UCR vs MAC Dental plans. What’s the difference?

  When members use an OON (out-of-network) provider, the cost of their procedures may vary from that which they’d see INN (in-network). UCR (Usual, Customary and Reasonable) and MAC (Maximum Allowable Cost) determine how their dental insurance will pay for the procedures. UCR (Usual, Customary and Reasonable)If a member has a UCR-based plan, providers charge a fee that has been set as the most commonly charged amount for that procedurein that location. This reimbursed amount is determined by analyzing claims data in a specific geographic location. MAC: Maximum Allowable ChargeIf a member has a MAC-based plan, providers charge any fee that they have set for a procedure. The reimbursed amount… Read More

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HHS Extends Public Health Emergency until July 20, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic Public Health Emergency, scheduled to expire on April 21, 2021, was renewed. This will once again extend the period for an additional 90 days and as a result, numerous temporary benefit plan changes will remain in effect. Click to Download _HHS_Extends_Public_Health_Emergency_until_July_20_2021

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IBC: MLR Additional Rebates

Notice from Independence Blue Cross: Health insurance premium rebates for 2017 Small Group policyholders and 2018 Consumer policyholders As a result of a United States Supreme Court decision last year, Independence received additional payment from the Federal Government that impacted our Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) for 2017 and 2018. Beginning the week of May 17, Small Group policyholders from 2017 and Consumer policyholders from 2018 will receive checks that are a rebate for a portion of their health insurance premiums for that year. What is MLR? The Affordable Care Act requires that all health insurers spend a percentage of each premium dollar received towards paying claims, clinical services, and activities that improve health care quality for… Read More

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5 reasons you may want to switch Medigap policies

Switching Medigap policies 5 reasons you may want to switch Medigap policies You’re paying for benefits you don’t need. You need more benefits. You want to change your insurance company. You want a policy that costs less. Can I switch policies? In most cases, you will not have a right under federal law to switch Medigap policies, unless one of these applies: You’re eligible under a specific circumstance or guaranteed issue rights You’re within your 6-month Medigap open enrollment period You don’t have to wait a certain length of time after buying your first Medigap policy before you can switch to a different Medigap policy. Note As of January 1, 2020,… Read More

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BCBS Antitrust Litigation and Tentative Settlement –Impact on Group Health Plans

    BCBS Antitrust Litigation and Tentative Settlement – Impact on Group Health Plans   This material was updated on March 22, 2021, to include new information posted on the settlement website. Please refer to the BCBS settlement page and/or materials from the specific BCBS carrier for more information. Antitrust litigation that commenced against the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and member companies1 in 2012 appears to be coming to a settlement. In short, plaintiffs alleged that Blue Cross Blue Shield companies across the country entered into agreements not to compete with each other for customers of health insurance. On November 30, 2020, the court preliminarily approved a proposed settlement… Read More

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What is a Medicare Medical Savings Account Plan?

A Medicare Medical Savings Account plan (MSA) is a special type of Medicare Advantage plan (Part C). This type of plan may offer the freedom of choice for people who want more control over their health care dollars and decisions. And along with the autonomy come some responsibilities. There are two important parts to a Medicare MSA plan. A special bank savings accountA high-deductible health plan The Medicare Savings Account Plan Special Bank Savings Account The savings account part of a Medicare MSA plan is self-managed like any other bank savings account. One main difference is that the account is funded with money from Medicare versus by you. Medicare beneficiaries… Read More

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Update on COVID-19 Vaccine and Vaccine Administration Cost

Update on COVID-19 Vaccine and Vaccine Administration Cost Medicare has increased and simplified its payment rate for administration of the COVID-19 vaccine to $40 per dose. This change may impact group health plans with respect to their payment rate to providers. Non-grandfathered group health plans are required to cover, without cost sharing, the COVID-19 vaccine. This obligation extended to coverage associated with administering the vaccine. The federal government continues to pay for the vaccine itself through funding authorized by the CARES Act.For vaccines administered in-network, plans will pay the rate negotiated with in-network providers, and that continues to be true. For vaccines administered out-of-network, however, group health plans must reimburse… Read More

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Indy Medicare Part D Health Plan Terminated

Indy Health Insurance Company, a stand-alone Part D plan in Arkansas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois, and Georgia has been terminated.

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Tax Advantaged Benefit Documents

The IRS Code has numerous provisions designed to help employers provide essential benefits to their employees tax-free. This saves the employee approximately 30% in income taxes on expenses they’re already paying for, and because the employees have reduced their taxable income, the employer realizes a reduced matching payroll tax liability of approximately 8%. Everybody saves money.    To take advantage of these tax deductions the IRS requires that the employer have a written plan document and the Department of Labor and ERISA law require that every employee receive a summary plan description (SPD) explaining the new benefit in easy to understand language.   This site is dedicated to providing employers… Read More

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COVID-19 PPE Now a Qualified Medical Expense

On March 26, 2021, the IRS issued IRS Announcement 2021-7, which clarifies that amounts paid for certain personal protective equipment (“COVID-19 PPE”) used to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including masks, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes can be treated as amounts paid for medical care under § 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code. Accordingly, because these amounts are expenses for medical care under § 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code, these amounts can also be eligible expenses under a health flexible spending account (health FSA), health savings accounts (HSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) and Archer medical savings accounts (Archer MSAs). Note, that if the amount is paid or reimbursed under… Read More

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Heard of Reference Based Pricing Health Insurance?

Reference-based pricing is a payment system that replaces or enhances a health plan’s traditional “usual and customary” pricing for contracted claims. Rather than calculating the average charge of providers in a geographic area or a pre-contracted cost, a health plan utilizing reference-based pricing instead arbitrates its allowable amount for medical claims based on its chosen method (most commonly Medicare rates, or a certain percentage above those rates), which is a price that the payor deems reasonable. In other words the employer, the payor brings their rates with them into the health care agreement, not the other way around. This represents a much more independent framework for determining sensible health care… Read More

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What are Commuter or Transit Benefits (Section 132)?

Commuter or Transit Benefits (Section 132) Parking & mass transit expenses may be paid for with pre-tax dollars through a commuter plan. This plan is a straightforward way for participants to reduce their commuting costs and for employers to gain additional payroll tax reductions. Some states, like NY and NJ have mandated the inclusion of commuter benefit plans over the last few years. A commuter benefit plan is typically offered as one component of a Flexible Spending Account (Section 125) What expenses qualify as commuter/transit benefits? Commuter highway vehicle: A commuter vehicle is any highway vehicle that seats at least 6 adults (not including the driver). In addition, you must reasonably… Read More

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House Passes Legislation to Change HSAs

The House of Representatives passed two pieces of legislation that, among other things, purport to improve and “modernize” health savings accounts (“HSAs”). While the bills call for significant changes to the current rules affecting HSAs, the specific details are very different. Both pieces of legislation have been sent to the Senate for consideration. Whether the Senate will take up these bills, let alone approve them “as is,” remains uncertain. There appears to be some bi-partisan agreement to loosen the current HSA rules, which means it is possible that we may see changes to these arrangements, which could be effective as early as January 1, 2019. When more information is available, we will… Read More

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IRS cuts 2018 family HSA contribution limit

Thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the 2018 contribution limit for family coverage in a health savings account will be $6,850—not $6,900, as previously announced by the IRS. The Society for Human Resource Management reports that the IRS has recalculated the limit because the tax law applies the so-called chained consumer price index to increases in HSA contribution limits, as well as to a few other employee benefit contribution limits. Internal Revenue Bulletin No. 2018–10, released March 5, clarifies not just that change but others as well. While the annual tax-deductible HSA contribution limit for tax year 2018 will remain at $3,450 for HSA account holders with self-only coverage through a high-deductible… Read More

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