What Is Your Most Valuable Asset?

Ask this question to ten different people and you will most likely get ten different answers. However, if you take a few minutes to really think about the question there really is only one answer. Your most valuable asset is your ability to earn an income. How different would your life be if you lost the ability to earn an income? Who would be affected if you lost the ability to earn an income? The answers to those two questions are difficult to and even uncomfortable to even think about. Everything that you have today – your home, car, groceries, computer, phone, vacations, savings and basically your entire lifestyle, depends on your ability to earn an income. Most people are quick to insure their possessions, but overlook the one thing that allows them to have these possessions in the first place. Most people also have health and life insurance that would help cover medical expenses or provide for their family in the event of their death. But the one thing that makes all this possible is – your income. It really is your most important asset. So, protecting it with disability insurance isn’t just a good decision – it’s essential! But I already pay for disability. I see it on my pay-stub each time that I get paid, right? • Sure, anyone that receives a paycheck has a small percentage of their pay taken out by the state which is then deposited into the state disability fund but do you know how much the state will pay you if you become disabled? In 2013 the average monthly payment to...

Blue Shield system enhancements are on the way

On December 1, Blue Shield is moving all of their small business clients with a January, February and March 2014 renewal period onto their enhanced membership and claims system as part of our commitment to improve the way they provide service. The system is also used by more than 70 other health plans across the country. What does this mean for their small business clients? Beginning December 2, your small business clients with a January through March 2014 renewal period will see the following changes: A new December 2013 bill, including A new account number for billing purposes A new group number that replaces their current customer number New subgroup number(s) that replace their existing billing unit A consolidated bill format New member ID cards for their medical plan and dental plan (if applicable) These ID cards include a new subscriber number and customer service number listed on the back. Newly-enhanced Employer Connection Plus website to manage their account online Your clients who are currently using Employer Connection to access their account online will be able to access it using their existing username and password. To sign-up all businesses will need is their December 2013 bill to...

Feds loosen “use it or lose it” rule on FSAs

This week The Treasury Department has announced changes to the dreaded use-it-or-lose-it rule that has been in force for 30 years.   Treasury officials began taking public comments on the change last year, and they said the response was overwhelmingly in favor of giving employees more leeway. Until now, employees would forfeit any unused money in their healthcare flexible spending account (FSA) at the end of the year.  The rule change will now allow employees to carry over as much as $500 from one year to the next without penalty. For year many employees have been reluctant to put money into the FSA plans for fear of losing whatever they don’t use. Typically, employees must estimate before the year starts how much they might spend on healthcare and many miss the mark as it is estimated that 1 in 4 FSA participants suffer forfeiture each year.  Once employees determine the amount they wish to have withheld employers will then deduct money from their paychecks before taxes.  Any amount left over at the end of the year would go back to the employers. In a recent survey of large employers, 86% offered FSAs for healthcare expenses however only 23% of employees participated.   In all, it is estimated that 14 million American families use the spending accounts. With less risk of forfeitures, experts predict that more employees, particularly lower and moderate-income employees will take advantage of the deductions for everyday medical expenses, such as co-pays, over-the-counter drugs and other items not normally covered by health insurance.  The rule change also could reduce the incentive by workers for unnecessary spending at year-end to...

So What Exactly is the Reinsurance Assessment Fee?

The reinsurance program was thought up as a way to coax insurance companies into the new insurance marketplaces that will officially launch on 01/01/14 (Covered California).  Jumping into these new markets is a big risk for insurance companies as they have no idea whether they will get people who are very sick, very healthy or somewhere in the middle.  If one plan unintentionally gets all the sick people, perhaps because they structured their plans in a certain way, that could drive them out of business.  The reinsurance program is essentially protection against that. The government will collect $10 billion in 2014 to redistribute to the insurance plans that get more than their share of sick enrollees.  The reinsurance program is meant to be transitional, only spanning from 2014 through 2016.  Beyond that, the thinking goes that health plans will have enough experience in the marketplaces to predict how sick their subscribers will be. Nearly all health insurance plans are required to pay into the reinsurance plan, even big employer plans that don’t sell on the new marketplaces.  This is why the reinsurance program wasn’t especially popular with health plans that focus on the large group market, as they won’t see much in the way of benefit from this program. The Facts: In 2014, the fee is $5.25 per covered person per month or $63 per covered person per year (each dependent is counted as a covered person). The amount of the fee is subject to change in 2015 and 2016. Payment is due within 30 days after notification from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of...

Anthem Blue Cross Allowing Early Renewals

Anthem is offering all groups currently enrolled in their Small Group Portfolio (2-50) that have a renewal date in 2014 the opportunity to renew early and move their anniversary date to December 1, 2013. Additionally, Small Groups that now have 50 or more employees may be eligible to obtain a Large Group policy proposal with a December 1, 2013 effective date. What are the benefits of renewing early? Keep the Anthem Blue Cross plans you and your employees are familiar with and ensure stability during changing times. Give you and your employees time to evaluate and better understand all the changes and options under the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) guidelines instead of being forced to make a change soon after ACA goes into effect. Lock in 2013, 4th quarter rates as opposed to being subject to the new 2014 rates. Moving your renewal to December 1st will provide you with a 12 month rate guarantee. If you believe that the early renewal option could benefit your company please contact us. We will be happy to review your benefit package to ensure that you are in the most competitive position as we head into 2014. Early renewal materials must be submitted by November 15,...