Category News

UnitedHealthCare will be consolidating and managing its pharmacy benefit program in house through OptiumRX. Currently the pharmacy benefit manager has be Medco.

UHC will begin migrating members starting in early 2013. They have invested more than $200 million in developing OptumRX.

UHC starting using OptumRX back in 2009, when it moved Medicare Part D member to that platform. At the same time they were able to move 1 million Medicaid members to the same platform. UHC believes they have a proven track record with OptumRX.

By moving all the pharmacy services in house, UHC believes they can improve outcomes and better manage total health care costs. If you have health insurance form of UHC, be on the look out for more information about the transition.

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Next year all health insurance plans must meet the essential health benefits to be considered a Qualified Health Plan (QHP)

These requirements are base on:

  1. If the plan is offered inside or outside the exchange
  2. IF the plan is fully insured  or a self funded plan

Premiums for Individual and small groups will no longer be based of health status. They will be based off of family tier, age, geography, and Tobacco use.

All of the plans must use a 3 to 1 age bands. This means the highest premium cannot be more than 3 times the lowest premium for the same plan.

All of these requirements will impact rates.

Health Insurance premiums on Individual plans will sky rocket. Under the new guidelines, health plans will be required to cover more benefits. The coverage of maternity on an individual health plan will have a huge impact on premium.

Small group rates will very interesting. A young healthy group could see a large increase but an older high claims group could see a decrease.  The healthy group will help to offset the high claims group. That is if the healthy group keeps a group health plan in place.

When it comes to rating in geographical areas is a very interesting topic. There are some counties that are much healthier than others in the area. If we were to compare Hamilton County to Lake County there should be a large difference in rates. Hamilton County is a healthier county and should have lower rates than a county like Lake, where utilization is very high.  Could this type of rating have an impact on where business chooses to be located?

What about Indianapolis businesses that border other states?  If a company in Elkart, has employees crossing over to Illinois for medical services will they have higher rates? There is a chance they will have higher group rates because medical services in Illinois cost more than Indiana.

The geographical question for health insurance in 2014 is going to play a huge issue on group health insurance rates.

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  1. Insurance companies are held accountable. The insurance company must spend at least 80% of the premium collected on medical care.  If they don’t, then a rebate check will be issued to the group.
  2. Insurance companies are health accountable for large rate increase. Insurance companies must publicly justify any rate increase over 10%.
  3. Tax Credits for Small group Health Plans. If you have fewer than 25 full time employees, you may qualify for a small business tax credit. This tax credit can be up to 35% of your premium costs. Additional tax credits will be available in the future.
  4. You are not required to provide insurance for your employees. Companies with less than 50 employees are exempt from all penalties for not providing health insurance.
  5. More Health Insurance options. Under the law no American will have to worry about losing coverage if they change their job. All American will have access to the individual market and exchange market for guaranteed issue health insurance policies. In 2014 companies with less than 100 employee will have the option of purchasing group health insurance through an exchange.
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It turns out that everyone that has a health insurance policy will have to pay an additional $63 a year. This $63 is to help fund the health insurance industries risk for in 2014. If you have an individual, small group, large group or self funded plan you have to pay.

In 2014, the individual and small group health insurance carriers lose the ability to address risk. There will no longer be any underwriting to help the carriers offset risk.  In the 2000+ pages of the health care law was a provision that every policy holder must pay the $63.

This creates a major problem for large companies with self funded plan. They pay their own claims up to a certain stop loss.  They do not benefit from the health care laws of offsetting risk but now they have to pay for it.

So every policy holder in the country will have to pay this $63 a year to offset risk in the guaranteed issue market of health insurance.

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Community rating is most often found as part o...
Community rating is most often found as part of health insurance systems in various countries

In 2014, we are going to see a major transformation of the small group health insurance market.

One of the biggest changes is the community ratings. No longer will a small group premium be based on medical conditions. This means most will groups will have similar pricing. Right now small groups in the area are medical underwritten.  Healthy groups have lower cost than high utilization groups. The high utilization groups could have a decrease in premium.  The healthy groups could have an increase in premium.  This will create a unique situation for small business that has not been seen.

At this time, we do not know what the community rating will look like. Some of the carriers do! The national carriers that have been operating in states that have community ratings have large amounts of data on this subject.  This could create a problem for the smaller companies that do not have experience in these markets. This could lead to less competition in the small group market.

If a small business decided to keep a group plan they will want to be with a company that has the experience of community rating.

United Healthcare is really the main carrier in the Indianapolis market, that has that kind of experience for small group.

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MORE DIRTY TRICKS FROM YOUR SOCIALIST/MARXIST ...

H.S.A

Health Savings Accounts look to be qualified health plans under the health care reform act. This is huge news!

Initially when the health care laws were passed, Health Saving Account we not considered qualified. This meant that if you had an H.S.A plan you would be subject to the tax penalty.

From this report, the Actuarial Value calculator gave a pass to the H.S.A plans under the Bronze category.  This means that local residents will be able to purchase an H.S.A plan inside and outside the exchange. Inside the exchange, a policy holder could qualify for subsidies which would pay a portion of the premium.

When the private carriers join the federal exchange the H.S.A plan may be their primary offering. This plan designs encourages people to become a consumer in their health care spending.

Some Hoosiers really dislike the H.S.A approach because there is no first dollar benefit. A first dollar benefit is co pays for office and RX. Other Hoosiers love the plan design. The plan design is very easy to budget for and the premium is less. If you are not using first dollar benefits why pay the higher premium?

This is very good news that these plans will still be a viable option in the area and for and the rest of the country.

 

 

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NY Times

Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection an...
Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House (

This is a article about the fear of the Affordable Care Act in low income industries. Restaurant and Hospitality owners could be impacted negatively by the tax penalty of not offering a group health plan.

In these industries it is difficult for employees to pay their portion of the premium on a group health plan. These industries have been known to have high risk from a claims standpoint which leads to higher premiums.  It will be even tougher once qualified health plans are established because the cost will go up.

Small business owners are very hesitant to expand their operation with the penalty right around the corner.  If a small business has 90 full time employees and is not offer a group health plan, the penalty is estimated at $120,000 a year.

These business are unable to cover the entire cost of the health insurance premium. The employee then will elect not to take coverage. Then group plan does not meet participation requirements and loses the coverage. So the employer has tried to establish a group health plan but does not meet requirements. Now they will be tax.

A lot of small business will have a difficult time affording the tax. There is going to be a scramble to find options that will help them. Those options could be making full time employees part time. A employee that was working 40 hours a week is now working 29 hours. They are no longer eligible for group health and the employer may not have to pay a penalty. This could be a common practice in the low income industries.

These low income employees should do better purchasing a policy through the federal exchange. In the exchange they would not pay more than 9.5% of house hold income towards a health insurance policy. These families may still have a hard time picking up the 9.5% . Look at a family of 4 with house hold income of $60,000. They may have a hard time budgeting for $5,700 a year in health insurance.

 

 

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In 2014, the health insurance landscape is going to change a great deal in Indianapolis.

There is going to be new taxes on group health insurance plans. For fully insured group plans, there will be a 2.68% tax on those plans. On self funded plans, there will be $6.35 per member per month tax. These are significant tax increases that will impact every Hoosier.

Small group health insurance plans are expected to have a have about 35% increases.  This will impact about 45% of the current small group health plans negatively.  The healthy groups will have the biggest increases where the unhealthy group may see a decrease.  Community ratings will be one of the driving forces for these increases.

Individual and Family health plans are projected to go up 42%. This is a result of guaranteed issue. No Indianapolis resident can be declined coverage. We will also see an increase in covered services. The essential benefits and community rating will have a large impact on these policies.

There will be an established health insurance exchange. We will see a Federal Exchange in Indianapolis and we will see the launch of the private exchange model. Both exchanges models with have Federal subsidies.

There are predictions that one of the plans in the exchange would be premium free for those who qualify for subsidies. This is the Bronze plan with a 60% actuarial value.

With the health care reform it is projected that 35% of the uninsured in Indianapolis will have coverage.

There is real fear that we could see the erosion of the group health insurance model in Indianapolis.

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Skyline of Indianpolis. This photo was also ta...

Indianapolis Delays Essential Health Benefits

The Essential health benefits must include items and services within the following 10 categories: Ambulance, Emergency Services, Hospitalization, Maternity, New Born Car, Mental health and substance abuse, behavioral health, Prescriptions, Rehabilitative, Laboratory, Preventive, Disease management, Pediatric with oral and vision.

This is a very big part to the Affordable Care Act. These coverage’s will have a huge impact on both cost and quality of care. At first, the federal government was to establish the benefits. They decided to pass the responsibility down to the state level.

The essential benefits is one of the main aspects that will impact health insurance premiums. If a gastric bypass surgery was to consider an essential benefit. Every Hoosier that needed this surgery would have it covered. Does not matter if you are on a private insurance plan, Medicaid, or Medicare it would have to be covered. Having this one benefit covered could increase the premium for everyone by 1%. 1% does not sound that bad! Now think about more than a hundred different procedures or services that have to be covered. Now we are talking about 100% increase in premium cost! This is the impact the essential benefit will have on every Hoosier and US citizen.

Indianapolis Department of Insurance is delaying the establishment of the essential benefits. They are listing the lack of clarity from the federal government as the reason why. They also list 16 questions that the federal government has not answered.

The questions range from clear deadline for establishing the benefits to premium tax credits for individual dental plans. To most Hoosiers this is boring insurance law but this is so very important to every one of us. This will impact cost and care to all of us.

To have 16 big questions unanswered at this time is very concerning.

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Senate Passes Insurance Industry Aid Bill

NY Times reported a interesting view on health care reform.  They are reporting a glitch in the health care law.

Under the Affordable Care Act, if an employee has access to group health benefits, then their dependents are not eligible for subsidies through the exchange. This is basically the short version of the argument. This aspect of the law have been interpreted by both the IRS and Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

The so called “glitch” is that a employee may be able to afford their portion of the premium, on a employer sponsored health plan but not the dependent portion.  In Indianapolis, an employee only contribution, maybe below $1,000 a year. Now if we add the dependents to the plan the cost may very well jump to $7,000 year. A lot of Indianapolis small group and mid size companies, the employer has gone with the philosophy to pay the for the employee. The lower pay employees, then are unable to afford to put their families on the plan. This is 100% a legit issue.

These dependents will not qualify for subsidies under the health care reform. The reason the law was written this way is to keep some type of retention on employer sponsored plans.

In Indianapolis, we are going to see a lot of employers with under 50 employees consider dropping group health coverage in 2014.  There is going to be many health insurance and legal factors a decisions maker will consider. If the employee base are low wage earners, then the employer may be doing the employees a favor by dropping coverage. This will give the low paid employees full access to subsidies. So the argument could be made that if this is not fixed then it will lead to groups dropping coverage.

This is just one of many issues we are going to face in Indianapolis when it comes to health care reform

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