BCBSAZ 2016 Individual/Family Plan Renewal

August 27, 2015

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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

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Important for Employers – Complimentary ERISA Compliance Training Seminars

August 6, 2015

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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.


MILLENNIALS WANT ANNUITIES

July 29, 2015

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The sound of contributing to an account, until age 70.5 in most cases, to receive guaranteed payouts in retirement regardless of stock market fluctuations was attractive to more Millennials than any other age group. 

52% said they were somewhat or very interested in that kind of product.

A lot of Millennials had parents or grandparents who lost a third or more of their retirement savings creating a real mistrust about investing in the stock market.

Indexed annuities have become more popular in recent years as investors sought safety from stock market fluctuations and corrections.

Annuities still are mostly sold to older Americans but the average age has dropped from 64 to 62.

There are different types of annuities but generally they are a contract between you and an insurance company whereby that company agrees to pay you a certain amount of money throughout retirement.

You can start receiving money immediately by making a large lump sum payment at the beginning or payments from the annuity can be deferred if you put money in over time.

To see what an annuity can do for you, talk to your representative Ben Rosky.


Tips to Help you Protect (and increase) Your Retirement Income

July 28, 2015

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When planning financially for retirement at any age, it must be considered, “How can I guarantee that my hard-earned, retirement assets will be there for me if an event occurs that causes a cash emergency or crisis?”  We can’t see everything on the horizon that is potentially a financial threat, but we can be prepared.

Are you prepared?  Most of us have insurance for automobiles, homes, boats, even jewelry; as well as health coverage for ourselves and our families.  We have policies for cancer, disability, long-term care, teeth, vision and on and on.

But many overlook the value of insuring their retirement, and most don’t really realize what a valuable role LIFE INSURANCE plays across ALL stages of an individual’s life.

Why?

Life Insurance is truly at the center of any sound financial plan for retirement.  If you don’t have a retirement plan, then there is no better time than the present.  Life insurance is the basic, tried-and-true financial solution to avert life’s risks because it provides security for your loved ones, and the ability to build up cash value.  In retirement, it can be used a tax-free source of income while you are alive.

How much life insurance does one need?  A simple formula is to carry a life insurance policy with a death benefit equal to the amount of your retirement assets.  Another approach is to determine how much income you would like to receive from the policy at some point in the future, and then design your plan around these goals.

Is there really a more important financial consideration than your retirement assets?  Isn’t the desire to retire the ultimate reason we work?  Yes, we work to put bread on the table and clothes on our backs, but also so that someday we will eventually be able to stop working.

If the protection of your retirement assets is at the top of your list of priorities, then a life insurance policy may be worth a look.  Contact L & A Services for custom retirement solutions that will give you peace of mind.


BCBSAZ Announces Oct 2015 Rates for Individual Grandfathered Health Plans

July 28, 2015

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) recently mailed individual grandfathered renewal letters.  Individual members with Suite A grandfathered plans with October 2015 renewal dates will be the first to receive their letters and renewal information.

The rate increase for these plans will be 18.5% (average, not including age adjustments.)  Some affected members will be able to increase their deductible within their product to help mitigate the rate increase, however they cannot move to a different grandfathered plan. BCBSAZ is discontinuing the BluePreferred Original individual product effective December 31, 2015.

For Members with Plans Continuing in 2016

Though they will have the option to renew their current plan, some members may consider switching to a non-grandfathered individual plan. Before doing so, they should be aware of the benefits grandfathered plans offer.  Grandfathered plans provide access to a large network of providers, out-of-state coverage, and, in most cases, lower monthly premiums than those found with a non-grandfathered plans.

For Members with Plans Scheduled to be Discontinued

Members enrolled in BluePreferred Original can stay in their plans until December 31, 2015. While this only affects a small number of members, these members must select a new plan by December 15th to ensure a January 1, 2016 effective date.

All Affordable Care Act compliant plans renew on January 1st.  This year, open enrollment for every individual begins on November 1st, and ends on January 31st. Watch for more information on renewal communications, including those to members enrolled in grandmothered and non-grandfathered plans, coming soon.

If you have any questions or help considering your options, please contact your insurance broker, L & A Services at 602-996-6010.


Vote for Us!

July 28, 2015

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The polls are open and your vote counts.  “RANKING ARIZONA” is ranking the very best of Arizona’s businesses and L&A Services is right there on the list in the “Insurance Brokers” category.  

We’ve been giving a hand up to Arizona’s workforce and their families regarding their personal choices on health insurance and other benefit programs including retirement since 1985.   

When the dust settles we want to be ranked number #1.  The deadline to participate is July 31 at midnight, so we need your help please! 

Arizonans, please click this link:  http://azbigmedia.com/vote-ranking-arizona and cast your vote for L&A Services, Inc. as the top, number #1 insurance brokerage in the Grand Canyon State.  It only takes a minute.  We thank you!

 


Client Annual Reviews

July 23, 2015

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The lazy days of summer are a great opportunity to sit down and review your insurance policies, coverage, and retirement plan.

L&A Services, Inc. performs this service for each client at no charge on a regular basis, and you may hear from a representative soon to check your schedule for the purpose of setting this important appointment. The appointment is at your convenience, either in person or over the telephone.  We will be looking to update your individual profile along with any life changes that may have occurred.

We will review your policies and coverages to determine whether you are over-insured, under-insured, need to make changes or are at risk in any other areas that need protection.  We will also let you know about new rules, laws, programs, and important dates to remember that apply to your benefits.  We have found people who have this done regularly are more satisfied with their insurance, feel more secure, and enjoy a greater peace of mind knowing their insurance matters are in order and up-to-date.

For your appointment with our agent, please have your policy documents handy, including retirement savings information.  Also be sure to write down any specific questions you want to ask & goals you would like to accomplish.

Please take advantage of this valuable time.  We look forward to seeing you soon.