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Archive for the ‘Obamacare’ Category

Learning about North Carolina Health Insurance

Thursday, August 16th, 2018

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.

Obamacare too Expensive? Let’s Talk Alternatives…

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

“Obamacare” is a popular term used to describe the Affordable Care Act.  As insurance advisors, one question customers frequently ask is “Do you offer anything other than Obamacare?”  Understanding this question is most important before answering it.

First, Affordable Care Act compliant plans are not only health insurance plans offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace or “Exchange.”  They are also health plans offered “Off Exchange” or directly through insurance companies, as long as they meet all requirements under the Affordable Care Act.  In North Carolina, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina offers the vast majority of the ACA compliant health plans both on and off the Exchange.  Blue Cross offers plans in all 100 counties and in 2017 was the only company offering “On Exchange” plans in 94 of the 100 North Carolina counties.  When considering alternatives to ACA compliant plans, the most common is Short Term, also known as Temporary Health Insurance.

Temporary health insurance plans are not compliant with the ACA regulations which allows customers to enroll outside the Open Enrollment Period without the requirement of a Qualifying Life Event.  In the past, these plans were created and structured to bridge gaps in coverage.  However, recently their attraction has grown and individuals and families have begun enrolling in Short Term plans for extended policy periods as an alternative to the ACA compliant options.  The ACA compliant plans lack the flexible plan structure and low premiums that are attractive aspects of Short Term health insurance.  Short Term plans exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions which is a requirement under Obamacare.  Additionally, you must answer health questions on a Short Term application in order to be eligible to enroll.  For these reasons, the plans are usually significantly less expensive than ACA compliant plans.  These factors and others drive the premium prices down and often surprise shoppers when making a price comparison.

Furthermore, the Short Term health insurance regulations are expected to change on April 1, 2017.  The policy periods will be limited to 3 months.  For applicants that enroll prior to April 1, the policy period can last until Dec. 31, 2017 with certain carriers like United HealthOne.

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.

Can’t Afford Obamacare? – Private Health Insurance Plans Are Available

Friday, December 30th, 2016

people, business, finances and money concept - close up of businDue to the rising cost of health insurance premiums and stricter guidelines surrounding enrollment periods, many people are turning to non-compliant private health insurance as a long-term solution. These plans are referred to as Short Term or Temporary Health Insurance plans, but many can be issued for a longer policy period. Because these private health plans are not subject to the laws of the ACA, they are less-expensive and can be purchased outside of the annual Open Enrollment period.  For individuals and families who have either missed Open Enrollment or who simply cannot afford an ACA-approved Qualified Health Plan, private health insurance coverage is a viable option. (more…)

Last Week to Enroll your NC Health Insurance Plan for Jan. 2017!

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Deadline Concept ClockThe Annual Open Enrollment period for NC Health Insurance is in full swing, but keep in mind if you want your new 2017 health insurance plan to be effective January 1st, you must submit your application by midnight, December 15th!  That means you have one more week to apply in order to secure coverage that begins January 1st.  Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is offering Affordable Care Act plans both on and off the federal Marketplace in all 100 counties of North Carolina and the application process has never been easier.

You can get a quote, apply for a federal subsidy and enroll a 2017 BCBNSC health insurance plan in a matter of minutes by visiting our website at www.nchealthplans.com or by calling 888-765-5400.  You can do your application online or over the phone with one of our authorized representatives and have the peace of mind that comes from knowing you and your family are covered.

Don’t miss this important deadline!  Apply and enroll your 2017 coverage by midnight, December 15th.  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.

BCBSNC Prepares for Open Enrollment 2017

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

Glowing 3D Lettering 2017 On Blue BackgroundBlue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina recently announced that they intend to participate in the ACA for 2017 and will be offering health plans in all 100 counties of North Carolina. This decision came after much deliberation and on the heels of two major health insurance companies, United Healthcare and Aetna, announcing their withdrawal from the ACA in NC.  Although BCBSNC’s participation for 2017 means at least one more year of ACA plans for the nearly 600,000 residents who are currently insured under the ACA, how is Blue Cross Blue Shield NC preparing for the unprecedented position of being the only real choice for consumers across much of the state?

Brad Wilson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield NC explains.

In an op-ed article for the News and Observer on October 1, 2016, Brad Wilson called Blue Cross Blue Shield NC’s decision to stay in the game an “important commitment” to the residents of North Carolina.  He explained that had BCBSNC pulled out of the ACA market for 2017, over 600,000 NC residents would have been left without an option for health insurance.  The BCBSNC CEO went on to say that although he believes the decision was the right one, it also presents new challenges for an already troubled market.

Because ACA customers tend to be unhealthier and tend to use health care at a higher rate than non-ACA customers, the company is forced to reevaluate their ability to sustain an influx of possibly 260,000 new ACA clients. Not only must BCBSNC face the challenge of yet another rate increase to support the ACA business, but are also facing the reality of trying to prepare at the last minute for a customer service department that can handle an extraordinarily high volume of calls and customer needs.

Brad Wilson assures that Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has “been working around the clock to prepare for these new customers… and are better prepared to manage expectations throughout this enrollment period.”   Some of the ways Blue Cross Blue Shield NC is preparing is by developing additional online resources and increasing the number of customer service personnel and phone lines available to consumers. That being said, Mr. Wilson also recognizes the fact that there will undoubtedly be a strain on the company both financially and in terms of service capabilities.  Having already lost upwards of $4 million dollars in 2014 and 2015, Brad Wilson reminds North Carolinians that the “commitment to serve the state cannot subordinate our obligation to our customers to be financially stable for the long term – which cannot occur if large financial losses continue despite having raised premiums.”

As Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina prepares for Open Enrollment 2017, we at NC Health Plans are likewise committed to assisting all of our customers through the enrollment process.  We offer the most up-to-date enrollment tools available and want to help our clients enroll in the best health plan available with the least amount of stress involved.  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.

What is a Health Insurance Marketplace and How Does it Affect Me?

Friday, September 16th, 2016

Health InsuranceWith Open Enrollment 2017 just around the corner, you may be hearing a lot of talk about the Health Insurance Marketplace.  You also may be wondering exactly what a Health Insurance Marketplace is and how it will affect you and your ability to enroll in a health plan. Basically, a Health Insurance Marketplace, also called a Health Exchange, is an organization set up to facilitate the purchase of health insurance in each state under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.  Some states have elected to run their own Marketplace or Exchange, while other states are a part of the federal Exchange.  North Carolina is a part of the federal Marketplace.

For North Carolina residents who do not have access to employer based insurance, the Marketplace (Exchange) provides access to individual health plans offered by private insurance companies.  As of September 1, 2016, the only company in North Carolina considering continuing offering health plans on the Marketplace in 2017 is Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC.  If you are applying for a federal subsidy or premium tax credit you are required to enroll a Marketplace plan.  All Marketplace plans offer ten essential benefits, including preventive care, and ask no health questions regarding preexisting conditions. (more…)