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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

Meet Our New Team Member, Emily McLaurin

We are excited to announce the newest member of our team at Jerry Ballard and Associates, Emily McLaurin. Emily has just finished her appointment and licensing for her North Carolina Health Insurance License. In the short time she has been with Jerry Ballard & Associates/NC Health Plans Agency, we have gained respect and admiration for her loyalty and desire to help our clients with their customer service needs.

Emily previously worked in the banking industry and graduated from East Carolina University in Greenville, NC with a BS Degree in Clothing and Textiles, with a minor concentration in Business. She resides in beautiful Carteret County, North Carolina with her husband and son and also has two grown daughters and a son-in-law. Emily loves living along the Coast in Eastern North Carolina and spending time with her family.

Emily’s exceptionally positive attitude and bright spirit will enhance the experience for all of our Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina clients. She is delighted to help guide our existing and new clients through navigating the health insurance marketplace.  Her wonderful spirit is refreshing to all, but her compassion for the elderly makes it a delight when our seniors call in to go over their Medicare Supplement needs. At Jerry Ballard & Associates, we strive to provide the best customer service for all North Carolinians and Emily is excited to use her customer service background to help meet the needs of all of our clients.

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 or our local number 252-726-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.

HOW CAN MEDICARE ADVISORS HELP YOU!   

HOW CAN Medicare Advisors HELP YOU!       

Medicare Annual Enrollment Period started October 15th and ends December 7th, 2019.  As one of the top leading Medicare Advisors for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina we are here to help and guide you.  With so many Medicare plans to consider and countless Medicare Supplement Insurance companies to compare, choosing the right coverage can be difficult. Fortunately, finding and purchasing a Medicare Supplement plan is easier with the help of a Medicare Advisor.

Whether your health care needs are straightforward or complex, Medicare and its various options can be extremely confusing. Simply browsing through Medicare Supplement options can be overwhelming.  When you talk with an independent Medicare Agent your options will become more clear.

Getting Medicare and purchasing a Medicare Supplement plan are decisions you should not take lightly. Whether you are working with a limited budget and you need to keep your costs low or you have growing medical needs and you want to make sure your care is covered, you need the right plan at the right price.  Get your free Medicare Supplement Quote and/or Apply on Line today.

When you work with a Medicare Advisor you will not have to second-guess your decision or worry that you have overlooked important information.  You will have peace of mind knowing you have made the best decision that will protect your budget and your health.

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 or our local number 252-726-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NORTH CAROLINA SHORT TERM HEALTH PLANS

Short Term also known as Temporary health insurance is a fast, affordable and easy solution for people who are currently without health coverage.  Short-term health insurance plans are generally less expensive than qualified health plans under the AFFORDABLE CARE ACT and do not offer the same level of coverage.  Short term health insurance plans are intended for people who do not want to enroll in major medical insurance or who need temporary form of limited coverage before they obtain major medical health insurance.  Among other limitations and exclusions, short term health insurance plans generally do not cover pre-existing conditions that exist at the time of application or the minimum essential coverage of the ACA.

Short-term health insurance plans are limited in duration and you will stop receiving benefits when the plan expires. Plan duration and whether you can renew or buy a new plan after plan expiration depend on the plan you choose and the laws in your particular state. After a short-term plan expires, you must reapply to receive further benefits. If you are accepted for an additional term under a short-term health insurance plan, the plan’s deductible and other amounts reset so that amounts paid (or the satisfaction of conditions) under the initial plan are ignored.

APPLY TODAY and coverage can begin tomorrow if you qualify to enroll in a plan. Call NC Health Plans/ Jerry Ballard & Associates today at our toll free number 888-765-5400 to talk with one of our qualified representatives.

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 or our local number 252-726-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.

Are you ready for Medicare Open Enrollment 2020?

Medicare Open Enrollment starts October 15 and runs until December 7. While that might seem to be plenty of time to weigh your options and enroll, it is actually less than two months.  It is time to act now and beat the rush before the holidays.

As one of the top Medicare Advisors in the State of North Carolina for Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, we are here to help you make those decisions.  Whether you are new to Medicare, want to make a plan change or review all available options, we are here to help you.  The Medicare program changes a little bit each year. Knowing what’s new in 2020 could help you navigate the many choices you’ll have during this year’s Open Enrollment.

We can help you apply on line, handle your application through the mail or make an appointment to visit our office for a one on one meeting.  Whatever method is easiest and most helpful to you is what we do to help eliminate the stress and confusion.

To get your free rate quote and/or apply on line, CLICK HERE TO GET STARTED!

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 or our local number 252-726-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Announces Rate Decrease for 2020

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is excited to announce filing for a 2020 rate decrease with the North Carolina Department of Insurance.  This is a big step in Blue Cross of NC’s movement toward making healthcare more affordable to North Carolinian’s.

Blue Cross NC Rate Decrease for 2020

For the second year in a row, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has filed to decrease rates for coverage starting in the new year. This rate decrease is an overall average of 5.2 percent for Affordable Care Act plans offered to individuals and families in year 2020. There is also an average 3.3 percent decrease for those plans offered to small businesses with one to 50 employees. These rate decreases show a total reduction of $238 million to health care costs in 2020.

“We want to be a national model for health care transformation, where insurers and providers are jointly responsibly for delivering better, simpler, more affordable care,” said Patrick Conway, President and CEO of Blue Cross NC. “The hard work is not done, and we must continue building on these successes if we are going to truly make health care affordable for everyone in North Carolina. What these rate reductions show is that the move to value is working – when the focus is on quality and accountability, costs go down and the customer wins.”

Does this mean your premium will decrease?

Health Insurance premiums will always vary based on your location, age, and federal tax credit/subsidy applied to your premium. It is important to know that the overall rate decrease is an average for all counties in North Carolina. Therefore, not every Blue Cross NC member in North Carolina will experience the same amount in rate changes for 2020.

As of now, the Federal Tax Credits or Subsidies will still be available in 2020 to enrollees with a household income between 100 and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. Nearly 90 percent of existing Blue Cross NC enrollees are subsidy eligible. To determine if you may be subsidy eligible, CLICK HERE to generate a quote online and discover how subsidies can greatly reduce the cost of your monthly Health Insurance premium.

When is the 2020 Open Enrollment Period?

The Open Enrollment Period will begin on November 1st, 2019 and ends December 15th, 2019. This is the time of year where anyone can enroll in a Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC plan without needing a Qualifying Life Event. We know the importance of understanding your health coverage and understand that the Health Insurance market can be confusing. If you are an existing member or considering enrolling in a Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC plan during the Open Enrollment Period, we are happy to help you through the process. Rate quotes for 2020 plans as well as renewal information for existing members will be available in October.

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.

Two Changes to the North Carolina Health Insurance Market in 2019

With the 2020 presidential election approaching, healthcare and health insurance are yet again popular topics of conversation.  The different opinions and visions of the health insurance landscape is often very distant from the realities we experience everyday in North Carolina.  The media attention that surrounds this dialog makes it more difficult to follow current changes to health insurance in North Carolina.  A couple recent changes have impacted the options for many North Carolinians.  Here, we will outline two recent changes and the details consumers should keep in mind now and moving forward.

3 Year Term- Short Term Plans

One such change is the implementation of 3 year policy periods on “Short Term Health Insurance Plans.”  An executive order was signed in 2018 making 3 year policy period Short Term Medical plans available, but the plans were not offered to North Carolina health insurance shoppers until recently.  The North Carolina Department of Insurance approved the these plans in the Spring of 2019.  The availability of Tri-Term Medical plans is significant in that longer policy period plans allow members to avoid the application process every 90 days.  The plans allow you to apply once for a coverage term of 3 years.  Prior to this option, enrolled members were forced to re-qualify by answering health underwriting questions each time the policy expired.  This meant the applicant would risk being denied the ability to re-enroll if unable to pass medical underwriting based on changes in medical conditions.  A 3 year policy period plan will minimize this risk since the applicant is not required to answer health eligibility questions as frequently.

The Short Term Health Insurance market has grown in North Carolina, particularly for consumers that do not qualify for a government subsidy.  The plans often provide non-subsidy shoppers a less expensive alternative to the ACA compliant plans.  The 3 year term plans will continue to strengthen the alternative options for this group of health insurance consumers.

Qualifying Life Event Tweaks

Ever since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act in 2014, consumers have needed a Qualifying Life Event to make changes to plans or apply for new plans when outside the Open Enrollment Period.  The specifics of these Qualifying Events have seemed to continuously change each year.  This year, most Qualifying Life Events now require the consumer to have also carried prior creditable coverage.  For example, a change in permanent residence address and a marriage are two qualifying events that now require the applicant to have carried prior coverage for at least one of the prior sixty days.

Additionally, existing members that are trying to make plan changes based on Qualifying Events must meet additional requirements in order to make changes to an existing plan.  These changes often come as a surprise to consumers that have experienced similar changes in the past and expected similar options to be available.

The healthcare discussion will only continue in the months ahead, but it’s important we don’t lose focus of the changes that are being implemented.  As insurance advisors, our commitment is to educating consumers and allowing them to make the best decisions within this ever changing market.  One way to do this is by understanding whether any of these market changes would affect 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.

Know your Network- Blue Cross NC Health Insurance in 2019

When shopping the health insurance market, you will discover many terms used to describe health insurance plans. As you read about options with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, one of the most important terms to understand is that used to describe the network. The “Network” refers to the group of doctors and medical facilities which accept your plan. Knowing and understanding your network helps predict what to expect when utilizing your health plan throughout the year. As you learn about network options through Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, you will be able to better determine what plan is best for you and your family. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina names each plan after the associated network.

Blue Advantage and Blue Select

Blue Advantage and Blue Select are the names used to describe the largest network of doctors and hospitals available under Blue Cross NC plans. The Blue Advantage network is the broadest network, with over 95% of doctors and hospitals in North Carolina. Like Blue Advantage plans, Blue Select plans are also a broad network plan. However, the Blue Select network is broken down into two tiers. Blue Select policy holders will find that a bit more management is required when determining a facilities tier. For example, one may have different copayments for specialist visits depending on if they visit a Tier 1 or Tier 2 provider.

Blue Value

The Blue Value network option is a more limited network than Blue Advantage or Blue Select. However, enrolling in a Blue Value plan can help you save money. Where these plans lack in flexibility to see a broad network of doctors and facilities, you will find that Blue Value options offer lower monthly premiums. If your zip code falls  within the Triangle region of North Carolina, you will find the Blue Value plans are with UNC Health Alliance. Doing your research and checking to see if your doctor is in-network is necessary when enrolling in a Blue Value plan. If you are planning on visiting a specific doctor, specialist, or medical facility, it is a good idea to call the provider to confirm the network.

Blue Local

Blue Local with Atrium Health is the most limited of the four BCBSNC networks. This network with Atrium Health (also known as Carolinas HealthCare System) is available to Charlotte-area residents, including Anson, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Rowan, Stanley, and Union County. Like the Blue Value network, enrolling in a Blue Local plan will be a less expensive plan option, but have a more restrictive network. If you were to visit a doctor or facility outside of Atrium Health, then you would pay out-of-network rates.

Understanding these four network options will give you a great advantage when navigating available health insurance plans. A little research could potentially translate to savings on monthly premiums and the cost of care. CLICK HERE to generate a custom quote and discover what BCBSNC network options are available to 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.

North Carolina HMO vs PPO Health Insurance Plans : What’s the Difference?

When it comes to choosing a Health Insurance Plan, it is great to have options. However, having options in the Health Insurance market can quickly become overwhelming. Two types of health plans that shoppers often find themselves choosing between are HMO and PPO Plans. One of our most commonly asked questions from Health Plan shoppers is: “What is the difference between a HMO vs PPO plan?” There are many terms that are used to describe these types of health plans, and understanding them is key when determining which plan is right for you.

Health Maintenance Organization (HMOs)

The term HMO stands for Health Maintenance Organization. HMOs are regarded as a managed health care system, which provide prepaid medical services with little out of pocket expense. With an HMO plan, the subscriber will be required to see a Primary Care Physician (PCP) that is in network with their HMO plan. These plans have networks of medical providers, and subscribers must seek treatment from these providers. There are no out of network benefits under an HMO plan. Some HMO plans may also require your Primary Care Physician give you a referral in order to see a specialist. Because these types of plans have more restrictive networks, subscribers will generally have lower premiums and low deductibles under these plans.

Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs)

The term PPO stands for Preferred Provider Organization. These plans are an arrangement under which a group of independent doctors and hospitals become preferred providers in an area. PPO plans offer more flexibility and choices when it comes to choosing your doctor or hospital. Like HMOs, PPOs also have a network of providers. However, there are fewer restrictions on seeing providers who are not in network. Under a PPO plan, you will also usually have the benefit of seeing a specialist without a referral from your Primary Care Physician. Because PPO plans are more flexible, premiums tend to be higher, and it is common to have a deductible.

Point of Service (POSs)

Point of Service Plans (POS) are a hybrid plan that combine features of PPO and HMO plans. These plans are designed so the member can choose (at the point of service) which part of the plan they would like to utilize. If the subscriber stays in network with this plan, they will have HMO benefits. If the member sees an out of network provider, they will be responsible for the out of network rates. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina offers a variety of Point of Service health plans. CLICK HERE to generate a custom quote and discover your plan options.

What do these plans have in common?

HMO’s, PPO’s and POS plans all have provider networks. A network refers to the list of doctors, hospitals, labs, and other providers that are contracted with the health plan. The difference in these plans network options is the size of the network, and whether or not the plan offers out of network benefits. Each of these types of plans also offer coverage for emergency services both in and out of network.

At NC Health Plans, we understand that making decisions within the Health Insurance market can be confusing. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina offers a variety of health plans for both under 65 and Medicare shoppers. Give us a call to speak with one of our professional agents and discover what health plan will work best for you or your family.

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.

All You Need to Know About Blue Cross NC Medicare Supplement Plan G

For many years, Medicare Supplement Plan F has been the most popular Medicare Supplement plan. However, many Medicare beneficiaries are now choosing Plan G. Plan G has increasingly become the more popular Supplement plan as Plan F will no longer be offered in 2020 due to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015.  In many scenarios, Plan G can offer significant yearly savings with very rich benefits.

What is the difference between Plan F and Plan G?

Medicare Supplement Plan G is nearly identical to Plan F except for one difference-the Part B deductible. The Part B deductible in 2019 is $185. The Plan G does not provide coverage for this deductible which means the member would be responsible for paying the Part B deductible ($185 in 2019) 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.

Will I save money with Plan G?

Lower premiums are a primary reason why many Medicare beneficiaries are choosing Plan G. In recent years, the monthly premiums for Plan G have been significantly less than Plan F premiums. Plan G has also incurred lower rate increases in recent years.

What does Medicare Plan G pay for?

Medicare supplement Plan G will pay for your hospital deductible as well as other copays and coinsurance under Medicare.

What does Medicare Plan G not pay for?

Medicare Supplement Plan G does not pay for the Part B Deductible.  It also does not include any prescription drug coverage like most other Medicare Supplement plans.  Most Medicare Supplement beneficiaries also enroll in standalone Part D prescription plans for drug coverage.

Is plan G the most popular Medicare supplement?

In recent years, the Blue Cross NC Plan G has become the most popular Medicare Supplement.  Due to Plan F being discontinued for new enrollees in 2020, most insurance companies have strategically made the Plan G a more competitively priced and more attractive plan.

Why should I choose plan G?

Once Plan F is discontinued in 2020, Plan G is going to offer you the greatest benefits under any of the Medicare Supplement plans. Plan G is the most popular Medicare plan because of its wide range of coverage and minimal out of pocket exposure, while offering lower monthly premiums when compared to Plan F.

If you are turning 65 or considering switching your Medicare Supplement plan this year, give us a call and speak with one of our professional Medicare specialists. We are happy to discuss how Medicare Plan G will benefit you, and assist you through the application process. CLICK HERE to request a personal Medicare Supplement quote and discover your Medicare Supplement plan options.

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.

 New and Improved NC Health Insurance Marketplace Application

The Health Insurance Marketplace has recently approved a brand new, quick and simplified application process that will benefit all Marketplace customers, old and new. As we are in the Special Enrollment Period, existing Marketplace members often find themselves needing to make updates or changes within their application. On the other hand, new members who qualify for a Special Enrollment Period need to apply on the Marketplace within 60 days of their Qualifying Life Event. This new and improved application process was designed to help simplify the process and make your marketplace application easier to navigate. If you are in the market for an affordable Health Insurance plan, or are currently enrolled through the Health Insurance Marketplace, look no further to make your editing or enrollment process much easier during the Special Enrollment Period.  The process can be started by generating a quote and clicking “Enroll.”

Do you need to get enrolled in an affordable health plan?

If you qualify for Special Enrollment Period and have experienced a qualifying life event within 60 days, you may be eligible to enroll in an Affordable Care Act health plan. In order to apply for savings on the cost of these health insurance plans, one must apply for a federal tax credit or subsidy through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Subsidies can greatly reduce the cost of your monthly premiums, allowing you to save money on the cost of health insurance.  In the past, the application has been lengthy and repetitive.  However, the new and improved application process can simplify this experience, making it easier to navigate your application. This more user-friendly application helps guide you through the questions and makes them easy to understand. Generate a quote to discover if you are eligible for savings during the Special Enrollment Period and get started on your application!

Already enrolled through the Health Insurance Marketplace?

If you are already enrolled through the Health Insurance Marketplace and receive savings on your Health Insurance premium, there are several topics to consider during the Special Enrollment Period. These topics may trigger you to make changes to your application throughout the year. If you experience income changes, you must submit these changes to the marketplace. It is very important to keep your income up to date to ensure you are receiving the correct amount of federal tax credit, or savings on your premium. Other updates may include adding or removing household members from your application or reporting a move from your primary place of living. Utilizing this updated application platform will allow you to make these changes quickly and easily when needed. If you are enrolled through the Marketplace and need to make updates or changes, CLICK HERE to access your application or give us a call. We are happy to discuss these changes with you and ensure that you are taking the correct steps to update your application during the Special Enrollment Period.

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.

Short Term Health Insurance in North Carolina

Now that Open Enrollment Period has ended, it is important to know what Health Insurance options are available to you during the Special Enrollment Period. During Special Enrollment Period, you must have experienced a Qualifying Life Event in the past 60 days in order to enroll in an ACA-Compliant plan, also referred to as “Obamacare”. If you have missed Open Enrollment for 2019 health coverage, and do not have a qualifying life event, Short Term health insurance may be a great option for you!

What is Short Term Health Insurance?

Short Term, or Temporary Health Insurance, is a type of health plan that is considered Non ACA or Non Affordable Care Act Compliant. Because the plans are not compliant with the federal guidelines that are in place under the Affordable Care Act, there is not an Open Enrollment or Special Enrollment Period for these plans. This means that you can apply for the plans any time of year. You can also apply for coverage to start as early as the next day.

If comparing Short Term plans vs. ACA compliant plans, it’s important to understand that Short Term plans exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions, which is a requirement under Obamacare.

How Long Can You be Enrolled in a Short Term Plan?

Although these plans are labeled as “Short Term”, you can now enroll in a plan for up to 360 days a year under one application. This allows beneficiaries to bridge the gap until the following year’s Open Enrollment Period.  Another benefit of Short term plans is the simple application process. It takes only minutes to complete the online application! CLICK HERE to see Short Term plans and/or get started on your application.

Is it Affordable?

Short Term health coverage was originally designed to bridge gaps in coverage. However, their attraction has grown as some individuals and families began to enroll in these plans as a more affordable alternative. People are often shocked at the cost of ACA compliant health plans in today’s market, especially those who don’t qualify for government provided premium tax credits or subsidies. When filling out a Short Term Health Insurance application, one must answer a few health questions in order to be eligible to enroll. These factors allow Short Term premiums to be significantly less expensive than ACA plans and are therefore, often utilized by individuals and families to save on monthly premiums! Generate a Short Term Quote to view the rates and plan options.

If you have missed the Open Enrollment Period, don’t have coverage, need to bridge a gap in coverage, or are simply trying to save money on your health insurance, don’t go at this alone! Give us a call to speak with one of our professional agents and see if a Short Term Health insurance plan could benefit you and your family. We look forward to hearing 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.

Kennon Wainwright Recognized as Top BCBS Medicare Agent in North Carolina

At NC Health Plans, we strive to assist our customers with their Health Insurance needs throughout every phase of life. One of our top priorities is aiding those in the Medicare, over 65 market and helping this group of North Carolinians understand their options within Medicare. We are very proud to announce that our agency manager, Kennon Wainwright, has now ranked two years straight within the top Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Medicare Advisors. In 2018, Kennon ranked Number 2 in the state of North Carolina for top performance in assisting Medicare Supplement customers.  He also ranked Number 4 in the state for Medicare Advantage. He is now a member of the Exclusive Century Club, due to his top sales and services to Medicare Beneficiaries. Kennon is honored to serve so many North Carolinians as they make these important Medicare decisions. He quickly recognizes this opportunity would not be possible without the support of the NC Health Plans team and the strength of Blue Cross Blue Shield NC products and brand.

If you have not previously helped a parent or spouse with Medicare, then this topic can often be very foreign. We recognize the importance of understanding your transition into Medicare, and meeting your health care needs. We also understand that with so much information to read online, navigating the Medicare market can be overwhelming. Speaking directly with one of our professionals, like Kennon, can make this confusing topic easier to understand. It is important to learn how each part of Medicare will affect you, and discover which plans will meet your needs as you make this transition.

If you are turning 65 or transitioning to Medicare, we would be happy to help you through this process. Give us a call to discuss your BCBSNC Medicare plan options. To get started on this process, CLICK HERE to generate a custom Blue Cross NC Medicare 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.