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What is the future of the AHCA

Shortly after the American Health Care Act vote was pulled from the House Floor, Speaker Paul Ryan said that the American public would be “living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.” Then, just three days later, he makes the statement that “If Obamacare just stays as is, that’s not acceptable to the American people.” So what does that mean for us today? It’s a little hard to say. It appears that this issue of health care reform is not closed, but at this current time, we do not hear any definitive timelines on when we can expect to see a new bill being formulated. At this period, President Trump is calling on the American public to be on the watch as he predicts that Obamacare will implode. But while we are watching and while there are no timelines, what do we do?

Where is may seem as though America is between the proverbial rock and hard place, however, we will most likely see very little change during 2017? Most insurance companies are currently reviewing their options about what plans they will offer and what they will charge for premiums in 2018. With large companies like Aetna giving themselves a deadline of April 1st to make decisions about what they will offer in 2018, most insurance companies will make their decisions closer to June. There is still a trend of insurance companies pulling out of areas where they have found financial hardships. Aetna is now only offering their services in 4 states where they previously were offered in 15 states.

One this is for certain, that at Bernardini & Donovan we will continue to offer you the best customer service and we will always work to find the best health insurance options available for you, your family or your business during this time of transition.

Keep up with our blog for the latest news on the American Health Care System!

American Health Care Act Pulled for Now

One of the biggest news stories recently has been the pull the healthcare reform bill on March 24th. If you’ve had your head in the sand here is a timeline of what went down:

-On Thursday afternoon the House vote was delayed. Members of the House Freedom Caucus met with President Trump but left feeling that their compromised could not be reached.

-Thursday evening the vote is back on. The White House communicated to the Republican party that no further negotiations were to be held and the vote was scheduled for the next day.

-Friday Morning comes, and the House proceeded with morning roll call. Where the vote was still planning on being held it was unclear if it would pass.

-On Friday Afternoon Speaker Paul Ryan urges the President to cancel the vote because they did not have the votes to pass the bill and at 3:30 pm the President agrees. At 4 pm, it is announced to the press that they vote has been canceled.

President Trump placed the blame of the bill not being able to be passed squarely at the feet of the Democrats saying that because they had not one Democrat vote, there was just a wide enough margin to ensure that the bill couldn’t pass and therefore did not go to vote. He also said that he is hopeful for the next version of the bill.

So what does that mean for us now? Speaker Paul Ryan says that he is not giving up on healthcare reform and that he believes that the American Health Care Act could still end up being passed. “About 90 percent of our members are for this bill, and we’re not going to give up after seven years of dealing with this, after running on a plan all of last year and translating that plan into legislation,” he said.

At this time we will just have to wait and see what the future holds for our health care reforms.

In our last post, we started to discuss the American Health Care Act as it was presented to us by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. If you have not read that yet, please find it here. After going over some of the failures of ObamaCare, Speaker Ryan started to explain what we will find in the legislation that is going up for a vote on March 24th.

Within the American Health Care Act, you will find the lowering costs of insurance premiums, creating more choices for citizens on their insurance options, giving patients control over their health care coverage and creating universal access to care.  But how will they do that? First, they would repeal the taxes in ObamaCare. They would, secondly, stop the massive spending that is going on. They would end the federal mandates that are telling private citizens what to do. They will be protecting citizens with preexisting conditions by encouraging states to set up risk pools so that people with PEC could still get insurance. These state-based and federally contributed risk pools directly support any people with PEC so that the rest of the population has cheaper and more predictably priced health insurance. They also want to create more transparency within the health care systems so that patients know what they are paying for up front. Currently, you receive care and are then sent a bill. What you are billed for can come as a complete surprise. Instead, they would like to create a free market system that allows hospitals, insurance companies, and health providers to compete against each other for the business of the American citizens. This makes our health care system like every other market that we have in our country and gives the citizens the control they need to make good decisions. They want to move Medicaid to be state run systems. The states know better what the needs of their residents are and how to better care for them than a federally based system. They would allow young adults up to the age of 26 to stay on their parent’s insurance and would transition in their changes so that people’s current health care is not being immediate disrupted or not available to them.

What do we think of these changes? If the law passes, we could see rates drop by 20-30% with more plan choices and power to negotiate better contracts with doctors. But we want to wait and see how things play out. There are a lot of favorable items in the law that will favor lower premiums, but we will be taking a wait and see approach to see what ends up in the new law.  Follow Bernardini & Donovan to stay up on the latest changes regarding your health care and how the new incoming legislation may affect you.

Information about the American Health Care Act

On March 9th, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan did a powerpoint presentation about what was in the American Health Care Act. What he laid out was that this piece of law is essential the first piece of a three-pronged attack. The three-pronged attack being:

Reconciliation – this is the American Health Care Act. They are not able to put in every piece of legislation that they would like in this legislation due to certain Senate floor rules. They don’t want the whole thing to be thrown out before it can be voted on. But that is why this is a three-pronged attack.

Administration Action – Much of the current law has legislation written into it that gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services the right to deregulate the market and create more choices in the marketplace.

Additional Legislation – These would be all of the other laws that they are not able to pass in the American Health Care Act because if they did the Senate floor would throw it out. However, if they take these on a case by case basis, he believes that we will see a truly competitive market which could include interstate shopping as well we association health plans.

Speaker Paul Ryan also spent a good portion of his talk exposing the flaws of the ObamaCare. Since the passing of ObamaCare, he pointed out that citizens are seeing their health care options and choices of coverage disappearing. As many as 2,000 counties within the US that initially had 3 or more insurance options in 2016. In 2017 that number has plummeted. In 2016, 200 counties only had only one insurer choice. That is 1 in 3 counties in the US with only one insurance option. Humana has stated that it is planning on pulling out some of those counties which will leave those counties with zero options. While options for insurance coverage are going down, premiums are going up. People are receiving fewer choices, and the price they pay on their premiums continues to rise. In Minnesota, they saw a 59% increase in their premiums. In Tennessee, they saw a 63% increase. And in Arizona, they saw a 116% increase in their premiums. According to Aetna’s CEO, “Obamacare is in a death spiral. It is not getting any better, it’s getting worse”

Look for our next post to cover what is in the American Health Care Act and how we are viewing it.

As the time comes for open enrollment or to renew your health insurance, here are some helpful hints to look at before your purchase a plan.

Look before you renew
As the landscape for health insurance continues to change it is important that you make sure that your fully check out your options before opting to renew. Not only do the options available in your plan change from year to year but your personal circumstances change. You may have moved, found a new job, or had a child and all of these can change what you need from your provider. Also, if your plan is being replaced make sure you fully look over what it is being replaced with so you are not surprised later down the road and find that what you need is not covered.

Doctors and prescriptions, oh my…
You will want to make sure that your preferred doctor accepts that coverage before you enroll. And going to a doctor outside of your coverage can cost you substantially more that going in your plan. Also, you will want to know what your prescription medication is going to cost you. Most companies will assign medications to a different level or tier so that between different companies the medication you need may be covered but it may be on a different tier and therefore would cost you much more.

Consult an insurance broker
When the Affordable Care Act come into effect its purpose was to let people comparison shop relatively easily for different health care options. However, the health care market is wide and varied and you can very easily not see a special savings or find out that what you need is not covered when it is too late. Health Insurance brokers are working hard to stay ahead of the changes in the law, know all the different nuances of plans being offered and want to help you find your best fit. Contact us at Bernardini & Donovan and let us help you look beyond the bare essentials to finding a package that fits you and your family perfectly.

That time of the year is coming up again! The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is just around the corner. Each year from October 15 to December 7th you have the ability to enroll for Medicare. But as you prepare to enroll, now is an excellent time to go over what plans there are and more importantly than that, to look over what is important to you so that as you look through plans you can find the one that will meet your needs. You won’t want a plan that will keep you in a compromising position all year long. Make sure that you are well informed and take the time to know what you really want. For example, If you know that you are going to be on a fixed income you will want to make sure that you are looking at plans that will have low out of pocket costs. Or if you want to ensure that you are maintaining the best health possible then you may want a plan that is very proactive in prevention care.

When you are looking at you coverage make sure that you read the fine print to see what is covered in your care. You may be surprised at what you find there. Many health plans offer extras that are included in their plans such as wellness check ups, 24 hour hotlines to speak to nurses and discounts on fitness and nutrition plans. There is also often preventative care available to you. And the easiest way to prevent expensive out of pocket costs is to make sure that you are catching things before they really blow out of control. In fact, the Center for Disease Control has made an estimation of about 100,000 lives could be saved each year if they received the recommended preventative care. You will also want to know not only what doctors and hospitals are covered but what specialists and specialized medical facilities will be available to you.

We hope that these tips will help you prepare for open enrollment, but if you have any questions about Medicare, please let us at Bernardini & Donovan help you.

There are some people in the world that just know things. They are the mavens that can rattle off facts, dates and details that the rest of the population just never grasped. This blog post is not for them. This post is for those of us who don’t know the first thing about Medicare and the deadlines needed to sign up.

So first things first. You become eligible for Medicare when you turn 65. But the deadlines for signing up extend to the months that surround you birthday. However, there is an exception if you already are receiving Social Security benefits you are automatically enrolled in Medicare A and B. But if that is not the case then you need to sign up yourself. You have a window of enrollment that last seven months. The seven month window begins three months before your birthday month, goes through your birthday month and continues on for the next three months after your birthday. So if your birthday was in June you could sign up for Medicare starting March 1st and it would end September 30th. If you miss this deadline you can join during open enrollment from January 1 to March 31 each year.

The reason that you will want to make sure that you sign up during these seven months is so you will avoid any fees that come with signing up late. The monthly Part B premiums will be raised by 10% for each 12 month period you wait to sign up for Medicare. “The idea behind the penalty is to give people a financial incentive to enroll in insurance from the get-go as opposed to waiting until they have some kind of negative health event,” says Mark Duggan, an economics professor at Stanford University.

It is important to note that if you or your spouse are still working for an insurance providing company when you or your spouse turn 65 it is not mandatory to enroll at that time, you can stay with your current provider. However, once the household member that they insurance is provided through retires then you will need to enroll. You will have an 8 month period enrollment time. The 8 month time period starts the month after the employment ends or when your insurance coverage from that job ends.

We hope this information helps, but if you have more questions please feel free to contact us at Bernardini & Donovan

Change is inevitable. Each day when you wake you just can’t be sure what that day will bring. Granted, sometimes you get a heads up. Like when you see the storm clouds brewing off in the distance, it’s a good idea to bring your umbrella. Or when you hear of a huge traffic hold up on your normal commute, you avoid that route and take the side roads. So here is your heads up when it comes to Covered California rates. They are going up to the tune of 13.2%

For the past two years California has been able to negotiate to keep the rates in an affordable increase averaging around a 4% increase. However, the legislation that allowed for them to do that is now is now expiring. With these rate increases we will see California’s rates being more comparable to the rest of the nation whose rates have been rising steadily over the past few years.

Also, if you are small business owner with 50-100 employees, the laws are changing for your health coverage. If you have 50 and up to 100 full time eligible employees then it is required that you provide health insurance for your employees.

So why are these changes happening? Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California says that “Under the new rules of the Affordable Care Act, insurers face strict limits on the amount of profit they can make selling health insurance… We can be confident their rate increases are directly linked to health care costs, not administration or profit, which averaged 1.5 percent across our contracted plans.”
Of course as our country continues in our heated political race this discussion will continue to play a part as the presidential candidates weigh in on the effectiveness of the Affordable Care Act. With this change coming it will be interesting to see the full effects of these coming changes.

Looking into insurance for your employees at your small business? What does Covered California have to offer you as a small business employer? Well, we are glad you asked. Here is some basic information about what you could expect:

First, let’s define a small business. Covered California defines a small business as any business with under 100 full time equivalent employees which is a W-2 employee working 30 hours a week measured on a monthly basis. Covered California offers a variety of health insurance plans to puts you in charge of your health insurance budget while letting your employees get to choose from affordable, quality, and popular health insurance plans from private health insurance companies. The plans have levels of Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum. As an employer you can chose one or two plan levels of coverage to offer employees and define the amount they will contribute towards their employee premium. At that point the employee has the choice of which plan will meet their families needs. But regardless of the plan that they choose, all the plans offer these 10 basic benefits:

1. Doctor Visits
2. Prescription Drugs
3. Emergency Services
4. Pediatric Care with Dental and Vision
5. Lab Services
6. Maternity and Newborn Care
7. Hospitalization
8. Preventive and wellness care
9. Rehabilitation
10. Mental health and substance abuse services

You can enroll in Covered California at any time and the coverage will last for the 12 months following when you signed up. You can also add new employees to the program throughout the year as they get hired. You may even be eligible small business tax credit to offset the cost of providing insurance. To find out more about Covered California, more of what is offered, if this could be a good fit for your business and what is needed to qualify for the small business tax credit contact us at Bernardini & Donovan. We are experts in all the ins and outs Covered California and can help you make the best choice that fits your unique situation.

When you run a small business there are a lot of different things on your plate and you wear a lot of different hats. Who is going to make sure the photo copier gets fixed? You are. Who is going to ensure that those invoices get paid? You are. Who is going to oversee the marketing and branding of your business? You are. And who is going to make sure that your employees are cared and happy? You are. When you are looking at the well being of your employees one of the first things that comes to mind is to offer health insurance. But in this new world of health insurance laws offering this benefit to your employees can bring with it additional costs and premiums for you, confusing jargon and still may not be exactly what your employees want.

When the Affordable Care Act was first brought on to the scene many small businesses opted to no longer provide health coverage for their employees. That was because they were given very little incentive at that time and little time to fully understand the programs they would be signing up for. Additionally, their employees could now pick their own insurance program.

However, some employers in the past few years have started to look at how they might be able to offer their employees either some form of coverage or help with paying for health insurance. The benefits for them were that they wanted to help their employees with their financial burdens. Only around 44% of Americans today say that they feel in control of their finances. This was also a great way for them to make themselves stand out when looking to hire new employees and retain the employees they already had.

If you are a small business owner and want to look into the different options available to you come speak to us at Bernardini & Donovan. We want to ensure your success and the happiness of your employees by offering the best health care solutions for your unique situation.

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