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Agent Sales News

Most marketplace enrollees plan to change plans

A study by Radius Global Market Research provides insight into the level of satisfaction and other data among people who purchased health insurance through federal and state online marketplaces. Among the findings:

  • Of the 7 million households that purchased insurance through an ACA marketplace, most are satisfied with their plans; 20 percent said they were dissatisfied.
  • Compared to care they received before 2014, most were satisfied with both the quality and cost of health care they’re receiving now.
  • Despite this, about two thirds plan to shop for new coverage during the open enrollment period that began on November 15, 2014. This is likely to drive competition among insurance carriers.
  • The most widely named priorities for new plans are reduced cost and greater access to medical care.
  • More the 50 percent said they expect their insurance premiums to rise over the next six months.
  • Many switched to a new primary care physician because their policies didn’t include their old PCP in its network.
  • About 25 percent of households said they visit their physicians less often and/or experience longer wait times to see their physicians.
  • Overall satisfaction correlated positively with enrollees who reported receiving an adequate explanation of their ACA coverage, but less than half—44 percent—reported feeling well-informed.

One of the report’s main takeaways was that insurance companies need to develop specific strategies to avoid high levels of churn during the next open enrollment period.

Source: Radius Global Market Research

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Millennials prefer word of mouth

A new study from Keller Fay Group, a market research firm, provides insights into communicating with consumers in the age group between 18 and 33 (often dubbed Millennials).

Unlike their elders, Millennials were born pre-wired to use the Internet and are predisposed to share content on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Any insurance agency or other marketer hoping to engage with them will need to adjust its marketing to leverage this and other attributes. While Millennials are known to be highly social, the report clarifies a variety of specifics about this important consumer segment. Among the findings:

  • Millennials take in more than two thirds of a billion brand-related word-of-mouth (WOM) impressions every day.
  • 84 percent of brand impressions are offline; of these, the bulk are face-to-face (71 percent), followed by phone (13 percent).
  • Compared to the rest of the population (35 and older), Millennials are 50 percent more likely to discuss technology in general, 25 percent more likely to talk about specific tech brands, and about 33 percent more likely to talk about topics like shopping, retail, media and entertainment.
  • When Millennials interact with others about brands, about two thirds of those conversations specifically reference marketing content they saw online, in media, at a store or elsewhere.
  • Of all the media Millennials talk about, digital is king (referenced in a quarter of conversations, compared to 19 percent for those over age 35).

The takeaway for agencies: If you want to engage with Millennials, leverage their proclivity for online sharing—which you can accomplish by focusing more on targeted social media. Meet or exceed their expectations and they can become powerful allies by sharing positive impressions about your business. But don’t disappoint: that same comfort with sharing can work against you if they share negative impressions.

Source: Keller Fay Group

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New systems help you manage your social media

If your agency’s marketing mix has a significant social media component—or if you know it should—you know it can be time-consuming to manage. Until recently, third-party systems to help you analyze and manage social media were priced for larger enterprises.

But several feature-rich new platforms have moved into the social media management space, and they’re priced to appeal to smaller businesses. Here are several choices, listed alphabetically, that are worth considering:

  • Crowdbooster: This platform is limited to Facebook and Twitter, and it places emphasis on its analytics feature, which allows you to see results in addition to basic metrics such as likes, reposts and retweets. Crowdbooster shows every post and tweet in a sortable table, and it lets you schedule—and optimize timing of—your posts in advance.
  • Everypost: The unique feature of this platform is that it’s mobile-based, so you can manage your social media from your smartphone or tablet. It comes in iOS and Android versions and supports Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Tumblr. Everypost also plays nice with Dropbox and email programs. Free trail available.
  • Oktopost: Developed specifically for business-to-business use, this platform supports campaign management, thought leadership, post scheduling, lead generation, social media monitoring and brand awareness development. It also has a performance-based content recommendation tool. Works with Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Post Planner: This Facebook-only platform promotes engagement. It provides content trending, analytics in real time, post scheduling and fan targeting based on demographic and location data. Free trial available.
  • Rignite: This platform lets you manage social media, perform analytics, schedule posts and create campaigns. To drive traffic, you can offer discount coupons and promotional codes, and it helps you monitor all your social media for mentions of your company name, products or user-defined keywords.

Whether you’re just getting your feet wet with social media, or you’ve been at it for years, give these new alternatives a try. Most subscriptions cost $9 to $29 a month. You could save some money, gain some time, and most importantly, boost your social media presence.

 

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Creating customer advocates

Most insurance agencies—in fact, most small businesses—rely on customer referrals to generate new business. And that’s fine, but there is room for improvement.

Referrals are like endorsements—and as a marketing medium they’re pretty passive. They assume that (a) the prospect is interested in your product and (b) has taken the time to ask someone; and (c) the person who fields the inquiry happens to be one of your customers—a customer who is (d) satisfied enough to refer business to you. And the customer giving the referral could be telling the prospect about one agency or a dozen of them.

What if you could turn the occasional referral-giving customer into an advocate? Using today’s social media, you can enlist a whole group of satisfied customers to serve as your advocates. In the process, they become an extension of your marketing team. Consider these strategies for developing your team on social media:

  • Engage: Go beyond a stream of regular outbound posts and tweets. Monitor your social media for questions, comments and other opportunities. Engage with people, show you care, and be prepared to respond quickly and helpfully.
  • Voice: Take a hard look at all the communication you put out. Make sure it resonates emotionally with customers and prospects. The last thing you want is a brand voice that sounds canned, insincere or unintentionally disrespectful. Connect with people by being human—always.
  • Thanks: Be conspicuous, consistent and swift with your appreciation when someone posts something nice about you. Post something publicly in the same channel to thank the person for taking the time to praise you. Pair this with a more private thank-you to cement it: send a note or even a small gift to say how much you appreciate a public compliment. With this kind of reinforcement, your advocates will be more likely to repeat the behavior.
  • Face time: As efficient and convenient as social media can be, you don’t live in a vacuum, and neither do your customer advocates. Leverage the value of the occasional person-to-person meet-up. Stop by their office or take them out for coffee. Your effort to build a strong rapport will not go unrewarded.
  • Fix it: Being human, you’ll mess up occasionally. If you’re slow with a response or forget to provide a heads-up about a policy change, remember that mistakes are opportunities. Resolve them proactively and completely, and your customer advocate will actually be more satisfied than if you never messed up in the first place.

Pursue these strategies consistently and soon you’ll have a whole army of customer advocates out there, supporting you and helping you build your base.

Source: Duct Tape Marketing

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Ring in the New Year with Florida Blue e-News

Make the most of your health plan, find out how to increase your 2015 tax credit
and re-assess your health with informative and interesting articles in the Florida Blue member e-Newsletter winter edition.

While the holidays may be over, you can still pick up tips on how to de-stress and recharge, and eat healthy in 2015.

Individual and group members receive the newsletter via email (excluding ASO groups) and it’s accessible from the member page of the Florida Blue website.

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Key insights on dissatisfied clients

Not every client will always be satisfied with your agency or your service. That’s a given, no matter how well, how consistently, you follow the rules of client service.

Once you accept this Great Truth, your focus can shift to strategies for winning back those clients who are dissatisfied—for whatever reason. There’s a lot of business—and profitability—that can be salvaged with this attitude.

A recent study by a leading customer engagement solutions company reveals insights that can be helpful when dealing with dissatisfied clients and turning things around:

  • Good first impression: Seems obvious, but avoiding common mistakes that displease clients is a good strategy to start with. So review your processes proactively. About 20 percent of clients start to lose trust after just one negative experience; a quarter of clients say they’d switch to a competitor. The takeaway: Do your best to get it right the first time.
  • Act fast: Dissatisfied clients require a response now. In fact 93 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t change their opinions if the company didn’t act swiftly to fix a problem.
  • Add value: Communication with a dissatisfied client should be relevant and finely targeted to the person who made the complaint. These elements reinforce the value of your relationship.
  • Don’t compound the problem: Monitor social media for repercussions from the dissatisfied client. According to research, about one third of ticked-off customers say they take to social media to express their displeasure. If you’re the target, respond quickly, constructively and respectfully—and follow through on your promises meticulously. So the same universe that saw the complaint will see that you handled it professionally.

Use these strategies to keep dissatisfaction to an absolute minimum. They’ll help give your agency the best chance of turning the few negative experiences that do occur into positive ones.

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HealthSpot station opens in Miami Falls’ Florida Blue Center

Blue Cross and Blue Shield members can now get care on the spot at the Florida Blue Center in Miami Falls. This Florida Blue Center was selected as the first location for HealthSpot®, an interactive, high-tech medical care station.

The HealthSpot station offers services to treat a variety of primary and acute care conditions commonly treated in a doctor’s office or urgent care clinic. Services are available for adults and children, using a specially trained onsite attendant, diagnostic equipment and a live videoconference connection to clinicians from Miami Children’s Hospital.

The introductory program, developed in conjunction with HealthSpot and Miami Children's Hospital, is available to all Blue Cross and Blue Shield (any Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan, not just Florida Blue) adult and children members over the age of 2.

The program was announced through mail and email to more than 20,000 members who live near the Falls Florida Blue location. The station is being positioned as more convenient and less expensive than urgent care clinics.

For more details about the HealthSpot station, please refer to Agent Bulletin #A14-340, which has links to FAQs and sample member communications.

The HealthSpot name and logo are registered marks of HealthSpot, Inc.

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Florida Blue 2015 holiday schedule

This year, Florida Blue will be closed on the following holidays. Agents will be notified in advance of any special agent service center hours.

  • New Year’s Day, Thursday, Jan. 1
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 19 (observed)
  • Memorial Day, Monday, May 25
  • Independence Day, Friday, July 3
  • Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7
  • Thanksgiving holidays, Thursday-Friday, Nov. 26-27
  • Christmas holidays, Thursday-Friday, Dec. 24-25

Please be sure to mark your calendars!

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Getting past gatekeepers

Selling insurance—or any other product or service—comes with its own challenges when the prospect is a small or medium-sized business. Unlike the comfy waiting rooms and receptionists found in large corporations, most small businesses are not set up to accommodate a stream of eager sales professionals, in person or on the phone, and they usually lack a professional receptionist.

At a small business, the person you want to connect with is focused on running the business. And the other employees, who often double as gatekeepers, are focused on their own work.

Result: small and medium-sized business owners are really hard to connect with at first. In this situation, one key to sales success involves reassessing your relationship with the gatekeeper.

A gatekeeper can become your unintentional ally, providing information you can use to serve the prospect better. Consider these tips for establishing and nurturing relationships with small-business gatekeepers:

  • Ask if they can help you. Don’t assume. If they’re not the person you should be talking to, they’ll be more likely to point you in the right direction, which saves you both some time.
  • Say why you’re reaching out to the business. Follow up with a question the decision maker can answer. How’s that promotion performing?
  • Build a relationship, making sure you get the gatekeeper’s name right. As you demonstrate a genuine interest, you’ll slowly convert the gatekeeper into an ally.
  • Ask about their busiest time of the day. Follow up by asking what’s the best time to reach the decision maker. Use the opportunity to convey why it’s so important for you to connect with your target.
  • Ask about their busy season. Leverage this information to ask about the company’s sales cycle or its seasonal marketing efforts. You’ll get useful data that will come in handy when you do connect with the decision maker.
  • Ask about their marketing and/or their social media. This can yield useful data, too.

Stick with these techniques, consistently and with sincerity, and you’ll have an easier time meeting with the decision maker—and when you do, you’ll be armed with a wealth of information you can use to close your sale.

Source: StreetFight

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Employers exploring ways to reduce health care costs

To combat the expectation of rising health insurance costs in 2015 and beyond, many employers are considering a wide range of proactive changes in plan designs and operational strategies. That’s according to a survey by Towers Watson, which analyzed data from 379 mid-size to large companies in the U.S.

Employer expectations for 2015 included:

  • Costs will probably rise by 4 percent a result of planned changes—significantly lower than the 5.2 percent rise they originally projected if no changes were made.
  • The total health care cost for each employee will likely average $13,037. About 78.5 percent of this amount, $10,233, will be paid by employers.

The report also noted a number of trends in companies’ strategies for dealing with higher health care costs:

  • Spouses and families: There is greater interest in ways to reduce costs associated with covering spouses and families. Many companies are considering spousal exclusions and surcharges in cases where the spouse can obtain coverage separately. Reducing spousal subsidies is also on the table.
  • Engagement: Many are focusing more on outcome-based incentives to engage employees. Accountability-based enrollment and defined-contribution arrangements are gaining attention, along with telemedicine alternatives.
  • Technology: Employers expect to rely more on technical solutions to improve access and engagement. Technologies under consideration include mobile apps and fitness wearables to track activities and nutrition.
  • Public exchanges: Employers may lack confidence in Marketplace-based solutions as an alternative to providing employer-based coverage.
  • Pharmacy: Strategies to reduce pharmacy costs are gaining traction. These include restrictions on eligibility, utilization and coverage for specialty pharmacies.
  • Private exchanges: Despite a rise in interest, many companies remain unconvinced of the value of switching to a private exchange, as opposed to a traditional self-managed program, in the short term. As more companies research this topic, interest in switching is likely to increase.

Additional findings point to a continued commitment to providing health care insurance for workers: 87 percent of companies expect health care benefits to remain an essential element in their employee value proposition for 2015, and 91 percent of employers that currently offer insurance to part-time employees expect to continue to do so.

Source: Employee Benefit news

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Florida Blue website adds value-based health care page

Reflecting Florida Blue’s commitment to innovative health care models, the company has launched a new Value-Based Health Care page at FloridaBlue.com. Accessible from the agent home page, it provides links to important background information on the programs, including Frequently Asked Questions, an eBooklet and an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) video.

The value-based programs—which include ACOs, Patient-Centered Medical Homes and Bundled Payment Arrangements—test and refine new relationship models with physicians and other providers. They’re designed, each in its own way, to improve the coordination and quality of care for members by reimbursing providers who work together to keep patients healthy.

This information is also available in Agent Bulletin #A14-318.

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4 tips for stand-out customer service

Any solid business knows it’s not about getting customers––it’s about keeping them. Competition can be stiff, so customer loyalty can really make or break a business. Great customer service is always well worth the effort.

Here are some tried and true ways to keep your clients coming back for more.

Get to know your clients.
Building personal relationships with customers is the key to letting them know that you’re committed to their business needs. Communicating with and listening to your customers, whether in person or via email, phone, or social media. makes them feel like they are dealing with a real person rather than a brand.

Engage with your clients via social media.
Facebook and Twitter are just two of dozens of social media platforms that can help you to engage with your customers. Via social media, you can hang out with your clients in a place that they feel comfortable. It’s a far more neutral space than your website or blog. Actively communicating with customers not only humanizes your product or service, it also gives them a reason to feel more connected to your company. Whether positive or negative, you should always respond to your customers’ comments. It’ll show that your company feels accountable for its product.

It’s all about the extras.
When it comes to service, it’s really the little things that count. Handwritten thank you notes, special offers on birthdays, silly packaging details that show you’re human––this is the stuff of great customer care. By going the extra mile, you set your company apart from your competition.

Ask for feedback.
You may have a great product, but it never hurts to ask your clients how you can improve it. Their input not only helps you to offer better goods and services, but also helps them to feel more invested in your product. It’s a win-win.

Source: The Globe and Mail

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Expanded coverage for smoking cessation starts January 1

Responding to federal recommendations and clarifications, Florida Blue will offer expanded coverage for products that support smoking cessation beginning Jan. 1, 2015.

The new coverage will include:

  • Generic nicotine patch products
  • Generic nicotine gum
  • Chantix

These join generic Zyban (buproprion XR), which is already covered. These preventive products will be listed in the Medication Guide, along with quantity limits.

The expanded coverage applies to all commercial lines of business (individual under 65, small and large group), both grandfathered and non-grandfathered, as an expansion of the smoking cessation category. Rates will not be adjusted based on this change. Large ASO groups that want to opt out of this expansion will need to do so through the special product request process.

In addition, members will continue to have access to tobacco counseling cessation services through their physicians, Better You from Blue (for members residing in Florida) and Health Dialog (for members residing outside Florida).

This information is also contained in Agent Bulletin #A14-256.

 

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Better benefits education needed to increase employee satisfaction

A recent Harris Poll study has determined that employee satisfaction stands at its lowest point since 2008. The research examines the relationships between worker satisfaction with benefit packages, benefit education, and the workplace as a whole.

Specific findings included:

About half of U.S. workers (49 percent) rate their employer as an excellent or very good place to work.
Less than half (47 percent) of employees whose employers offer benefits give the benefits a good or excellent rating—the lowest level on this question in six years.
One third of employees rated benefits education in the good or excellent range. In contrast, 28 percent rated benefits education as fair or poor.

Better benefit education is critical, according to Bill Dalicandro, vice president at Unum, who commissioned the study, especially in light of the sheer amount of new information employees must digest in the age of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Employees’ satisfaction levels with their benefits—and education about those benefits—closely correlate with overall satisfaction with their employer:

More than three quarters (77 percent) of workers who rate their benefits package as excellent or very good give the same overall ratings to the employer.
Meanwhile, just 17 percent who give their benefits a fair or poor rating also rate the employer as excellent or very good.
The same pattern exists when benefit education is compared with workplace satisfaction: just 30 percent of employees giving low marks to benefit education also gave high marks to the workplace in general.

The takeaway, Dalicandro said, is clear: “This research underscores the value of an effective benefits education plan… when an employee understands their benefits, they tend to value them more and, in turn, may then value their employers more for providing access to them.”

Source: LifeHealth Pro

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Thanksgiving holiday schedule

Thanksgiving is almost here! In observance of the holiday, we’ll be pending publication of Agent News articles this week—and our offices will be closed Thursday and Friday, November 27 and 28.

See you next week and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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November is National Epilepsy Month––take part

Epilepsy affects over two million Americans with 150,000 new cases detected each year. Perceived as a condition that affects young people, epilepsy can affect anyone at any age.

Take part in promoting awareness this November, which is National Epilepsy Awareness Month. The nation’s fourth most common neurological disorder after migraine, stroke and Alzheimer’s*, one in 26 people will develop epilepsy in their lifetime.1

While epilepsy is not uncommon, the public’s understanding of the disorder is limited.

Epilepsy is a brain disorder characterized by brief disturbances in the brain’s normal electrical functions, a kind of occasional glitch in the amazing electrical system, which controls everything we feel and do. These brief malfunctions (called seizures) may temporarily block awareness. They can also cause uncontrollable shaking, convulsions, confusion, or affect the senses.
Anyone, at any age, can have a seizure if the brain is stressed sufficiently by injury or disease. A single seizure isn't epilepsy, although the symptoms are the same. Epilepsy is the name given to seizures that occur more than once because of an underlying condition in the brain.

It’s important to be aware of seizures as people age, because they may have odd or strange experiences such as confusion, lost time, or suspended awareness. They, or their loved ones, may assume it’s just a part of the aging process––but it could be epilepsy, which can often be successfully treated.

To find out more about epilepsy, visit epilepsy.com or the Epilepsy Foundation’s Facebook and Twitter pages to get involved and help spread the word.

Sources: Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine

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Care consultants help close the gap

The Florida Blue care consultant team (CCT) provides a wide range of services to assist our customers seeking care. This service strengthens relationships between Florida Blue and its diverse membership base.

The team recently added 12 bilingual benefit specialists, based in Miami, so Spanish-speaking members can access CCT services more easily. Because the service supports member satisfaction, retention and cost reduction, it’s a good idea to underscore the CCT team in discussions with your customers.

When members contact the CCT they can expect help in:

  • finding the lowest cost on prescription drugs—and comparing specific drug prices at individual pharmacies
  • accessing member discounts on selected everyday products and services
  • shopping around for the best value on medical and diagnostic procedures
  • navigating the self-service tools and other features on FloridaBlue.com
  • triaging chronic conditions with Florida Blue’s various care programs
  • tailoring benefits to their specific needs
  • locating and accessing wellness programs
  • making financial choices that align with their needs
  • accessing local resources for necessities

“The CCT bilingual team will help close a key gap for our company, providing guidance and care coordination for our Spanish members that will help them maximize the value of their health plan, and live happy and health lives,” explained Sherri Mikell, Vice President, Contact Services. “We are finally able to bring the value of the care coordination process to all our members.”

To access the CCT, members can call 1-888-476-2227 or visit any Florida Blue Center.

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Health care costs to rise in 2015; money-saving strategies

According to a recent report from the Health Research Institute (HRI), a division of PriceWaterhouseCooper, overall health care costs are expected to rise by 6.8 percent in 2015. Some of the factors driving the increase include:

  • greater use of medical resources as people seek care for previously untreated conditions
  • investments in new medical technology
  • cost of specialty drugs for conditions like multiple sclerosis and hepatitis C

Much of this increase will be reflected in higher premiums. In response, many employers are moving toward high-deductible plans that shift more of the cost to employees. In fact, the HRI report notes that high deductible health plan enrollment has tripled in the last five years; among employers not currently offering them, 44 percent are considering them.

These dynamics create opportunities for insurance professionals to add value and differentiate themselves from competitors. Employees and consumers will need counseling from experts on how to choose wisely among their options and save money.

Some money-saving strategies include:

  • Assess insurance needs next year. Younger, healthier consumers may prefer to purchase less coverage with higher out-of-pocket costs—especially with preventive services covered at 100 percent under the ACA. Consumers expecting to start families and those with chronic conditions might need more coverage.
  • Examine provider invoices carefully. Check for inadvertent double-billing, erroneous charges for appointments that were rescheduled, and other inaccuracies.
  • Consider employer contributions. Some companies contribute more toward the employee’s coverage, with a lower contribution (or none at all) for family members. Under some circumstances it may save money to enroll family members through the appropriate Marketplace.
  • Save on prescriptions by using generics whenever possible and asking physicians about lower-cost alternatives.
  • Consider opening a tax-deductible Health Savings Account. If they have a high deductible plan they should consider a HSA. It works like an IRA for medical expenses, and unused funds can roll over to the next year.
  • Shop wisely for health care services. Florida Blue has a team of Care Consultants who help members compare costs for procedures from different in-network providers.

Viewed in this light, the rise in health care costs can provide a perfect opening for you to earn trust and build your client base.

Source: U.S. News & World Report

 

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Give thanks at Thanksgiving

With the holidays approaching, remember that your cards and gifts will have to compete with others from the recipient’s friends and family members and might get overlooked.

Now is a perfect time to send year-end thank you cards to clients, customers and vendors. Enclose a gift card to a local bookstore or restaurant to keep the dollars spent in your community. If your clients are geographically widespread, gift cards to online gourmet gift shops are a great idea.

If you send an actual gift, it doesn't have to be expensive. Buy cookies shaped as turkeys or pumpkins, wrap each in a cellophane bag and then in bubble wrap. Then box them up to distribute to your most loyal customers.

Your thanks is sure to stand out when it’s before the Christmas gift-giving season.

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New Skillsoft eLearning courses for 2015

In preparation for 2015, Florida Blue will be releasing a variety of new eLearning courses to keep agents informed about critical health care topics that affect the Florida market.

Agents can access all available eLearning courses through Skillsoft, Florida Blue's learning management system. Find the Skillsoft link on the front page of accessBlue in the “Sales & Training Support” section, along with a Skillsoft External Job Aid that includes:

  • technical support;
  • troubleshooting information;
  • step-by-step log in instructions; and
  • a guide to help agents navigate the tool.

Skillsoft is available exclusively to agents; delegates do not have access. Future announcements will be made as new eLearning courses are released. For questions, email CommercialMarketsTrainingEvents2@floridablue.com. This information can also be found in Agent Bulletin #A14-235.

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Many uninsured remain unaware of the ACA

Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has reduced the number of people who lack health insurance, the remaining uninsured (13.4 percent of Americans, an all-time low) will prove harder to reach. That’s one of the conclusions in a Harris Poll survey for the nonprofit Transamerica Center for Health Studies.

Clearly, awareness is an issue. Almost half of the uninsured—46 percent—said they were unaware of the ACA’s mandate to purchase health insurance. Nearly the same number, 43 percent, said they were unaware of the federal and state Marketplace exchanges where they could have purchased coverage. Another 22 percent missed the deadline last year because they said they were unaware of it.

The report lists other reasons for remaining uninsured. Eleven percent of uninsured said insurance was too expensive, and 27 percent said they thought it would be less expensive to pay the penalty and the full amount of their health care costs. The penalty for failing to have a Qualified Health Plan, $995 or one percent of taxable income in the current fiscal year, will rise significantly in 2015.   

Among the other findings about currently uninsured Americans:

  • 44 percent are between ages 18 and 34
  • 33 percent are Latino
  • 40 percent have not gathered information about their personal health, health insurance and the health care system in the past 12 months
  • 42 percent could afford health monthly insurance premiums of $100
  • 22 percent can afford routine health expenses
  • 5 percent are currently saving for future health care expenses

The number of uninsured Americans has added relevance as the next Open Enrollment period for individuals under 65 begins November 15.

Source: BenefitsPro

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HHS report notes more issuers for 2015

A recent report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says consumers will have more choices in the Marketplace during the 2015 open enrollment period that begins November 15.

The report, dated Sept. 23, 2014, notes a net increase of 25 percent in the number of issuers offering Marketplace coverage in 2015. At the national level, 77 new issuers will offer Marketplace coverage; in Florida, one insurer is exiting the Marketplace, while four are entering, resulting in a net gain of three insurers.

The report examines preliminary data from 44 states: 36 that rely on the federally operated Marketplace plus eight that operate their own Marketplaces. Some of the report’s specific findings include:

  • Among the 44 states in the report, 77 issuers will be newly offering coverage in 2015.
  • Of these states, 36 will have at least one new issuer next year. 
  • The 36 federal Marketplace states alone will have 57 more issuers in 2015—a 30 percent net increase over 2014.
  • In four of these states, the number of participating issuers will be at least double the current number.
  • In the eight states that have their own Marketplaces, a total of six more issuers will be participating next year, a 10 percent net increase.
  • Some of the nation’s largest insurance companies will be offering coverage in more than a dozen new states, joining the hundreds of insurance companies already participating in the Marketplace.

The higher number of insurers doesn’t necessarily translate to a higher number of plans available to consumers. In some individual counties, if 2014 insurers either leave the market or reduce the number of plans available, then consumer choice may actually decrease.

View the full report.

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Electronic ID cards available for most dental PPO plans

Florida Blue has added convenient new servicing features that benefit members with most dental PPO plans. Now it’s possible for agents—and members themselves—to generate an electronic ID card and request a replacement card or benefit booklet.

The new capability applies to group and consumer members who have a Florida Blue/Florida Combined Life dental product. But it does not apply to those with prepaid and integrated health and dental products. Eligible plans include:

Group plans

  • BlueDental Choice, Choice Plus, Choice Copayment, Freedom

Individual qualified plans

  • BlueDental Choice Q and QF
  • BlueDental Copayment Q and QF

Individual consumer plans (no longer sold)

  • BlueDental Choice Plus
  • BlueDental Choice Copayment

Additional updates being made to accessBlue:

  • The ability to print and/or save eligible dental electronic IDs at an individual or group level.
  • Order replacement ID cards or benefit booklets for eligible dental products.
  • Find group and individual members by contract number, Social Security number and date of birth, or name and date of birth.
  • For groups: search by group number or group name.
  • To order at the group level, you must be the agent of record.

In addition, group benefit administrators can also generate an electronic dental ID card for members in groups with health and a PPO dental product. Benefit administrators of dental-only groups cannot access an electronic ID card in BlueBiz and should call Enrollment Membership & Billing to receive one. An email with details is being sent to group benefit administrators.

For details on these new capabilities, please refer to Agent Bulletin #A14-237, which also has a copy of the email to group benefits administrators and step-by-step instructions for accessing ID cards in BlueBiz.

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Study shows millennials lack insurance across the board

Despite the health insurance mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), nearly a quarter of millennials (ages 18 to 29) lack health insurance, according to a survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. That’s significantly more than the 16 percent of Americans overall—in all age groups—who lack health insurance.

Millennials usually enjoy lower premiums for health insurance and are often more likely to receive government subsidies than Americans in other age groups. Their choice to opt out of health insurance in greater numbers than the general population could be related to a sense of invincibility associated with their age group.

The trend is not limited to health insurance. The survey’s findings, based on responses from 1,003 adults in the continental U.S., reveals that millennials are foregoing other kinds of insurance, too. They appear to be underinsured across all insurance lines—including auto, life, homeowner’s, renter’s and disability. Still, the study notes, 60 percent of millennials are confident they are prepared for the financial consequences of being uninsured or underinsured.

What this translates to for agents? A selling opportunity. Prospects need to be informed about the ACA rules allowing coverage under parental policies until age 26. Those who don’t qualify under that ruling should be aware that going without insurance means they’ll pay their total cost of medical care, plus the government fee––2 percent of total household income for 2015 or $325 per adult and $162.50 per child––whichever is higher.

Source: Insurance Networking News

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Florida Blue e-News fall issue now available

Turn over a new leaf for fall. Test your flu I.Q, support national health awareness months, take part in the Great American Smokeout and much more. It’s all inside the new issue of the Florida Blue member newsletter.

The quarterly online member publication also features a special teen section: vaccinations to remember, unplugging from social media and cell phones, and getting involved in the community.

Individual and group members receive the newsletter via email (excluding ASO groups) and it’s accessible from the member page of the Florida Blue website.

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