Open Enrollment 2018, Personal Note & Gratitude ~ ♥

Health Insurance 2018: What You Need to Know

 
Greeting of gratitude and joy for this upcoming Thanks Giving week-end ~
 
The health insurance industry has known better days.
Political turmoil has created a terribly complicated situation in our healthcare market. Even as the fourth Open Enrollment started on 11/01/17, no one can predict what the outcome of this messy healthcare situation might be.
The one truth we can all agree upon is that our country is in dire need of a healthcare system that works to keep its citizens on a healthy road to long and fruitful lives, without dependency on pharmaceuticals.
 
Without a doubt, this is the year that each of us should step back and honestly look at our lives to assess how we might make healthful changes that will impact out future in a most positive way.
As valued family friends and clients and part of our family, I advise all of you to take your health into your own hands in the coming year and choose a path of healing to soothe and restore your mind, body, and spirit.
 
11/01/17 marked the start of the 2018 Individual Open Enrollment period, which runs until 1/31/18. This is the once-a-year opportunity to sign up for health insurance under the individual market, effective 01/01/18.
It is urgent that you review and renew your health care plan, both for your family and yourself.
Furthermore, the Open Enrollment for Medicare opened 10/15/17 and runs until 12/07/17. If you have Medicare, it is time to assess or make changes to your Part D or to your existing coverage.
 
A major adjustment that will affect many Californians is Anthem Blue Cross’ withdrawal from the Individual Insurance Market.
Anthem Blue Cross will no longer offer individual coverage unless you qualify under a Grandfather Clause or are covered through your employer.
If your Anthem Blue Cross individual policy is not renewing in 2018, you need to learn about your options for the New Year and the deadline is 12/15/17 for effective date of 01/01/18.
 
On October 12, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order affecting the health care market. None of the items referenced in the October 12 Executive Order affect the current Open Enrollment period for 2018.
We in California will keep our six-week Open Enrollment, which runs from 11/01/17 to 01/31/18. We have to stay positive and find the best solution and for each and every one of us it will be a different solution.
 
The White House also announced that it would no longer be making CSR (Cost Sharing Reduction) payments to carriers in ACA marketplaces. In response, Covered CA added a 12.4% surcharge to the Silver Option, in an effort to stabilize and cover the loss.
No other change will take effect in the upcoming 2018 healthcare market.
 
Regrettably, the 2018 rates for the individual market have skyrocketed and were tremendously effected by the Executive Order. 
There will be smaller networks, higher premiums, and higher out-of-pocket expenses.
Unless you are willing to change doctors, you will experience a severe rate hike of 20% to 48%. This is among all carriers, including Kaiser Permanente.
 
Nevertheless, Californians are fortunate to still have so many carrier options including Blue Shield, Oscar, Kaiser, Health Net, Molina, and LA Care. Numerous other states don’t offer nearly as many choices and their options are quite limited.
As ever, Employer Group Benefits remain the best coverage available, with the strongest networks and employer contributions.
You should feel very grateful and lucky if your employer offers you full coverage through a PPO Or HMO network.
 
We are going into a tough year for the healthcare industry.
I am still a believer of the HSA, HDHP option (Health Saving Account, High Deductible Health Plan) so at the very least you can gain an advantage on your taxes.
In addition, I invite you to look into smaller networks of doctors, such as some HMO options or EPO for Oscar Health.
Penalties will continue to be enforced for those who do not purchase health insurance, so be sure to get moving on this right away.
Unfortunately, the health insurance market is likely to get worse before it gets better.
I am positive that a change is on the horizon.
 
I invite you to visit us at A+ Insurance Services and follow up with us so we will help you to examine your options and guide you to the best possible policy for you and your family.
As valued family friends and clients, I want you to know that it has been a true blessing to serve you all for so many years.
Either you are current, past or future client, we love you all.
 

Naama and the A+ Team would like to take a moment and share with you how blessed we feel to have you as part of our family.
 
Blessings for a beautiful Holiday week ~ ❤️

All Stories

What medical coverage your clients have abroad?

We've all been there. Your client calls in a frenzy demanding to know what medical coverage, if any, he has for an upcoming trip abroad.

  

You've gotten this question before but you pause to answer. It's a complicated grey area because unlike the Affordable Care Act, there are almost no benefit standards attached to covering members overseas. The 10 Essential Health Benefits essentially go out the window once your client departs the United States.

The level of coverage and access to networks overseas varies among group, individual and government plans. And they vary markedly among insurance carriers. Further compounding the issue, length of travel and low lifetime limits can be a factor, particularly for Medicare supplemental policies.

 

So how do you provide a black and white answer in this grey area?

Practically speaking, U.S. domestic health insurers typically provide scant international medical coverage for globally mobile members. Plans customarily contract from comprehensive coverage to catastrophic only. Americans abroad often find themselves underinsured or not insured at all (e.g. your client moved to France and she is now no longer living, working or studying in the plan service area). Additionally, members can be left to their own devices to find medical professionals. Without access to vetted international providers, members relying on their domestic health insurance often have a poor patient experience due to limited understanding of the physician's accreditation and training, payment preferences or even what to expect upon arrival.

Domestic carriers are not all the same.

Blue Cross Blue Shield plans offer a suite of international health insurance solutions designed to meet the needs of globally mobile individuals worldwide. Most Blue Cross Blue Shield plans embed a free program called Blue Cross Blue Shield Core, formerly referred to as Bluecard Worldwide, which provides basic coverage and assistance.

In even better news, GeoBlue offers affordable extended coverage through travel health products that offer enhanced benefits, support, security and convenience for anyone planning trips abroad or living outside of the U.S. for an extended period. GeoBlue plans bridge coverage gaps and are engineered for international traveler needs. Your customers will receive concierge-level service to help them navigate different health systems across the globe.

Why Do Seniors Need Travel Health Insurance?

A simple but little-known fact is that most existing health insurance benefits shrink or disappear when travelers cross the U.S. border. Except for very limited circumstances, Medicare provides no protection overseas and Medicare supplemental plans provide limited foreign travel emergency benefit. Critically, most policies do not pay to get you to a high standard of care should you need to be evacuated due to a medical emergency.

What Will a Good Travel Health Policy Do?


Travel health insurance policies are designed to cover your medical expenses when you travel abroad. If you are covered under Medicare, these plans act as your primary insurance while abroad. Travel health insurance also fills critical gaps when taking Medicare supplemental plans overseas. The best designed plans offer more than emergency benefits. They cover everything from hospitalization and surgery to physician office visits, ambulance services and prescription medications. Premium plans cover sickness or injury resulting from common pre-existing medical conditions or a terrorist event without limitations. Some policies even pay medical providers overseas on a direct basis so you can avoid the paperwork hassles that come with filing a claim.


***Please note: Individual Open Enrollment starts November 1st to enroll effective January 1, 2018. Contact our office to for details!!

5 strategies that help employers reduce health-related risks and costs

Many companies aren’t aware of the full impact that health-related risks can have on their bottom line. When an employee is diagnosed with a serious and complex illness, the associated costs can become a burden on a company. When you factor in misdiagnoses, unnecessary procedures, annual healthcare spending waste, productivity loss and absenteeism, nearly $300 billion is wasted spend by employers.

That’s why companies need to help employees understand their health risks and apply appropriate, proactive health management strategies. Doing so will help workers better able to navigate the complex healthcare system to formulate plans for mitigating their risk and improving their health and financial wellbeing.

Employers should consider these five underused strategies for effective health risk management.

Strategy 1: Screening and preventive care

The foundation of a health risk management strategy should include assessing and monitoring family history and lifestyle-based risk factors, administering and updating immunizations, biometric screening for high blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, BMI and waist circumference, as well as personalized screening for breast, colon and other cancers.

We Prepare, Protect and Assist World Travelers

With a growing number of travelers and expatriates becoming aware of the need for international medical insurance and of the options available – given a choice, customers value more than global medical benefits; Our resources give travelers the medical intelligence, tools and 24/7 assistance to travel safely.

 

FEATURED PLANS:

Expatriate Plans: Long-Term Coverage // Global Living
GeoBlue Xplorer - Primary Health insurance for expat life. Unlimited medical maximum, evacuation, preventive care, pre-existing conditions covered with creditable coverage and more
Premier: Worldwide coverage, including the U.S.
Essential: Worldwide coverage, excluding the U.S., offers 50% savings
Select: Worldwide coverage; excluding U.S., abbreviated underwriting
GeoBlue Navigator - A customized version of GeoBlue Xplorer geared for the needs of missionaries, professional yacht crew members and students or faculty.



Peace of mind for the globally mobile

From doctor visits to hospitalization to evacuation, clients are covered
Preferred access to elite doctors and hospitals ensures quality care
Direct claims settlement, so care is both cashless and convenient
No pre-certification penalties and terrorism is covered
Pre-existing condition coverage is available in most instances
Health and security tools and news alerts cover hundreds of destinations

 

Reminder

Effective July 1, 2017, expatriate health plans had a standard rate increase.


Learn more at or Expat Info page, Travel Insurance page,  or click here to get a real time quote.

The Difference Between Open Enrollment and Special Enrollment

Have you been wondering what the difference is between Open Enrollment and Special Enrollment? Are you unsure as to when you can enroll in health coverage? Understanding all of the different health care terms can be confusing, but we are here to help!

Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment happens only once a year for a short period of time and allows any eligible consumer to enroll in health coverage or existing members to make changes to their current coverage. The Open Enrollment Period usually takes place from November to January. This year Open Enrollment will be shorter: 11/01/17- 12/15/17 for effective date of 01/01/18.

 

Special Enrollment

  • Special Enrollment happens all year long, but you must experience a qualifying life event. You can qualify for Special Enrollment if you experience certain life events, like losing other health coverage, getting married, or having a baby. However, for most qualifying life events, you only have 60 days from the date of the qualifying life event to enroll
  • You may enroll under a short term policies throughout the year!
  • You may also apply and enroll in Medi-Cal any time during the year!

Cat Yoga - Why Yoga and Cats are Good for You

(CNN) Lined up one by one behind a glass door, tiny black fuzzy heads peer out at a forbidden Nirvana. They stare at a privilege only the older and wiser among them get to experience.

Just out of reach is a sea of sweet, spongy goodness: fresh, unclawed yoga mats.

Typically, the Good Mews cat shelter in Marietta, an Atlanta suburb, with its bright walls and white volunteer-scrubbed floors, is home to 100 or so cats who lounge and chase and bat at the odd toy, all while they wait for humans to come find them and give them a forever home. Tonight, however, they are in for something special. Tonight, their home in the cage-free adult cat room transforms into a studio for the ultimate in challenging exercise fads. Classes have popped up on New York's Lower East Side, in San Francisco, even in Des Moines and in Mobile, Alabama.

Tonight, it's yoga with cats.

If you've ever tried a hero's pose with your cat around, you know the challenge has nothing to do with your breathing or flexibility. The Herculean task is keeping your yoga mat feline-free. Whatever they make yoga mats out of, the material must come from the catnip family. Turn your back just once to grab your water bottle, and you'll instantly hear the pop, pop, pop of their claws on your pristine $70 Lululemon.

On this night, however, a group of about 15 Spandex-clad women have deliberately plunked down their mats in the middle of the cat room. And true to form, the sleeping cats that had been lounging -- furry legs dangling from cat trees around the room -- instantly jolt awake. They start climbing down toward their prey.

One of the shelter managers, along with a longtime volunteer who is a certified yoga instructor, got the idea for the class -- where else -- after seeing a cat video on the Internet. Only, in that case, people brought cats to a yoga studio.
"I thought with people with allergies, it might be hard to clean up the studio afterward, so I thought, why not bring the class to the shelter?" said the instructor, Lisa Bass. The manager of the shelter, Lisa Johns, thought it was a great idea. She'd wanted another way to get people into the shelter to see the adoptable animals. With Bass donating her time, the class participation fee becomes a donation to help support the animals. Besides the usual assortment of cats and kittens, the shelter runs an expensive program that places cats with special medical needs, continuing to pay for their care even after they've left the shelter.

The class has been a huge hit. It sells out almost as soon as the times are announced online three times a month.

"I really like the class and really like hanging out with all the cats," said Katie Misencik, a volunteer and regular yoga practitioner.

Misencik has taken other theme yoga classes, including one that involves beer, but she says the cat class is pretty special. "It's all about fun and is a little more relaxing," she said. "There's not as much pressure to make my form perfect."

Studies show that yoga can improve your balance, your breathing, your sense of self and your overall health. It can reduce anxiety and fight off depression. It strengthens your core and can help ease chronic pain.

There are no studies about the health benefits of cat yoga, but Bass does see a difference in her students after they've shared their practice with a tiger cat. "In general, yoga is great for lowering the heart rate, and it's great for flexibility," Bass said. "Cat yoga is good for your soul."

From the happy looks on the women's faces, the class does seem to be a hit -- even if, collectively, they may suffer a little from what Bass calls CADD, or cat attention deficit disorder. But even the most senior of yogis might struggle in a room with such present creatures.

As soon as the soothing music starts, cats do make a beeline for the students and the yoga mats.

A calico wanders through a woman's legs as she tries to balance in a low lunge. A white cat sniffs and rubs against a woman in cow pose as she instantly becomes a kind of cat jungle gym. One nestles into the discarded jacket next to a woman's mat. Two tabbies gang up and attack a woman's long dangling ponytail as she attempts downward dog, or "downward cat," as the instructor calls it. A tuxedo perched high in a cat tree looks down at another woman, a little judgy at her attempt at a cat pose. To a person, each woman laughs at these antics. Some even dangle fuzzy toys as they make their complicated moves. The cats seem to like the attention.

"They get stimulation from the humans," said Johns, the manager. "They are very curious about what is going on. They get a lot of loving and affection and get more socialization." Johns also thinks the humans benefit from the special kind of happiness you can only feel bonding with a cat.

"You're not just doing something healthy for yourself," Johns said. "You are doing a bit of good too for these shelter cats that will only get even more adoptable with the extra time and attention."

Namaste.

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/28/health/cat-yoga/
Photo Credit: CNN

Eat Healthy - Stay Healthy

10 Easy (Eating)Tips to Live By

Eating healthily is all about balance. Every now and then it’s perfectly OK to have pie for dinner or a nice slice of cake at teatime – treats are a part of life – but it's also important to recognize when we're pushing things too far. Indulgent food should be enjoyed and savored, but only occasionally – it's important to remember that the majority of our diet should be made up of balanced, nutritious everyday foods. Make healthy food a priority in your life and allow it to bring your family and friends together. Learn to love how it makes you feel, how delicious it is and remember that a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise are the keys to a healthy lifestyle.


1. COOK FROM SCRATCH

This is one of the most important life skills you can learn. It allows you to have complete control of what goes into your food.


2. EAT A BALANCED DIET

Aim to eat a balanced diet that contains each of the food groups in the correct proportions.


3. VARIETY IS KEY – EAT THE RAINBOW

Fill your diet with a wide range of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, eggs, pulses, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and naturally low fat dairy foods. When it comes to fruit and veg, different colours provide your body with the different nutrients it needs to stay strong and healthy – it's not just greens that are good for you!

Top Five Reasons to Grow Your Business With L.A. Care Covered

1. Opportunity for Growth

L.A. Care Covered is ranked as the second most affordable plan throughout Los Angeles County for the 2017 Open Enrollment Period.
The Covered California trend has demonstrated that existing enrollees like both coverage and lower pricing. In Los Angeles County, approximately 70% of the overall enrollment is within the silver plans. Therefore, making the L.A. Care Covered Silver and the Silver Enhance Plans a top choice for consumers is a priority this year.

 

2. Provider Network Expansion

L.A. Care continues to grow its network to expand the number of doctors, hospitals and medical groups within its provider network. Since 2013, it has more than doubled the number hospitals and expanded its contracts with medical groups, which includes Health Care Partners. L.A. Care has also exponentially increased the number of primary care physicians and specialists in its network.
The impressive list of available L.A. Care Covered hospitals includes some of the highest-quality, top-ranked institutions in the area, including:

• Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
• Alhambra Hospital Medical Center
• Centinela Hospital Medical Center
• Glendale Adventist Medical Center
• Huntington Hospital
• Methodist Hospital of Southern California
• Providence Holy Cross Medical Center
• San Gabriel Valley Medical Center and more


3. Angelenos Helping Angelenos

As the largest publicly operated plan in the United States with over 2 million members throughout Los Angeles County, L.A. Care Health Plan (L.A. Care) is the only health care plan that focuses exclusively on Los Angeles County. L.A. Care provides a localized customer service center for the agent community that is committed to the agent needs and satisfaction.


4. My Health In MotionProgram

L.A. Care will reward your L.A. Care Covered members for taking the right steps to improve their health! By participating in L.A. Care’s My Health In Motion Program and successfully completing their health appraisal survey, health coaching plan, tobacco cessations workshop (if a smoker), and healthy weight workshop, L.A. Care Covered members can earn up to 215 points (1 point = $1 in gift cards). These points can be redeemed for gift cards to more than 100 retail outlets.


5. Community Presence

L.A. Care Family Resource Centers offer a vibrant space for the community members to come together and learn skills for a healthy life. They offer free health education and exercise classes that are open to everyone.
L.A. Care Health Plan members can get one-on-one help to learn more about the following:
• Member orientation
• Choosing a doctor
• Making an appointment