Prep Your Family for Disasters During National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month, a time for you and your loved ones prep for and practice how to handle disasters. This year’s theme: Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How.

When disaster strikes, time is of the essence. That’s why it’s crucial for you to only have a plan of action but to also have materials you may need gathered in a safe location and to practice your plan with your family before it’s too late.

From wildfires to hurricanes to tornados to earthquakes, you could find yourself and your family in need of life-saving tactics such as first aid and CPR. You could also need provisions such as food and water, cash and important documents such as insurance policies, utilities such as water and gas shut off.

The Department of Homeland Security’s yearly awareness campaign invites you to use the month of September to get your plan and your provisions prepared so you can be ready to face possible natural disasters.

Here are the campaign’s weekly themes:

Week 1 September 1-8: Make and Practice Your Plan

Cover the basics:

  • Make an emergency plan
  • Sign up for alerts and warnings in your local area
  • Learn evacuation zones
  • Practice your plan

Week 2 September 9-15: Learn Life-Saving Skills

Focus on valuable skills and tactics:

  • Know basic home maintenance
  • Learn how to turn off utilities
  • Test smoke alarms throughout your home
  • Learn life-saving skills such as CPR

Week 3 September 16-22: Check Your Insurance Coverage

Consider how to manage possible aftermath:

  • Check your insurance policies for adequate coverage
  • Learn about other types of insurance you may need for your loved ones and your homes

Week 4 September 23-29: Save For an Emergency

Think about your financial well-being:

  • Plan your finances for possible disasters
  • Maintain emergency savings

In times of disaster, quality health insurance may help you and your family face challenges brought about by hazardous conditions. Talk to your insurance agent about choosing policies that make sense for your health and your lifestyle needs.

Ask your insurance agent about:

Visit the National Preparedness Month campaign website for more information on this significant opportunity to raise awareness.

*Note that STM and limited benefit insurance do not count as minimum essential coverage required by the Affordable Care. They are not sufficient forms of coverage to avoid facing a tax penalty. They are not suitable to serve as sole medical coverage. Review policy terms, conditions, limitations, and/or restrictions prior to making a purchasing decision.

 

With our leading edge tools and technologies, we’re upgrading how you experience your choice of coverage.

Stay tuned to our next blog post!

Click here to join our Facebook community for more information about your health and your healthcare coverage.

Have Questions About Health Benefit Insurance? Let Us Clear Up These 4 Common Misconceptions

Health benefit insurance plans, also known as limited benefit medical plans, indemnity plans, and fixed cash plans, are plans that provide a fixed benefit payment for covered services. They can offer a range of benefits to help meet you or your family’s needs. But do you have all the right information about this type of coverage before you enroll?

Familiarizing yourself with this type of coverage as a viable option may be a good idea for you and your loved ones, especially in the face of skyrocketing healthcare costs. It can help supplement your major medical coverage and can provide you access to options that may bring you the benefits and features you’ve been looking for.

Take a look below as we debunk common misconceptions about this level of coverage.

Misconception #1: Health benefit insurance plans work the same way as major medical or short-term medical insurance.

Health benefit insurance plans have some important differences from major medical policies. Understanding those differences will help you decide if this type of coverage is right for you.

These plans pay fixed indemnity benefits towards covered procedures as well as offer discounted rates for using in-network providers. There are no deductibles or copays with health benefit insurance plans, and they can provide another layer of financial protection if you need to supplement your major medical coverage. They are not a replacement for major medical insurance. Policies do have limitations, restrictions, and exclusions to consider.

This coverage provides the most benefit to those who are proactive about using in-network providers and taking advantage of the services and features provided. It can also offer guaranteed acceptance.

Misconception #2: Health benefit insurance plans don’t provide quality benefits and have a small network of doctors.

Health benefit insurance plans can often have lower premiums than major medical insurance since they are not providing comprehensive coverage. But they can also provide a host of valuable benefits to help you and your family with medical needs.

The core benefits of a limited benefit medical insurance plan can include fixed benefit payments for the following services:

  • Hospitalization*
  • Emergency care*
  • Doctor’s visits
  • Surgery*
  • Diagnostics and labs
  • Wellness care

*Typically not covered for pre-existing conditions

Fixed benefit health insurance plans can also come with a wide network of doctors nationwide. If the doctor you choose does not accept the insurance, you can pay upfront and submit your own claims for reimbursement, but you may be subject to higher out-of-pocket costs.

They may also provide supplementary non-insurance benefits to serve your needs in other areas of healthcare.

These may include:

  • Prescription savings program on generic and brand-name medications
  • Ability to speak to a licensed doctor over the phone or mobile app to diagnose common illnesses
  • Patient advocacy service that can help you find procedures for the lowest cost and can negotiate medical bills

These benefits combine to create coverage designed to help you and your family with high medical costs or to supplement other insurance. When considering health benefit insurance plans, make sure to learn about all the features that can help you manage healthcare costs and save time.

Keep in mind that there are often exclusions with health benefit insurance plans that are important to look into before choosing a policy.

Exclusions may include:

  • Pre-existing conditions (12-month waiting period)
  • Prescription benefits
  • Maternity benefits

If you have decided on this type of coverage, we provide access to key information to help make the most of your benefits. Your Member Portal access is secure, and you can access it anytime with the username and password sent in your welcome email. The portal will provide you access to a range of information such as your ID cards, claims status, and contact information for your carrier, claims administrator, and MyBenefitsKeeper.

Misconception #3: Hospital indemnity insurance plans are only beneficial for young people or as supplementary insurance.

Health benefit insurance plans can be beneficial for people of all ages with varying medical needs.

While these plans are designed to be supplementary to major medical policies, you can use them in a variety of circumstances.

This type of coverage may fit the needs of those who:

  • Are priced out of major medical coverage, but seek a limited level of coverage for basic needs
  • Want additional benefits to help cover deductibles and copays of a major medical policy
  • Are seeking limited coverage until they are eligible for a major medical policy during Open Enrollment or through their employer

Making the decision about whether health benefit insurance coverage is right for you can be challenging, so talk to your agent about the specific benefits, conditions, and exclusions of any policies.

Note: Health benefit insurance plans are not intended to be a replacement or alternative to ACA or other major medical plans nor does it provide the minimum essential health benefits that are required, and it won’t help to avoid the fee for not carrying health insurance. These plans can have exclusions and limitations, which may not make them a valid option for some.

Misconception #4: Health benefit insurance plans can satisfy ACA requirements.

Fixed benefit insurance plans do not meet the minimum essential coverage required under the Affordable Care Act, so you would likely be subject to a tax penalty. Because they do not have to follow the guidelines for the ACA, premiums tend to be lower as more limited and/or restricted benefits are being offered. Still, these plans can be useful solutions for some who may need to supplement a high-deductible plan or who may otherwise go uninsured.

With our leading edge tools and technologies, we’re upgrading how you experience your choice of coverage.

Stay tuned to our next blog post!

Click here to join our Facebook community for more information about your health and your healthcare coverage.

Source:

“The Rising Cost of Health Care by Year and Its Causes.” The Balance. https://www.thebalance.com/causes-of-rising-healthcare-costs-4064878

 

Protect Your Family During National Immunization Awareness Month

August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), an annual initiative sponsored by the National Public Health Information Council (NPHIC) to encourage people of all ages to make sure they are up to date on vaccinations recommended for them. Vaccinations can help you protect your health as well as the health of your loved ones and community.

How vaccines help you, your children, and the community

Did you know that vaccines save more lives than seat belts in the United States? Vaccination is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself and your family healthy.

Vaccines are important at all ages. Here’s why:

  • Vaccination allows children to gain immunity without having to get sick from the real diseases
  • Immunization of children helps the overall community by protecting those who are too young or are medically unable to be vaccinated
  • Adults are at risk for different diseases than children, and it is important to keep up with immunizations because vaccines can wear off over time
  • Booster shots are necessary in continuing the effectiveness of the original vaccine
  • If we stopped vaccinating, diseases that are essentially gone may come back, and we are likely to eventually see epidemics of diseases that vaccines prevent today

Vaccines are essential to maintaining the safety of our community. Wellness and preventive care is the first step to healthy living, and vaccines are important to keep in mind when choosing a health insurance plan.

Understanding potential coverage options

No matter which style of plan you choose, it is important to take advantage of preventive benefits and remember to get immunized.

  • Affordable Care Act medical coverage: This type of plan provides coverage for pre-existing conditions and preventive care for individuals and families. They also provide the minimum essential coverage required by the ACA. There are subsidies available that may lower costs and annual options to change plans. Vaccines are required to be included among the covered preventive services in ACA plans.
  • Short-term medical: This type of plan provides benefits for a specific time period. They’re typically used during times of transition, such as graduating college, waiting for employer insurance to being, or waiting for Medicare coverage to become effective. These plans have a range of deductibles, copays, and cost sharing options to fit you or your family’s budget and lifestyle needs. You may find these plans to be useful for vaccines because they can provide you access to wellness/preventive care visits. Note: they typically do not cover pre-existing conditions.
  • Health benefit insurance: HBI plans (otherwise known as limited medical benefit plans) can be useful if you who are looking to supplement your major medical coverage or are not able to afford major medical insurance. These plans provide pre-determined cash benefits based on a covered service. They may also provide little to no waiting periods, which may be useful for a loved one who is need of benefits sooner rather than later. They are not comprehensive medical plans and are not intended to replace a major medical plan.

Disclaimer: STM and HBI plans do not count as minimum essential coverage required by the Affordable Care Act and are not suitable to serve as sole medical coverage. They are not sufficient forms of coverage to avoid facing a tax penalty. Review any terms, conditions, limitations, and/or restrictions carefully prior to any purchasing decision.

Learn more about how vaccines can protect your family

Get involved in National Immunization Awareness Month and learn more about how to best protect you and your family as well as to raise awareness in your community by visiting https://www.nphic.org/niam/item/10463.

With our leading edge tools and technologies, we’re upgrading how you experience your choice of coverage.

Stay tuned to our next blog post!

Click here to join our Facebook community for more information about your health and your healthcare coverage.

Sources:

“Vaccines & Immunizations” https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/howvpd.htm.

“Immunization Resources” https://www.nphic.org/niam/item/10463.

“Traffic Safety Facts” https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811383.

“Vaccines bring 7 diseases under control” https://www.unicef.org/pon96/hevaccin.htm.

If You’re a College Student or Recent Grad, These Healthcare Solutions Got You Covered

Summer has settled in across the country, and we’ve all got something to celebrate in this warm weather. As a college student or recent grad, you certainly have your fair share of reasons and opportunities to celebrate as well. But according to a recent poll, 72% of those in your shoes – or in your caps and gowns as the case may be – are facing a challenge: finding affordable health insurance.

With 40% of your fellow college students and recent grads mostly concerned about the cost of premiums and 20% concerned about high out-of-pocket costs, you will undoubtedly have questions about your options this summer. You may be coming off coverage through your university or your parents’ health plan or you may be waiting for coverage sponsored by your new employers to begin. You may also be priced out of traditional major medical coverage as well. Short-term medical plans may help you address your healthcare needs.

STM plans can include benefits and features such as:

  • Flexibility in length of coverage  in cost depending on benefits selected
  • Variety of deductible and coinsurance options
  • Benefits that are paid in a similar manner to traditional major medical plans
  • Wellness options
  • Little to no waiting periods
  • Next day coverage for some carriers
  • Relatively inexpensive premiums due to lower and more restricted benefits
  • Low-cost doctor and specialist copays depending on the plan selected
  • Open network of physicians, specialists, and hospital depending on the plan selected

Your family may also have concerns about your coverage options as well. When you research your options, talk with them about what STM plans can offer. This level of coverage is available at any time in the year and you can cancel it at any time as well. It can also offer access to providers of your choice, including providers you visited through their parents’ health coverage. If you’re looking to change providers, STM plans can provide you the opportunity to file your own claim and submit for reimbursement if needed.

However, STM coverage does not provide the minimum essential health benefits required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and will not help you avoid the penalty for not carrying health insurance. At this time, STM plans have a maximum duration of 3 months at which point you must re-apply to continue coverage. There may be limits on how many times you can re-apply as well. In addition, pre-existing conditions are not covered. Benefits vary by plan and state and may not include those that are listed above. Before making a purchasing decision, review any plan details carefully.

If you find that you aren’t eligible for STM coverage and that you’re priced out of ACA coverage, you may find health benefit insurance plans (commonly known as limited benefit medical plans) to fit your lifestyle and healthcare needs.

Health benefit insurance plans provide a basic insurance coverage that is capped at specific amounts for services provided due to accidental injuries, sickness, inpatient surgical care, outpatient care, and even pre-existing conditions. Plans vary as to the specific, fixed amounts provided and which specific medical services they will provide benefits for, but often times, this level of coverage may provide little to no waiting periods and benefits for critical illness and/or accidental death.

HBI coverage can also offer benefits and features such as:

  • Guaranteed issue coverage
  • Next day coverage or little to no waiting periods for accidental injuries or sickness
  • 12 month waiting period for pre-existing conditions
  • Ability to supplement existing coverage
  • Access to non-insurance benefits such as a prescription savings program, 24/7/365 video and phone access to quality physicians, and a patient advocacy service

But remember: like STM plans, HBI plans do not count as minimum essential coverage required by the Affordable Care Act and is not suitable to serve as your only medical coverage. Although the premiums may be lower than a major medical plan, the benefits are also lower and more restricted.

Benefits offered vary by plan and state. Not available in all states. Make sure to review any plan details carefully prior to making a purchasing decision.

With our leading edge tools and technologies, we’re upgrading how you experience your choice of coverage.

Stay tuned to our next blog post!

Click here to join our Facebook community for more information about your health and your healthcare coverage.

fitness tracker on arm

Get Moving this May for National Physical Fitness and Sports Month

It’s that time of year again – it’s time to #MoveInMay!

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, a month dedicated to raising awareness about the benefits of physical activity and asking communities, health professionals, and families to work together to create opportunities for everyone to get more of it.

Consider these stats from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention1:

  • About 1 in 5 (21%) adults meet the current physical activity guidelines.
  • Less than 3 in 10 high school students get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
  • Physical activity can improve health. People who are physically active tend to live longer and have lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers.
  • Inactive adults have a higher risk for early death, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers.

Click on the link in the first stat above to learn more about the amount and type of activity the CDC recommends for your optimum health benefits.

While many health coverage options provide a wealth of insurance benefits to help you maintain your health, some plans may also provide additional programs and features that pique your interest:

Access to digital fitness tools

We know that consistent physical activity is a core principle of good health. With tools to help you track your fitness journey, you can integrate personalized health and fitness guidance, including tips on nutrition and self-assessments, into your workout routines. These tools can be included in short-term medical or health benefit insurance coverage.

24/7/365 access to board-certified doctors

Increasing physical activity can have a significant impact on your general health, but you may still suffer from common illnesses, allergies, or infections from time to time. Short-term medical and health benefit insurance coverage can include benefits that allow you to connect with doctors in mere minutes via mobile and video to address health concerns quickly and conveniently.

Patient advocacy service

As you continue to increase your physical activity and fitness levels and make the most of your health coverage, you may need assistance navigating the world of healthcare. As is found with many traditional health insurance plans, short-term medical and health benefit insurance coverage can also include access to a patient advocacy service that can help you schedule appointments, find quality doctors and facilities, lower out-of-pocket costs, and make informed decisions about your healthcare.

Note:  Keep in mind that while short-term and health benefit insurance coverage do provide these non-health benefits, neither one is intended to be a replacement nor an alternative to ACA or other major medical plans. These types of coverage do not provide the minimum essential health benefits that are required and will not help to avoid the fee for not carrying health insurance. They may have restrictions, limitations, and exclusions that impact your coverage.

What are your physical fitness goals? How do you work with your personal healthcare community to make sure you meet them?

 

With our leading edge tools and technologies, we’re upgrading how you experience your choice of coverage.

Stay tuned to our next blog post!

Click here to join our Facebook community for more information about your health and your healthcare coverage.

 

 

Source: “Facts About Physical Activity.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/data/facts.htm

 

 

 

crisp dollar bill in front of white brick wall

Understanding Your Out of Pocket Expenses 101

There’s no doubt that the world of health insurance is challenging. Whether you’re researching new coverage or trying to understand your current coverage, you may feel overwhelmed with the laundry list of options, features, and expenses. It’s likely that you depend on your agent’s guidance and expertise to help you select the coverage that fits your health realities and your lifestyle.

It’s a good idea to have an agent you can trust, but it’s also a good idea to have an understanding of out of pocket expenses before choosing an agent. This will help you understand how a policy will impact your wallet and help you identify which questions to ask your agent before making a final decision.

Let’s take a look at some of these expenses and consider how those they relate to two popular coverage options: short-term medical and health benefit insurance plans.

Deductible

This refers to the amount you pay for yourself before your insurance carrier pays benefits.

If you’re concerned about the cost of deductibles when facing common illnesses such as a cold, an ear infection, pink eye, or strep throat, you may be interested in coverage that includes a telemedicine as a feature.

Telemedicine meets you where you are by allowing you to connect with doctors via phone, video, smartphone, or computer and reducing travel time, anxiety, and time away from family and responsibilities. This feature is available with many short-term medical and health benefit insurance plans as well as traditional healthcare coverage plans.

Copay

This refers to the amount you pay to your providers at the time of service. The amount may vary depending on the type of service you receive and typically does not count toward your deductible.

Affordability is undoubtedly one of your primary concerns when choosing healthcare coverage. Many short-term medical plans offer low out of pocket copays for doctor’s office visits and wellness care. However, the benefits may be more restricted as well since these plans do not need to meet the 10 essential health benefits. They also do not cover preexisting conditions.

If you need another type of coverage and/or if you are considering supplementing your major medical coverage, you may benefit from health benefit insurance, as this type of policy may be cost effective and provides cash benefits to pay for a variety of expenses, including copays. Keep in mind that there may be limitations and/or restrictions, so be sure to fully review the circumstances under which payment can be received.

Coinsurance

This refers to the amount you pay to your provider for services rendered after you pay your deductible and after your carrier covers its portion. This amount is a form of cost sharing and is in addition to the copay that is paid at the time of the visit.

Short-term medical plans offer a variety of coinsurance options, including a 100%/0% option. This can allow you to circumvent a coinsurance payment and would task your carrier with paying 100% of the fees. Keep in mind that short term insurance plans do not cover preexisting conditions and are not required to cover 10 essential health benefits, including maternity and newborn care, mental health and substance abuse disorder services. Check any plan details carefully to understand what is covered.

Health benefit insurance plans do not offer coinsurance options, as they provide fixed cash benefits for specific covered expenses.

Note: It is important to keep in mind, that while short-term and health benefit insurance coverage can provide valuable benefits benefits, neither one is intended to be a replacement nor an alternative to ACA or other major medical plans. These types of coverage do not provide the minimum essential health benefits that are required and will not help to avoid the fee for not carrying health insurance.

With our leading edge tools and technologies, we’re upgrading how you experience your choice of coverage.

Stay tuned to our next blog post!

Click here to join our Facebook community for more information about your health and your healthcare coverage.

woman who is stressed holding her head

Carve Out Time to Relax this National Stress Awareness Month

Few things in life are certain. Stress is one of those certainties, a detail you are reminded of each day as you manage responsibilities and face challenges. Chances are that you are keenly aware how important it is to hit the refresh button when it comes to your ability to face those matters. April is National Stress Awareness Month, the perfect time to use that button more liberally and to recognize how stress can impact your overall health.

It’s crucial to be able to recognize stress symptoms so you can manage it1. Stress is a natural reaction and is a way to protect yourself from danger. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention2, it can prompt you to develop skills needed to manage potentially threatening situations. But it’s best to be aware of stress and find ways to manage it through self-care.

Some of the common effects of stress are1:

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Social withdrawal

It’s when our fight or flight response is left unchecked that it can contribute to a variety of health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes1.

Consider managing your stress by3:

  • Recognizing when you don’t have control and letting it go
  • Avoiding anxiety about situations you can’t change
  • Focusing your mind on something that makes you feel calm and in control
  • Developing a vision for healthy living, wellness, and personal growth
  • Setting realistic goals to help you realize your vision

Carving out even just a few moments each day to relax can help you manage your stress.

Here are a few ideas you want to explore1:

  • Engaging in regular physical activity
  • Partaking in relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, yoga, or getting a massage
  • Socializing with family and friends
  • Setting aside time for hobbies, such as reading a book or listening to music

Let’s take a look at a few insurance benefits available to you with short-term medical and health benefit insurance coverage that may help you as you manage your stress:

Wellness care

When you begin thinking about improving your stress management techniques, you’re likely to also begin thinking about how to make healthier choices going forward. Short-term medical and health benefit insurance coverage are options that may be able to help you maintain access to quality healthcare all while including wellness care benefits. While they’re not intended to replace major medical insurance, they can be used to continue access to health benefits.

Preventive care 

Beyond learning more about healthier choices, you may also be interested in learning more about your general health as well as screenings and shots. If traditional insurance coverage is not an option, short-term medical and health benefit insurance coverage can include preventive benefits that give you access to quality physicians who can provide such care.

Routine doctor visits

Maintaining your general health is likely to become a priority as you become more aware of your stress and management exercises that work for you. With short-term medical coverage, you can take advantage of benefits that allow for access to physicians who can provide routine care and consultations. With health benefit insurance coverage, you can take advantage of cash benefits that subsidize the costs of such visits. Both types of coverage can provide access to a network of providers and facilities. It’s important to review any plans carefully to understand what is covered, if preexisting conditions are included or not, and what services will qualify for any cash benefits. While major medical insurance will provide access to routine care, you may find yourself in a situation where you cannot obtain coverage, and these plans may provide an alternative to help you stay on track with your wellness and health goals.

Note: It is important to keep in mind, that while short-term and health benefit insurance coverage do provide these benefits, neither one is intended to be a replacement nor an alternative to ACA or other major medical plans. These types of coverage do not provide the minimum essential health benefits that are required and will not help to avoid the fee for not carrying health insurance.

With our leading edge tools and technologies, we’re upgrading how you experience your choice of coverage.

Stay tuned to our next blog post!

Click here to join our Facebook community for more information about your health and your healthcare coverage.

Sources:

1: “Healthy Lifestyle: Stress Management.” Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987

2: “Coping With Stress.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/features/copingwithstress/index.html

3: “Take Time to Unwind.” Federal Occupational Health. https://foh.psc.gov/calendar/stress.html