Affordable Care Act, Where We Are Now

Before the Affordable Care Act was passed, the number of Americans without health insurance has been estimated to be as high as 44 million. Current statistics indicate that about 7.26 million have enrolled in the program so far. Every citizen is required by law to get insurance. If you don’t have health insurance through work, enrolling will keep you from getting hit by an IRS-enforced tax/fine.

Prior to ACA’s enactment, 18% of American adults had no health insurance. In 2014, eight million people signed up for health insurance, dropping uninsured to about 14%. Thirty million are expected to remain uninsured, even after a few more years of enrollments. Health insurance is clearly something that still needs to be addressed.

States have the right to choose two different paths concerning Medicaid money. They can expand Medicaid availability by partnering with the Federal Government on the Marketplace Exchange. If they choose to do so, then more federally-funded Medicare dollars become available to those states. In states that expanded Medicaid, the uninsured fell from 28% to 17%, but in states that didn’t, the average uninsured rate only fell from 38% to 36%.

North Carolina is not moving forward with Medicaid Expansion at this time and is not alone in this choice. In fact about 50% of our country (23 states) chose to not pursue Medicaid Expansion. These states have chosen to not use the federal end of the Marketplace website. They have chosen a route that has less federal red tape.

About 90% of those who remain uninsured are unaware that there is another enrollment window. The Marketplace is full of all kinds of useful information to help folks make decisions about policies, a better understanding of health insurance basics, where to go for additional help. Small business owners can find plan options there as well.

The next enrollment window is November 15, 2014 – February 15, 2016. This will be for coverage that starts as soon as January 1, 2015. Outside of this enrollment window, you can’t sign up unless you have a life-changing event, such as getting married, having a baby, job loss, or moving outside your current insurance’s covered area. With most rules, there are exceptions and ACA is no different: Medicaid and CHIP (Child Health Insurance Program) is available for enrollment year round.

People who have the greatest need for health insurance are usually the poorest. They are typically the least informed, least educated, and last to know about changes in the law, probably due to limited access to the internet, news, etc. They tend to have poorer health and some have had to often rely on Emergency Rooms for ordinary medical care. They are the group that will have the hardest time paying the penalties for failing to comply with the law. Obviously, this is a niche that needs to be educated about Marketplace and Medicaid/Medicare/CHIPS options.

Check out the Health Insurance Marketplace. You can compare plans (similar to shopping for airline tickets) even find out if you’re eligible for tax credits, which is based on income. Subsidies are available to offset the expense of ACA policies. Up to 400% of the poverty line qualify. That’s about $97K/yr gross income. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina can give you more information, and sign-up details. Getting a policy is probably going to be a better decision than paying the non-compliance tax.

5 Reasons to Buy Short Term Life Insurance

1. Providing income for family in the event of death of the primary income earner.

In National Underwriter’s recent Life Insurance Study, we asked agents about the primary concerns and goals of their clients. An impressive 75 percent of respondents noted that their clients want life insurance for a very traditional reason: to provide for their family in case of death. This was an overwhelming lead over client concern No. 2, which came in at 40 percent. Raymond W. Johns, an insurance broker in Utah, notes that the peace of mind life insurance offers is something no other product can provide: “Life insurance is the key ingredient for the safety of every family. It is an integral part of any financial plan. We who understand the power of life insurance need to spread the word … so that [others] clearly understand how important it is for their financial peace of mind.”

2. Paying off debt.

When working with younger prospects, producers often hear this classic question: “I’m single with no dependents, so why would I need coverage?” The answer was cited by 40 percent of our respondents as top-of-mind for their clients: Life insurance protects your loved ones from paying off your debts. Which brings us to the No. 3 concern

3. Covering funeral expenses

At its roots, life insurance is a final expense product, designed to protect loved ones from the financial cost of death (see our infographic: Death by the Numbers). Today’s policies may come with a lot of extra bells and whistles, but many clients want it simply to pay for funeral costs, so that their family doesn’t have to. Thirty-eight percent of producers cited this as a top client concern, making it No. 3 on our list. This builds on data uncovered by an earlier National Underwriter research study: In the African-American market, covering funeral expenses is the No. 1 concern, cited by 57 percent of advisors who work with African-American clients.

4. Passing wealth to heirs.

As a financial planning tool, part of the beauty of life insurance is its flexibility. This is a product that can fulfill a variety of needs for a variety of clients in a variety of income brackets. Thirty-five percent of survey respondents noted that passing wealth to heirs was a top goal of their clients. Guy Baker, managing director, BTA Advisory Group, explains why it’s important to pitch life insurance not as a product but as a key part of the financial planning process: “We can sell life insurance as a product or part of a process starting with defining the problem and leading to an ultimate solution. Most people are too busy being successful to focus on making a BIG decision. So we break the problem down into little decisions that lead to implementation. Work on the problem, not the solution.”

5. Being able to pay for a loved one’s education in the event of death of an income earner.

Twenty-five percent of advisors cited education expenses as a primary goal for their clients and a primary selling point for life insurance. And for good reason: As a secure investment vehicle, life insurance is tough to beat. Mark Hug, Prudential’s EVP of product & marketing, individual life insurance business says this about why the product is so relevant to so many — and also why a change in public perception is still needed: “The more people understand the relevance of life insurance, the more we can shift the nature of the conversations. Ultimately that change will help people see that life insurance isn’t a commodity, but rather a source of protection for their loved ones and a resource for their future.”

*From a recent article, “…Five of the top benefits clients expect to receive from their life insurance policies.

ACA There was Much Kicking and Screaming

Despite all the grumbling the Affordable Care Act is here its law. Now it is time to make it work for you. For the first time health insurance is available to almost everyone. Take advantage, get ailments treated, cover and protect your children, all the things you couldn’t afford before. Hurry enrollment ends March 31. I offer personal service, answers to your questions, help getting your subsidies, and finding a plan works for you. Do it now.

Affordable Healthcare Act: Benefits and Possible Downsides

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been fraught with controversies from the very start, and now, even months after its introduction, the controversies show little signs of abetting. Debates are alive as to the good and the bad sides of it and wedged between the claims of the supporters and the detractors of the new plan, people in large still seem to be in a lot of confusion. The following are the most salient points in regard to the pros and cons of the new healthcare plan.

Let us start with the positive sides. The primary aim of ACA was to include the possible biggest number of population under health insurance coverage. It is estimated that, starting from 2014, as many as 32 million Americans, who could not afford any health coverage until now, will be covered by the new healthcare plan. Among these are included 3.1 million Americans aged 19-25 who can now be added to the health insurance plans of their parents. Many of these young people are known to be working at various jobs and who still couldn’t afford any health insurance. In addition, no insurance company will, from now on, be able to deny coverage to patients with serious pre-existing conditions. The companies will also not be able to drop members from a plan when they get sick.

Most people are also expected to enjoy healthcare at reduced costs thanks to the new plan. Many may see a rise in the monthly costs of the more or less identical coverage’s, but the newer plans also come with lesser deductibles and annual out-of-pocket expenses. This means the overall costs of the similar plans will come down significantly for most people. Many are also of the opinion that the new plans will make preventative care more accessible. Importantly also, the new plan is expected to reduce the big budget gaps due to Medicare. The budget deficit is expected to get reduced by as much as $143 billion in five years from now.

On the downside, many fear that the Affordable Care Act will translate in higher medicine costs. According to the new plan, the pharma companies will need to pay $84.8 billion extra in fees over the period of the next ten years. This may result in rising drug costs if the companies look to pass the burden of this extra pay on to the consumers. Many have also predicted that America will reel under a huge shortage of health care workforce by 2020 as a result of some new mandates included in ACA. An AAMC study reveals that the shortage can be as huge as of 91,500 physicians by 2020.

Many people have also complained that they have found it extremely difficult to pin down the right plan for themselves from among the maze of all the different plans available. For example, someone residing in North Carolina may find it quite a challenge to visit the website of Blue Cross Blue Shield NC and find the suitable plan for herself all on her own. This is largely owing to the sheer number of different coverage schemes available under the new plan. Therefore, most people in North Carolina would need help of a BCBSNC agent who will help his client narrow down his choices and would explain in detail why certain schemes should be more beneficial to them than the others.

If you need help navigating the Blue Cross Blue Shield NC website and the schemes listed thereof and would like to engage the services of a BCBSNC agent, please feel free to contact us today.

ACA, Why You Need a Trusted Insurance Agent to Guide You

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ACA, Why You Need a Trusted Insurance Agent to Guide You

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) greatly helped demystify health insurance in USA. In a bid to make health care affordable to all segments of the population, health insurance was stratified into four broad categories namely; the bronze plan, the silver plan, the gold plan, and the platinum plan. The use of the metals to refer to the different plans is what led to the plans being dubbed metallic plans.

The metallic plans are supposed to guide the cumulative cost of the premiums as one moves from the lower metal plans to the highest metal plan. However, consumers are advised to be careful when shopping for health insurance since it is actually possible to get a company that has cheaper gold plan that another company’s silver plan. An independent health insurance agent can help furnish you with this and related information and advice on the best course of action.

Even though Affordable Care Act proposed the 4 plans, there is no legislation stipulating that every health insurance company should offer all the four metallic plans. However, ACA requires every company to at least have the silver and gold plans. A consumer could easily get confused when dealing with a company that offers only silver and gold plans and think that only two plans exist. This underscores the importance of working with a good health insurance agent. The Blue Cross Blue Shield NC (BCBSNC) agents will help you understand these metallic plans to avoid such misconceptions.

Whichever metallic plan you settle for, it should provide all the fundamental health benefits. Depending on your state, there might be some statutory requirements for other add-on services to each plan. Even though all the plans provide similar fundamental services, the amount covered by the different plans differs and that is the main reason why they don’t have a uniform cost.

Most consumers stick to their health insurance under the illusion that they will benefit from incentives given to loyal customers. Some consumers picked a plan a couple of years ago when that was the best deal they could get on the market and have never bothered to review it. Even though it is often true that your longevity as a customer might give you a better deal, it is sometimes a huge fallacy that could lose you a lot of money in the long run. The Blue Cross Blue Shield NC staff will provide you with real time information that can help you make an informed decision to avoid such loses.

Relying on an online calculator might not be the best way to go. Even though these calculators often give a relatively close estimate, it is always better to work with a real agent. BCBSNC agents have the knowledge, expertise and experience needed in comparing the cost implications of different plans available on the market. Whenever one’s needs change, it might be necessary to review the health insurance package. For instance, a new couple expecting their first baby may want to ensure maternity is covered in the health insurance. A good health insurance agent will advise the couple on how best to make such adjustments.

Why a Personal BCBSNC Agent is Better Than a Navigator

In the wake of the recent health reforms, the Affordable HealthCare Act provisions and the plans one may opt for under the act have left many people in some confusion. For example, if North Carolina residents look to find an affordable and useful healthcare plan from the website of Blue Cross Blue Shield NC at http://www.bcbsnc.com/, this can be quite a challenging task. This is where a health insurance agent can help you out. An agent will help his client navigate through the maze of plans that are in offer and can help him enroll outside the government exchanges.

One may ask, won’t a navigator do the same? Not quite. The government had announced back in August this year that the original federal funding of $54 million on ‘navigators’ training and management had been increased to $67 million. The navigators are expected to assist people enroll in healthcare plans through government exchanges. However, at the same time that the government was agreeing to such a large expenditure on navigators, they had also handed off authorization to at least six insurance brokers for enrolling people in health insurance plans under Affordable HealthCare Act.

What is the bottom line of this? Well, this amounts to federal government admitting to the fact that the navigators could not provide people sufficient help in enrolling for the right plans. The reason for this is that the navigators are not allowed by law to proffer advice to consumers on which health insurance to choose. This law was primarily in place to ensure transparency in health care. The navigators are prohibited from making direct recommendations to people. To work as a navigator, one cannot have any ties with health insurance companies, and they also need to undergo an online training session which instructs them on how to avoid bias and stay neutral. So, all that navigators are allowed to do is to tell people what plan can be ideal for them, and that is that. They are not authorized to give explanations!

However, precisely this is where an insurance agent can be of help to people looking for the proper health plan to subscribe to. With confusion reigning regarding ACA, what people are looking for are recommendations and personalized advice. They need to know how they are going to benefit by subscribing to a particular plan. When it comes to Blue Cross Blue Shield NC, many may similarly find it somewhat difficult to navigate the website on their own and fish out the most useful information for themselves. Options are aplenty and with all the many different products available such as Blue Options HAS, Blue Advantage, Blue Medicare, Blue Options SM, an individual consumer may often feel at a loss about what plan to choose.

This is where a reputable North Carolina insurance agent can come to your aid. He will listen to your healthcare needs and would be able to recommend the right plan for you. You can also enroll to a plan through BCBSNC with the help of an agent. If you want to sign up under ACA using an insurance agent it will not cost you anything outside the plan. It is also important to understand that the agents do not sell health insurance. They will help you find the right plan, would give you useful advice and help you find the answers to your questions so that you can make a studied and informed choice regarding your health insurance coverage.

Don’t Break Bad Find a NC Health Plan Agent Who Cares

Breaking Bad just ended with its last episode. Now imagine how the story would have ended if Walt had affordable NC health insurance that covered his cancer in the first place. The lesson here is to always be prepared. That’s what health insurance and the Affordable Care Act is all about. Starting January 1, 2014 everybody would need to avail of their health insurance coverage or else pay a fine when they file their income tax returns on April. The beautiful thing about this is that this law has made it significantly easier for people to have health care that’s really affordable. The fine is meant to coax those who are complacent enough not to avail of this very great benefit. Hopefully with this, there won’t be a need to break bad on yourself and your family. If Walt had met an agent who was well versed with his specific requirements, the story would have been very different.

For the many busy people out there, going through an additional pile of paperwork and requirements can sometimes be too much most notably if you are already suffering from a pre-existing condition. Understanding how the Health Insurance Marketplace works does take some time to research and get to know specifically if you are averse to the idea of forced insurance in the first place. This is where an insurance agent can help the most. The agent will know a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum plan can work for you. Each has their own benefits and may be provided by a private insurance company with their own advantages. For instance, NC health plans are provided by several companies which include NC Health Insurance or Asheville Health insurance.

After you have presented your personal and household information, the appropriate health plans are then shown to you. The real issue here is not only in finding the exact NC Health insurance plans that works for you, it’s about securing your health and your family’s future. It is highly recommended that you choose an experienced Health insurance agent.

You need a dependable agent who is experienced, licensed and authorized. Not only that, you will need someone who will take your interests at heart. You see, the Affordable Care Act was designed because something was broken with the system back then. There was a time when selling insurance was about getting a buyer and then raising the premiums. With the passing of this law, raising the premiums is no longer allowed. It is in essence, a law that was designed to fulfill the real intention of making health care affordable for all.

All-in-all the Affordable Care Act is about helping you map out your future so you can prepare your family for the worst should the unforeseen and the unexpected arise. A good insurance agent should be somebody who is willing to go the extra mile to see to it that you and your family would continue to share good times with each other even when that dreaded call from the doctor comes. Life should be lived at the fullest but it should also be lived with responsibility. The options out there are many. Choose wisely so that you can manage not only your finances well but most of all, your future.

Health insurance for everyone is what the Affordable Care Act is all about. Starting January 1, 2014 everybody would need to have health insurance coverage or else pay a fine. You need a dependable agent who is experienced, licensed and authorized to help you find your way around. Not only that, you will need someone who will take your interests at heart.

Health Insurance Exchange made easy by Blue Cross Blue Shield

North Carolina State residents enjoy a wide variety of insurance plans but this makes the process of choosing the right process for their individual and peculiar needs very confusing. There are two basic types of health coverage plans available for residents. These are Individual and Group Health plans.

Individual North Carolina Health Plans
These plans are bought by individuals or families who are not covered by their employers’ insurance scheme. They are either self-employed or are not included in the employer’s plans. The advantages of having an individual health plan include,

1. The individual has full control of his health insurance plan.
2. Ownership of one’s own coverage.
3. Premiums depend on personal or family health history.

However, the Individual North Carolina health insurance plans also have their disadvantages; these are
1. Responsibility of the entire premium thus the employer does not provide subsidy.
2. Higher premium levels are charged if a person is ill during the time of application.
3. There is no compensation because the insurance is being taken care of by the individual alone.

Group North Carolina Health Plans
these are plans offered by employers to most of their full time workers. The advantages of the Group NC health insurance plan include
1. Employers pay 50% of their employees’ premium.
2. People with major health issues can afford insurance due to the proper support.
3. The employer will offer compensation especially in extreme conditions.

The Group NC Health Plan also has its disadvantages. These are;
1. Upon termination by the employer, choices for affordable health care are limited or unavailable.
2. People’s options are limited to the employers’ provision.
3. Individuals in the group cannot control the premium level.

North Carolina Health Insurance
North Carolina began providing health insurance coverage to residents in 2010 through a high-risk pool program established federally. Families having history of medical problems are assisted by the risk pool to purchase coverage. Health insurance companies operating in the state are expected to contribute to the pool so that people can become self-employed without losing their insurance coverage.

Blue Cross Blue Shield and Affordable Care Act (ACA)
Blue cross Blue Shield North Carolina is the states’ largest insurer. This insurance company announced to the customers the revised premiums under the Affordable Care Act. It has to offer 26 plans in the health insurance exchange. The charges were to range from $145.18 a subscriber aged 24 (one of two catastrophic plans) to $594 for 60 year old (one of six plans).

Individuals who are seeking to buy health insurance for the first time are usually not certain of the insurance products that best suit them. This is also the case for those who have relied on their employers’ coverage decision and are now about to get an insurance coverage on their own.

In same manner, those who seek health insurance exchange also rely on insurance companies to help make the best decision for them. The aim of the exchange is to improve the quality and access of an affordable health care. The process requires that the company develops its knowledge and insights in anticipating customers especially for first timers.

With the Affordable Care Act and policies and the analysis of BCBSNC on their customers trend, the “exchange” process has become very easy. The individual seeking exchange can confidently leave allow Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina decide which of its 26 plans is the best option.

What is Affordable Healthcare Act?

Health is wealth. The need to be healthy and remain healthy cannot be overrated. The health of the citizens of a country always has its effect of the country’s economy. This perhaps explains why the Obama Administration has taken the health care reform in the United States quite seriously, and passed the Affordable Health care act. This act brought a lot of changes into the insurance sector. These changes have impacts on the both the insurers and the individuals seeking insurance.

Key points in the bill 1. The health insurers are not allowed to refuse coverage for insurance or make different charges considering the patient’s medical histories. 2. The employers must provide coverage for their workers or pay surtax up to 8%. 3. There are subsidies provided for low and middle level Americans while buying insurance .4. Those who make less that $48000 a year are eligible for this financial assistance. 5. There would be a central health insurance market place where people will have the privilege of comparing various policies. 6. There are eight new taxes included which would affect the customer premiums directly. 7. All Americans would have to carry health insurance coverage or will have to face a penalty.

The effect on young single uninsuredAs there are minimum set of benefits in every plan, the coverage for it has also increased. The scheme comes as an overburden for young adults. They feel it would be better to pay the fine instead of accepting the insurance scheme which makes the individual pay thousands of dollars every year.

The Affordable health care act comes as a concern for the insurance companies too as they find it difficult to persuade the young adults to apply for the scheme.

The young single individual who is uninsured and not eligible for subsidies will have his premium amounts being hiked by 42 percent. However, a majority of single uninsured individuals in 20s shall be eligible for the subsidies provided by the government.

The outcome of this act shall prove to be worthy for senior individuals but for youngsters (young single uninsured), it still remains an issue. If a lot of youngsters opt out of the scheme, it will affect the stability of Affordable Healthcare Act as a whole. This led to the Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC (North California) writing the federal office regarding the meager response from the young single individuals. However one of the positive aspects of this act on young adults is that, the insurers are not allowed to remove adult children from the parent’s policies and the health insurance coverage will be available till the adult child reaches the age of 26.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC and Affordable Healthcare Act

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina holds independent license from BCBSA, which includes 38 insurance companies in US. Most hospitals in the US accept this insurance coverage of BCBSNC. It has become mandatory for all Americans to have an insurance coverage for their health, and seeking an affordable health plan is not an easy task. This makes the effort of Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC in providing affordable insurance coverage to both companies and individuals commendable.

BCBSNC Says North Carolina Health Care Largest Growing Employment Opportunities

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With all the focus on the new Health Care Reform Bill, attention is lost on the careers available in North Carolina health care system.

 Health care is the largest and the fastest-growing industry in the United States. The health care industry employs more than 10 million caregivers in over 200 professional careers. But even with those numbers there is an already growing crisis across the nation. Health care employment growth between the years 2000-2010 was projected to be 25.5 percent but current and projected shortages in the health care workforce show that these projections are not being met.

 A recent study by the American Hospital Association pointed to the current vacancy rates nationally which show a 15.3 percent for imaging technicians, 13 percent for registered nurses, and 12.7 percent for pharmacists.  What has caused this shortage in nursing? It is attributed to the latest explosion of technology, an ageing health care workforce, and an unprecedented ageing population.

 North Carolina fits right into the national profile. According to North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) North Carolina’s nursing shortage is a situation that is heading toward critical as the state’s population ages. NC AHEC works with the NC Center for Nursing and the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at UNC-Chapel Hill to conduct ongoing studies that monitor the quantity and skill level of nurses needed in North Carolina.

  AHEC’s studies show that North Carolina’s elderly population will double by 2020, creating huge demands for both highly skilled nurses and nursing assistants. Concurrently, the average age of the NC nurse is rising, with 24 percent of the workforce expected to retire within 10 years.

 Another contributing factor to the severe nursing shortage in NC is a dwindling number of schools offering the training. As the economy shrank and budget cuts came many public colleges have had to reduce their funding for training for nursing jobs. Even though health care skills are in major demand right now it is also one of the most expensive to teach. This has caused many state colleges to severely cut or totally eliminate their programs.  

 This puts North Carolina in a real life Catch 22 situation. There is already a shortage, but now there are fewer seats available for training. Many community colleges that still offer the courses now have more applicants than classroom space.

 Though we talked mostly about nursing in this article North Carolina needs everything from Ambulance Drivers through Surgical Technologist so the shortage extends beyond just nursing. And there is no doubt that the problem is much larger than North Carolina. We are at the bottom of a 10 year bell curve as the baby boomers move into retirement. If we have a shortage now where are we going to be in five years? Companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) are stepping up to help meet those needs.

 In June 2012 BCBSNC awarded the North Carolina Central University (NCCU) Department of Nursing a $100,000 gift.  Other gifts have been awarded to Appalachian State University, Campbell University and Elon University all as part of BCBSNC’s commitment to health care in North Carolina.