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Health care reform and the role of the local broker–more important than ever?

11-02-2011by Colleen King

Well, okay so your broker doesn’t have to be physically down the street, but it’s looking more and more like getting some help in sorting out options from someone when shopping for health insurance, available to you at no cost, makes sense.


Several articles talk about rates had shooting up and and people looking for new coverage. Often people found working with an independent broker helped find something manageable. You can go to the big major online sites but honestly, the past few years, I’ve helped people change plans several times after they bought something online then found it didn’t work the way they expected.


The California Small Business Association (CSBA) which I’m a member of has a program titled Buy California Small Business First which is aimed at drawing attention to doing business with people and companies within California. The reason to do this is to keep more money/revenue in the state; it’s not necessarily more expensive to do business with local smaller stores.  Now obviously not all insurance companies are based within California, but the local broker is. You will most of the time end up with more personal service when working with a broker. And if you don’t, then you need to look elsewhere; there are thousands of us.


The point is with health care reform in full bloom, there is way too much to keep track of and relying on your broker to help you where needed can be a real plus. Rate increases are hitting–we don’t have all the information yet like we have in years past but do you want to sit on hold with Anthem Blue Cross or Aetna for 20-30 minutes? I’m already doing it, so just add you question to my list. It’s all about trying to save clients money on their health care coverage where we can while making sure as close as we can that your needs are met–that what we do.

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Category: Uncategorized


Health care reform made all preventive care free, right?

09-23-2011by Colleen King

In the effort to increase access to care the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) mandated that preventive services be covered on newly developed plans with no share of cost and before a deductible is met.


Or so we thought–Check out this article from the US Department of Labor. One thing that was not really mentioned is where you go for services may determine whether or not there is a sharing of cost or not. The example here is that if you go to a free standing, ambulatory surgery center for a colonosopy, you probably won’t have a co-pay. But if you go to the outpatient department of a hospital, you probably will because cost of care at those types of facilities typically is higher.


So that’s why I call this the asterisk, or the footnote, yet another, in health care reform. The bill was passed with little detail really delineated, just a ton of concepts. So my advice So Cal, is if you have to have anything more complex than a blood test, so you minimize your costs call the member services number on the back of your insurance card. We have a lot of free standing ambulatory surgery centers in Los Angeles, and a lot of hospitals. Make sure you find your most cost effective options! Money’s still not growing on trees, at least not in the San Fernando Valley.


Have a great weekend!.

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Category: Uncategorized


Who has the most expensive health insurance premiums for individual plans in the country?

08-17-2011by Colleen King

In dealing with people day to day, most think California has to be the most expensive state in the nation. Not so, believe it or not, it could be worse.


Health care reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) were suppose to get us on the road to more affordable health insurance. Notice I didn’t say health CARE. The PPACA did not deal with health care costs at all, just health INSURANCE costs. But I digress…..According to StateHealthFacts.org, California is 9th in ranking least to most expensive. There’s a foot note, as usually with California, that HMO plans were not factored in to this and according to this 2010 data this takes all plans, all ages so of course there will be some radical deviations. But I still thought it was interesting.


The national average is $215/month. California comes in at $157/month. Check out this list, and notice who comes in at the end.  Massachusetts, where coverage is required. New York and New Jersey are pretty darn bad too. This is why we have to be very careful of what we ask for, and how we implement it, because we just might get it.


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Category: Uncategorized


How fast can you get me health insurance?

08-15-2011by Colleen King

When a call starts like this, it’s rarely good. This usually means someone has something wrong, or someone’s pregnant.


Problem is, the intent of Health Insurance is in case something goes wrong. If something has happened, you don’t need insurance, you need financing and insurance companies don’t do that. This whole idea is why requiring people to buy insurance unfortunately is going to be important if health care reform is going to work. Otherwise, what will happen is people will only apply when they have an issue, then drop coverage when all’s well. The concept of insurance, all types of insurance, is that people have to pay in whether they need it or not then there is money in the risk pool for when something is needed. And a risk pool is never something you want to be in the shallow end of, that’s for sure.


That’s an issue that has come up with ‘child only’ plans. Under age 19, due to health care reform, all kids have to be accepted regardless of pre-existing conditions. They can be charged above standard rates, but the carriers have to take them. One thing that is starting to happen is carriers are putting a 15 day delay in place from the time an application is submitted to when it can become effective, to avoid this jumping in, jumping out thing. At first carriers said okay,we just won’t write any ‘child only’ policies, we don’t know the risk. California then passed legislation saying okay fine, you don’t write ‘child only’ policies, you don’t write any individual health plans in California for 5 years. More on this in another article.


My main point is, we can’t close the barn door after the horse is out, so that’s why you need health insurance. Before something happens!

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Category: Uncategorized


Health care reform is already messing things up, even the simple health insurance rate changes

04-14-2011by Colleen King

Okay, many people are really unhappy with health insurance right now. People either don’t have because it’s unaffordable or they are uninsurable. Or they do, but their rates are going up. So it’s time to call your agent, see what else is available.


Well, here’s the problem. The carriers can’t even agree on what needs to change when. Or actually, what to do about it. Last quarter of 2010 was outrageous. Anthem had rates available through 9/22. Blue Shield’s rates were good through 9/30. Kaiser, they’re fine, ain’t changing a thing. Cigna only does 1st and 15th of the month effective dates. And there’s more, but you get the idea. It’s continuing to happen, changes all the time, it’s causing a lot of extra work for everyone.


So big deal–so what? Well here’s the thing. As you may have heard, things are tight for many people these days. So a jump in expenses of $50-$100 a month, maybe more, maybe less, is a big deal. And normally when the rate changes come in, I can give information that is solid. So can any good agent. But now, with the variation in rates and effective dates, and new information popping up every day, it’s frustrating.


I’m trying to help people make a move to avoid their increases and easier said than done. So if you have an agent you’ve worked with for a while, and they seem like they have a new onset of ADD, there’s a legit reason. You have to dodge a series of rates. You want to advise people to request specific effective dates so that they get the current rates. But I know for me, my phone is ringing off the hook and email is overwhelming. So hang in there, we can get you changed most likely–have faith!

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