California Vaccination Rates Dropping: What You Need to Know

For 3,000 years, smallpox was among the world’s most feared diseases. Over 80 percent of children faced an early death with the foreboding diagnosis. But in 1796, Edward Jenner developed the first successful vaccine against smallpox. And upon his discovery, millions of lives were spared from this deadly disease. So today, we celebrate Jenner’s genius and the worldwide eradication of smallpox.

Since 1796, 14 more diseases have been held at bay or made less-prominent by the invention and wide administration of vaccines. They are now generally non-threatening to western civilization. These diseases include polio, tetanus, flu, hepatitis B, hepatitis A, rubella, Hib, measles, whooping cough, pneumococcal disease, rotavirus, mumps, chickenpox, and diphtheria. While they still exist, each of these is far less common in the United States. Today, our society is healthier and safer thanks to modern medicine the contributions of vaccines.

smallpoxWhile vaccines are essential to the prosperity of humankind, communities of non-medical skeptics have turned against immunizations. Anti-vaccine groups strongly oppose these preventative measures, causing some regression in societal health in recent years. Just this year, we’ve seen the repercussions of this dangerous anti-vaccine sentiment. According to the California Department of Public Health, the 2018-2019 school year’s vaccine rate among California kindergarteners dropped from 95.1 percent to 94.8 percent. This drop is likely due to the 70 percent increase in medical vaccine exemptions obtained by parents this past year.

While medical exemptions were distributed, physicians are suspicious that in such a short period, so many people developed new illnesses, keeping them from receiving vaccinations. It is more likely that these exemptions were given for the patients’ personal beliefs, which under California law, is illegal.

This is frightening. While the vaccination rate among kindergarteners has dropped less than one percentage point (.9%), the concentration of unprotected people is what is concerning. According to physicians, 95 percent of people near one another must be immunized to prevent the spread of disease. This is called herd immunity. So, if a few people are not vaccinated, there is no significant threat. However, an entire community could be at higher risk for disease outbreak if it contains multiple low-vaccine-rate schools. And several California communities fit these alarming criteria.

According to data collected by the L.A. Times, about 1,500 schools in California reported a kindergarten vaccine rate under the safe limit of 95 percent. And 400 of these schools can be found in Los Angeles county, half of which are located within a half-mile of each other. So, in the case of disease outbreak, entire communities could be at serious risk.

What to do…

Be sure that you and your children are up to date on required immunizations, including the yearly flu shot. These preventative measures will not only impact your own health but that of those around you. And if you are concerned about the vaccination rate at your school, check out Shots for School to see how your’s is doing. Take care and stay up-to-date on your vaccines!

We at Bernardini and Donovan strive to promote the health of you and your family. We are here for your health insurance needs and prepared to assist your particular requirements. Do not hesitate to call on us for unmatched health insurance services.

Your Healthcare Options Part 1

Healthcare Options

What Are Your Healthcare Options?

If you are over or close to the age of 65, Medicare is something that you might be utilizing or thinking about using. If you are in that boat, then it is essential to know your open enrollment times. If you are looking to go with the Medicare Advantage Plan, open enrollment is upon us.

Recipients of Medicare have a choice between the Medicare Advantage Plan or the Medicare Supplement Plan which is like a PPO plan. The difference between the two is that in the Advantage plan you will pick a primary care physician who will direct your care. They are known as the gatekeeper. If you need to see any specialist, they will provide a referral for that. Under a PPO contract, you have the flexibility to direct your care. You do not have a primary care physician, and you have a choice of any doctor in your provider network. This option does have a higher cost in comparison to the Medicare Advantage Plan so we often see people in this area choose the Advantage Plan and it works well for them. Many doctors prefer this plan over the PPO option, as well, because there are Medicare Reporting standards that they are held to and it is easier to capture that data on this particular plan.

The Medicare Advantage plans and Part D have open enrollment starting on October 15 and ending on December 7. So if someone has original Medicare and purchases a drug plan without any other supplemental coverage that is the time that they can change their drug plan because Medicare by itself does not cover medication.

At Bernardini & Donovan, we work very closely with a majority of our clients who utilize the Medicare Advantage Plan. If that is something that you know that you want to look into, there is no one better for you talk to than us. Our years of experience allow us to help you plan and see how you can have the low cost of the Advantage Plan while having the best possible health care available to you. Please feel free to call us today to set up an appointment if you have questions.

Open Enrollment 2018

Are You Enrolled

Open Enrollment 2018

It’s 2018! We’ve made it past the holiday craziness and now find ourselves on the other side. The whole new year stretches out in front of us, open to any number of possibilities. We can have all the best intentions of what this year will hold for us. Which is such a lovely sentiment. And then reality hits. Bills need to be paid, stuff needs to get done, and life continues.

 

For us, reality hits when we realize all the things that we have put off to get through the holidays with some form of sanity.
As much as we cleaned before the holiday season, the house is in shambles again and needs a good cleaning. The laundry has been relegated to the back of the closet, and somehow we are all out of food. But there could be more significant things on your to-do list. Such as health insurance. Luckily for us in California, we have until the end of the month to still sign up if you are one of the many that may have put off this task. You have until January 31st to sign up and get coverage for 2018. There may be more incentive to sign up because even though the individual mandate has been taken away through our new tax bill, that doesn’t come into effect until 2019. As of right now, you still need to have health insurance in 2018, or you may need to pay a fine on your taxes. Of course, there may be more information coming in the following months, but for now, it is smart to ensure that you have health insurance and also avoid a fine.

 

If you need help signing up, have questions about Covered California or want to see all of your different options thoroughly explained as well as their various costs, we would love to help you. At Bernardini & Donovan, we are health insurance experts and can help you in ways that you are not going to find anywhere else.

Open Enrollment Is Up and Running

Open Enrollment up and running
Open enrollment for Covered California is up and running.

It’s had an emphatic beginning. In its few two weeks, there were over 48,000 sign-ups. That up to 9,000 then this time last year. Part of this increase could be from the significant amount of money that is being spent on advertising for Covered California. The marketing budget is said to be around $45 million. All of the money is being poured into TV commercial spots and radio advertisements. There has also been about $100,000 spent on murals being painted across the state, many of which do not have anything to do with health insurance coverage.

This comes in stark contrast to the federal budget for health care.

Last year the budget for healthcare.gov was 100 million dollars, this year they have $10 million. The Trump administration has made it very clear that they want to get rid of Obamacare and even though their attempts on Capitol Hill have not yet led to any changes, they have slashed the advertising budget. California is one of 11 states that runs its health insurance exchange.

However, not everyone is a fan of how California is spending their massive budget.

“It’s a waste of taxpayer money,” said Sally Pipes, the president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco; “All of this money being used on murals and bus tours and TV ads, etc., it’s not going to change the number of enrollees that much. It would be better to save money and reduce taxes so that people have a lower tax burden.”  Admittedly, we would not mind seeing these funds go to help with premiums. However, that does not seem to be the course at this time.

If you are looking for a health insurance plan that provides the care you require at a price that will not overwhelm you, please speak to us at Bernardini & Donovan. We would love to help you find the plan that will fit all your needs. We are experts in health care and can help you.

Covered California Confusion

Covered California Confusion
Covered California Confusion

 

In the past year, we have had a lot going on with our healthcare laws.
When President Trump took office, that was one of the first issues that came to the forefront. From that point on we saw new health care bills being written, each one being scrutinized, debated, and ultimately dismissed. At this point, if any average American was asked what is going on with healthcare, I believe that the majority of them will respond with “I don’t know.”

 

The greatest takeaway that we have received from this healthcare upheaval is more confusion.
And that is unfortunate. Many Americans are unclear if it is worth it for them to sign up for healthcare. Especially with the news that subsidies are being cut and therefore premiums are going to skyrocket. This is what we can say. You will not know your premium until you look into it. Many times we make decisions based on what could be instead of what is happening. And that is the very reason why Bernardini & Donovan exists. We want to help each person look and find the best possible health insurance for them, their families and their business families. We don’t base our numbers off of guess-timastes. But instead, we spend time researching and looking for the best programs that fit not your only needs, but your budget as well.

 

Our health care in America is in an interesting spot. And we truly believe that come 2019 we will see some additional changes. But for this next year, we do need to move forward and do the best with that we currently have. If you are looking for healthcare here is what you need to know:

 

  • In the state of California, open enrollment goes until January 31, 2018
  • If you desire your coverage to start on Jan 1, you need to sign up before December 15th
  • Many people will wait until the last minute to sign up. Stay ahead of the curve and sign up before the holidays.

It’s That Time of Year Again

Its that time of year again

It’s That Time of Year Again

The leaves are soon going to change, and we are transitioning into a busy holiday season as well as saying goodbye to 2017. But in the midst of shopping and holiday parties, there is an additional thing to consider. From November 1st to January 31st, Covered California has open enrollment.

In the past year, we’ve watched while there have been many attempts at changing the way our healthcare system works. But for now, it looks like things are staying the same. So during this time, it will be essential to ask yourself a few questions: Am I happy with my current provider? Was there anything in the last year that was particularly difficult for me? Were there any unexpected costs associated with my healthcare? Do I get along with my doctor? Am I getting the best care for my particular needs? Were there any changes to my health this year that will cause me to need additional attention in the future? Was there any significant life changes that happened recently that will cause me to need extra coverage for dependants? Am I getting the most out of my health care coverage?

All of these questions are excellent and need to be considered with your health care. At this time you have an option or changing your health plan to one that could better fit your needs; whether those needs be that you require different types of deductibles or that you need a lower monthly premium. If you would like to change doctors, it is always good to do some research ahead of time. A quick call to a doctor’s office can let you know if they are accepting new patients and what medical insurances they accept. It would not be good to switch coverages just to find out afterward that they doctor you want will not be able to take your insurance.

As always, if you have any questions about your health insurance, we are always here to answer them. We love helping you find the best coverage for your needs.

Medicare Open Enrollment

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.

What you need to know about Medicare Deadlines.

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

Changes to Covered California are Coming

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.

Covered California and Small Businesses

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.