Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wait Don’t Throw That Away!

By Coleen Elkins

Medicare open enrollment period also known as AEP is almost here!  It is from October 15th until December 7th.

Your mailbox will soon be overstuff with more information than you brain will be able to handle. There is one piece of mail you MUST SAVE! Before you open that recycle bin and make a large contribution sort through the mail. 
What are you watching for???  Your ANNUAL NOTICE OF CHANGE it is coming from your current Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Plan. It is your crystal ball to your benefits for 2015. 
Medicare changes are on the horizon and 2015 this could be a pivotal year. Shifts are occurring in medical and RX benefits. Some are so small they may not register on your Richter scale, but could make a large impact on your personal benefits.  You need to be watching for changes that would impact your annual out of pocket expenses. In other words look to things that affect your “bottom line”. 
If you don’t know how to decipher what is changing call your Medicare agent. If you don’t have one consider finding one, because an agent can guide you at no extra cost to you. 

Coleen Elkins is an independent health insurance agent
Visit our websites:
For Medicare in Arizona, Nevada and Texas

For Under 65 health insurance in Arizona, Nevada and Texas 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What Do You Mean I Owe You 1,000 Dollars!?!

                                                                   By Coleen Elkins

You have health insurance right? You know what your deductible and potential out pockets are right? We hope so.  

Do you know what balance billing is?  If not you need to.

Some doctors do not contract with insurance companies typically anesthesiologists do not. What does that mean to you? Imagine you are scheduled for an elective surgery. You visit the surgeon who is in your network and they carefully schedule you for the surgery at a hospital in your PPO insurance company’s network. It’s all good right? No so fast!  Just because your hospital is “in network” does not mean the doctors providing services within that hospital are!  You could very well end up with a large unexpected bill in your mailbox. 

How do you protect yourself? One way would be to speak to the person scheduling your surgery and ask them to make sure everyone on your surgical team is in network. If it turns out they are not it is important to ask them if they are willing to accept payment from your insurance company without balance billing you. Make sure you have the name of every person the scheduler spoke with regarding your surgery about NOT balance billing for out of network services. This way you have no surprises. 

The second scenario may be more difficult. Most emergency room doctors are not contracted with insurance companies. You will be covered for the emergency room visit to the hospital and typically have a co-pay for that visit. The doctor in the emergency room may very well not be a contracted physician and could send you a bill for the short fall after billing your insurance company.  

Make sure to share this information with your friends and family members so they can ask questions about fees for services regarding treatment of a loved one during an emergency. 

Be insurance SAAVY! You wouldn’t walk into a big box store lay down your favorite credit card and tell them you want a big screen without knowing the price of the TV would you? Of course not! 

Make sure you don’t make that mistake with your insurance card either! If you do you may end up with “sticker shock” and high blood pressure! 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

How Much Time Do You Devote To Insuring Your Health?

By Coleen Elkins

Choosing the wrong health plan can cause catastrophic damage to your bottom line and ultimately your credit score. Most people are not comfortable shopping for health insurance and look forward to it about as much as they look forward to doing their taxes.

A recent survey by AFLAC a supplemental insurance company found that even though health insurance is a significant portion of a persons budget they spend about 15 minutes or less researching their options. Research shows people spend significantly more time researching electronic purchases, automobile insurance and where they will vacation.

Often when people look for health insurance they are looking for the cheapest rate. They may be selling themselves short on the benefit side and only realize it when they need to use their benefits. They also may end not covering the medications they need the most. Remember if you are on a Medicare Advantage Plan or you are under 65 you are locked into your plan at certain times of the year.

Did you know using the services of a licensed insurance agent or broker costs you nothing extra? Experienced agents will take the time to find out what is important to you and assist you in finding the benefits that best meet your personal needs.

As we approach the new year and open enrollment for Medicare and the Affordable Care Act are almost here it is time for EVERYONE to review their options. You need to make sure you are getting the best benefits for the best price.

If you live in Arizona, Nevada or Texas visit our websites and bookmark them to learn more and

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Your Doctor's World Is Evolving How Will It Impact You?

By Coleen Elkins

Have you recently visited a doctors office that is located in a building attached to a hospital? Doctors often situate themselves near a hospital but now more around found at the hospital.

Instead of doctors having a single office with there name on the door and their own staff there may be a list of 20 physicians on the sign outside the door. These are doctors have made the decision to join  large health network and become "employees" instead of "employers". Fortunately this could be good news because it puts his or her focus back on you.

Why is this happening? Doctors are being paid less for their services by insurance companies. They have been asked to do more with less money. Physicians are being required to produce more data and documentation than ever before which takes valuable time and man power and upgraded technology. All these required changes drives up their cost of doing business. Sole practitioners or a handful of doctors in a small office setting can only see so many patients in a day. They have had no choice but to evolve their practice to change with the times or burn out trying to keep up.

Those that decide to stay independent are finding ways to replace the income lost due to contractual cuts the insurance companies have imposed on them. One way of doing that is by making a part of their practice a concierge service. Under this model you pay a monthly fee such as $150 per month for unlimited access to your physician.This means your are promised same day appointments, a direct phone line to your doctor and the ability to text them even when they are away from the office.

Read more here

Monday, September 1, 2014

How Did We Come To Celebrate Labor Day?

                                                                       By Coleen Elkins

Legislatively Labor Day did not become a holiday at the Federal level first. In fact it took a good while for it to become a National holiday. Labor Day took the path of municipal ordinances passed in 1885 and 1886. New York was the first to introduce a bill, but the first state to make Labor Day a holiday by passing a law was Oregon on February 21, 1887. Oregon as followed by Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York creating a holiday celebrating their work force. As a new decade was approaching Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania were also celebrating Labor Day!

On June 28th of 1894 Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

The idea of Labor Day came from Labor Union workers as they adopted a proposal and appointed a committee for a demonstration and picnic. It said it was the idea of one of two workers but it is still unclear who was the founder some say it was Peter J. McGuire the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners others give credit to Matthew Maguire a machinist.

The Federal observance and celebration of Labor Day is outlined to hold a street parade to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community. A festival was to follow for the amusement of the workers and their families. Speeches would be given by prominent community members.

Over the years this nation has paid tribute to the backbone and strength of this nations leadership, strength the American worker!

Happy Labor Day to all!