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California governor signs legislation allowing small groups to keep health benefits through 2015 July 14, 2014

Posted by QUOTEBROKER in ACA, California Health Insurance, Employee Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Health Insurance, small group.
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California businesses with small group health insurance got some good news last week when Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1446 into law. The legislation allows so-called “grandmothered plans”- plans from before the 2014 ACA changeover that are not ACA compliant but were allowed to be kept anyway- to be renewed for another year and kept through 2015.

This is a win for small business owners concerned about the rising costs of health insurance due to ACA mandates in place that would force them from their older plans onto a newer block of programs that account for the changes mandated by the ACA. In many cases, business owners are saving double digit percentages on what they would be paying had they switched to an ACA compliant plan when they were first released on 1/1/14.

This law only applies to existing groups with coverage already in force. New groups or companies that want to switch their coverage must still access care via the new ACA compliant plans. This can be done either traditionally direct with a carrier like Blue Cross, Blue Shield, etc. or it can be done through the newly created SHOP program run by the state of California. SHOP allows businesses to simply choose one tier of plan and let their employees shop across multiple carriers, while signing up traditionally allows only one carrier but multiple plan tiers, if desired.

Further information can be found at http://www.quotebroker.com or via the toll free hotline 800-783-0802

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Obamacare enrollment numbers are in- but what do they mean? May 6, 2014

Posted by QUOTEBROKER in ACA, COBRA, Employee Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Health Care Reform, Health Insurance, Insurance Quotes, Obamacare.
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Obamacare enrollment numbers are in- but what do they mean?

The Obama administration has released a report detailing the enrollment numbers from the first enrollment period.  Note that these numbers are still incomplete, as final enrollments were still trickling in from the two week grace period given to consumers who had difficulty enrolling before March 31, 2014.  The big number that has been bandied about is “eight million enrolled” citizens into Obamacare plans- but what does that number actually mean?  Vox.com issued a nice summary at the link above.

The eight million figure comprises:

  • Consumers who created a marketplace account on an exchange, whether federal or state, and enrolled in a health insurance plan
  • “enrolled” in this case means “had their information sent to the insurance company
  • Some percentage of these folks have not and will not pay for their premium- an estimated 10-15%, based on numbers recently released by AHIP– America’s Health Insurance Plans.

The figure does NOT include:

  • Private enrollments made through carriers directly outside of the marketplace
  • Medicaid enrollments
  • Group enrollments
  • Those young adults under age 26 who were eligible to enroll in their parents’ health plan

Attempting to calculate Obamacare’s true reach is extremely difficult. We can count who signed up for insurance, but we can’t determine who only signed up because the legislation caused them to lose their plan in the first place.  We can count who signed up for Medicaid, but we can’t calculate who signed up that was newly eligible based on the new Medicaid expansion rules.

We will also see these numbers fluctuate throughout the “offseason” between open enrollments.  Special Enrollment Periods, unlocked with major qualifying life events, will be used to move into marketplace plans even now that open enrollment has closed. Marriage, birth, adoption and especially job loss are common triggers of Special Enrollment Periods. The individual health insurance industry always had some degree of turnover, much of it attributable to consumers getting new jobs and leaving the individual market to join their employer-sponsored group plan.  The same will continue under the ACA, as will the reverse scenario of consumers leaving their jobs with employer-sponsored plans and entering the individual market, as the lack of pre-existing condition exclusions will allow free movement between group and individual programs. These “final” enrollment numbers released by the administration are anything but.

Avoiding Obamacare: How to Avoid the Penalty Tax While Remaining Covered September 23, 2013

Posted by QUOTEBROKER in ACA, Aetna, California Health Insurance, Employee Benefits, Group Health Insurance, Health Care Reform, Health Insurance, Health Insurance 101, Individual Health Insurance, Insurance Quotes, Obamacare, QuoteBroker, Section 125, small group.
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Obamacare Open Enrollment starts October 1- just a few days from now. For many people, that day has been long anticipated as a day marking the enrollment in improved plan designs and premium subsidy payments from the government.  Others who may not be so positively affected by the changes are indifferent or even actively against health care reform.  Do you want to avoid new Obamacare compliant health plans? Here are a few ways to stay out of the new plan designs- some short term, some long term:

For Individuals

  • Stay on your grandfathered plan– the easiest way to avoid Obamacare and its changes is to already be enrolled on a grandfathered plan.   If you have been on your plan for the last several years without interruption or changes, there’s a good chance you may be grandfathered.  Check with your carrier or your agent to see if your plan qualifies.  However, if your carrier is leaving the market entirely, like Aetna in California, your plan is grandfathered but will be terminated when they do exit.
  • Enroll in your employer-sponsored group plan– Check with your HR coordinator at work to see if there is a group health insurance option for you to enroll in. Depending on the size of your group, these plans may be only slightly affected or even unchanged by Obamacare.  Many group Open Enrollment periods are in the 4th quarter, so the timing may be just right to sign up.
  • Sign up now with a carrier not participating in the exchange-  In California, all non-grandfathered plans offered by carriers participating in the exchange will be terminated on 12/31/13.  However, California does have one non-participating carrier that is still currently accepting applications and will cover you throughout 2014- CIGNA.   If you sign up for a plan with CIGNA in the 4th quarter of 2013, you can avoid the vast majority of the mandated Obamacare changes for 12 months.  While each case is unique, this is our recommended option for those who do not want to participate in the CoveredCA health care exchange or in ACA-compliant but do want to continue their coverage and also not be penalized with an additional fee on their taxes for not having insurance.

For Small Businesses and their Administrators

  • Participate in Early Renewal– Most small group health plans will undergo the Obamacare changes on their 2014 renewal date.  This means that if you renew 1/1/14, your changes will be in effect for the entirely of 2014.  If your renewal is 7/1/2014, then for the first half of the year you will keep your plan and the second half of the year you will have an ACA-compliant plan with all of the Obamacare-mandated changes.  Many carriers will allow you to renew your plan early, in the 4th quarter of 2013.  This will move your 2014 renewal to the corresponding month in 2014, staving off Obamacare changes until then.  While every case is different, groups larger than 10 lives will likely benefit from this early renewal option, for a variety of technical reasons which can be explained during a 1 on 1 consultation– just ask!
  • Drop coverage entirely, send employees to the exchanges– Many small businesses are exploring the option of dropping their group coverage entirely and allowing their employees to shop the market on their own, taking advantage of the government exchanges and subsidies.  This is a decision that should not be made lightly, as the repercussions for employer and employee alike can be widespread and lasting.  Because each small group case is so unique, a 1 on 1 needs evaluation is the recommended course of action if you are even considering this route.

For more detailed information specific to your unique case, contact Quotebroker today. A licensed specialist will respond to your inquiry same-day. 

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