15 Mar 2019

3 Ways Technology is Improving Healthcare

3 Ways Technology is Improving Healthcare

 

Modern advancements in technology are changing how Americans work and spend their free-time. It’s also hugely transforming the health industry both in the offices of health practitioners and in our homes.

Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

Electronic Health Records (EHR) facilitate countless advances in medical diagnostics and treatments making it easier to share and transfer patient records. The goal of using EHR is to deliver high-quality care for all. Many systems have been connected and data can be transferred quickly. Using data from patient records can also be used to improve quality outcomes through their care management programs.  

Telemedicine / Telehealth

Telemedicine refers to methods of advancing healthcare based on telecommunications technologies. Not only is this advancement incredibly convenient, but it’s also a way for rural areas and those with limited mobility to meet virtually with their doctor. Another added benefit is the cost benefits for both providers and patients. According to the Alliance for Connected Care, telehealth services can save up to $100 per visit.

Wearable Technology & Remote Monitoring Tools

Remote monitoring tools are an incredible advancement for those who suffer from chronic illnesses or heart diseases. These products can help patients monitor their health from home saving them both time and money. Advancements in items like pacemakers also send data to health centers so they can be monitored from a distance. There are also very popular with those who want to take an active role in their health. Huffington Post projects that by 2018 130 million wearable devices will be sent to consumers.

Find out how you can better protect yourself with extended Medicare coverage by contacting the professionals of healthquoteinfo.com at 1-855-881-0430.

3 Ways Technology is Improving Healthcare

04 Dec 2018

Health insurance a key concern for American voters

Health insurance a key concern for American voters

The recent midterm elections have shown that American voters are more concerned with the health care system than ever before. In CNN’s 2018 exit polling, 41% of the population ranked health care as the most important issue, compared with only 25% in 2015 and a mere 18% in 2012. A Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll further demonstrated that 71% of voters considered health care “very important” in determining which Congressional candidate to vote for in the midterms. Similarly, data from CBS News/YouGov revealed that 70% of voters in Congressional swing districts considered health care to have more of an impact on voting decisions than gun laws, the Supreme Court, immigration and even the economy.

Democratic vs. Republican Campaign Ads

In the run-up to the midterm elections, Democratic candidates seemed to have their fingers more firmly on the pulse of the people. According to the Wesleyan Media Project, Democratic ads were laser-focused on constituents’ highest priority: 44% of ads touched on health insurance with an additional 18% mentioning Medicare. Advertising information compiled by Kantar Media/CMAG found that only 21% of Republican ads mentioned health care at all.

While Republican politicians have generally been on a mission to destroy Obamacare since its inception, prior to the midterm elections they seemed to have changed their tune. Many GOP candidates tried distancing themselves from the repeated GOP attempts to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, a mantra that became further popularized in the Trump administration. But the tide seemed to have turned during the midterms: Democratic candidates urged that a vote for them was a vote to save affordable health care. They began centring their campaigns on the many attempts by their opponents to exclude patients with preexisting conditions from health coverage. And they won.

Nearly all of the votes have been counted in the midterm elections and the Democrats have netted almost 40 seats in the House of Representatives. This has undoubtedly shown just how important health care is for the average American voter and family. In some traditionally red states, like Idaho, Nebraska and Utah, voters opted for some inherently blue policies; namely, the adoption of the ACA’s expansion of the Medicaid program.

In choosing Democratic candidates, American voters have expressed one of their most fundamental concerns: for lower cost, higher quality health coverage that enables everyone to gain access to the health care that they need.

01 Nov 2018

Open Enrollment Changes for 2019

Open Enrollment Changes for 2019

Medicare provides health insurance coverage for most Americans over 65 years old or suffering from a disability.  According to the NCPSSM, over 56 million Americans are currently on Medicare receiving an average benefit of $12,829 each.

The Open Enrollment Period (OEP) gives Americans the chance to purchase or make changes to their health insurance plans.  It’s been happening every year since President Obama passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010.

While President Trump and other government officials have been pushing for changes to the American health insurance system, there is nothing concrete yet for 2019.  But there are still some changes you need to be aware of as a consumer.

What are the changes to Open Enrollment?

Open Enrollment Period start date

The Trump administration shortened the Open Enrollment Period from 90 days to 45 days last year and changes will carry over to this year. Open Enrollment for 2019 takes place between November 1st and December 15th, 2018.

Changes to “Essential Health Benefits” benchmark plans

Previously, the Affordable Care Act required 10 basic coverages that marketplace plans had to have.  But now, states will be able to build their own benchmark plans.  This new rule will give health insurance companies more flexibility and hopefully more choice to consumers.

Be sure to review your plan as it may have changed.

No penalties for those without health insurance

Prior to this change, people who did not have health insurance would have to pay a tax penalty.  This new rule will give exemptions to people living in counties with no health insurance companies or where there is only one insurer offering coverage.

People in counties where the only health insurer covers abortions are also exempt if abortions go against their religious beliefs.

Get help with your 2019 Open Enrollment

There are a lot of changes coming down the pipe for 2019.  You can read the full CMS rules if you’re curious.

And as a bonus tip, you should also update your application with new expected income and household information.  Plans and prices change every year and there will be different plans available in 2019.  You should review your coverage and all of the plans available.  There might be one that better fits your needs.

For more information or help navigating the changes to health insurance, get in touch with the experts at healthquoteinfo.com or call us at 855-881-0430.  Our licensed health insurance advisors would be happy to assist.

01 Nov 2018

Open Enrollment Checklist for Employees

Open Enrollment Checklist for Employees

While open enrollment can often be a stressful and even confusing time for employees, your employee benefits package is an invaluable part of your total compensation package. In fact, in financial terms, the benefits you receive through an employer-sponsored group health plan can boost your compensation from work up to 30%!

Open enrollment gives employees the opportunity to reassess their benefits from the current year and make changes that will benefit them for the year to come. While it is sometimes tempting to just enroll in the same plan as last year without giving it a second thought, you could be cheating yourself out of a significant portion of your compensation structure.

Selecting your healthcare coverage is arguably the most important decision that you have to make during the open enrollment period. But, that doesn’t mean that it’s a simple one to make. In fact, it can be pretty complicated since your optimal coverage depends on personal factors related to your health. To make the best choice for coverage in the coming year, employees must take into consideration whether they take prescription medication, how often they visit medical facilities, how many dependents they have and how much they will pay out of their own pockets.

  • Review your medical and financial situation from the previous year. Before choosing your health plan for the coming year, it’s important to take stock of last year’s healthcare plan. Choosing the least expensive plan may seem like the best short-term option for your wallet, but depending on your individual health needs, it can be a very short-sighted choice that can end up costing you more in the end. To help you decide which plan is best, make a list of all your medical costs for the previous year, including copays, deductibles, premiums and coinsurance. Some employers may allow you to maintain your current coverage, so it is important to carefully scrutinize how your plan held up the previous year.
  • Consider any voluntary benefits. Review any supplemental offers, such as dental and vision coverage, financial counseling, disability protection and even pet insurance. Some employers are offering more supplemental coverage now and prices are lower in a job-based plan than on the open marketplace. Choose the coverage that is adequate for your personal needs, depending on whether you anticipate needing any major work done as opposed to basic cleanings and checkups.
  • Remember to take possible tax breaks into account. Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA) and Health Savings Accounts (HAS) enable employees to put money aside to help defray healthcare costs, or “qualified expenses,” such as copays, deductibles, coinsurance and monthly prescription drug costs. Both FSAs and HSAs work as personal savings accounts and help employees reduce their tax liability by depositing funds into the account on a pre-tax basis. To qualify for an HSA, you must have an HDHPs (High-Deductible Health Plans), which is defined as health coverage with a deductible of $1300 or more for an individual or $2600 or more for a family. If you qualify, an HSA is generally preferable due to the fact that limits are higher and contributions can be carried over from the previous year. In addition, Dependent Care Flexible Savings Account (DCFSA) is another form of pre-tax benefit account that can be used to pay for eligible services for dependents, such as summer camp, after-school programs, and daycare.

To learn more about the open enrollment period for employees, contact the experts at HealthQuoteInfo.com at 1-855-881-0430. Our licensed insurance professionals are standing by to answer any questions you may have.

 

15 Oct 2018

Dates And Deadlines For 2019 Open Enrollment Coverage

Dates And Deadlines For 2019 Open Enrollment Coverage

What’s all this talk about the Open Enrollment Period and how will it affect your family? We’re going to break down all the facts and talk about the important dates to save on your calendar.

What is the Open Enrollment Period?

This refers to the time period when Americans can either purchase or modify a health insurance plan for the upcoming year. This time frame was officially established by the Obama administration with the creation of the Affordable Care Act.

While the future of the ACA remains uncertain as the current White House attempts to undermine the program, the Open Enrollment Period remains an annual event.

When Is The 2019 Open Enrollment Period?

It officially begins on November 1st, 2018, and ends on December 15th, 2018, providing exactly 45 days for Americans to make an informed decision. If you have any questions or concerns regarding enrollment, we encourage you to call one of our agent at 1-855-881-0430. We can help you navigate through the confusion and find a plan that’s suited for you.

Other Enrollment Dates

Each state either uses the federal exchange (otherwise known as healthcare.gov) or their own state-based exchange. For this reason, approximately a dozen states have slightly different enrollment dates outlined below.

HQI Enrollment Graphic 2019

What If You Miss The Open Enrollment Period?

If you missed the 2019 Open Enrollment Period, you’ll unfortunately have to wait until next year. It’s not all bad news though, as you do have a few options. Firstly, if you’ve experienced a Qualifying Life Event, you can apply for special enrollment. Examples of a Qualifying Life Event include the following:

  • Marriage, divorce or legal separation
  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • Death of a spouse or child
  • Change in residence or work location, which impacts the eligibility
  • Your child fails to meet the plan’s eligibility rules (for example, the student status changes)
  • You or your covered dependents gain or lose other coverage because of a change in employment status (for example, beginning or ending a job) 

For more information regarding this topic, you can always visit our resource page.

Short-Term Health Insurance

Those without an annual plan can also purchase a short-term health insurance plan, which can now last up to a few months. In most cases, short-term health insurance plans are more expensive compared to the competition, but these policies can serve as a lifeline for this who missed the Open Enrollment Period. For more information, you can visit our page dedicated to short-term health insurance.

If you have any outstanding questions, we recommend contacting one of our agents at 1-855-881-0430 or visit HealthQuoteInfo.com.

20 Feb 2018

Trump Administration Continues to Pursue Avenues to Relieve People of the ACA’s Individual Mandate

Trump Administration Continues to Pursue Avenues to Relieve People of the ACA’s Individual Mandate

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, nicknamed Obamacare, was signed into law March 2010. The act’s major provisions came into effect in 2014. It was the most sweeping health care reform in America since the passage of Medicaid and Medicare back in 1965. Major changes to the individual insurance marketplace and an expansion of Medicaid Eligibility managed to provide coverage to an estimated twenty to twenty-four million additional people during the year 2016 alone.

In spite of the benefits that have been received by millions under the act, one of the least popular provisions of the act has been the individual mandate. This is a requirement that every American who is not insured through employer-sponsored plans, Medicaid, Medicare, or other private or public program must purchase insurance or pay a tax penalty.

Republicans have been the most vocal opponents of the individual mandate and have fought tooth and nail to find ways to repeal the act altogether, and in particular, eliminate the individual mandate. The Trump administration, through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 which was signed in December 2017, has taken a huge leap to chip away at Obamacare. The act repeals the individual mandate as of 2019.

That still leaves 2018 to be dealt with. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has endeavored to work on guidance aimed to increase the exemptions under which people would justifiably not show that they are insured when filing their year-end income tax returns. This could help scores of taxpayers who are still uninsured due to the increased cost of insurance plans under Obamacare. The IRS reports that six and a half million taxpayers paid the fine for not being insured in the year 2015.

The tax penalties can be hefty, starting at $347.50 per child, $695 for adults and going up to as high as $2,085 for a family. There is a cap of 2.5% of family income or the family maximum of $2,085 – whichever would be higher.

Currently, the exemptions to avoid paying the penalty are:

Hardship Exemptions

Those who are homeless, filed for bankruptcy, are facing eviction or a foreclosure or received a notice from a utility company that their service was being shut-off fall under the “Hardship Exemption.”  Additionally, those who suffered domestic violence, the death of a family member or a natural disaster also qualify to be exempt from the mandate.

Other hardships that also qualify for exemption consideration are; a) Tax filers who had medical expenses they couldn’t pay which resulted in substantial debt. b) Those who experienced unforeseen expenses due to caring for a family member who was aging, who was ill or was disabled. c) Your grandfathered individual insurance plan was canceled because it failed to meet the requirement for the ACA. d). Those eligible for subsidies, but the insurance company failed to provide them, and insurance was not available as a result.

Income Related Exemptions

If you don’t earn enough income during the year to be required to file a tax return, you will not have to pay a penalty.

For those whose costs of insurance, whether through a job-based or a Marketplace plan, would cost in excess of 8.16% of the household’s income, can qualify for either the Job-based affordability exemption or the Marketplace affordability exemption.

Group Membership Exemptions

Members of qualified health care sharing ministries will not face penalties.

Members of federally recognized tribes or those eligible for services through an Indian Health Services Provider are also exempt from penalties.

Exemptions Related to Health Coverage

Residents of states that did not expand its Medicaid program and the tax filer’s income falls below 138% of that state’s poverty level are exempt.

Legal Status Based Exemptions

Tax filers will not face penalties if they were incarcerated or residing abroad. U.S. Tax laws apply to all income earners, whether they are here legally or not. Undocumented immigrants must file a return if the minimum earnings threshold to file is met, however, they are excluded from the coverage requirement. They are also unable to obtain insurance through the marketplaces set up by the ACA.

Over 12 million people qualified under one or another of these exemptions for the tax year 2016. For the tax year 2017 and 2018, it will be even easier to duck the tax penalty. The Internal Revenue Service has backed off on enforcement of the mandate. Obamacare required the IRS to withhold returns if the taxpayer did not provide coverage information on the return. However, they had not enforced it rigorously. The IRS had previously announced that in the tax year 2017, they would step up enforcement, but with president Trump’s pressure, they have now retracted that statement.

It is still unclear what the final list of expanded exemptions will be, the CMS has not announced when they will complete their work on the guidance.

To learn more about qualified plans under Obamacare or Trumpcare, or additional insurance options, contact the experts at HealthQuoteInfo.com at 855-881-0430. Our licensed health insurance experts will be happy to answer any questions you have.