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.

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.

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.

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.

BCBSNC Agent Judi Goloff, Breast Cancer Awareness Helped Save Her Life

For Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance agent, Judi Goloff, breast cancer awareness helped save her life.  As a breast cancer survivor, Judi knows better than anyone the importance of early detection.  That’s why Judi is such passionate supporter of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the 5000 women living and working in North Carolina who will be diagnosed with breast cancer  this year. With the American Cancer Society estimating that more than 230,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer would be diagnosed among women in 2011 and estimated nearly 40,000 women would die from the disease, events throughout Asheville help highlight the continued need for education and early detection. From a golf tournament to an art exhibition, the city of Asheville has a number of events scheduled in October to celebrate survivors, and raise money for breast cancer research.

* On Monday, October 15, Ladies Workout Express is hosting a free community health fair from 8:00-11:00 am & 4:00-7:00 pm. The health fair will feature cancer prevention education, nutritional and cardiovascular information, plus health screenings and fitness assessments led by professionals (including blood analysis, bone-density screenings and running evaluations). There will also be a raffle and walk-a-thon with great prizes from area businesses to raise money for the American Cancer Association.

*If food really does it for you, try the second annual Plates for Pink dining event Tuesday, Oct 16. Urban Burrito, Louella’s Bar-B-Que and Okie Dokies Smokehouse are among the participating restaurants.  The Asheville Blood Donation center is sponsoring a blood drive from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm on Wednesday, October 17.  Participating donors will receive a $10 gift card to Neoburrito gift card.

*Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk will be held Oct. 20 at Pack Square, and is one of many events designed to provide women and their families with support and encouragement. The event will begin with the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk shirt pickup starting at 5:30 p.m. on the adjacent patio of Pack Tavern. The first 500 registered walkers will receive pink luminaries to light in honor of breast cancer fighters. The night before the walk, the Asheville Citizen-Times and Mission Health will host a luminary event at Park Square Park.

*And on Saturday, October 27, the sixth annual Power of Pink relay will be held at the MedWest Health and Fitness Center in Clyde, on a new, easier course. The Survivor/Honor/Memory Walk will start at 8:45 a.m. and the 5K Race/Walk at 9:30 a.m. Registration for the 5k is $25 per person and $10 for the 1-mile Honor/Memory/Survivor Walk.

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year alone, National Breast Cancer Awareness month is one way to ensure that we stay vigilant in the fight against this disease. North Carolina health insurance agent, Judi Goloff, agrees.  As one of the 2.6 million breast cancer survivors, Judi knows first hand how important breast cancer awareness really is.

For more information on how you can get involved, contact Judi at www.nchealthplansonline.com or 800-438-5834, (828)582-2260.

BCBSNC: Understanding Health Care Reform – The Affordable Care Act & You

If you aren’t satisfied with your health insurance plan in North Carolina now, don’t have a health insurance plan, or if you have been ‘uninsurable’, you may be wondering how you’ll obtain health insurance. 

 I may be able to help you. Call me to learn more about a temporary high-risk health insurance pool program. If you do not have access to group health insurance, and are unable to get private, individual health coverage now, it’s an option that can protect you and your family.

 By now, most of us know the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that everyone has health insurance by 2014. Here’s good news: Beginning in 2014, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC will have a state health insurance exchange that will help you compare benefits, prices, and healthcare providers in order to purchase (required) health insurance. If you are interested, Judi Goloff can help you navigate to get the plan most appropriate for your needs.

 Here’s something you may not know about the ACA. You may be grandfathered in and exempt from some of the new provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Call me, Judi Goloff, for a complimentary health insurance review. I can help you find answers to your questions about health insurance quotes, plans, and what the ACA means to you.

 I’m not a sales person, you see. My interest in the health care system began as I was personally driven to find the answers I needed. I have helped so many North Carolinians navigate through the system, and I can help you, too. I don’t sell a product. I help you get the peace of mind you need when dealing with health care. And BCBSNC is the company to turn to.

 Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) has released a guide to assist members in understanding Health Care Reform , or the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The publication is for information purposes only. It is not meant as legal or tax advice and is not contractually binding on BCBSNC. Please consult with your attorney tax advisor for further advice.

 And you can contact me for the details and files mentioned on the guide. If you have any questions, I am here to help. Make sure you understand health insurance , as well as the features and benefits of the health care plan you need. Agent experience counts when buying health insurance in North Carolina. I’ve consistently been one of the top five agents for North Carolina. I would love to help you make sense of health care for you and your family. Call me at 800-438-5834 or 828-582-2260 for more information. Here’s to your health!

Eye on Your College Student: Health Insurance Sticker Shock, BCBSNC Can Help

Since 2010, the University of North Carolina college system has required all students to have health insurance coverage. It’s another one of the requirements recently mandated by the Affordable Care Act in March, 2012.

 While many students already have health insurance in North Carolina—such as being included on their parents’ Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC health insurance plan—almost two-thirds do not.

 College health plans must now include:

1). preventive benefits at no out of pocket cost to students

2). a prescription plan with no maximum, and

3). at least $100,000 max per illness or injury.

 Wow. That can get costly. In fact, health insurance costs for some of our system’s sixteen universities have more than doubled (104%) in just two years to well over $1200. And now is the time that health insurance bills are making their way to NC college students’ mailboxes. Some of the students are in sticker shock. Many colleges are planning to re-bid their health insurance contracts in order to lower costs (next year).

 But, there is an alternative.  If you’re a college student, or have a college-bound child, you are free to shop around for more economical coverage elsewhere. Call me at Blue Cross and Blue Shield Health Plans of North Carolina, and ask for a health insurance quote that meets the health care regulations for students. I’ll work carefully on your behalf to put the best possible health insurance quote and plan together for you. It will be based on your needs, and while it will meet the law’s requirement, it will be customized based on you or your child’s need as they leave home.

 Before being charged for an expensive health insurance plan that you may not need, check with the college, and find out when the deadline is to offer proof of other insurance. You may be able to opt out of the university’s plan…

 Then call me, Judi Goloff, and find out how affordable and comprehensive my temporary health insurance plans will be. I don’t just sell health insurance. I help you find the right health plan for you and your family. When researching health insurance quotes and plans in North Carolina, let me help you ask the right questions and find the right answers. Join the millions of North Carolina residents that have chosen the affordable medical and health insurance plans from Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC®.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC Can Help You Understand the Affordable Care Act

A couple of posts ago, I wrote about the Affordable Care Act of 2010. I didn’t expect we would have an answer so soon. As you probably know, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling that mandating health insurance coverage is constitutional.

So what does the Affordable Care Act mean for you?

  • All of us must have medical insurance starting in 2014 or face a penalty tax of $95 or 1% of your income, whichever is higher.
  • Parents can cover their kids under their BCBS health insurance plan in North Carolina until they are 26 years of age
  • If you have no coverage, you will have to get insurance quotes and buy health insurance from an independent agency by 2014
  • Low income earners can qualify for Medicaid if you earn 133% less than the federal poverty level (currently $14,856).
  • If you earn up to  400% of the poverty level ($44,680) and you don’t have health insurance from your job, you may be eligible for federal help to purchase a health insurance plan
  • Federal tax credits are available to businesses with up to 25 employees if they want to provide health insurance coverage
  • Businesses with 50 or more employees must offer health insurance to them
  • Over 200 employees? Health insurance enrollment in the company’s health care plan is mandatory
  • Finally, by 2014 no one can be denied health insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition

This means a lot of different things to a lot of people, and there are three variables that will affect each person’s opinion and use of the health system: Job security, your health, and finances.

A mother or family with a chronically ill child requiring continual care will certainly feel different than a healthy 30 year old who doesn’t think he needs health insurance, and is made to pay the government tax.

What do I believe? Since I’m a cancer survivor, it is comforting to know that Blue Cross Blue Shield will not deny me coverage, and that my out of pocket costs for deductibles and co-payments are capped at 30% of the total cost of my insurance.

Politics aside, we will have a long way to go before the problems in health insurance quotes, coverage and implementation are resolved. No plan will ever be perfect. Do you think we’re closer now? Call me if you want to understand how your health insurance quote may change based on the Supreme Court’s ruling. I can help you compare plans and know your options for the best coverage and costs available. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina has innovative programs, and wants to help decrease the costs of our health care system. I love helping people, and would love to help you find the best insurance match for your family.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Supports Farm to School Program

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Farm to School Program

Last month I told you about the irony of me being a cancer survivor and selling health insurance. Although I always felt I was a healthy eater, I became even more of a fresh, local produce advocate as a result. So you can imagine how great I felt learning that Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina® (BCBSNC) Foundation, along with the NC Department of Agriculture, announced a $1.2 million grant to benefit the North Carolina Farm to School program. This is great news for our kids (and for those of us requesting health insurance quotes each time our policy renews). Healthy kids become healthy adults, and that ultimately reduces insurance costs for everyone.

Here are the facts:  About 15% of adolescents (12-19 years) and children (6-11 years) are obese, and about two thirds of us are considered overweight. In fact, America is the fattest country in the world! Being overweight leads to so many costly medical conditions – heart disease, diabetes, cancer, asthma and sleep apnea, just to name a few. Obviously, heavy people pay more for their health insurance plans than others.

But even the healthiest people pay the health insurance cost of obesity in America, because quotes and rates are based on statistics. Health insurance providers like BCBSNC know all too well the cost of obesity on health insurance plans. This weighty issue is great; it’s one of the reasons I’m proud to represent some of the best health care insurance plans around…even if you’re uninsurable, I can help.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Of North Carolina Health Insurance CEO Brad Wilson explained the motivation behind the foundation’s grant, “The reason we are doing this is because we have an obesity epidemic in our country. We are in crisis mode, and this is one small step that is going to make a difference.”

Back to the Farm to School program. Children spend more time in school during the week than at home. Do you know which foods your child is eating, or has access to, at school? The NC program has been supplying school cafeterias across our state with the freshest, locally grown produce from North Carolina farms since 1997 (Buncombe County did not participate in 2008 and 2010). It has also provided valuable resources for nutrition directors, teachers, parents and students learning about food and agriculture.

Kudos to BCBSNC! I’m proud to work with an insurance company that is helping. A healthier lifestyle means a healthier community, lower healthcare costs, and a healthier economy. Think of what we can do with the millions of dollars we would save on health care expenditures and insurance rates if we – and our children – can reverse the obesity trend!

I don’t sell health insurance. I help you find the right health plan for you and your family. When researching health insurance quotes and plans in North Carolina, let me help you ask the right questions and find the right answers. Join the millions of North Carolina residents that have chosen the affordable medical and health insurance plans from Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC®.

PS – You can learn more about our Foundation on the web at bcbsncfoundation.org.