get a credit at tax time.

The moral of the story: APTCs are really what makes individual health insurance “affordable” in the Affordable Care Act. They’re government tax credits that are designed to make health insurance premiums less expensive.

In certain exchanges (like Covered California), when you shop and compare plans (using their “Shop & Compare Tool“), they will apply the APTCs you may eligible for, and give you your total monthly premium estimate. This estimate is based on four factors:

  1. Number of People in the Household
  2. Ages of People in the Household
  3. Yearly Household Income
  4. and Zip Code

Once again, if you want to see an example, look at Covered California’s “Shop & Compare Tool.” Once you input the factors listed above, you’ll be able to see what kind of APTC you may qualify for.

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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#Advantage: Working with a Covered California “Certified Agent”

Covered California” is the new public health insurance exchange in the state of California. If you live California, you’ve probably heard quite a bit about it over the past 6 months. These exchanges are a new way to buy health insurance and are a major part of healthcare reform.

The California exchange opened back in October of 2013. Since then, hundreds of thousands of Californians have enrolled in individual insurance plans there. Many of these plans have been subsidized by Advance Premium Tax Credits (or APTCs). These APTCs can substantially reduce the monthly cost of health insurance.

If you’ve taken a look at Covered California, you’ll know that there are various ways in which to enroll. Some of them include:

  • Online. You can set up an online account and enroll via the internet. You can also assign a Certified Insurance Agent to your case through your online portal.
  • Over the phone. You can call Covered California’s phone number and enroll with a service agent.
  • In person. You can enroll in person with A) Certified Enrollment Entities, B) Certified Enrollment Counselors, or C) Certified Insurance Agents. 

The purpose of this blog post is to explain some of the advantages of enrolling with a Certified Insurance Agent

Advantage

Here are some really good reasons to work with a Covered California “Certified Insurance Agent”:

  • Certified Agents are Licensed Professionals: Any insurance agent that is certified with Covered California is also licensed with the state department of insurance. Many of these agents also have years of experience and know the industry well.
  • A Single Point of Contact: This is one of the biggest advantages. You’ll have a single point of contact if you enroll with a certified agent. You can pick up the phone or send an email to that person anytime. If you need to make changes or have questions in the future, you’ll have someone familiar to work with.  However, if you enroll with a Covered California customer service rep over the phone, or a Certified Enrollment Counselor, you may speak with different people each time.
  • Certified Agents are Appointed Directly with the Insurance Companies: Insurance agents are appointed and have a direct relationship with the insurance companies. This can help with quick, effective, and efficient customer service.
  • Certified Agents Have Passed Rigorous Certification Requirements: These are people that have gone through extensive training and testing to obtain their certified status.
  • No Cost. You can work with a Covered California “Certified Agent” at no cost to you. Compensation is built into every insurance plan, regardless of whether-or-not you decide to work with an agent.

As you can see, there are a number of good reasons to work with a Covered California “Certified Insurance Agent.” Look for this badge when searching for assistance from an agent or agency:

CCCertified

Policy Advantage Insurance Services is certified. Please contact us if you have questions, or need ongoing help at Covered California.

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

Policy Advantage Insurance Services: Where We Can Help

Today’s article is about where (and how) Policy Advantage Insurance Services can help you with your health benefits planning. As you know, we’ve written a few blog posts about this topic in the past. If you’re new, we’d encourage you to catch up here:

Policy Advantage Insurance Services literally has the ability to help you with your health benefits planning, no matter your current situation. This blog post intends to specifically identify where we can help.

WeCanHelp

  • Employers of Any Size: We have the ability to help any size employer, large or small. If you’re a business owner or executive, you probably know that there are some important differences between businesses (especially your number of full time equivalent employees), when it comes to healthcare reform. We can help employers with 2, 20, 80, 500, or even 1000’s of employees. We can help you design an effective, efficient, and budget-conscience health plan that will fit any business.
  • Individual Health Insurance Plans Off of the Exchange: Are you self-employed or not offered a health insurance plan at work? It’s now easier than ever to “shop” and find individual health insurance. If your income is too high to qualify for exchange subsidies, we can help you find a plan off of the exchange. These are plans that are purchased directly through the insurance companies.
  • Individual Health Insurance Plans On the Exchange: If you’d don’t currently have access to an affordable health insurance plan, and your income is between 100% and 400% of FPL, you may qualify for help with your insurance premiums through the new health insurance exchanges in the form of “Advanced Premium Tax Credits” (or APTCs). These credits can significantly reduce the amount of your monthly premiums. Policy Advantage Insurance Services is “Covered California Certified” and can help you select plans on the new exchange.
  • SHOP Plans On the Exchange: The “SHOP” program is the new “Small Business Health Options Program.” This is a new program on the exchange that is specifically designed to help small businesses (under 50 employees) expand health insurance options to their employees. Those businesses that have less than 25 employees may see significant tax-credits to off-set the cost of premiums. The SHOP program is a group health insurance plan.

As you can see, Policy Advantage Insurance Services has the capacity to help you in any circumstance. If you are a business, individual, or self-employed, we can help you find a plan that will fit your situation. One of our biggest goals is to help our clients save money and improve coverage. Contact us today, and we’ll help you sort it all out.

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