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Jerry Ballard & Associates, Inc.
Local: 252-726-5400
Toll Free: 888-765-5400


A name you can trust, an agent you can count on.
Serving North Carolina residents since 1974.

NC Health Plans

2019 Open Enrollment for NC Health Insurance

Mark your calendars! The Health Insurance Open Enrollment Period for 2019 is rapidly approaching and at NC Health Plans, we are gearing up to assist individuals and families in applying for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Health Coverage for 2019. November 1st to December 15th marks a very important time period for health insurance known as the annual Open Enrollment Period. We know that navigating the insurance market can be overwhelming, and we are here to help! As we approach Open Enrollment, it is important to be aware of important dates and information about your 2019 health coverage. Read below to learn more about Open Enrollment Period for 2019.

When is Open Enrollment for 2019?

The NC Health Insurance annual Open Enrollment Period begins on Thursday, November 1st and lasts through Saturday, December 15th. This time period does not apply to non ACA-compliant plans, or ancillary plans such as dental or vision.

When Will Your Coverage Start?

If you enroll in a BCBSNC Health Insurance plan during Open Enrollment, your coverage start date will be January 1st, 2019. This will also be your initial premium due date.

Applying is Easy!

The annual Open Enrollment Period for Health Insurance is the easiest time of year to enroll in an Affordable Care Act-Compliant plan, also known as “Obamacare”. ACA-compliant plans are required to cover the same set of essential health benefits under the Affordable Care Act laws. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina offers the broad majority of these plans across the entire state.

During this time period, anyone shopping for individual or family Health Insurance plans can enroll in ACA-Compliant Health Insurance without having a Qualifying Life Event. In other words, individuals do not need a special reason to apply for health coverage during Open Enrollment. To get started on your application, generate a BCBSNC Health Insurance quote!

Is it Affordable?
One of the amenities of the Affordable Care Act is federal tax credits, also known as subsidies. Subsidies are designed to lower the cost of health insurance for low and middle income individuals or families. Subsidies are primarily based on your household income per the number of people on your tax return. To determine if you are eligible for subsidy to help reduce your premium, you can generate a quote and estimate your subsidy.

For those who are not subsidy eligible, Short Term health insurance could potentially be a more affordable option. While these plans are not ACA-compliant, Short Term plans are now offered for up to 360 days of coverage while also offering an additional rider, Health Protector Guard, that will also enhance your benefits. For more information about these plans, generate your Short Term Insurance Quote.

For more information on North Carolina Health Insurance coverage, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.

2019 Medicare Annual Enrollment Period with BCBSNC

The Annual Enrollment Period for Medicare customers is just around the corner and at NC Health Plans, we want to help you prepare for this important time of year. The Annual Enrollment Period for 2019 Medicare eligible customers will begin on October 15th, 2018 and last until December 7th. Medicare eligible customers are typically over the age of 65, or under 65 with certain disabilities.

During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, Medicare beneficiaries who have already enrolled in Parts A and B of Medicare will have the opportunity to APPLY FOR A NEW MEDICARE PLAN or make changes to their current Medicare plan for coverage to begin January 1st, 2019. Some actions Medicare beneficiaries can take during this time include:

  • Join a Medicare Advantage (Part C) Plan
  • Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
  • Change your Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D) plan if you are in Original Medicare
  • Change from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare

The deadline for the Medicare Annual Enrollment is December 7th, 2018.  To generate your  Medicare Supplement Rate Quote CLICK HERE to get started.  If you are to miss this deadline, you may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period or a separate Open Enrollment Period. Speaking with one of our professional agents would help you identify your eligibility for coverage based on your unique circumstances.

At NC Health Plans, we know this can be confusing and overwhelming. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to contact an agent for guidance on the easiest ways to enroll or make changes to your Medicare plan. You can speak with one of our Blue Cross Blue Shield NC authorized agents for more information or assistance enrolling in Medicare. We would love to assist you!

For more information on North Carolina Health Insurance coverage, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.

Happy Labor Day from NC Healthplans

NC Health Plans would like to wish you a happy, safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.  Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Since Americans have many definitions of work based on many different experiences, a day set aside to honor their work reflects those differences. Marching in a parade, going swimming, visiting friends, having a cookout, Americans honor the essence of Labor Day simply, by taking the day off.

For more information on North Carolina health insurance coverage, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.

Five Reasons to Talk with an NC Health Insurance Agent

Navigating the insurance market as a first-time buyer can be overwhelming. Customers often call us lost and confused after they have attempted to understand the process of applying for health insurance, especially if it is their first attempt doing so. At NC Health Plans/Jerry Ballard & Associates Inc., we know that this process can seem daunting and stressful, but we are here to help! Our professional agents are not only helpful guides to choosing your best plan, but are also here to assist you with the entire application process. Lastly, they can provide you with important information regarding the details of your coverage. Here are five reasons why you should talk with an agent when applying for NC health insurance:

Find Out When You Can Apply:  An agent will be able to determine the time frame in which you are able to apply for insurance. These times frames include Open Enrollment Period and Special Enrollment Period. During the Special Enrollment Period, you must have had a Qualifying Life Event occur within the last 60 days to enroll in an ACA-compliant plan. Talking with our agents can verify that you meet the requirements to enroll during special enrollment.

Determine Your Eligibility for Savings: Federal tax credits, also known as subsidies, are an amenity of the Affordable Care Act that are designed to lower the cost of health coverage. Talking with an agent can help determine if you are subsidy-eligible and meet the requirements set by the federal government. GENERATE YOUR QUOTE to determine if you are eligible for a subsidy, that could significantly reduce your monthly premium!

Get Help when Applying Online: Applying for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace can be tricky. Having an agent help you submit your application can avoid confusion during this process and ensure that your application is complete and submitted correctly. Our agents can help you submit your application right over the phone, it could take as little as 15-20 minutes!

Gain Knowledge About Your Coverage: Not only can agents provide insight about your plan’s benefits, they can also help you understand the details of your coverage. With so many options, such as Gold, Silver, and Bronze plans it can be confusing to determine which BCBSNC plan is best for you. It is also very important to know if your healthcare provider is “in-network.” Since it can be more costly to seek “out-of-network” coverage, knowing which doctors and hospitals accept your plan is one of the best ways you can manage your healthcare costs.

Ensure You Get Coverage When Needed: While applying for health insurance, customers may find that they have a lapse in coverage before they are able to enroll in a Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina plan. It is important to avoid any gaps when you may go without coverage! Speaking with an agent can ensure that you are enrolled in the correct effective date so you won’t go without the protection and quality coverage that you need to maintain your health. We can’t wait to hear from you!

For more information on North Carolina Health Insurance coverage, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.

Learning about North Carolina Health Insurance

North Carolinians already know that we live in a wonderful and special place. It is not often that you can make a trip from the most beautiful mountain tops to the crystal clear waters of our coast in just a day. With North Carolina having so much to offer, it is not surprising that our population is growing, and more and more people are choosing North Carolina to call home.

Because the health Insurance industry is regulated partially at the state level, living in North Carolina can directly affect the health insurance that is available to you, and how and when you can apply. Whether you have deep roots or have just become a resident of “The Old North State”, these are some things that all North Carolinians should know about North Carolina Health Insurance:

What Types of Coverage are available to me in NC?
Residents of North Carolina have two major types of individual/family insurance available to them, Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant, also referred to as “Obamacare”, and other alternatives like Short Term coverage. ACA-compliant plans are required to cover the same set of essential health benefits under the Affordable Care Act laws. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina offers the broad majority of these plans across the entire state. Short Term plans are not ACA compliant, but allow individuals and families to enroll outside of Open Enrollment Periods without a Qualifying Event. These plans do not cover pre-existing conditions, but are often more affordable than ACA compliant plans.

When Can I Apply?
The Open Enrollment Period is a yearly period when individuals and families can enroll in health insurance. Open enrollment for 2018 will begin on November 1st and last until December 15th. Open Enrollment is a very important time period because all individuals are eligible to enroll. If you miss Open Enrollment, you must qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. To qualify for Special Enrollment, you have to experience a Qualifying Life Event. Qualifiers such as getting married, having a baby or losing coverage provided by an employer could make you eligible to enroll during Special Enrollment, as long as you enroll within 60 days of the life altering event.

Is it Affordable?
One of the amenities of the Affordable Care Act is federal tax credits, also known as subsidies. Subsidies are designed to lower the cost of health insurance for low and middle income individuals or families. If you are eligible for a subsidy, it could greatly reduce the cost of your monthly premium. Generate a Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC health insurance quote to find out more about whether you are eligible for a subsidy.

At NC Health Plans/Jerry Ballard & Associates Inc., we love living in North Carolina and take pride in serving North Carolinians statewide. Our website allows you to generate quotes, shop for plans, and apply online at your convenience. If we can assist you in selecting a health insurance plan, please call us at 888-765-5400. We are North Carolinians serving North Carolinians!

For more information on North Carolina insurance coverage, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.

2019 Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC Rates and Changes

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina announced on July 31st the company has filed for an average rate decrease of 4.1% on Affordable Care Act individual health plans for 2019.  This will mark the first year North Carolina’s largest health insurance company has filed for a rate decrease on individual plans after several years of double digit increases since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2014.

“We’re moving in the right direction, but even with a lower rate, premiums are still too high — particularly for those who don’t get a subsidy,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC’s President and CEO.  “With more certainty from Washington, rates would be 15 percent or more lower. We must address both market instability and the rising price of health care.”

A number of factors contributed to this rate filing.  Brian Tajlili is BCBSNC’s Director of Actuarial and Pricing Services.  He references: the cost of providing medical services and prescription drugs for members, new provider arrangements that will reduce costs, the suspension of the federal Health Insurer Tax, and the elimination of the individual mandate penalty; as a few of these contributing factors.

Although the overall average rate will decrease on plans across the state of North Carolina, some counties will still see rate increases.  The counties that do see a rate increase will not incur increases over 10%.  Blue Cross will not release the exact rates for plans until closer to the start of Open Enrollment on November 1st.

Other Changes to Blue Plans

Another of the most significant Blue Cross NC plans will take place in the Triangle and surrounding regions.  The Blue Local with Duke Health and Wake Med will be discontinued in 2019.  This plan currently covers approximately 50,000 members in 12 counties.  These members will be receiving notices in the coming months to help prepare for the transition to new plans.  Alternatives to the Blue Local with Duke and Wake Med will depend on which county the member resides in.

Transitional Plans will continue to be offered in 2019.  Transitional plans are plans purchased between March 2010 and October 2013.  These plans do not meet the ACA requirements and are only offered to existing customers.

More details on these changes and others will likely continue in the months ahead.  Blue Cross Blue Shield NC has filed for plans in all 100 counties of North Carolina for 2019 and continues to be the only insurer in North Carolina that offers Individual ACA health plans in all counties.

For more information on North Carolina insurance coverage, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.

North Carolina Health Insurance when Turning 26

If you were born in ‘92, we want to wish you a happy 26th birthday! Another trip around the sun is always something to celebrate and be thankful for, and we hope that this upcoming year is your best one yet! Adults in their mid-twenties find themselves in many different walks of life. Whether you have gotten married, had children, graduated, or simply having fun, there is something all 26 year-olds have in common. That is, that you’re aging out of your parents’ insurance plan!

Health Insurance shoppers at this age often call us with concern, saying, “I have never shopped for insurance before and don’t know what to do or where to start!” We realize that navigating this transition and the insurance market can be stressful and overwhelming.  However, it is not something to put on the back burner or avoid! Here are some helpful things you should know about applying for insurance:

  • You have 60 days!

Turning 26 and aging out of your parent’s health insurance plan is considered a Qualifying Life Event.  This qualifying event will provide you a 60 day window outside the Open Enrollment Period to enroll in a new plan.  Make sure you know when this starts and stops in order to avoid any lapse in coverage.

  • You can save money!

Based on your household income, you may be eligible for a federal subsidy which can greatly reduce the cost of your monthly premiums. Generate a Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC health insurance quote to find out more about whether you are eligible for a subsidy.

  • Don’t go uninsured!

Did you know that under the health care law, you must have qualifying health coverage? Without it, you may face a penalty on your next tax return. In addition, it is important to have protection and quality coverage to maintain your health, or in case of sickness or an accident!

  • Don’t stress! It’s easier than you think!

This process can seem overwhelming. However, it is easier than you think. We are here to help you through the entire application process right over the phone, and it only takes about 25 minutes to apply for health insurance!

As you are thinking about your 26th birthday celebration, remember your health insurance – and don’t let those 60 days slip away! Here’s to many more years of health and happiness!

For more information on North Carolina insurance coverage, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.

Meet Our Newest Team Member, Savannah Clark

Savannah Clark is the newest member of our team at Jerry Ballard & Associates, Inc. and will be specializing in providing exceptional customer service to all our North Carolina customers.  Savannah graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington with a BS degree in elementary education and a concentration in the Arts.  She is also studying to acquire her North Carolina Life and Health Insurance License and looking forward to an exciting and long term career with our Agency.

A native of Eastern North Carolina, she was born and raised in Carteret County and absolutely loves it, and as she says, her roots are deep.  She attended St. Egberts Catholic school and graduated from West Carteret High School.  In the summer she loves spending time with family and friends boating and going to the beach.  She also enjoys painting as a hobby in her spare time.

Savannah brings excitement and enthusiasm to assist all of our Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina clients with their customer service needs.  She is patient, empathetic, and passionately communicative.  Her ability to place herself in the shoes of the customer and advocate for them when necessary makes her a pleasure to work with and a true asset to our team.

For more information on North Carolina insurance coverage, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.  Our Agency can guide you through the complete application process, on or off the Marketplace for any plans offered, including, but not limited to, Bronze, Silver, and Gold Plans, Medicare Supplement Plans, Dental Blue and Short Term plans.

 

Blue Cross NC’s New Leadership Provides New Perspective

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina welcomed a new President and CEO to the company in December 2017.  While Dr. Patrick Conway has a unique background coming from the Center of Medicare and Medicaid Services, his continued role as a practicing pediatrician provides a perspective that is unlike many others serving as the lead executive of a major health insurance carrier.

Dr. Conway’s list of accomplishments prior to taking over as CEO at Blue Cross NC is nothing short of impressive.  The various positions he’s held in health care contribute to the various perspectives he’s able to provide.  These experiences have prepared him for the often difficult discussions surrounding health care and health insurance.  Above many of these experiences, is his role as a practicing pediatrician.  This ongoing practice is something that allows him to see health care from a perspective most other Chief Executives know little about.

It’s no secret that the relationship between healthcare providers and health insurance companies is sometimes considered very disconnected.  The two parties are considered to have separate interests.  These separate interests can easily result in arrangements that damage the care needed by the members and patients.  The consumers are frequently left feeling powerless and stuck in the middle.

Dr. Conway’s experiences and ongoing direct interaction with patients is a dynamic that could provide some different perspective.  He recently wrote a blog about the being a practicing MD while also leading a major health insurance company.  It’s already becoming clear that as the new leader of BCBSNC, he brings a new vision to the company and health care in North Carolina.

For now, please join us in welcoming Dr. Patrick Conway and watching as he begins his work in the continued effort of improving health care in North Carolina.

 

For more information on North Carolina insurance coverage, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.

Pause to Remember Memorial Day

Memorials in Cemetery with American FlagsBlue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina knows a lot about working to give the residents of NC the peace of mind that comes from knowing you and your family are covered for all of your health care needs.  BCBSNC understands the value implicit in being covered when it counts.  As Americans, however, Memorial Day is a sobering reminder that peace of mind and knowing someone has your back in times of trouble doesn’t come free.   That is what Memorial Day is all about.  This weekend we celebrate the men and women of the Armed Forces, both past and present, who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom and protection.

Although Memorial Day is typically, and I think appropriately, celebrated by throwing some burgers on the grill in the backyard, the holiday has some important origins.  Formerly known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a federal holiday observed every year on the last Monday of May.  The holiday originated after the American Civil War to honor soldiers of both the Union and Confederate armies who had died during the war.  Even today, many people visit cemeteries or war memorials on this day and hundreds of volunteers place a small American flag on each grave in the national cemeteries.  Not to be confused with Veteran’s Day, which honors all the men and women of the Armed Forces, Memorial Day is a day specifically intended to celebrate and remember the service members who died while serving.

The traditional observance of Memorial Day is as follows:  The United States flag is raised to the top of the staff and then slowly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains until noon.  The half-staff position is in memory of the more than one million men and women who have given their lives in service of their country.  At noon, the flag is then raised by the living to full-staff as a symbolic resolution not to let the sacrifice of the dead be in vain, but to stand in their place and continue to fight for liberty.

This Memorial Day, while we are grilling burgers, taking our kids to the beach or taking our boats out to sea with friends, let us a take a moment and be thankful for the freedom we still enjoy.  It may sound pithy, but freedom really isn’t free and the fact that we can do the things we love the most is a gift for which many men and women have given their lives.

For more information on acquiring Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance coverage, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.

 

Medicare Supplement Plan F vs Plan G

For years, the Medicare Supplement Plan F has been the most popular of the Supplemental plans.  The plan is currently the richest benefit Medicare Supplement available in most states.  It provides coverage for all the gaps in Original Medicare.  The extremely high level of benefits has drawn Medicare shopper’s attention and has helped it develop a well-known reputation with consumers of Medicare Supplement plans.  Despite being the richest benefit plan, we often find there is a better plan option when a comparison is made.

The Plan G is almost identical to the Plan F with one exception- the Part B deductible.  The Part B deductible in 2018 is $183.  The Plan G does not provide coverage for this deductible which means the member would be responsible for paying this amount of $183 out of pocket when incurring Medical expenses for things like doctor’s office visits.  Once the Part B deductible is met, the Plan G pays exactly the same benefits as the Plan F.

In recent years, the monthly premiums for the Plan G have become significantly less than the Plan F premiums.  These lower premiums have made the Plan G a very attractive plan for shoppers.

Comparing the two plans is actually pretty simple.  If the premium savings over the course of the year exceeds the Part B deductible, the Medicare beneficiary will be better off on a Plan G.  For example: If the Plan F is $150/month and the Plan G is $120/mo, the beneficiary will save $30 per month on Plan G.  That is a $360 difference in premium over a year, but then figure in the Part B deductible (which is $183 in 2018) and the total savings over the year equals $177.  Because the math almost always makes the Plan G a better fit, we have seen this plan significantly grow in popularity over the past several years.

It’s important to do this comparison when considering these two options.  Let our Medicare Advisors help you through this process and see whether you could save money by comparing the difference in the Medicare Supplement Plan F vs Plan G.  If you are an existing Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC Medicare Supplement member, you are able to make a change to your Medicare Supplement plan during the month of May without having to answer health questions in order to qualify.

For more information on North Carolina insurance coverage, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.

6 Topics to Consider Outside Open Enrollment

Whether you are enrolled in Medicare, Health Insurance, or are uninsured, there are some concepts, rules and requirements to consider outside the Annual Enrollment Periods.  Here is a list of a few basics to consider about insurance despite currently being outside the heavily publicized Open Enrollment Periods.

  1. 1095 Tax Forms– As most are filing taxes this time of year, don’t forget the IRS may require you to show proof of health insurance. The 1095 tax forms serve as proof of health insurance coverage.  These 1095 forms can be provided by the Health Insurance Marketplace or by a private insurance carrier, depending on how you are enrolled.  We recommend consulting a Certified Public Accountant for more information on about the need for these forms.
  2. Short Term Health Insurance– If you are currently uninsured and have not recently experienced a Qualifying Event that would allow you to enroll in a qualified health insurance plan, a short term health plan may be an option. Short term plans do not comply with the Affordable Care Act regulations which allows shoppers to enroll in these plan outside the Open Enrollment Period.  You could qualify for coverage to begin as early as the next day.
  3. Medicare Supplements “Blue to Blue”– If you are an existing Blue Cross of NC Medicare Supplement member, you are currently able to make a change to your Medicare Supplement plan during the month of May to take effect on June 1st. See rates for alternative Medicare Supplement plans here.  The capability to change plans during this time frame is through the Blue to Blue program.
  4. Dental Insurance– Don’t forget your smile! Dental insurance plans can be enrolled in anytime throughout the course of the year.  These plans are not regulated like health insurance plans by separate enrollment periods.  Learn More about BCBSNC Dental Insurance
  5. Qualifying Life Events– If you have experienced a Qualifying Life Event, this could allow you to make a change to your health plan or enroll in a new plan. Get a Blue Cross Quote to see whether any of the Qualifying Events apply to you.
  6. Report Income Changes to the Marketplace– If you are enrolled in a health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace and you have experienced an income change, it’s important to report this change to the Marketplace. Income changes can impact health insurance plan rates and coverage.

For more information on North Carolina insurance coverage, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.