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R&R Insurance Blog

Individual Health Insurance | Know Your Options

Posted by Liz Johnson

Individual Health Insurance.pngAs you become eligible for Medicare, you have options for your health insurance coverage. R&R Insurance has an Individual Health Insurance Department that can help you determine which plan would be best for you. The months leading up to your Medicare eligibility can be particularly overwhelming as many insurance companies will begin sending you mailings about the plans that they offer.

We are lucky to have four talented Individual Health Insurance experts located at different offices.

There are several parts of Medicare that can be difficult to understand and certain timelines you need to be aware of to avoid future financial penalties.  Our team can help you with:

  • Understanding the “Alphabet Soup” of Medicare
  • Reviewing your option of enrolling into Medicare or remaining on your employer’s plan
  • Explaining the difference between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans
  • Evaluating your Medicare Part D (prescription drug) coverage options
  • Understanding your requirement to enroll in Medicare Part B if you work for a small employer

If you would like to evaluate your Medicare options, or know someone who does, contact us for a complimentary consultation.

Topics: Individual Health Insurance, medicare

Buyer Beware: Review Your Enrollment from Healthcare.gov

Posted by Pete Frittitta

Email_verificationBy now, the deadline for registering for individual health insurance on healthcare.gov has come and gone. However the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) is warning consumers to verify the status of their health insurance. The OCI has received numerous reports of consumers enrolled in incorrect plans. Much of the confusion is coming from a technical problem dealing with the zip code: either the pulled premium rate was for the wrong area or some insurers didn’t even have plans for listed zip code. In the most extreme cases, consumers are left without coverage but may not have been informed.

What to do? Be proactive and verify your coverage:

  • Confirm you have received your enrollment materials
  • If you have NOT received your enrollment materials within the expected time frame, check the status with your agent or insurance company
  • Verify payment has been received by the insurance company
  • Review policy documents that deductibles and co-pays match what you were expecting
  • See discrepancies? Contact your insurance company immediately

Wisconsin residents, still have questions about your individual health insurance? Contact Donna Wahl.

Topics: ObamaCare, Health Reform, Healthcare.gove, Individual Health Insurance, double check

Individual Marketplace Exchange: 41% Rate Increase for 40 Year Olds In Milwaukee

Posted by Jane Shevey

Steth_MoneyWith the onset of Obamacare and the need for individuals to make decisions about their own health insurance purchases, I thought it appropriate to share the information we received from the Wisconsin Office of the Commisstioner of Insurance, (OCI).

Taken directly from the press release dated September 3, 2013:
The Wisconsin Office of Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) has completed its initial analysis of rate filings in the individual market.

View Percent Increase Chart published by the OCI.

"While the exchange in Wisconsin will be run by the federal government, insurers wanting to offer coverage in the exchange had to file their rates with OCI. With our review of the exchange rate filings completed, we have attempted to compare what Wisconsin consumers are paying today to what plans will cost post 2014 under the new federal health law," stated Commissioner Nickel. "The truth is that comparisons are difficult because rates are going to vary based on age and where you live."

"With that said, from our analysis, it appears premiums will increase for most consumers. And, while there is no question that some consumers will have subsidies and may not pay these higher rates," Commissioner Nickel continued, "someone will pay for the increased premiums whether it is the consumer or the federal government."

Wisconsin Health Exchanges Offer Slim Pickins

How to Get, or Keep, Health Insurance if You Are Self Employed

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Individual Health Insurance

7 Tips on How To Pick The Best Individual Health Insurance Coverage

Wisconsin residents: for more information about Obamacare, PPACA or individual health insurance, please contact knowledgebroker Jane Shevey.

Join our group on LinkedIn: Obamacare: Strategies for Business to Survive. We welcome you to join in the conversation with our LinkedIn group dedicated to discussions for business owners on Obamacare: Strategies for Business To Survive. Read articles, download documents, join the conversation, and add your expertise!

Topics: ObamaCare, Health Reform, Wisconsin Health Exchanges, Voluntary Benefits, Commissioner Nickel, Wisconsin Office of Commissioner of Insurance (OCI, Jane Shevey, Individual Health Insurance, PPACA, Individual Marketplace Exchange

Wisconsin Health Exchanges Offer Slim Pickins

Posted by Pete Frittitta

Slim PickinsThe first cut of the Wisconsin Health Insurance exchange markets have been announced and it looks like slim pickins! Wisconsin's "big 3" (United Healthcare, Humana and Anthem) are not participating in the small group exchanges.

Also, keep in mind that for Wisconsin’s Exchange, we have 16 different rating regions and carriers can file for just specific ones. Carriers have until 9/15/13 to sign contracts/pull out.

Wisconsin Exchange Carriers for Individual and small group markets.

Any way you look at it - this is slim pickins for Wisconsin businesses. There are other options for avoiding the exchanges and the "taxes". More about self funding your health insurance.

Join our group on LinkedIn: Obamacare: Strategies for Business to Survive. We welcome you to join in the conversation with our LinkedIn group dedicated to discussions for business owners on Obamacare: Strategies for Business To Survive. Read articles, download documents, join the conversation, and add your expertise!

Learn how Voluntary Benefits are impacting small businesses and their ability to attract and retain employees during this time of benefit change.

Topics: Employee Benefits, Health Reform, Individual Health Insurance, Business Insurance

How to Get, or Keep, Health Insurance if You Are Self Employed

Posted by Resource Center

LadyComputerIf you're starting your own business - Good for you! It's a big leap of faith and can often times be a big hit on your pocket book. If you're leaving a full-time employer to make this move, chances are you are also walking away from your health insurance coverage - or some form of it anyway. For those that have health insurance currently, but are making the move, here are some suggestions that will help you either find health insurance or try to extend what you've got for the first year or so.

How to Get or Keep Health Insurance if You Are Self Employed

  1. Enroll on spouse's plan
    If you have an insured spouse that has health insurance, this is probably your most affordable option. On average, workers pay $4,129 toward their annual health insurance premiums. This averages to $344 a month. You'll be hard pressed to find individual health insurance for that price. (Younger workers are taking a huge increase with reform, and older workers, well, they are more risky - so your age may not get you a better price in the new age of reform).
  2. COBRA Extension
    Under the COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), employers are required by federal law to offer COBRA extensions for health and dental coverage up to 18 months for you an your dependents when you leave your job. Drawback: It's really expensive. If you have planning time before you leave, consider dropping to the lowest cost plan your company offers - when the enrollment period allows. This will at least get you a lower monthly COBRA payment.
  3. Purchase your own policy
    Be leery of websites that offer you dozens of quotes for affordable health care insurance. Sure you'll get some numbers - sometimes too many numbers. But once they have your information, you'll be hounded by a plethora of independent insurance agents all clambering for the same piece of business - yours! Health insurance rates are set by the federal government - so no one company is going to be different than the other - the real difference is service from an independent agent. An independent agent can provide free quotes and handle all of the shopping for some of the best choices and value in health care coverage. An independent agent knows the marketplace, knows the product, knows the carriers and most of all will get to know you and your needs, and protect you - that's their job. See 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Individual Health Insurance and 7 tips on How To Pick The Best Individual Health Insurance Coverage.
  4. Join a professional organization that offers a health insurance benefit
    Some professional and trade associations offer health insurance with group coverage rates. If you are over 55, consider AARP.org. The National Association for the Self Employed offers insurance plans as well. Chambers of commerce or business alliances can often have a consortium offering for health care insurance too - check with your local chamber of commerce for their options.
  5. Opt to hire one person - making your own small group
    Because individual insurance is fairly expensive, some self employed people have opted to hire an additional employee to qualify them as a small business. Most independent agents like R&R Insurance can offer group premiums with 2 or more employees - this could make a significant difference in your monthly cost.
  6. Stay employed
    Probably the least desirable for someone with an entrepreneurial spirit, but the suggestion to stay employed is worth mentioning. Stay employed either with your current company or with a company that offers health insurance coverage for the minimum number of hours a week - most often times its 30 hours a week. This keeps your pocket book in line, continues coverage for your family and gives you more time to chase your dream - although a little more slowly.

For more information on insurance for self employed individuals please visit our website. R&R Insurance Services is an independent insurance agency serving all of Wisconsin. We offer businesses and families access to affordable insurance coverage with excellent 24/7 service. For more information on individual health care plans contact knowledgebroker Donna Wahl.

Related articles:

Topics: Employee Benefits, Health Reform, National Association for the Self Employed, aarp.org, self employed health care insurance, health care insurance for self employed, Self Funded Health Insurance, Individual Health Insurance, COBRA, Get or Keep Health Insurance, donna wahl, Business Insurance

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Individual Health Insurance

Posted by Resource Center

grandma_FaceReform is well underway, which means that more individuals are forced to search for, and purchase, their own individual health insurance. In an effort to equip our customers with the most information possible, we are sharing what we are finding to be the 5 most common mistakes people make when buying individual health insurance.

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Individual Health Insurance

  1. Not buying health insurance or postponing your plan
    Never go without health insurance. Granted we now have badger care - for those that meet the income requirements. But for individuals who are self-employed, retired or in between careers, taking a gamble on your health is a huge risk - one that can devastate you financially for the rest of your life - and ruin your credit too boot. Even a simple catastrophic illness plan is better than nothing - make sure your agent covers all of the options within your budgetary constraints.
  2. Deductible - too low if you are young and healthy - too high if you are in need of care
    The number one mistake people make is not choosing the deductible that is right for your health and age. If you are young, healthy and only see the doctor once a year for preventive care - then take that gamble! Go with a high deductible ($1,200 or more a year for individual and $2,400 a year for families is considered high). High deductibles will cost you less on a monthly basis. If on the other hand you are in poor health or climbing in years and you find yourself using more medical care that you used to, then go with a lower deductible - but weigh the overall yearly cost of the plan. That will help you determine how low to go on the deductible.
  3. Out-Of-Pocket Max Not Understood
    Outside of your monthly payment, this is the single most important thing you want to concern yourself with when buying health insurance. There is nothing more important than knowing how much money you could potentially have to pay for a serious medical procedure. Make sure your agent goes over several scenarios with you so that you fully understand what your out-of-pocket expenses will be should something major occur. A lot of plans will not include the plans deductible in consideration of out-of-pocket max. This is a very important coverage topic to fully understand!
  4. Pre-existing Conditions
    After 2014, insurance carrier can no longer deny insurance to anyone based on a pre-existing condition. Great! That means if you do have a pre-existing condition, you'll be able to get coverage - whereas you most likely couldn't before reform. The misconception is that this insurance is "free", or even "affordable". Don't think for one minute that insurance companies are not going to take into consideration your "insurability". They will and it will be reflected in your monthly payment - and it will be expensive! They can't turn you away - but they can make you pay! For previously uninsurable risks (pre-existing), we are seeing 40%-400% increases in rates. There is a high risk pool for Wisconsin that can be considered if this option is too costly.
  5. Not working with an independent agent
    Yes, you can go through the on-line quoting process, fill out all the forms, submit your email address and then within 24 hours you'll be bombarded via email and phone calls with companies and agents trying to collect even more information on you - they all work for someone different. Quoting sites conglomerate your information and feed it to paying agencies as a "lead". Why would anyone want to go through that hassle? Contact R&R Insurance - or if you are in a state other than Wisconsin, contact an independent insurance agency that will be your one main contact. We shop it for you. We collect your information, always with the utmost respect for your privacy and protection of your personal identifiable information - and we field the quotes coming in. You'll receive valuable insight, have your pick between all the major companies and be reassured each year you are paying the best rate, all for no extra charge.

Your insurance agent does not get paid until you purchase a plan, at which point they are paid a commission directly from the insurance company. Health insurance prices are fixed by law, that means you will pay the same rate for that health insurance no matter where or who you buy it from.

Related articles: 7 Tips on How To Pick The Best Individual Health Insurance Coverage

Topics: Employee Benefits, Individual Health Insurance, pre-existing

7 Tips on How To Pick The Best Individual Health Insurance Coverage

Posted by Resource Center

elderly couple in kitchenThere are two main reasons for a huge upsurge in individual health insurance inquiries. One is that thousands of baby boomers are retiring daily, and those that aren't lucky enough to have a health insurance option in their retirement plan, have to purchase health insurance/supplemental insurance elsewhere. Secondly, reform is well underway, which means that more individuals are forced to search for, and purchase, their own health insurance - depending of course the decision that their employer makes.

7+ Tips on How to Pick The Best Individual Health Insurance Coverage

      1. Identify the “must-haves.” You can’t foresee a sudden injury or illness, but some medical needs can be anticipated. Maternity coverage, for example, is an obvious must-have if you’re starting a family, and not all policies offer it. If you have a family history of heart disease, you may want to make sure your coverage includes the cost of cardiac screening tests and cholesterol-lowering drugs. Under the Affordable Care Act, individual insurance plans must cover the full cost of more than two dozen preventive services for men, women, and children, including vaccinations and tests for high blood pressure, cholesterol, colon cancer, and diabetes, as long as they’re provided by a practitioner in the plan’s network.
      2. The right plan for your age/health. If you’re relatively young and healthy, consider choosing a policy with a high deductible, the amount you must pay out of pocket before certain benefits kick in. A plan with a deductible of $1,000 or more is likely to cost you considerably less per month, and could save you money in the long run. If you middle aged or older, and things just don't work the way they used to, consider a plan that would address those issues, with a slightly lower deductible - because you know you are for certain going to use it. Do the math. Add your deductible out-of-pocket cost to the monthly cost of the plan - are you ahead at the end of the year if you use your coverage consistently?
      3. Make sure your drugs are covered. You’ll want to make certain that the plan’s list of covered medications, includes those you take regularly, especially if they are expensive.
      4. Check the network. If you have a primary care physician and specialists you like, be sure they’re in the network of any plan you consider buying. Policies generally cover a lower share of the cost of out-of-network care—or none at all. R&R Insurance can supply you with links to the plan's network of physicians to help you in your decision making.
      5. Know your share of the costs. Plans are required to state how much you’ll pay out-of-pocket, through flat fees called co-pays and through coinsurance, a form of “cost-sharing” in which you pay a percentage of a medical service. Find out whether the out-of-pocket includes the deductible - or is it "in addition to" the deductible?
      6. Coverage for a spouse or dependents? An "individual" plan, again means that it isn't connected to your employer, but it can cover multiple people. Make sure you factor in the needs of your spouse, their age, affordable deductible etc. If you have children under age 26 without health insurance coverage through an employer, the law permits them to be on your insurance. Policies also can no longer exclude kids under age 19 from coverage because of pre-existing conditions.
      7. Walk through several plans. It only takes a few minutes to review the main benefits associated with each plan, and some plans that look appealing at first glance may turn out to have cost-sharing features that could burden you with heavy medical costs.

BONUS SUGGESTION: If you are retiring, always check with your employer to see if it is part of your retirement package, or if your employer offers the option to purchase their health insurance plan to retirees. This a lot of times can be a more affordable option as you settle into retirement. COBRA coverage can also be helpful during your transition phase.

At R&R Insurance, we value your time and your privacy. We will take your call, collect the minimum amount of information necessary to submit a quote, and then review those quotes with you to make sure you fully understand the coverage and the costs. Avoid the hassle of filling out multiple forms online to then be bombarded with email blasts you don't want. We will trust your privacy, get you the right information in a quick and professional manner, and make sure you are covered in the end.

Wisconsin residents contact Donna Wahl, Individual Health Insurance agent for R&R Insurance, or call 1-800-566-7007 to get started on a quote.

 

Topics: Employee Benefits, Health Reform, health care refrom, Individual Health Insurance, reform, donna wahl