There are lots of questions about state health insurance exchanges, and where/how they will fit in. In this “Benefits Chalk Talk” post, we’re going to give you some 101 (simple) insight into these exchanges, what they’re about, and how they’ll work.

A state health insurance exchange may or may not be the right option for your personal (or business) situation, but it’s a good idea to understand them. Consider them another “tool in your belt” to fund healthcare.

HealthBenefitsChalkTalk1

First off, here are some basic facts and information about these new exchanges:

  • State-based health insurance exchanges (or marketplaces) are a key component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
  • States have the option of running their own exchange, or partnering w/ the federal government to run an exchange (or choosing neither, and a federally facilitated exchange will be set up)
  • All exchanges must be ready to enroll customers by 10/1/2013, and be fully operational by 1/1/2014

State health insurance exchanges may be an important part of an individual or business benefits planning strategy. Although some businesses and individuals may make the decision to completely steer clear of the exchanges, others who are open to the idea of utilizing government options will want to learn more.

When it comes to healthcare reform (love it or hate it), it’s important to understand that Policy Advantage Insurance Services takes an unbiased (non-political) approach to these concepts. Our goal is to deliver fact-based information to our clients, so they can put the things in place that make the most sense.  

Health Insurance Exchange

Here is some additional information about the exchanges:

  • Plans offered within the exchange must be the same (contain the same benefits), as those offered outside of the exchange
  • Enrollment in plans will take place predominantly online
  • Plans in the exchange will be “guaranteed issue,” meaning you must be accepted for coverage if you apply
  • An “exchange certified” agent or broker can assist you with enrolling in a state health insurance exchange plan (for more details, ask your current agent/broker, or find an agent/broker)
  • There are provisions to lower premiums (through massive subsides), for Americans with household incomes under 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (that’s most Americans)

Here are the early 2012 Federal Poverty Level guidelines. If your yearly earnings fall within 100% to 400% of the FPL, you may be eligible for a tiered subsidy through the exchange:

  • 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) was $11,170 for an individual and $23,050 for a family of four through early 2012
  • 400% of the Federal Poverty Level was ~$44,680 for an individual and ~$92,200 for a family of four through early 2012

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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This is our first post in our series called “Benefits Chalk Talk.” Much like an after-practice or halftime chalk session in athletics, our goal is to help empower our clients to put all the many different benefits tools in play.  And, much like you face different opponents in a sports contest (and strategies change over time)… our chalk sessions will provide relevant, up-to-date information that will help give you the advantage.

Today’s topic is “Consumer Directed Healthcare.” We selected this as our first concept for a number of different reasons:

  1. Consumer Directed Healthcare’s foundation rests upon individual choices, planning strategies, and knowledge.
  2. Consumer Directed Healthcare will be a concept of emphasis in the post-healthcare reform (Obamacare) environment.
  3. Consumer Directed Healthcare emphasizes the direct involvement of the consumer, encouraging people (and employers) to make sound, informed purchasing decisions (the idea is to make the whole system more efficient).

HealthBenefitsChalkTalk1So this leads us to our question: What exactly is consumer directed healthcare?

Well… consumer directed healthcare has many different definitions. Sometimes it’s even referred to as consumer driven healthcare.

This is the definition we use at Policy Advantage Insurance Services:

Consumer directed healthcare is the idea that patients will behave as medical consumers. Patients will be the ones deciding how their healthcare dollars will be spent. Not doctors, employers, insurance companies, or the government.

Some definitions claim that consumer directed healthcare must be utilized with a high deductible health insurance plan (HDHP). We reject this definition, because we think that all tools and programs must be considered when someone is directing their own program (whether-or-not their strategy includes the use of a high deductible health insurance plan).

There are many things that go into consumer directing:

  • Am I an individual or employer?
  • What is my personal situation (family, hobbies, lifestyle, etc)?
  • Should I utilize private or public options (or a combination of the two)?
  • What type of heath insurance plan should I put in place?
  • What are HSAs and HRAs?
  • What do I need to know about dental, vision, and ancillary programs?
  • What kinds of tax incentives are available to me?
  • Plus others…

We’ll answer these kinds of questions in future blog posts. “Benefits Chalk Talk” will identify the different areas of healthcare benefits planning, and then inform the consumer on how to put them into play.

Thanks for stopping by, we hope you found our information valuable. Please feel free to follow us at our other outlets:

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