Can consumers who qualify for COBRA continuation coverage opt out of it and get coverage through the Marketplace instead?

Consumers who qualify for COBRA coverage can opt out of it and enroll in Marketplace coverage. However, voluntarily terminating COBRA continuation coverage does not make a consumer eligible for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) based on loss of the COBRA continuation coverage. Note that all qualified enrollees eligible for COBRA continuation coverage can get the Marketplace subsidy, not just the employee who qualifies for the COBRA benefit, as long as they are not actually enrolled in the COBRA continuation coverage. Please contact your trusted Total Benefit Solutions health insurance specialists with any questions or concerns at (215)355-2121.

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What Insulin Drugs are Covered Under the Part D Senior Savings Model?

Part D sponsors are required to include at least one vial and pen dosage form for each of the different types of Model insulins, where available – rapid acting, short-acting, intermediate-acting and long-acting – at a maximum $35 copay for a one-month supply through the deductible, initial coverage, and coverage gap phases of the benefit. Part D sponsors are encouraged to include additional insulin formulations, such as concentrated insulins, at the same $35 copay for a one-month supply. The Model doesn’t affect the cost sharing of insulin covered under Part B. For a full list of the insulin drugs covered by each plan, as well as which drugs are covered… Read More

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Health Insurer Ordered to Stop Selling in Washington

Medova Healthcare, which sold illegal insurance plans through chambers of commerce, has agreed to stop selling in Washington, according to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. The company also agreed to a $310,000 suspended fine, according to the OIC. It operated in 38 states including Washington and served 35,000 employees nationwide. Medova sold health insurance plans to almost 140 small businesses in the state, covering 1,487 employees, through chambers of commerce. One of them mentioned in the OIC investigation was the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce. The chamber did not respond to inquiries. The health plans were marketed to small businesses as traditional insurance plans, but they were self-funded Employment Retirement… Read More

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Prescription Drug Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act

For the first time, requires the federal government to negotiate prices for some top-selling drugs covered under Medicare Requires drug companies to pay rebates if prices rise faster than inflation for drugs used by Medicare beneficiaries Eliminates 5% coinsurance for catastrophic coverage in Medicare Part D in 2024, adds a $2,000 cap on Part D out-of-pocket spending in 2025, and limits annual increases in Part D premiums for 2024-2030 Limits monthly cost sharing for insulin products to $35 for people with Medicare Expands eligibility for Medicare Part D Low-Income Subsidy full benefits Eliminates cost sharing for adult vaccines covered under Medicare Part D and improves access to adult vaccines under… Read More

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Open Enrollment Tips!

As always, please contact your Total Benefit Solutions health insurance specialists at today at (215)355-2121.

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Understanding the Health Care Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act

The Inflation Reduction Act includes several landmark health care provisions that would lower prescription drug costs for people with Medicare, reduce Medicare drug spending and extend enhanced subsidies for Affordable Care Act marketplace coverage. On Thursday, August 11, a panel of KFF experts held a web briefing to explain these provisions and how they would affect people and federal health spending, followed by a Question and Answer session. Click here to open article and view Web Event video. The legislation for the first time would require the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate directly with drug manufacturers over the price of some high-cost drugs in the Medicare… Read More

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What is an Out-of-Pocket Maximum/Limit?

The most you have to pay for covered services in a plan year. After you spend this amount on deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance for in-network care and services, your health plan pays 100% of the costs covered benefits. The out-of-pocket limit doesn’t include: Your monthly premiums Anything you spend for services your plan doesn’t cover Out-of-network care and services Costs above the allowed amount for a service that a provider may charge The out-of-pocket limit for Marketplace plans varies, but can’t go over a set amount each year. For the 2022 plan year: The out-of-pocket limit for a Marketplace plan can’t be more than $8,700 for an individual and $17,400… Read More

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The Employer Shared Responsibility Provision Estimator

The Taxpayer Advocate Service developed the Employer Shared Responsibility Provision (ESRP) Estimator to help employers understand how the provision works and learns how the provision may apply to them. The provision applies to applicable large employers – generally, that means employers that had an average of at least 50 full-time employees (including full-time equivalent employees-FTEs), during the preceding calendar year. If you are an employer, you can use the estimator to determine: The number of your full-time employees, including FTEs, Whether you might be an applicable large employers, and If you are an applicable large employer, an estimate of the maximum amount of the potential liability for the employer shared… Read More

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Additional Guidance on New Prescription Drug Reporting Requirement

As previously reported in 2021, Section 204 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (“CAA”) requires plan sponsors of group health plans to submit informationannually about prescription drugs and health care spending to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) on behalf of the Departments of Health and Human Services(“HHS”), Labor (“DOL”), and the Treasury (collectively, the “Departments”). The first deadline is December 27, 2022. CMS recently updated guidance related to this reporting requirement that provides some helpful clarification. Click the link below to download this bulletin. As always please contact your Total benefit Solutions, Inc health insurance specialist at (215)355-2121 if you have any further questions or concerns.

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When is the Part D Senior Saving Model expected to end? How many years is the model?

Since CMS is testing the Part D Senior Savings Model to lower costs and improve health care quality, it has a set period for when it’s available. Part D plans participating in the Model first became available on January 1, 2021. The Model extends until December 31, 2025, but the plans participating in the Model may change each year. Please contact your Total Benefit Solutions Medicare health insurance specialists at (215)355-2121, if you have any questions or concerns.

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Further Guidance Issued on Contraceptive Coverage

On July 28, 2022, the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and the Treasury (collectively, “the Departments”) issued FAQ Part to clarify protections for contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”). In January 2022, the Departments had issued guidance on the ACA Preventive Care Mandate, including contraception. The Departments issued FAQ Part 54: In response to reports that individuals continue to experience difficulty accessing contraceptive coverage without cost sharing; To clarify application of the contraceptive coverage requirements to fertility awareness-based methods and to emergency contraceptive; and To address federal preemption of state law. Employers sponsoring non-grandfathered group health plans should review the various preventive care requirements effective… Read More

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Guaranteed Issue Rights

Guaranteed Issue (GI) rights are rights the beneficiary has in certain situations when insurance companies must offer certain Medigap policies. There are ONLY 7 situations where Guaranteed Issue Rights apply. Two of the most common are: Beneficiary is in a Medicare Advantage Plan, and the plan is leaving Medicare or stops giving care in their area, or the beneficiary moves out of the Medicare Advantage plan’s service area. Beneficiary has Original Medicare and an employer group health plan (including retiree or COBRA coverage) or union coverage that pays after Medicare pays and that plan is ending. Just like with the Medigap Open Enrollment Period, during a Guaranteed Issue: No eligibility… Read More

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What plans are part of the Part D Senior Savings Model?

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (also known as CMS, the federal agency that approves Medicare plans) announced Medicare Advantage plans with prescription drug coverage (MA-PD) and Part D prescription drug plans (PDPs) that are participating in the Model for Calendar Year (CY) 2022 in September 2021. You can call 1-800-MEDICARE to ask questions about enrollment, eligibility, and the Model, or visit Medicare Plan Finder at https://www.medicare.gov/plan-compare/ to search for coverage in your area and compare Part D plan options with the lowest prices for your prescriptions. You can also find a list of participating plans on the Model website at https://innovation.cms.gov/media/document/pdss-2022-model-landscape-file. If you have any questions, please contact… Read More

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What is a health insurance deductible?

The amount you pay for covered health care services before your insurance plan starts to pay. With a $2,000 deductible, for example, you pay the first $2,000 of covered services yourself. After you pay your deductible, you usually pay only a copayment or coinsurance for covered services. Your insurance company pays the rest. Many plans pay for certain services, like a checkup or disease management programs, before you’ve met your deductible. Check your plan details. All Marketplace health plans pay the full cost of certain preventive benefits even before you meet your deductible. Some plans have separate deductibles for certain services, like prescription drugs. Family plans often have both an… Read More

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Defined Contribution Plans

The Issue As one of our long-time group insurance customers grew over the years, their workforce became more diverse and the management team found it difficult to accommodate each employee’s unique insurance needs. As much as the team wanted to provide the necessary coverage for the employees, they also required some control over the employee benefits budget. They came to us for advice. The Solution We proposed that this employer consider a defined contribution strategy. Defined contribution plans build benefit portfolios around a specific dollar amount, rather than around a specific plan or plans. In this way, the management team could select an amount that the company would contribute toward… Read More

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Medicare Advantage (MA) Quick Facts

What is it? A Medicare Advantage Plan is a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private company, such as Independence Blue Cross, that contracts with Medicare to provide all Part A and Part B benefits. If enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan, Medicare services are covered through the plan and aren’t paid for under Original Medicare. Plan types offered: Medicare Advantage Plans include Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO) and Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO), for example. Independence offers Keystone 65 HMO as well as Personal Choice 65 PPO. Medical Coverage: If enrolled in a HMO, members must choose a PCP (which also will coordinate referrals) and must stay In-Network. PPO… Read More

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What is a Health Savings Account (HSA)?

A type of savings account that lets your set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. By using untaxed dollars in a Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay for deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and some other expenses, you may be able to lower your overall health care costs. HSA funds generally may not be used to pay premiums. While you can use the funds in an HSA at any time to pay for qualified medical expenses, you may contribute to an HSA only if you have a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) — generally a health plan (including a Marketplace plan) that only covers preventive services… Read More

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IRS Announces 2023 ACA Affordability Indexed Amount

The IRS recently announced in Revenue Procedure 2022-34 that the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) affordability indexed amount under the Employer Shared Responsibility Payment (“ESRP”) requirements will be 9.12% for plan years that begin in 2023. This is a notable decrease from the 2022 percentage amount (9.61%) and below the original 9.5% threshold. Rev. Proc. 2022-34 establishes the indexed “required contribution percentage” used to determine whether an individual is eligible for “affordable” employer-sponsored health coverage under Section 36B (related to qualification for premium tax credits when buying ACA Marketplace coverage). However, the IRS explained in IRS Notice 2015-87 that a percentage change under Section 36B will correspond to a similar change… Read More

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What is copayment?

A fixed amount ($20, for example) you pay for a covered health care service after you’ve paid your deductible. Let’s say your health insurance plan’s allowable cost for a doctor’s office visit is $100. Your copayment for a doctor visit is $20. If you’ve paid your deductible: You pay $20, usually at the time of the visit. If you haven’t met your deductible: You pay $100, the full allowable amount for the visit Copayments (sometimes called “copays”) can vary for different services within the same plan, like drugs, lab tests. and visits to specialists. Generally plans with lower monthly premiums have higher copayments. Plans with higher monthly premiums usually have… Read More

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Medigap Quick Facts

What is it? A Medigap policy (also called “Medicare Supplement Insurance”) is private health insurance that’s designed to supplement Original Medicare. This means it helps pay some of the health care costs (“gaps”) that Original Medicare doesn’t cover, like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. Play types offered: Insurance companies can sell only a “standardized” policy identified in most states by letters. Independence Blue Cross offers Plans A, B, F, F-HD, G, G-HD, and N. Medical Coverage: No selection of a PCP is required; members are able to choose any doctor or hospital as long as they accept Original Medicare. This also allows for no referrals and no network. Prescription Drug Coverage:… Read More

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New Prescription Drug Reporting Requirement

As previously reported in December 2021, Section 204 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (“CAA”) requires plan sponsors of group health plans to submit information annually about prescription drugs and health care spending to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) on behalf of the departments of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), Labor (“DOL”), and the Treasury (collectively, the “Departments”). The first deadline is December 27, 2022. CMS recently updated guidance related to this reporting requirement that provides some helpful clarification. Employers with fully insured or self-funded (includes level funded) group health plans, including grandfathered plans, church plans subject to the Internal Revenue Code, and governmental plans. The term “group… Read More

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Independence Blue Cross and Amerihealth: Behind on your health insurance payments?

Please do not assume that your payment is on the way or has been made and that the insurance company will handle it. Our health insurance specialists can assist you with a conference call. Getting reinstated after a cancellation is a long and difficult process and is not always available! If your payments are behind we need to ask for termination suppression BEFORE you are cancelled. First, Please always contact the Billing Department at 215-567-3357 or 1-800-444-6301. When calling, please have your group name, billing account number and address for verification purposes. The Billing Department will not approve an account for termination suppression due to checks mailed, promise to pay… Read More

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What is a Self-Insured Plan?

Type of plan usually present in larger companies where the employer itself collects premiums from enrollees and takes on the responsibility of paying employees’ and dependents’ medical claims. These employers can contract for insurance services such as enrollment, claims processing, and provider networks with a third party administrator, or they can be self-administered. Please contact your Total Benefit Solutions, Inc health insurance specialists today at (215)355-2121.

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What are HDHPs & HSAs?

One way to manage your health care expenses is by enrolling in a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) in combination with opening a Health Savings Account (HSA). How High Deductible Health Plans and Health Savings Accounts can reduce your costs: If you enroll in an HDHP, you may pay a lower monthly premium but have a higher deductible (meaning you pay for more of your health care items and services before the insurance plan pays). If you combine your HDHP with an HSA, you can pay that deductible, plus other qualified medical expenses, using money you set aside in your tax-free HSA. So if you have an HDHP and don’t… Read More

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Alternative Funding Yields Big Savings

The Issue A firm we had worked with for several years had expressed a concern that the cost of their employee benefits package was threatening the financial stability of their firm. With a little over 150 employees, their annual benefits cost was exceeding $1.3 million and increasing at a rate of 8-15% each year. Even more concerning was that the benefits cost represented 32% of the company’s operating revenue. They had contemplated making plan changes including an increase in deductibles, copays and co-insurance limits, but they cared about the well-being of their employees and felt compelled to keep a competitive level of benefits. Our Solution We took the approach that… Read More

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