Important Dates for 2016 Medicare Annual Election Period

September 2, 2015

Capture

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has declared the 2016 Medicare Annual Election Period

It’s hard to believe, but yes, the Medicare Annual Election Period is just around the corner again!  This applies to anyone who is currently enrolled in Medicare.

The Medicare Annual Election period runs from October 15th, 2015 through December 7th, 2015 this year.  This is the time of year when changes can be made to your Advantage or Supplemental plan.  All elections made during this time period will be effective January 1st, 2016.

If you are happy with the plan you have, simply do nothing.  If you want to consider other options for the 2016 plan year, please keep reading.

If you are on a Medicare Advantage plan (MAPD) For 2016, there will be a 45-day Annual Disenrollment Period from January 1st through February 14th, during which time you may unenroll once from a Medicare Advantage plan to enroll in Original Medicare, Part C (Supplement), AND a Part D (Drug) plan. You can no longer make changes between MAPD plans during this time.

At L&A Services we will continue to serve the needs of Medicare beneficiaries which has been our tradition since 1985.  We value you, our client, and invite you to contact our office at your earliest convenience so that we can schedule an appointment at a time good for you.

Advertisements

BCBSAZ 2016 Individual/Family Plan Renewal

August 27, 2015

bcbsaz logo

This week, Blue Cross Blue Shield of AZ (BCBSAZ) unveiled their new proposed plan and premium information for individuals and families in 2016.

There are many changes, and many customers will be required to take action to avoid losing coverage at the end of the year.  We are prepared to assist these customers with this process as early as September 9th.

Although BCBSAZ will be sending written notification to all affected members in the coming months, we wanted to provide the information in advance to help better prepare these customers for this year’s renewal.

These are the most important changes to know for 2016:

  1. Metal level plans (Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze) are considered ACA-compliant plans, since these were plans purchased and effective from January 2014 to now.
  • In 2015, these plans included three networks:  Statewide PPO, Alliance HMO, and Select HMO.   For 2016, BCBSAZ will only offer the two HMO networks in Maricopa County…the Statewide PPO plan is being deleted.   If you have an ACA-compliant plan with the Statewide PPO network, either purchased through the federal marketplace or directly from BCBSAZ, you MUST select a new plan by December 15th to avoid losing coverage on January 1st.  Customers living in all other counties will have access to the Statewide PPO network, as well as another regional network.  Note: the HMO plans do NOT require a primary care physician assignment, NOR do they require a referral to see a specialist.  However, it is important to check the list to make sure desired doctors participate in the network or else they are not covered.
  • The BlueEssential & Copay Complete plans have been deleted, so these customers will need to move to a new plan, as well.
  • For customers on a plan with either the Alliance or Select network, BCBSAZ will automatically enroll in the next closest available plan available for 2016.  This does not preclude you from changing your plan during open enrollment (November 1 – January 31), so contact our office if alternative choices are desired.
  • BCBSAZ ACA-compliant plans experienced an average rate increase of 21.4%.

2.  Grandmothered Plans are those plans purchased and effective between 2010-2013, and will include the word ‘Plus’ in the name of the plan.

  • All of these plans are being renewed without any changes to benefits or to the PPO network.
  • The average rate increase on these plans is 21.2%, however, the new rate will be guaranteed until April 30, 2017.  This will lock in the rates for a full 16 months.
  • Despite the increase, these plans continue to offer greater premium savings over the ACA-compliant plans.  Most customers in these plans will want to keep what they have.
  • Nothing is required to keep these plans, but customers still have the ability to either 1) change the deductible to lower the premium, or 2) consider moving to an ACA-plan during open enrollment (November 1 – January 31) if desired.  If a member moves away from a Grandmothered plan, they cannot get it back later.  We are able to assist with customers with this evaluation.
  • BCBSAZ will be sending a letter to each affected customer on October 12th.

3.  New Dental Plan

  • BCBSAZ is now offering their group BluePreferred Dental plans to individuals and families.
  • Contact our office if interested in private PPO dental coverage from BCBSAZ

We suspect there will be many changes in 2016 from all of our carrier partners.  We know there will be many questions, and we are here to answer them.  Please keep in mind that this is an extremely high-volume time of the year, so time is of the essence…the sooner you take action, the smoother the process will go for you.

Thank you to all 266 of our individual BCBSAZ customers.  We look forward to serving you during this time of change.

//BR


Important for Employers – Complimentary ERISA Compliance Training Seminars

August 6, 2015

dol logo

Back by popular demand, we have partnered with TASC to provide ERISA training from the comfort of your own office.  Any employer offering benefits to at least 2 employees must comply with ERISA, or face potential fines.   We want to help you protect yourself from a DOL ERISA audit, so this complimentary 45 minute on-line training is offered as a service to you.  The dates and times are below, and you can read more about this below that.  We hope you can attend!

Seminar 1       AUGUST 24TH @ 2PM (AZ Time)

 Link for attendees:  http://meetingtasc.com/cris

Conference Call Line: Toll Free (877) 804-8416

*Conference Code:  7751934225

 

 Seminar 2       AUGUST 25TH @ 10 AM (AZ time)

 Link for attendees:  http://meetingtasc.com/cris

Conference Call Line: Toll Free (877) 804-8416

*Conference Code:  7751934225

You can email or call me with your preference as to which webinar will work best for you.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedules for this important webinar.

Sincerely,
L & A Services, Inc

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

By now we have all heard plenty about the Affordable Care Act, and many of us have already received a letter from the Department of Labor.  In 2013, the Department of Labor hired over 1,000 auditors to collect $1.6 Billion in penalties for employers that are non-compliant.  It is estimated that 95% of all employers are not fully compliant with ERISA or new provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which will leave many businesses vulnerable to fines.

Our goal at L & A Services, Inc is to remove the threat of fines from $100-$1100 per person per day, in addition to legal fees that come with an ERISA audit. We believe the ERISA compliance service available through TASC or another one of our administrative service companies is a practical solution to protect your business against potentially large fines and/or legal fees and will give you peace of mind in the likely event of a DOL audit.

This has recently become an extremely important topic for our business customers.  It is up to the employer to comply with all the complex laws surrounding employee benefits; neither insurance companies nor your insurance agent can protect you against these fines.  However, we can offer you tools and resources to protect yourself.

In anticipation of this demand, we are holding two live informational webinars to inform you and answer questions you may have. You can attend them in the comfort of your own office. Each will last approximately 40 minutes with 10 minutes for questions. We would welcome your attendance and feedback.


Supreme Court Rules on ‘OBAMACARE’

June 25, 2015

June 25, 2015

Last night, a key provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was upheld by a 6-3 Supreme Court vote which rules that federal subsidies for private health insurance plans remain available in all states, including states where consumers use the Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) to obtain subsidies.  You can read the full decision here.

This includes the state of Arizona; your health care coverage remains unaffected and any subsidy you are receiving will continue, as long as you continue to meet the current eligibility requirements of the law.

L&A Services will continue to focus on serving clients to help make good decisions on coverage for care in our ever changing US health care system.


Important for Employers – Complimentary ERISA Compliance Training Seminars

March 26, 2015

dol logo

By now we have all heard plenty about the Affordable Care Act, and many of us have already received a letter from the Department of Labor.  In 2013, the Department of Labor hired over 1,000 auditors to collect $1.6 Billion in penalties for employers that are non-compliant.  It is estimated that 95% of all employers are not fully compliant with ERISA or new provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which will leave many businesses vulnerable to fines.

Our goal at L & A Services, Inc is to remove the threat of fines from $100-$1100 per person per day, in addition to legal fees that come with an ERISA audit. We believe the ERISA compliance service available through TASC is a viable solution to protect your business against potentially large fines and/or legal fees and will give you peace of mind in the likely event of a DOL audit.

This has recently become an extremely important topic for our business customers.  It is up to the employer to comply with all the complex laws surrounding employee benefits; neither insurance companies nor your insurance agent can protect you against these fines.  However, we can offer you tools and resources to protect yourself.

In anticipation of this demand, we are holding two live informational webinars to inform you and answer questions you may have. You can attend them in the comfort of your own office. Each will last approximately 40 minutes with 10 minutes for questions. We would welcome your attendance and feedback.

Seminar 1       April 21st  9:30am (AZ Time)

 Link for attendees:  http://meetingtasc.com/cris

Conference Call Line: Toll Free (877) 804-8416

*Conference Code:  7751934225

 

 Seminar 2       April 22nd  2:30pm (AZ time)

 Link for attendees:  http://meetingtasc.com/cris

Conference Call Line: Toll Free (877) 804-8416

*Conference Code:  7751934225

You can email or call me with your preference as to which webinar will work best for you.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedules for this important webinar.

Sincerely,
L & A Services, Inc


Health Insurance Enrollment Deadline Extended…again

February 20, 2015

CMS Announces Special Health Insurance Enrollment Period for Tax Season

Eligible consumers now have from March 15 through April 30 to enroll in coverage.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today a special enrollment period (SEP) for individuals and families who did not have health coverage in 2014 and are subject to the fee or “shared responsibility payment” when they file their 2014 taxes in states which use the Federally-facilitated Marketplaces (FFM). This special enrollment period will allow those individuals and families who were unaware or didn’t understand the implications of this new requirement to enroll in 2015 health insurance coverage through the FFM.

For those who were unaware or didn’t understand the implications of the fee for not enrolling in coverage, CMS will provide consumers with an opportunity to purchase health insurance coverage from March 15 to April 30.  If consumers do not purchase coverage for 2015 during this special enrollment period, they may have to pay a fee when they file their 2015 income taxes.

Those eligible for this special enrollment period live in states with a Federally-facilitated Marketplace and:

  • Currently are not enrolled in coverage through the FFM for 2015,
  • Attest that when they filed their 2014 tax return they paid the fee for not having health coverage in 2014, and
  • Attest that they first became aware of, or understood the implications of, the Shared Responsibility Payment after the end of open enrollment (February 15, 2015) in connection with preparing their 2014 taxes.

The special enrollment period announced today will begin on March 15, 2015 and end at 11:59 pm E.S.T. on April 30, 2015.  If a consumer enrolls in coverage before the 15th of the month, coverage will be effective on the first day of the following month.

This year’s tax season is the first time individuals and families will be asked to provide basic information regarding their health coverage on their tax returns.  Individuals who could not afford coverage or met other conditions may be eligible to receive an exemption for 2014. To help consumers who did not have insurance last year determine if they qualify for an exemption, CMS also launched a health coverage tax exemption tool today on HealthCare.gov and CuidadodeSalud.gov.

“We recognize that this is the first tax filing season where consumers may have to pay a fee or claim an exemption for not having health insurance coverage,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.  “Our priority is to make sure consumers understand the new requirement to enroll in health coverage and to provide those who were not aware or did not understand the requirement with an opportunity to enroll in affordable coverage this year.”

Most taxpayers, about three quarters, will only need to check a box when they file their taxes to indicate that they had health coverage in 2014 through their employer, Medicare, Medicaid, veterans care or other qualified health coverage that qualifies as “minimum essential coverage.”  The remaining taxpayers – about one-quarter – will take different steps. It is expected that 10 to 20 percent of taxpayers who were uninsured for all or part of 2014 will qualify for an exemption from the requirement to have coverage. A much smaller fraction of taxpayers, an estimated 2 to 4 percent, will pay a fee because they made a choice to not obtain coverage and are not eligible for an exemption.

Americans who do not qualify for an exemption and went without health coverage in 2014 will have to pay a fee – $95 per adult or 1 percent of their income, whichever is greater – when they file their taxes this year.  The fee increases to $325 per adult or 2% of income for 2015.  Individuals taking advantage of this special enrollment period will still owe a fee for the months they were uninsured and did not receive an exemption in 2014 and 2015.  This special enrollment period is designed to allow such individuals the opportunity to get covered for the remainder of the year and avoid additional fees for 2015.

The Administration is committed to providing the information and tools tax filers need to understand the new requirements. Part of this outreach effort involves coordinating efforts with nonprofit organizations and tax preparers who provide resources to consumers and offer on the ground support. If consumers have questions about their taxes, need to download forms, or want to learn more about the fee for not having insurance, they can find information and resources at www.HealthCare.gov/Taxes or www.IRS.gov. Consumers can also call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596.  Consumers who need assistance filing their taxes can visit IRS.gov/VITA or IRS.gov/freefile

Consumers seeking to take advantage of the special enrollment period can find out if they are eligible by visiting https://www.healthcare.gov/get-coverage Consumers can find local help on www.healthplansarizona.com or by calling L & A Services at 602-996-6010.  The call is free.

Additionally, here are helpful links on Tax Roll-out:

Blog.CMS.gov blog

http://blog.cms.gov/2015/02/20/what-consumers-need-to-know-about-corrected-form-1095-as/

HealthCare.gov blog English:

Is your Form 1095-A correct?
https://www.healthcare.gov/blog/is-your-form-1095a-correct/

Spanish version:
¿Está correcto su Formulario 1095-A?
https://www.cuidadodesalud.gov/es/blog/is-your-form-1095a-correct/

Press Release:

http://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-releases/2015-Press-releases-items/2015-02-20.html

Exemption Tool:

https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions-tool/#/


Health Insurance Open Enrollment is Open Starting Today!!!

November 15, 2014

OpenEnroll1OpenEnroll22015 Health Insurance Open Enrollment begins today!

We can help!

Whether you are enrolling for 2015 on or off the Marketplace, call our office, L&A Services, Inc. for help with your choices.

 You may QUALIFY FOR A SUBSIDY to help you pay for your insurance.

If you do not have qualified health insurance, you may be facing a 2% penalty at tax time.

The attached 5 Steps To Staying Covered Through The Marketplace will help you know what you may need to do.

On The Marketplace, you will need to provide the NAME and National Producer Number(NPN) for your Broker:   BENJAMIN ROSKY, NPN:  6747133.

We can help explain the changes for next year, 2015 premiums and provide alternative plan choices so call our office if you have any questions.

If you do nothing, depending on the carrier, you will stay in the same plan at the new 2015 premium rate or be mapped to a new plan if your current plan is being discontinued.