*Healthcare: Open Enrollment has been extended until January 15th. Current policy holders can submit changes to their existing plan or submit a NEW plan. Once the 15th has passed, you will not be able to make any plan changes. NEW policies submitted during this time will take effect February 1st.
*Medicare: Medicare Supplement policy holders ages 65-75 have the option to change to another Medicare Supplement plan without requiring underwriting approval. To qualify for the Birthday Rule, you must enroll in a plan with the same or lesser benefits. The change must be done within 45 days AFTER your birthday.
*Medicare: Medicare Advantage policy holders are currently in a second Open Enrollment period until March 31st. During this time, you can change to another Medicare Advantage Plan.
*Auto/Home Insurance: Many policies renew during the month of January. When reviewing rates consider these tips:
+Always review the total package (i.e. home and auto). Often, some carriers will have a better rate on the home as opposed to the auto however, the total calculation needs to be reviewed when determining the best scenario.
+Make sure you are matching coverages. Some carriers are notorious for removing full coverage to reduce the rate. Sadly, some people do not realize that until they have an accident. Full coverage means the carrier will fix your vehicle in the event of an at fault accident. On the flip side, liability only means your vehicle is NOT getting fixed in the event of an at fault accident.
*Life Insurance: With the start of the New Year, many will review their financial goals for the year and discuss any gaps. Many people will not buy Life Insurance because they overestimate the cost of a policy. Costs depend on a number of factors, including your health, age, tobacco use, and gender. As one example, a healthy 35-year-old male can expect to pay about $20 per month for $250,000 on a 30-year term.
*Business Insurance: We’ve received LOTS of calls lately regarding employees injured on the job. A workers compensation policy provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured as a result of their job. Premiums are based on the annual payroll and type of work performed.
During this time, individual policy holders can enroll in a health plan or make changes to their existing plan.
What to Expect in 2022
- Open Enrollment has been extended to January 15th! Please note, changes made AFTER December 15th will take effect February 1st.
- NEW CARRIERS: Molina Healthcare, Oscar Health Plan, and United Healthcare will offer plans for 2022. Blue Cross Blue Shield continues to be the only carrier offering a PPO network.
- OFF EXCHANGE Plans: While the network is the same on exchange or off exchange, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Bright Health, and Cigna will offer off exchange plans. This means if you do not qualify for assistance you do not have to go through the Marketplace. Blue Cross Blue Shield is the only carrier offering a PPO network.
- NO penalty continues! This means you will not receive a penalty for not having coverage or for obtaining a plan that does meet the minimum standards of the Affordable Care Act.
- Blue Cross Blue Shield, Bright Health, Cigna, and United Healthcare will offer virtual visits. While Blue Cross Blue Shield only offers this service with their PPO network, Cigna, Bright Health, and United Healthcare will offer the same service on all of their plans. Policy holders can call or chat online with a nurse practitioner to obtain a diagnosis and prescription for medication.
- Out of pocket maximum will increase to $8,700 per person. You can offset this by purchasing an accident or critical illness rider. The rider starts at $25 per month and provides coverage to you in the event of an accident or diagnosis of a critical illness (heart attack, cancer, or stroke).
- Group plans are still an option for small employers. Blue Cross Blue Shield continues to offer relaxed guidelines during this time to allow for a 1-person group. The employer must have at least 2 full time employees that are not husband and wife. The employees can be 1099’d.
- Carriers are offering Visa gift cards for participating in their rewards program. Some are offering up to $500! Rewards are given for signing up for an account online, obtaining an annual physical, signing up for text message reminders, selecting a primary care physician, etc.
- Cigna is offering plans tailored to those with asthma, COPD, and diabetes. This means lower drug costs, $0 cost for labs, pulmonary rehab, and supplies (including certain brands of insulin pumps)
I am now license in Florida!! Insurance Counts can service plans in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Texas, and Florida.
What to Expect for 2021
- Bright Health is a new provider that will offer plans via the Marketplace. Their network consists of Palos Medical Group and the Adventist network.
- NO penalty continues! This means you will not receive a penalty for not having coverage or for obtaining a plan that does not provide the 8 coverages required by the Affordable Care Act.
- Blue Cross Blue Shield and Cigna will continue to offer virtual visits. While Blue Cross Blue Shield only offers this service to their PPO plans, Cigna will offer the same service on all of their plans. Policy holders can call or chat online with a nurse practitioner to obtain a diagnosis and prescription for medication.
- Carriers continue to waive cost sharing and co-pays related to COVID 19 testing and treatment. You MUST select an in-network provider/facility.
- Northwestern Memorial will now accept plans from Cigna (Connect HMO). They will continue to accept Blue Cross Blue Shield (Blue Precision HMO and Blue Care Direct HMO).
- Out of pocket maximum will increase to $8,500 per person. You can offset this by purchasing an accident or critical illness rider. The rider starts at $25 per month and provides coverage to you in the event of an accident or diagnosis of a critical illness (heart attack, cancer, or stroke).
- Group plans are still an option for small employers. Blue Cross Blue Shield and now Humana offer relaxed guidelines during this time to allow for a 1-person group. The employer must have at least 2 full time employees that are not husband and wife. The employees can be 1099’d.
How to Avoid Rate Increases
- Be prepared to discuss your household, estimated adjusted gross income for 2021. This will be used to determine if you qualify for assistance.
- Those without pre-existing conditions should consider a short term medical plan. These plans do not provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, maternity, and limited wellness visits. However, these plans are a fraction of the cost of plans offered through the Marketplace and they all have a PPO network.
- If you are going to opt to self-insure, protect yourself with an accident or critical illness plan. The plan works separate from health insurance and pays you based on a diagnosis of a critical illness (cancer, heart attack, or stroke) and in the event of an accident (slip, fall, and break an ankle) the plan will pay you a certain dollar amount. The purpose is to use the funds to pay towards the unexpected hospital or urgent care visit.
- Review ALL of your insurance policies. I specialize in personal lines insurance, which includes auto, home, and Medicare. As a broker, I have access to multiple carriers which allows me the opportunity to find the best plan based on your needs. I’ve saved people thousands by reviewing rates with multiple carriers.