NeedToKnowWith the on-set of healthcare reform, the landscape in the individual health insurance marketplace has changed dramatically. In this article, we’ll describe what you need to know in order to navigate the new individual segment of the health insurance industry.

Before we get to the good stuff, let’s review a very short background about the differences between individual health insurance and group health insurance. Briefly: if you know anything about the health insurance industry at all, you’ll know that these are two completely different ballgames when it comes to plan design. There are different rules. There are different tax incentives. There are different eligibility criteria. The list goes on. That’s a whole different article.

As an individual or business owner, you’ll want to know the ins-and-outs of both the individual and group health insurance marketplaces… but let’s emphasize that we’re looking at the individual segment only in this article. For certain small business owners, that’ll be most important anyways.

Here are the “essentials” of the new individual health insurance marketplace. This is what you need to know:

Guaranteed Issue Mandate

This is probably the biggest “game-changer” of them all. For years-upon-years, if you were going to apply for an individual health insurance plan, you had to go through a series of health-related questions in order to apply for coverage. There were 50, 60, and sometimes 70 or more questions. If you’ve applied for individual health insurance coverage before 2014, you know what this all about.

Starting in 2014, these health-related questions are all gone. You heard that right: outta’ here. It’s still difficult for many to comprehend. There are no more health-related questions on individual health insurance applications anymore. This is what is called “guaranteed issue” in the insurance world (big insurance word). All “guaranteed issue” means, is that if you apply for coverage, you have got to be accepted.

Q: How does this change the ballgame? A: You don’t need to have access to a group health insurance plan (employer plan) anymore to apply for coverage. This is huge (especially for those with preexisting conditions).

It can’t be emphasized enough how much this has freed-up individual choice in health insurance plans. You can literally pick any individual insurance plan from any company, and apply for coverage now. And it gets better for some of you: if you’re eligible for subsides at the new health insurance marketplaces (exchanges), you could see some massive subsidies that will help you pay for your premiums.

This all sounds fine and dandy, right? It is. But there are some important rules that need to be understood, and that leads us into our next important topics.

Open Enrollment Periods

In the past (before 2014), you could apply for an individual health insurance plan at anytime during the year. You could go out, you could pick a plan, you could apply for coverage. But… you might be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition (which you now know is against the law). So these days (2014 and beyond)… there’s now an “individual plan open enrollment period.”

Q: What’s an open enrollment period? A: It’s a time-frame when you can apply for health insurance coverage. If you’ve ever worked for an employer that has a company health insurance plan, you’ll know that you’ve usually got to apply for coverage (and make changes) during yearly enrollment. This is that exact same concept in the new individual health insurance marketplace. Except it’s a BIG enrollment: it’s the entire United States.

So, that being said, you’ve now got to apply during individual insurance open enrollment each year. This can be very important, because if you miss this enrollment period, you don’t get an opportunity to apply until the next Fall (unless you qualify for “special enrollment”… which we’ll cover soon). Need an appendectomy in the middle of the year? It’s too late.

The moral of the story: you want to make sure you know exactly when you can enroll in an individual health insurance plan: that’s during open enrollment each year. It’s a much different concept. And it’s important to note that open enrollment dates are the same for individual health insurance plans both on and off the new exchanges.

Special Enrollment Period

Now that you know what open enrollment is all about, the next thing that needs to be looked at is what is called a “special enrollment period.” A “special enrollment” is a time to enroll in the middle of the year (outside of the regular open enrollment described above), under specific circumstances.

Q: What are these “special enrollment” circumstances? A: They’re described as “life events” that can take place throughout the middle of the year. If you incur one of these “life events,” you’ll then be eligible to enroll in an individual health insurance plan outside of the regular open enrollment period. This is called a special enrollment.

Here are some examples of these “life events”:

  • You get married.
  • You get divorced.
  • You have a child.
  • You lose your coverage (changing jobs, etc).
  • You move out of the state where you currently get your health insurance.
  • You become a legal citizen or national.
  • … plus others.

You’ll want to make sure that you understand these qualifying “life events” if you ever need to utilize the “special enrollment period.” Additionally important: most events give you 60 days to enroll in a new plan from the time the “life event” takes place. However, a few of these events only give you 30 days. Make sure you know which event applies to you, and how much time you have.

Now that we know all about guaranteed issue, open enrollment, and special open enrollment… we want to take a brief last look at a few of the basic important concepts of the new individual health insurance marketplace. They are:

  1. Shared Responsibility
  2. Minimum Essential Coverage
  3. Essential Health Benefits

Shared Responsibility

Shared responsibility” is a technical term that has been coined in the healthcare reform law. All it means is that everybody has got to be “in” in order to make these new reforms work: the federal government, state governments, employers, and individuals. The “shared responsibility” provision applies to most individuals (there are a few exceptions) of all ages, including children. Almost everybody has got to have a health insurance plan from somewhere.

Minimum Essential Coverage

Minimum essential coverage” is the type of coverage that you have got to have in place in order to satisfy the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (healthcare reform). In other words, there is a standard of coverage that has to be met in order to meet responsibilities required under the Act. If you don’t want to pay the tax penalties, you’ve got to have this “minimum essential coverage.” There are health plans that are called “limited benefit plans” that do not meet the criteria of “minimum essential coverage.” In an instance where you only have a “limited benefit plan” in place, you’d be paying premiums for this plan that doesn’t conform, and then would also end up having to pay the tax penalty.

Additionally, if you’re one of those people that saw your rates go up in your individual health insurance plan over the past year (or even saw it cancelled), this is one of the reasons why. They’ve “raised the bar” on the required benefits in health plans (for additional info, read about the “metallic levels of coverage“). For this reason, rates have gone up. If you’re a higher earner that is not receiving a subsidy at a health insurance exchange, this can be burdensome.

Essential Health Benefits

These are certain new benefits “essential health benefits” that are mandated in the new “minimum essential coverage” plans described above. There is a series of them 10 of them. Count ‘em:

  1. Outpatient Care.
  2. Trips to the emergency room.
  3. Treatment for inpatient care in a hospital.
  4. Care before and after your baby is born.
  5. Mental health and substance abuse services.
  6. Prescription drug coverage.
  7. Services to help you recover if you’re injured or disabled: physical therapy, etc.
  8. Lab testing.
  9. Preventive services like counseling, vaccines, and screenings.
  10. Pediatric services which includes dental care.

Even though you may or may-not need some of these services, these benefits are now still required in all plans marketed in the individual health insurance marketplace. This is another reason that individual insurance premiums have gotten more expensive, and in certain cases, cancelled altogether. If you’re not getting any help with subsidies at the exchange, this can again be a “problem area.”

That’s it. Those are the basics of the new individual insurance marketplace. These are all of the “need-to-knows” so that you can begin to navigate this segment of the health insurance industry.

Additionally, you can coordinate various strategies within the new individual marketplace, so that you can put together a health benefits program for your small business that is affordable, and that your employees will appreciate.

Thanks for stopping by, we hope you found our information to be valuable. Check back at our blog to get further information about funding healthcare. Also, please share with your friends, clients, colleagues, and family. Here are a few of our other information outlets:

Home Page: http://www.PolicyAdvantage.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PolicyAdvantage

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PolicyAdvantage

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When you’re living or travelling abroad, health insurance is not usually the first thing on your mind… but it can be a very important. If you ever need medical services while you’re in another country, you may end up paying for these services out-of-pocket if you’re not insured. That’s where a international, travel, and expat health insurance plan can come in handy.

PolicyAdvantage.com partners with some of the best companies in the industry like Cigna Global and Anthem GeoBlue. With companies like these, you will:

  • Attain peace-of-mind when obtaining a policy with some of the world’s biggest international insurers.
  • Have access to global networks of over 1 million quality hospitals, physicians, clinics, and health specialists.
  • Custom-tailor a plan that fits you or your family best.
  • Get top-quality 24/7 customer service while you’re abroad.

Q: What is international, travel, and expat health insurance?

A: It’s health insurance when you’re traveling, working, or living abroad. It’s designed to give you and your family peace-of-mind and access to high-quality healthcare wherever you are in the world.

Q: Why would I need international health insurance?

A: In most cases, if you’re a foreign national in another country, there is a pretty good chance that you and your family won’t have access to the national health program where you’re currently residing. Additionally, healthcare services vary widely across the globe, so the standard of care that you are accustomed to receiving at home may be significantly different than what you are used to.

Q: How does coverage work when it comes to international health insurance? 

A: International, travel, and expat health insurance plans are flexible to your needs. A plan can be designed to fit your coverage necessities and budget. Core benefits include things like: inpatient hospitalizations, surgeries, and other hospital or physician services. Additional benefit options can be added like: doctor visits, prescription drugs, and even cancer treatments.

Cigna Global and Anthem GeoBlue are two of the most reputable international, travel, and expat health insurers in today’s market. Both have global hospital/physician networks and strong customer reviews; these companies can add peace of mind to your stay abroad.

Policy Advantage Insurance Services partners with both companies. If you’re planning a trip overseas (long-term or short), or are going to be working or studying abroad, contact us today for a quote. Prices can vary based on where you’ll be in the world, but we’ll be sure to help you find the plan that fits you best, at the best price.

Thanks for stopping by, we hope you found our information to be valuable. Check back at our blog to get further information about funding healthcare. Also, please share with your friends, clients, colleagues, and family. Here are a few of our other information outlets:

Home Page: http://www.PolicyAdvantage.com

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Recently, Covered California announced an enrollment extension for people that are on COBRA in California. If you’re currently enrolled in COBRA, you may already understand the costs associated with this type of coverage: it can be expensive. This enrollment extension could save you some BIG bucks.

We’re not going to explain COBRA in this post, we’re just going to explain how this recent enrollment extension works. If you’re currently on COBRA, you most likely already know what COBRA is all about.

Below the icon is some important info. If you’re on COBRA, you’ll want to know about all of this. *NOTE: Keeping it simple, if you’re currently on COBRA, talk to us so we can help you sort it out.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • This enrollment extension runs from May 15th, 2014 to July 15th, 2014.
  • If you’re currently on COBRA, you still have the opportunity to enroll in an individual or Covered California (exchange plan), as long as you do it between the above-listed dates.
  • This may save you some BIG MONEY, because COBRA extension coverage from your previous employer is expensive: you pay up to 102% of total premiums (your part + employer part + admin fees).
  • During this time, enrollment is open so you can switch from COBRA to an individual or Covered California exchange plan (either of which may be considerably less expensive than your current COBRA coverage).

If you’re currently on COBRA, here are two important questions you want to ask yourself:

  1. Am I eligible for subsidies on the Covered California exchange? If this is a “Yes” you may really want to look into switching over to an exchange plan from COBRA.
  2. If I’m not eligible for subsidies at Covered California, would switching to a regular individual plan save me money? Even if you’re not eligible for subsides on the exchange, the individual coverage you can find might be considerably more affordable than your current COBRA coverage. 

If you’re on COBRA currently, contact us so we can help evaluate your case. You could save some big money (thousands of dollars a year) by making a simple switch. Here is our CONTACT CARD. And you can call direct here: 424.442.0170.

Thanks for stopping by, we hope you found our information to be valuable. Check back at our blog to get further information about funding healthcare. Also, please share with your friends, clients, colleagues, and family. Here are a few of our other information outlets:

Home Page: http://www.PolicyAdvantage.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PolicyAdvantage

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PolicyAdvantage

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/PolicyAdvantage

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We’ve recently created a blog segment called “#Advantage” where we’ll answer the questions that we get at Twitter. Our official Twitter hash-tag is #Advantage, and we’ll explain this in further detail in a future blog post. For now, you can find additional information at www.twitter.com/advantage (or @advantage).

Our 4/24/14 question was from “CA Medicare Assist” (@MedicareInCA) in Santa Rosa, California. The question was this:

Does healthcare reform make health plans cheaper? (see the official Tweet here

“CA Medicare Assist” (@MedicareInCa) mentions that this is the #1 question they’re asked. And… it’s a good one. Check out the answer below the tag.

hash

The answer is: In certain cases, yes it does. Healthcare reform can make health plans “cheaper” for certain policyholders. However, there are some additional important details that should be considered. Here are the questions that are raised:

  • How are these health plans made cheaper? Plans are made cheaper via “Advanced Premium Tax Credits” at public health insurance exchanges like Covered California. APTCs are commonly known as the “subsidies” that you hear so much about. These subsidies are applied to individual health insurance premiums to make them more affordable.
  • Who are these health plans made cheaper for? Health plans are made cheaper for individuals and families that fall between approximately 100% and 400% of FPL (or Federal Poverty Level). For individuals, this is about $11,000 to $45,000 per year in gross income.
  • Are health plans made cheaper for everyone? Nope. In fact, for many of those who fall outside of 100% to 400% of FPL (or individuals making more than about $45,000 per year), health plans can actually get more expensive in a lot of cases.
  • How are the subsidies that make these plans “cheaper” funded? These new subsidies are funded from a variety of different sources, mostly in the form of taxes. Here are a few of them: A) increasing the Medicare tax on high-income households, B) taxing high-cost medical plans, C) penalties for those who don’t get coverage, D) employers paying if they don’t provide coverage, E) new fees on the health industry, and certain others.

Thanks for stopping by at our “#Advantage” blog segment dedicated to questions from our followers and others. We hope you found our information to be valuable.

We’ll continue to roll-out answers as questions come in. Don’t forget to hash “#Advantage” at Twitter, and visit our official tag here: www.twitter.com/advantage.

Check back at our blog to get further information about funding healthcare. Also, please share with your friends, clients, colleagues, and family. Here are a few of our other information outlets:

Home Page: http://www.PolicyAdvantage.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PolicyAdvantage

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PolicyAdvantage

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/PolicyAdvantage

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Today’s blog post is a “fun” blog post. We’ll do this every once in a while. Instead of talking about insurance and employee benefits, we’ve got some news to share (ie: some “insider” info about our brokerage). We like to keep you up-to-date about what’s going on within the business too.

If you’ve been following along at Twitter (@PolicyAdvantage) you’ll know there have been some recent tweets about our lion having a name. It’s TRUE: we’ve found a really-really good name for him. It fits our theme well. In fact, he’s even got his own .co that we’ll be developing, where you can visit.

So yes… there’s been some buzz. But we have not yet shared his name. There are a couple of different reasons for this:

  1. We’re still in the very early stages of his development (logos, website, his three dimensional design, etc). So he’s not even really a cub yet.
  2. We’re still determining exactly what his role will be. We’ve got a really good idea, but we’re still “fine tuning” things.

You’ll find some further information about this undercover project below.

His biggest goals will be to:

  1. Create a fun & interactive consumer engagement environment.
  2. Share important information about the insurance industry.
  3. Promote Policy Advantage Insurance Services to the public as our front-line icon.

Symbolism of the Lion (and White Lion)

He does represent specific qualities. These qualities are important as an insurance brokerage and every day. Many of these qualities were a big part of the basis behind our original image and logo design:

  • Symbolism of the Lion: courage, wisdom, honor, leadership, loyalty, pride, territorial, generosity, intuition, self-confidence, royalty, dignity, strength, assertiveness, power, justice, authority.
  • Often referred to as the “King of Kings,” white lions are especially rare, and are considered to be divine by many cultures.

Additionally, here are a couple of foundations that he already contributes to:

Question: When will his name be released?

Answer: We’re not sure yet. It could be next week, next month, by the end of 2014, or who knows. Keep checking back (OH the suspense). We do know this: our clients will be the first to hear about it.

Thanks for stopping by, we’re glad that you’re here. Please check back for future updates. Here are a few of our other information outlets:

Home Page: http://www.PolicyAdvantage.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PolicyAdvantage

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PolicyAdvantage

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/PolicyAdvantage

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Thanks for stopping by today, we’re glad that you’re here. In this blog post we’ll be talking about Covered California’s “Special Enrollment Period.” To keep it simple, this is a period of time when people will be able to enroll in an individual or family health insurance plan outside of open enrollment if certain “life-changing events” are experienced.

Let’s review before we move on: open enrollment for the new Covered California insurance exchange recently finished up. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that there are now open enrollment periods for individual and family plans both on and off of the new public exchange. In other words, in order to participate in an individual health insurance plan, you’ll now have to enroll during specific times each year. This is called open enrollment.

However, if you experience a qualifying “life-changing event” you may be eligible for a “Special Enrollment Period” in the middle of the year. In other words, yes: you may be able to enroll outside of open enrollment.

Here are some common examples of those qualifying “life-changing events” we described above:

  • Marriage or domestic partnership.
  • Childbirth, adoption, or placing a child up for adoption or in a foster home.
  • Changing your place of permanent residence, therefore gaining access to Covered California plans (this includes moving from another state).
  • Losing your health insurance (ie: losing or changing jobs, losing MediCAL coverage, or COBRA coverage expiration).
  • Changes in income. If you have an income change in the middle of the year, you may be eligible for more (or less) of a subsidy if you’re currently receiving assistance.
  • Becoming a citizen, national, or someone who is residing here legally. This event would only apply to those who were not previously a citizen, national, or legally residing here.
  • An “exceptional circumstance.” Covered California will determine on a case-by-case basis whether-or-not someone may be eligible to enroll via an “exceptional circumstance.”
  • American Indians or Alaska Natives. You are be eligible to change your plan (or enroll in a new plan) up to once per month even if open enrollment is over.
  • Your enrollment was wrong due to the misconduct or misrepresentation of your health insurance company, Covered California, or a Covered California entity (ie: a Certified Enrollment Counselor).

The above listed are examples of common “life-changing events” that might make someone eligible for a “Special Enrollment Period” outside of open enrollment.

Question: How long do I have to enroll if I experience one of these “life-changing events?”

Answer: You have 30 to 60 days (depending on the event). For example, if you lose your job-based coverage, you have 30 days. However, many of the other events give you 60 days. Make sure you know which event occurred, and how much time you have to enroll. 

If you think you’ve experienced a “life-changing event” and are eligible for the “Special Enrollment Period,” please contact us anytime. As a “Certified Insurance Agent,” Policy Advantage Insurance Services is able to help you find plans both on and off of the Covered California exchange (please note: the “Special Enrollment Period” rules do also apply to plans off of the exchange).

Thanks for stopping by, we hope you found our information to be valuable. Check back at our blog to get further information about funding healthcare. Also, please share with your friends, clients, colleagues, and family. Here are a few of our other information outlets:

Home Page: http://www.PolicyAdvantage.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PolicyAdvantage

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PolicyAdvantage

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/PolicyAdvantage

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Thanks for stopping by today, we’re glad that you here. Today we’re going to talk about the Covered California SHOP program, otherwise known as the Small Business Health Options Program.

As you know, Covered California is the new state health insurance exchange in the state of California. The new exchanges were a major part of healthcare reform, and were designed to help extend health insurance coverage to eligible individuals and businesses. There are two different programs available at Covered California:

  1. Individual & Family Plans (IFP): these are plans that you enroll in outside of an employer (or group) plan. They are available with APTCs (or subsidies) at the exchange. These subsidies make premiums more affordable.
  2. SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program): these are group health insurance plans through Covered California that are available to qualified businesses. Depending on the size and average income of your business, you may be eligible for tax credits that can help reduce the cost of coverage. 

Many of you are probably familiar with the individual plans that are available through the exchange (option #1 above). A lot of you probably even enrolled — over 1.2 million people in California participated during the exchange’s first open enrollment period that just ended.

Even though you might be familiar with individual health plan enrollment at the exchange, this article is about option #2 above. Covered California can also help small businesses. 

SHOP

If you’re a small business owner (especially in a group with less than 25 FTEs), you may want to take a close look at Covered California’s SHOP. This program is specifically designed to help small businesses offer coverage. Here are some important facts about the SHOP:

  • It’s a new marketplace through the Covered California exchange designed specifically for businesses with 1-50 eligible employees.
  • Employers under 50 FTE are not required to provide health insurance, but this program could be a good option.
  • Important: unlike individual enrollment, Covered California SHOP enrollment is open all year in 2014. So, request information and a quote anytime this year.
  • An eligible full-time employee is an employee that works 30hrs per week or more for the month. An eligible part-time employee is an employee that works 20hrs per week or more for the month.
  • To be eligible for SHOP, an employer must provide a minimum 50% contribution to employee plans.

Question #1: What businesses are eligible for a tax credit?

Answer #1: Businesses that 1) have fewer than 25 FTE for the year, 2) have an annual average wage of less than $50,000 per FTE, and 3) who pay at least 50% of their employees’ premium costs.

Question #2: How much is the tax credit?

Answer #2: Starting in 2014, the maximum tax credit for businesses as a percentage of insurance premium expense is 50% (or up to half of your premium). The maximum tax credit for tax-exempt organizations as a percentage of insurance premium expenses is 35%. These premium subsides are available for two consecutive years.

As a small business owner, it’s a great idea to talk with a Covered California “Certified Agent” about this program. They can run a quote for you. You may be eligible for substantial premium savings. Policy Advantage Insurance Services is certified and can help you with your questions. Feel free to contact us anytime. For more information about SHOP, please visit their official FAQ page here.

Thanks for stopping by, we hope you found our information to be valuable. Check back at our blog to get further information about funding healthcare. Also, please share with your friends, clients, colleagues, and family. Here are a few of our other information outlets:

Home Page: http://www.PolicyAdvantage.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PolicyAdvantage

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PolicyAdvantage

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Welcome back to another edition of “Phrases Made Easy.” This series at our blog aims to help make all of those long, drawn-out insurance phrases easier to understand. One thing we notice when talking about health insurance (and health benefits in general) is that the concepts can be “wordy” and boring. We emphasize fixing that here.

Today we’re going to talk about “Advanced Premium Tax Credits” (or APTCs). And we’ve got great news for you: this one is really easy.

If you’ve enrolled in a health insurance plan at the new health insurance exchanges, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve already put “Advanced Premium Tax Credits” to work. We’re going to give you the long version of the definition first. This one comes directly from www.healthcare.gov (*note: skip below the “Easy St” sign if you want to make this easier):

The Affordable Care Act provides a new tax credit to help you afford health coverage purchased through the Marketplace. Advance payments of the tax credit can be used right away to lower your monthly premium costs. If you qualify, you may choose how much advance credit payments to apply to your premiums each month, up to a maximum amount. If the amount of advance credit payments you get for the year is less than the tax credit you’re due, you’ll get the difference as a refundable credit when you file your federal income tax return. If your advance payments for the year are more than the amount of your credit, you must repay the excess advance payments with your tax return. Also called premium tax credit.

Easy

OK. That was pretty wordy. Now let’s make this easy. Here’s what you need to know about “Advanced Premium Tax Credits” (or APTCs):

  • APTCs are the health insurance “subsidies” that you hear so much about.
  • They are credits that make your premiums more affordable if you purchase insurance through the new exchange.
  • The APTCs that you may qualify for are based on FPL or “Federal Poverty Level” (we made that phrase easy one time before, go check it out).
  • The more money that you make, the less of a monthly APTC you will get.
  • The less money that you make, the more of a monthly APTC you will get.
  • If you get too much credit for the year (because you under-stated your income), you’ll have to pay it back at tax time.
  • And (you guessed it), if you don’t get enough credit for the year (because you over-stated your income), you’ll get a credit at tax time.

The moral of the story: APTCs are really what makes individual health insurance “affordable” in the Affordable Care Act. They’re government tax credits that are designed to make health insurance premiums less expensive.

In certain exchanges (like Covered California), when you shop and compare plans (using their “Shop & Compare Tool“), they will apply the APTCs you may eligible for, and give you your total monthly premium estimate. This estimate is based on four factors:

  1. Number of People in the Household
  2. Ages of People in the Household
  3. Yearly Household Income
  4. and Zip Code

Once again, if you want to see an example, look at Covered California’s “Shop & Compare Tool.” Once you input the factors listed above, you’ll be able to see what kind of APTC you may qualify for.

Thanks for stopping by, we hope you found our information to be valuable. Check back at our blog to get further information about funding healthcare. Also, please share with your friends, clients, colleagues, and family. Here are a few of our other information outlets:

Home Page: http://www.PolicyAdvantage.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PolicyAdvantage

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PolicyAdvantage

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Covered California” is the new public health insurance exchange in the state of California. If you live California, you’ve probably heard quite a bit about it over the past 6 months. These exchanges are a new way to buy health insurance and are a major part of healthcare reform.

The California exchange opened back in October of 2013. Since then, hundreds of thousands of Californians have enrolled in individual insurance plans there. Many of these plans have been subsidized by Advance Premium Tax Credits (or APTCs). These APTCs can substantially reduce the monthly cost of health insurance.

If you’ve taken a look at Covered California, you’ll know that there are various ways in which to enroll. Some of them include:

  • Online. You can set up an online account and enroll via the internet. You can also assign a Certified Insurance Agent to your case through your online portal.
  • Over the phone. You can call Covered California’s phone number and enroll with a service agent.
  • In person. You can enroll in person with A) Certified Enrollment Entities, B) Certified Enrollment Counselors, or C) Certified Insurance Agents. 

The purpose of this blog post is to explain some of the advantages of enrolling with a Certified Insurance Agent

Advantage

Here are some really good reasons to work with a Covered California “Certified Insurance Agent”:

  • Certified Agents are Licensed Professionals: Any insurance agent that is certified with Covered California is also licensed with the state department of insurance. Many of these agents also have years of experience and know the industry well.
  • A Single Point of Contact: This is one of the biggest advantages. You’ll have a single point of contact if you enroll with a certified agent. You can pick up the phone or send an email to that person anytime. If you need to make changes or have questions in the future, you’ll have someone familiar to work with.  However, if you enroll with a Covered California customer service rep over the phone, or a Certified Enrollment Counselor, you may speak with different people each time.
  • Certified Agents are Appointed Directly with the Insurance Companies: Insurance agents are appointed and have a direct relationship with the insurance companies. This can help with quick, effective, and efficient customer service.
  • Certified Agents Have Passed Rigorous Certification Requirements: These are people that have gone through extensive training and testing to obtain their certified status.
  • No Cost. You can work with a Covered California “Certified Agent” at no cost to you. Compensation is built into every insurance plan, regardless of whether-or-not you decide to work with an agent.

As you can see, there are a number of good reasons to work with a Covered California “Certified Insurance Agent.” Look for this badge when searching for assistance from an agent or agency:

CCCertified

Policy Advantage Insurance Services is certified. Please contact us if you have questions, or need ongoing help at Covered California.

Thanks for stopping by, we hope you found our information to be valuable. Check back at our blog to get further information about funding healthcare. Also, please share with your friends, clients, colleagues, and family. Here are a few of our other information outlets:

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Today’s article is about how Policy Advantage Insurance Services can help you with your health benefits planning. As you know, we’ve written a few blog posts about this topic in the past. If you’re new, we’d encourage you to catch up here:

Policy Advantage Insurance Services literally has the ability to help you with your health benefits planning, no matter what your current situation is. This blog post intends to specifically identify where we can help.

WeCanHelp

  • Employers of Any Size: We have the ability to help any size employer, large or small. If you’re a business owner or executive, you probably know that there are some important differences between businesses (especially your number of full time equivalent employees), when it comes to healthcare reform. We can help employers with 2, 20, 80, 500, or even 1000’s of employees. We can help you design an effective, efficient, and budget-conscience health plan that will fit any business.
  • Individual Health Insurance Plans Off of the Exchange: Are you self-employed or not offered a health insurance plan at work? It’s now easier than ever to “shop” and find individual health insurance. If your income is too high to qualify for exchange subsidies, we can help you find a plan off of the exchange. These are plans that are purchased directly through the insurance companies.
  • Individual Health Insurance Plans On the Exchange: If you’d don’t currently have access to an affordable health insurance plan, and your income is between 100% and 400% of FPL, you may qualify for help with your insurance premiums through the new health insurance exchanges in the form of “Advanced Premium Tax Credits” (or APTCs). These credits can significantly reduce the amount of your monthly premiums. Policy Advantage Insurance Services is “Covered California Certified” and can help you select plans on the new exchange.
  • SHOP Plans On the Exchange: The “SHOP” program is the new “Small Business Health Options Program.” This is a new program on the exchange that is specifically designed to help small businesses (under 50 employees) expand health insurance options to their employees. Those businesses that have less than 25 employees may see significant tax-credits to off-set the cost of premiums. The SHOP program is a group health insurance plan.

As you can see, Policy Advantage Insurance Services has the capacity to help you in any circumstance. If you are a business, individual, or self-employed, we can help you find a plan that will fit your situation. One of our biggest goals is to help our clients save money and improve coverage. Contact us today, and we’ll help you sort it all out.

Thanks for stopping by, we hope you found our information to be valuable. Check back at our blog to get further information about funding healthcare. Also, please share with your friends, clients, colleagues, and family. Here are a few of our other information outlets:

Home Page: http://www.PolicyAdvantage.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PolicyAdvantage

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PolicyAdvantage

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/PolicyAdvantage

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/PolicyAdvantage

Word Press: http://www.policyadvantage.wordpress.com