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Serving North Carolina residents since 1974.

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Archive for the ‘open enrollment’ Category

NC Health Plans Designated to Marketplace Elite Circle of Champions

Monday, October 29th, 2018

NC Health Plans is proud to announce that we have been included in the Health Insurance Marketplace Elite Circle of Champions. This means that we have been designated the top achievement award for helping North Carolina residents enroll in Marketplace coverage through Healthcare.gov. Now that Health Insurance Open Enrollment Period for 2019 has arrived, we are ready to assist more North Carolinians in applying for affordable Qualified Health Care!

Healthcare.gov, also known as the Health Insurance Marketplace, is the avenue that individuals go through to apply for government subsidies to be applied towards their Health Insurance premiums. Subsidies are designed to lower the cost of health insurance for low and middle income individuals or families. These government applications can often be overwhelming and confusing, and we are happy to help you through this process. Our website provides consolidated Health Insurance applications, and we can help you apply for your subsidy right over the phone. CLICK HERE to generate a quote and discover if you are eligible for a subsidy.

We are proud to be recognized as a top leader and guide in helping individuals apply for affordable Health Insurance through Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and we look forward to helping North Carolinians in the upcoming 2019 Open Enrollment Period, which starts November 1st and ends December 15, 2018.

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 Open Enrollment for NC Health Insurance

Thursday, October 4th, 2018

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

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

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.

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.

6 Topics to Consider Outside Open Enrollment

Friday, March 16th, 2018

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.

Open Enrollment is Not Over! – Enroll your BCBSNC Health Insurance Today

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

bigstock-160858379Open Enrollment is not over, so if you missed the December 15th deadline, you can still enroll your Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health plan.  BCBSNC has Qualified Health Plans available in all 100 counties of North Carolina and there is still plenty of time to enroll.  At NC Health Plans we are committed to making the enrollment process as easy as possible.  If you are not eligible for a federal subsidy, you can enroll your plan off the Marketplace in a short, simple, 10 minute application.  Or, if you would like to apply for a federal subsidy and enroll your plan through the Marketplace, we can help you do that application over the phone in a matter of minutes.  In fact, generating a quote, determining subsidy eligibility and submitting your Marketplace application has never been simpler!

Keep in mind, Open Enrollment will officially end on January 31st, 2017 and if you want your new health plan to begin February 1st, you must complete your application by January 15th.  Also, remember under the law of the Affordable Care Act, you are required to carry health insurance and if you do not enroll in a Qualified Health Plan by the end of Open Enrollment, you will likely not be able to do so until next year.  You will possibly also face a federal tax penalty.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is a name you can trust when it comes to your health insurance needs.  Offering health plans to North Carolina residents for over 80 years, BCBSNC has remained steadfast in a rapidly changing health insurance market.  Don’t let another year go by without obtaining a Qualified Health Insurance plan.  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.

Losing United Healthcare (UHC) or Aetna/Coventry? – Consider BCBSNC

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

render of easy button, isolated on whiteOpen Enrollment began Tuesday, November 1st and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina has you covered!  2016 has seen a big upheaval in the NC health insurance market, but BCBSNC has remained steadfast and will be offering health plans in all 100 counties of North Carolina for 2017.  In fact, BCBSNC will be the only insurer offering ACA plans in most of the state.  With the exit of both United Healthcare and Aetna, many North Carolina residents will be facing a change in their health insurance policy and NC Health Plans is committed to helping make that transition as easy as possible.

Former Aetna and United Healthcare members who have a Marketplace plan will be automatically mapped to a new BCBSNC health plan (Blue Advantage, Blue Select, Blue Value or Blue Local).  If you are a mapped customer it is important that you review all your health insurance options with Blue Cross Blue Shield NC and we can help you do that effectively.  We can generate a quote, assist you in determining subsidy eligibility and help you decide if you are better off with a plan other than the one to which you have been mapped.  Keep in mind, the Open Enrollment period is the time to make these important decisions and after Open Enrollment you may not be able to make a plan change until next year.  Make sure to look at all the options available to you before making a decision.

For former Aetna and United Healthcare members who do not have a Marketplace plan, you will not be automatically mapped to a BCBSNC health plan and you will need to shop for a new health plan.  We will assist you in reviewing your options and have the most up-to-date tools available to make your enrollment as stress-free as possible.

If you are currently a Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina member, you should also review your options for 2017.  If you need to make a change to your existing coverage or simply want to compare your current plan with new plans available in 2017, we can assist you with all your NC health insurance needs. 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.

Blue Cross Blue Shield NC Receives Approval for 2017 Rate Increase

Thursday, October 20th, 2016

bigstock-125404142One of the biggest questions on many minds as Open Enrollment 2017 approaches is “will my health insurance premium rate increase?”  Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina announced last week that the Department of Insurance (DOI) has approved a rate increase of 24.3% for 2017; however, this rate increase will be felt differently among BCBSNC customers.  In May of 2017, Blue Cross Blue Shield NC filed for an average increase of almost 19% for ACA (Affordable Care Act) individual health plans.  When Aetna announced early this fall that they would be exiting the NC marketplace, however, BCBSNC revised that rate filing in an attempt to adjust for the new market.

In a blog article released by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina on October 14, 2016 Brian Tajili, Director of Actuarial and Pricing Services for BCBSNC, explained that this rate increase will allow the company to “serve our ACA customers in a financially responsible way in 2017.”  He went on to say that Blue Cross Blue Shield NC understands that “these kinds of rate increases aren’t sustainable over the long term,” and reiterated the fact that the company has been consistent in their message that in order for the ACA (Obamacare) to work properly, younger, healthier customers need to enter the market to balance the higher health costs of the current membership.

Of further note, although there will be a rate increase for 2017, it will not be felt equally among all BCBSNC customers.  Blue Cross Blue Shield NC believes that many customers will actually see a decrease in their rates due to an increase in federal subsidies.  Keep in mind, however, that although the subsidies decrease the out-of-pocket costs for customers, they do not decrease the out-of-pocket costs for the company and the ACA market has consistently proven to be an unhealthier market.  The overall rate increase is an attempt to ensure that the company can remain sustainable and that BCBSNC can continue to offer health insurance plans in all 100 counties in NC.

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 Open Enrollment and Why is it Important?

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Store Owner Turning Open Sign In Shop DoorwayOpen Enrollment is the yearly period when people in the United States can enroll in individual or family health insurance plans. 2016 Open Enrollment ended January 31, 2016 and Open Enrollment for 2017 begins November 1, 2016 and will last until January 31, 2017.  This is a very important time period because if you miss Open Enrollment, you may not be able to enroll in a health insurance plan unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.  To qualify for a Special Enrollment Period you must have a Qualifying Life Event, some of which include losing employer-sponsored coverage, having a baby, or getting married.

Since Open Enrollment 2017 is just around the corner, now is the time to begin considering your NC health insurance options. 2016 has brought significant changes to the insurance marketplace.  Both United Healthcare and Aetna announced this year that they will be pulling out of North Carolina for 2017.  This means that Blue Cross Blue Shield NC may very well be the only company offering health plans in all 100 counties in North Carolina.  Cigna has filed for plans in a few select counties throughout the state as well.

The Open Enrollment Period offers residents of NC the opportunity to enroll in health insurance or make changes to their current policy.  New rates for 2017 health plans will be available by November 1st and at that time, you will be able to submit an application for coverage.  Keep in mind that plans will not be effective until January, 2017 so if you are currently uninsured, you may want to consider temporary coverage until the end of December, 2016.

Under the Affordable Care Act, federal subsidies will also be available for 2017 health plans for NC residents who qualify and will be based on the Federal Poverty Level Chart.  NC Residents who fall between the 100% and 400% federal poverty level and who do not have employer coverage available to them can apply for a subsidy to help reduce the cost of their health insurance.

Open Enrollment is an important time of year to obtain the health coverage you need for you and your family for 2017. 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.

 

Back to School Health Tips for Kids – NC Health Insurance

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

dentalIt’s back to school and NC Health Plans encourages preventive care for your school-aged children!  Here are some simple steps you can take to help keep your kids healthy this school year.

  1.  Make sure your student washes his or her hands regularly.  School nurses encourage parents not only to emphasize the importance of hand washing, but also to teach your children how and when to wash their hands.  Stress the importance of keeping fingers away from eyes, nose and mouth and how to cover any coughs and sneezes using elbows instead of hands.
  2.  Provide a nutritious diet.  Nothing beats a little protein every morning to help kids’ brains in gear for the new day
  3. Making sure kids get enough sleep.  Most studies agree that children need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep to work and play optimally.
  4. Stay up to date on immunizations.  Also, make sure you keep your kids home from school when they do fall sick so that they have an opportunity to rest and recover and other children are not affected.  This will minimize the spread of illnesses.  Most schools require that students stay home for at least 24 hours after a fever subsides, but some children may require more time to ensure a full recovery.
  5. Provide your child with a pack of disinfectant wipes and hand-sanitizer to keep in their desk.  This is always a good idea and sure to be appreciated by their teacher.
  6. Before they start school, make sure your child has a preventive care checkup.  If your child is not currently insured, consider obtaining a health insurance policy that allows you to keep them up to date on wellness visits and vaccinations.  Open Enrollment begins November 1st and you can enroll your child in a policy at this time.

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.

 

Questions about Obamacare? We have the Answers

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Health care reformAs Open Enrollment 2017 approaches, you may still have questions about health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare) and what you need to do to make sure you and your family have the coverage you need at the most cost-effective price available.  Having a licensed agent as your point of contact is one of the best ways to get the answers you need.  Below are some of the questions we are most frequently asked here at NC Health Plans along with our answers:

  1. Do I have to have health insurance?  Yes you do.  Under the Affordable Care Act, you are required by law to carry health insurance or be subject to a tax penalty.
  2. How much is the penalty for not having insurance?  In 2016, the tax penalty is $695 per person or 2.5% of your income, whichever is higher.  The penalty will likely increase in 2017.
  3. Can I be exempt from the penalty?  Yes.  Under certain circumstances, you may obtain a tax exemption.  Visit the government website for a complete list of tax exemption reasons.
  4. Do I qualify for a federal subsidy?  You may.  Federal subsidies are based on your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (predicted for 2017) and the number of people on your tax return.  For help determining whether or not you qualify, visit www.nchealthplans.com or call 888-765-5400 to speak with a licensed agent.
  5. What if my income changes over the course of the year?  You are required to update any income changes with the federal Marketplace.  A failure to do could result in you having to pay back a portion of your premium tax credit.
  6. Do I have to enroll through the federal Marketplace (Exchange)?  No; however, you do have to have an ACA compliant plan to avoid a tax penalty. You do not have to get your plan through the federal Marketplace and Blue Cross Blue Shield offers plans both on and off the Marketplace so if you do not qualify for a federal subsidy, you may want to apply directly.

Obtaining health insurance doesn’t have to be a headache.  At NC Health Plans we utilize the most up-to-date online and telephone application process available to help make the enrollment process easy and are available to answer any questions you may have about your health insurance needs.  2017 quotes for BCBSNC health insurance will be available November 1st, when Open Enrollment begins.  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.

Open Enrollment 2017 Just Around the Corner – BCBSNC Prepares

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Portrait of Happy Family In GardenSummer is flying by and it won’t be long until Open Enrollment begins for 2017.  In fact, now is the time to start thinking about your health insurance needs for the coming year and getting prepared.  For many North Carolinians, 2016 saw an increase in insurance premiums as well as changes in long-standing networks.  Enrollment issues with the federal Marketplace and customer service issues across the board left many BCBSNC members feeling weary and frustrated.  As insurance agents, we understand those frustrations.  Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC has worked tirelessly over the last few months to update information, improve communication, and meet the challenges presented by the ACA market.  On June 9th, BCBSNC President and CEO Brad Wilson told the News and Observer, “While some critics of the law are saying ‘I told you so,’ I believe we need to take a more constructive tone toward making sure the ACA is in fact sustainable for the long haul” (Read full article).

And that is just what Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is doing. (more…)