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Phrases Made Easy: “Consumer Directed Healthcare”

This is another post in our series called “Phrases Made Easy.” The purpose of this series is to help our clients and potential clients understand insurance jargon that has a tendency to be complicated.

Consumer directed healthcare is an important concept that sounds difficult… but it really is very simple! We’ve selected this phrase for a few reasons:

  1. It’s a concept that gives the consumer power to make their own health benefits decisions.
  2. It is an important concept in the post-healthcare reform environment.
  3. It is a phrase you will see a lot in our content at Policy Advantage Insurance Services (in fact, it was already in another one of our series’ called Benefits Chalk Talk: Consumer Directed Healthcare).

Easy

Here it is… this is the Policy Advantage Insurance Services definition of consumer directed healthcare:

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.

That’s it… that’s all it is. You (the consumer) make your own decisions about your own health benefits.

As a consumer, you’ll need to know about all of the different “tools” that are available to you. You’ll also need to know whether-or-not you’re getting help from an employer, the government… or if you’re doing it on your own (there are also combinations of the three).

That’s where Policy Advantage Insurance Services comes in. We share valuable, up-to-date, relevant information that helps businesses and individuals finance (pay for) healthcare. In other words, we help you put all the pieces together. These are the kinds of questions we can help you with:

  1. What kind of health insurance plan should I be looking at?
  2. What do I need to know about healthcare reform, and what kinds of new options are available?
  3. How can my employer or the government help me?
  4. Are there any tax incentives when it comes to health insurance/benefits?
  5. Where does dental insurance and supplemental health insurance fit in?
  6. What is a health savings account, and a health reimbursement arrangement?
  7. …plus others.

There you have it… consumer directed healthcare, made easy. 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: www.PolicyAdvantage.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/PolicyAdvantage

Facebook: www.facebook.com/PolicyAdvantage

YouTube: www.youtube.com/PolicyAdvantage

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/PolicyAdvantage

Word Press: www.policyadvantage.wordpress.com

Policy Advantage Insurance Services: Content Guide

This is the Policy Advantage Insurance Services comprehensive content guide. We are giving you insight into our various information outlets (much like TV channels), so that you can effectively utilize these resources as valuable tools. You can find us at all of the top social media sites on the web. (username: policyadvantage)

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In this blog post you will discover all of the platforms and services where we distribute our information (ie: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc). Although each location is a little bit different, we try to stay as consistent as possible with the information we share. Our biggest goal is to help empower our clients, when it comes to making decisions about funding their healthcare.

You can click on the icons below to visit each location. There’s a goldmine of information… here you go:

Policy Advantage Insurance Services’ Homepage: 

home

Page URL: www.policyadvantage.com

Purpose: Like any home page, this is where our business resides online. Here you will find standard company information (addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, etc). You will also find things like customer testimonials, links to our social media, online application tools, and other information that is useful for both clients and colleagues.

Our homepage’s goal is to be a very important resource to our clients and policyholders. We are currently in the early stages of our homepage development, with a goal to make it a very interactive and user-friendly location that provides many tools (ie: applying online, user profiles, easy accessibility to information, and many others). We’ll continue to improve our homepage, so make sure to check back.

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Policy Advantage Insurance Services’ Twitter Page:

Twitter

Page URL: www.twitter.com/policyadvantage

Purpose: The purpose of our Twitter page is to distribute short, valuable, up-to-date pieces of information to our Twitter followers. We like to call it a “micro-blog.” At our Twitter page, we will tweet links to articles of interest, important webpages, important blog posts, etc. Our Twitter posts are also sometimes social (ie: non-insurance content that may include current events, pictures, “inside” company info, sports, local events, etc).

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Policy Advantage Insurance Services’ Facebook Page:

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Page URL: www.facebook.com/policyadvantage

Purpose: The purpose of our Facebook page is to distribute valuable information to the people who “Like” our Facebook page and also to the general public. Everything (all posts) at our Facebook page are public. We encourage our friends, clients, and followers to “like and share” the information that we post in our news feed. There are graphics, links, etc that can come in handy. We share a lot of info at our Facebook page.

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Policy Advantage Insurance Services’ Word Press Page:

word press

Page URL: www.policyadvantage.wordpress.com

Purpose: This is Policy Advantage Insurance Services’ primary blog. This is where you’ll find the most in-depth written information that we share. Our intended audience here is both employers and individuals. You will find valuable information across all subjects when it comes to financing (paying for) healthcare. Many of our posts are categorized, and we try to keep things as simple as possible. Whatever you are looking for, you will find it here… spend some time at this blog. It’s like a health benefits newspaper.

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Policy Advantage Insurance Services’ YouTube Page: 

youtube-logo

Page URL: www.youtube.com/policyadvantage

Purpose: Some people would rather watch/listen than read. For those that would rather watch, our YouTube page is for you. If you are interested in hearing presentations on the various topics and subjects, this is where you want to be. We add Power Point presentations on a periodic basis. Some of our most important information is shared through our YouTube channel.

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Policy Advantage Insurance Services’ Pinterest Page:

Pinterest

Page URL: www.pinterest.com/policyadvantage

Purpose: Pinterest is kind of a newbie in the social media world. It is a great website. This is a place where you can learn more about us at a personal level (outside of just insurance/health benefits talk). We have various creative pin boards here, where we pin the things that inspire us. We even have one dedicated to our clients and colleagues: “Heart of a Lion.” Definitely look us up and follow us at Pinterest, we have fun here. Our webpage was also just recently “Pinterest verified.” We now have the official red check mark next to our URL.

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Policy Advantage Insurance Services’ Blogspot Blog:

Blogger

Page URL: www.policyadvantage.blogspot.com

Purpose: Our Blogspot blog is currently our secondary blog (we always recommend our Word Press blog first). We have future plans to develop this blog further. Currently, it is pretty much a “mirror” to the rest of our content.  Check back periodically.

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Policy Advantage Insurance Services’ About.me Page:

about.me

Page URL: www.about.me/policyadvantage

Purpose: Our newest addition to the content family, our About.me page is currently under construction. Check back periodically as we prepare it to distribute more Policy Advantage Insurance Services information in the future.

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This concludes our comprehensive review of our internet content guide. Check any of the various outlets, and you fill find valuable, up-to-date, relevant information about financing (paying for) healthcare. There is some great information at these different Policy Advantage Insurance Services social media locations.

We also stay on top of current trends, and will add additional “channels” when they become popular. Our username at each one is typically “slash policyadvantage.” (www.example.com/policyadvantage)

As always, thanks for stopping by. We hope that you found our information to be valuable. Please share it with friends, clients, colleagues, and family.

Healthcare Reform: The Major Players

Note: **this is the first (1) of a series of four (4) blog posts that are related to healthcare reform. We recommend that you read them in order. Here is the suggested order of reading:

  1. Healthcare Reform: The Major Players
  2. Phrases Made Easy: “Defined Benefit” and “Defined Contribution”
  3. The Great Transition: Healthcare Benefits & Defined Contribution
  4. Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs): The Employee Benefits Home Run

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Now that healthcare reform has made it through Congress, been signed by the President, was upheld by the Supreme Court, and survived an additional presidential election… we’re assuming the law is here to stay.

So with that… we need to introduce to our clients, potential clients, and colleagues the “cast of characters” that are important as this legislation sets in. ie: some of the major players. Here’s the scouting report:

#1) State Health Insurance Exchanges: In California, the exchange is called “Covered California” (www.coveredca.com). There is still much to be announced (because these exchanges have not yet completely taken shape). As information becomes available, we’ll roll it out. Begin to understand State Health Insurance Exchanges: they’re set to start January 1st, 2014.

#2) “Guaranteed Issue” Mandate: The phrase “Guaranteed Issue” is an insurance term. It means a policy must be offered to any eligible applicant without regard to health status. In other words, if you apply for coverage, you must be accepted. Starting on January 1st, 2014… all health insurance policies must be guaranteed issue.

#3) Health Insurance Mandate: The law imposes a health insurance mandate (for nearly all Americans) to take effect starting in 2014, based on the Congressional power to regulate tax. Know where (and how) you can obtain affordable coverage.

#4) Individual & Family Plans (IFP): Currently there are only two segments of health insurance: A) Individual and Family Plans and B) Group Health Insurance.

The Individual and Family Plan (or IFP) segment is set to expand considerably starting in 2014. The reason: preexisting conditions must be covered at that time.

#5) Large Employer Mandate (+50 employees): Starting in 2014, the Act requires employers with 50 or more equivalent full-time employees to offer health insurance that is “affordable, minimum essential coverage” (and if not, face tax penalties). Specific questions about tax penalties should be directed to your tax advisor.

 #6) Account-Based & Defined Contribution Health Planning: Health Savings Accounts (or HSAs), and Health Reimbursement Arrangements (or HRAs) will be an important tool for employers in the post healthcare reform environment. Look for health benefits planning strategies to continue to move in this direction. “Equity-based” health planning involves pairing-up health insurance policies with tax-advantaged reimbursement accounts.

#7) Medicare & Medicaid: There were significant portions of the law that were relevant to Medicare and Medicaid. You’ll want to stay up-to-date on those topics. If you have questions, we’re currently referring them to our Medicare and Medicaid affiliates.

#8) Changes: This was large and far-reaching legislation… over time, legislation of this magnitude has a tendency to go through changes. Know and understand this may occur (most likely if/when things don’t go as planned). Some of these changes may be as important as the above mentioned topics. In the years to come, there may be additions and subtractions to portions of the law. Simply: you’ll want to stay up-to-date with changes.

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That concludes our introduction of healthcare reform’s major players. The above “cast of characters” will give our clients, potential clients, and colleagues a good place to start when trying to understand this large (and sometimes complicated) piece of legislation.

Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll continue to roll out information that is pertinent to these subjects. We invite you to follow along as we continue to move forward. We like sharing great information. We’ll be your resource in one place.

Thanks for stopping by, we hope our information was valuable to you. 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

Important Editor’s Note 11/22/2013: Since posting these original blog posts, federal guidance regarding “Stand-Alone HRAs” (which are addressed in some places throughout these articles) has undergone significant changes. In order to stay in full IRS/ERISA compliance, please be advised that there are now many additional considerations when adopting this type of benefits planning strategy. Consult with a proper broker or insurance professional before utilizing employer dollars to purchase individual health insurance policies.