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NHIA Blog2018-10-03T17:48:50+00:00

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2210, 2021

Get Ready for Open Enrollment

By |October 22nd, 2021|Categories: Blog and News, NHIA Blog|0 Comments

It is nearly November, which means it is time to start preparing for Health Insurance Open Enrollment. Whether you are looking to get a new or first-time health insurance plan or if you are already covered but want to make sure your plan is still the best fit for you and your family, then now is the time to start looking.

What is Open Enrollment?

Open enrollment is the standard period every fall, wherein you can apply for coverage for the following year. For example, if you are interested in health insurance coverage for 2022, then you would need to apply for insurance in the fall 2021 open enrollment period in order for your coverage to begin on January 1, 2022. The Federal open enrollment period is from November 1 until December 15. Most state-run marketplaces also adhere to this schedule. However, some states do have special enrollment periods as well.

What About Qualifying Events?

If you need coverage right away, there are certain life events that qualify you to apply or adjust your insurance coverage outside of the open enrollment period. Some of those life events are as follows:

  • Employment status change
  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Having a baby or adopting a child
  • Death in family
  • Loss of health insurance coverage
  • Becoming a citizen

It is important to remember that this list is not exhaustive. There may be other events that could qualify you for a special enrollment period. Also, you only have 60 days from the date of the qualifying life event to apply for coverage.

How to Apply?

If your health insurance coverage is through your employer, then your HR department will assist you in applying for the coverage you need. If you are applying for coverage through a health insurance marketplace, then you have a few options. You can either go to healthcare.gov for the federal health care marketplace and select Enroll or Login to begin.

Many states also have state-run health insurance marketplaces that you can use to find a plan. If you type the name of your state and “health insurance marketplace” into any search engine, you should be able to find your state’s insurance marketplace website. Applying for coverage is as simple as entering some basic information about yourself and any family members who will also need coverage, then reviewing and selecting the plan that best fits your needs and budget.

If you need help determining which plan is right for you, healthcare.gov also has a link to find a local agent or broker who can assist you in choosing your plan. You can either reach out to the local agent directly or have them contact you. In addition, on the marketplace website, you can also see if you qualify for any subsidies or tax credits to help you to afford your health insurance plan. There are more options available now than ever before to help you to afford health insurance. And the application process on healthcare.gov walks you through every step or offers you the assistance you need to choose the right plan at the right price for you.

1510, 2021

Delta Unvaccinated Employee Plan

By |October 15th, 2021|Categories: Blog and News, NHIA Blog|0 Comments

In a move that is sure to spark commentary, Delta Airlines has stated that beginning on November 1, any employees who choose to remain unvaccinated will pay approximately $200 more per month to continue on their employer-sponsored health insurance plan. This number, of course, varies depending on the coverage and plan selected. It will also limit how many sick days unvaccinated employees are eligible to use should they contract COVID-19.

Additional Guidelines

Delta does not stop there either. They have also stated that unvaccinated employees will be subject to weekly testing. For employees in the US, where infection rates remain high, weekly testing will go into effect beginning September 12. On top of this, employees who test positive will be required to remain home while they are sick. As previously stated, there is a limit to the number of sick days unvaccinated employees will be eligible to use. Under current legislation, Delta employees who contract the virus are provided with so-called “COVID pay protection” for 14 days before they have to use their regular sick days. This legislation ends on September 30, at which point Delta will only provide COVID Pay Protection to fully vaccinated employees.

Mask Mandates

All unvaccinated Delta employees must wear a face mask in all indoor areas. Mask mandates for air travel remain in effect for everyone until January 2022. That is unless Delta chooses to extend the mandate at some point.

Financial Incentives

In a statement to CCN by Delta CEO Ed Bastian, he states, “While we can be proud of our 75% vaccination rate, the aggressiveness of the variant means we need to get many more of our people vaccinated, and as close to 100% as possible”. These measures add an additional financial incentive to get the vaccine. It also helps to offset some of the cost to the company should any unvaccinated employee contract the virus and require medical intervention. The company continues to struggle to recover after the 2020 shutdowns and loss of revenue.

Broader Implications

According to Delta, since the start of the latest variant, only unvaccinated employees contracted the virus. These measures provide a level of personal choice regarding the vaccine while still providing a greater incentive to get vaccinated. This is a step further than some rival airlines who have gone as far as to mandate vaccination for all employees. Two other airlines, Southwest and American, have also opted not to mandate vaccination fully.

Making Your Choice

Mandates are something that each employer must weigh out for themselves. Relying on the example of others is not the best move. Consulting with a business attorney regarding the legality of such mandates and what is appropriate for each specific business is essential. What works for one company may not for another. In some polls, up to 50% of employees said they would quit their jobs if their employer instituted a vaccine mandate. Working with legal counsel, company employees, and the company’s values is the best guide for what will work for each business.

810, 2021

Unvaccinated Insurance Surcharge

By |October 8th, 2021|Categories: Blog and News, NHIA Blog|0 Comments

Eighteen months after the first coronavirus-related lockdowns began, a new debate is raging through every social sphere. That question is whether or not to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Many people remain concerned about the vaccine’s efficacy or worry about potential long-term side effects. On the other hand, the concern for the spread of the virus is valid as cases continue to rise and new variants emerge. Learn about the potential insurance surcharge that employers could charge unvaccinated employees.

Vaxxed Vs. Unvaxxed

The conversation between vaxxed and unvaxxed is ever-more prevalent as more and more people are either returning to the workplace or are finding ways to delay returning to the workplace in an effort to maintain distance from potential exposure. So much so that the conversation has moved beyond coworkers and into the offices of CEOs, COOs, and HR. Employers are considering what their options are to keep their business running while providing a safe work environment. While some big corporations are beginning to mandate vaccination, other smaller corporations are weighing their options.

In order for some of these smaller companies to remain afloat, they have to respond carefully. Not wishing to alienate their employees or their clientele, they must walk a fine line between civil liberty and public safety. To that end, some employers are looking into a precedent set by an unexpected sector: smokers.

Smokers

There is a practice in insurance companies to charge a higher premium to those who smoke cigarettes. The logic behind this is simple. Smoking is a personal choice that we know causes a number of health issues, including cancer. These health issues cost insurance companies and employers a great deal of money when it comes time to treat. Therefore, insurance companies charge a higher premium to the individual to help offset some of those costs.

The Insurance Surcharge

Employers who remain reticent to mandate vaccination before returning to work are now looking into charging a higher premium to their employees who choose to remain unvaccinated. Some have suggested that the higher premium could be $20-50 more per paycheck to maintain the same level of coverage. In this way, employers are able to allow employees to make the choice for themselves regarding vaccination. On the other hand, they’re providing a financial incentive toward vaccination. It may not be the ideal scenario, and it is one that must be looked at for the legal implications before it can be rolled out.

In addition, companies may need to allow certain waivers as some immunocompromised employees cannot receive the vaccine. It is worth investigating as both an employer and an employee. And knowing that this potential change to premiums could be coming sooner rather than later as employers look to ways to improve business after 18 months of struggling.

2409, 2021

What is the Air Quality Index?

By |September 24th, 2021|Categories: Blog and News, NHIA Blog|0 Comments

A new term is showing up more and more in the media – And you might notice as you’re using your computer that this term is even appearing on your desktop near the weather report. But what does it mean, and what’s the number represent? The answers to these questions are important to maintaining good health and being aware of the potential healthcare conditions of your environment, and with the wildfires blazing in Canada over the duration of July, chances are you have heard the words “air quality index” a lot indeed. So what is it? How can we use it? Let’s start simple.

The Basics

Air Quality Index is the measure of the density of five specific polluting factors. Those factors are ground ozone, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established it as a way of telling Americans how clean their air is from day to day, so they can better make choices regarding their health and outdoor activities.

In July, parts of the country experienced an Air Quality Index of nearly 500, the year’s highest reading. Some states broke records. A level of pollution that thick can make it hazardous to step outside. However, even a more typical measure such as an Air Quality Index of around 100 can warn those with respiratory conditions or a vulnerable constitution to be careful.

How is it Read?

Because the index falls between a range from 0 to 500, it can be hard to understand exactly what you’re being told. The higher the number, the more pollution there is. A level of air pollution less than 100 is below the levels of pollution known to cause health defects. Once it crosses that threshold and reaches 101, the air is still safe for most people, but the elderly and children are at risk of developing health complications such as asthma attacks or an aggravated respiratory disease. A number above 200 is very unhealthy.

Color Codes

The index also categorizes scores into six differently colored sections, with green and yellow presenting the healthiest air conditions. Orange, red, purple, and especially maroon represent an increasing level of danger.

How Can I Stay Safe?

By being conscious of events that could potentially harm the air quality, such as wildfires or chemical events, you can know when to check the Air Quality Index in your area. When you notice the levels of pollution rising, close your windows and doors. If possible, run your air conditioner without stopping or using the auto cycle. Make sure to close any fresh air intake vents, so smoke doesn’t enter your home. Portable air cleaners can also remove particulate matter from the air inside your home, especially in smaller spaces.

You should also avoid frying foods or generating more smoke indoors by smoking or burning incense or fireplaces. If you must go outdoors, avoid strenuous activities like jogging or yard work. It’s important to get daily exercise, however this is only safe at an Air Quality Index of 150 or less. Face masks – Especially loose fabric covers – Will not filter out any particulate matter, and even an N95 respirator will not filter out carbon monoxide, so exercise extra caution in the presence of forest fire smoke.

1709, 2021

What Happens if You Don’t Pay Your Premium?

By |September 17th, 2021|Categories: Blog and News, NHIA Blog|0 Comments

Times are hard. Many families have to pick which bills they will pay each month. Unfortunately, health insurance premiums are not exempt from this decision. Most health insurance providers have a “grace period,” usually lasting a month to three months. During this grace period you can make late payments, and the buyer can maintain coverage. However, what if you’ve already missed a payment? What can happen to your coverage, and what will happen next? This week, read on to learn what happens if you don’t pay your premium.

First Off

The simplest answer is that if you don’t pay your premium and your grace period expires for a plan offered in a health insurance marketplace, your coverage will end. When your coverage ends, you will lose your benefits. However, some factors can change how long your grace period is. For example, the company might consider whether or not you’ve paid at least one premium in the year. Outside factors also come into play, such as whether or not someone else subsidizes your insurance.

Grace Periods

A three-month grace period usually applies to individuals with federal subsidies and those who paid a full month’s premium previously. Those who don’t meet these criteria have a grace period of one month. This also applies to plans purchased outside of the health insurance marketplace, as those are not eligible for subsidies.

Enrollees who do not receive subsidies may even have their coverage terminated retroactively to the end of the month where the premium was last paid. If that happens, it means you may lose benefits for a recent medical bill.

Those who receive subsidies will lose coverage if their premiums go beyond three months overdue. At that point, coverage will retroactively terminate to the end of the first month of the grace period. Suppose June is the first month of payments that you miss. Then, you receive medical care at some point in July. At the end of August, if you don’t pay, your July appointment will come out of your pocket.

Catching Up

For your coverage to remain in place at the end of your grace period, you will have to be fully paid up at the end of the grace period. This means that if you miss three months of payment, you must provide three months of payment before the end of the grace period. Additionally, if your coverage is terminated back to the end of your first month, your subsidy is also lost for the first month of that grace period. This means you will have to pay back the subsidy when you do your taxes.

What Comes Next?

If you lose your coverage in the marketplace because of a failure to pay premiums, you will not be able to rejoin a marketplace health plan until a new open enrollment begins. Certain qualifying events may allow you to anyway, but most of these events have a prior coverage prerequisite and are meant to allow a person to switch plans rather than gain insurance from a place of not being insured. In addition, when you are uninsured, even if that winds up being in your grace period, you will be responsible for medical bills that you incur.

1009, 2021

Should I Get Life Insurance?

By |September 10th, 2021|Categories: Blog and News, NHIA Blog|0 Comments

Many people don’t believe they need it. There is a strange stigma around purchasing life insurance as if it is inviting disaster into your life or will somehow harm you or your family. Nothing could be further from the truth. Life insurance is about protecting the people you love. While the decision can’t be boiled down to a purely emotional or financial decision, it is ultimately about protecting the ones you love and safeguarding their future in the event of your absence.

Here are five good reasons for you to consider purchasing a life insurance plan.

Life Insurance is for Living People

Many people reckon that the superstitious aspect is reason enough not to get it, but life insurance is not about you at the end of the day. It is a policy that protects your loved ones. If anything were to happen to you, your insurance plan would be there to protect and provide for them even when they have to continue ahead without you. It’s for their sake, not yours.

Life Insurance Provides Hope

Every loss is tragic. The grieving process and the healing process can and all too often are disturbed by the burden of difficult decisions that are forced on the bereaved. They must make hard decisions quickly and often after their loss. At a point in time when their emotions may have compromised their ability to do so, life insurance gives the survivors the chance to adjust over a gentler period of time than being thrown to the wilderness may allow for.

Your Policy Shows How Much You Care

If the worst should happen and your family is suddenly without you, your policy – That you took out for them – Can be a source of comfort, another gesture to remind them of how much you love them. It ensures that you can still fulfill promises and obligations to them and provide them a source of stability in a very uncertain time.

Life Insurance Ensures You Keep Providing

If you are the primary source of income for your family, losing you can put everyone you love in a very delicate position. By taking out a life insurance policy with a specific sum of money for your loved ones, you make a large sum available to them almost immediately. It may be hundreds of thousands of dollars, or maybe even millions, depending on your policy. Death benefit proceeds provide an essential cushion for your family as life crashes into them.

Life Insurance is There when They Need It Most

Of all the things that could happen to a family, the loss of a provider and pillar of the family is one of the most devastating. Your spouse may be unable to bring herself to work, your children will grieve, but having a good policy in place means that they won’t be alone during their most vulnerable moment, as your care will still be with them in a very practical and supportive way.

To be sure that your coverage will be able to give your family all that they need, be sure to keep in touch with your agent. You can work together to determine what expenses they may incur, what their needs may be, and what your upper limit for a premium might be. Review the policies and products that are available, and compare prices.

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