Friday, January 30, 2015

Data Mining At

By Coleen Elkins
The Associated Press revealed last week that those visiting to shop for or purchase health insurance are not doing so in complete privacy.

Fifty outside advertising and data-tracking companies were operating on the Obamacare website in order to track information about your shopping. This was done without your knowledge or consent.

The head of the House Science Committee Larmar Smith is demanding the Obama administration explain why companies were allowed to gather visitors information including name, zip code, pregnancy status and IP addresses.

Read more here

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Preview Of Coming Attractions...... Is Your Legislator Preparing To Protect You?

By Coleen Elkins

Kuddos to Senator Brian Kelsey and State Representative Jeremy Durham of Tennessee. They filed legislation on Thursday to protect the citizens of Tennessee should The Supreme Court rule in favor of the plaintiff in King vs. Burwell. 

What is King vs. Burwell? It is a lawsuit sent to the Supreme Court to be heard.  This  means at the lower Courts there are mixed judgements (for and against) on the outcome and the case. The Justices agree the case has merit to be heard by the Supreme Court. 
Remember the Supreme Court must rule on "the letter of the law". In other words what it means exactly as it is written. 

In Senator Kelsey's words  "Plaintiffs in the lawsuit claim that the section of the law authorizing the government to distribute tax credits and assess penalties applies only when states choose to run their healthcare exchanges.  The law does not explicitly state that the tax credits and penalties apply when the federal government runs the exchange.  Tennessee is one of the 25 states that have chosen to force the federal government to run its exchange.  Senate bill 72 would prohibit Tennessee from running the exchange in the future if the plaintiffs receive a favorable ruling the case.  A decision on the case is expected by in June after the Tennessee General Assembly has adjourned. “This bill will stop the IRS from penalizing Tennesseans for not signing up for Obamacare,” said Senator Kelsey.  “It also prevents Tennessee from operating any Obamacare exchanges in the future.”

Hopefully legislators across the country have their fingers on the pulse of this case and are taking the necessary steps to be head of the outcome no matter what it is. We will be following this case weekly and monitoring what legislators are doing to protect their constituents. 

Proceeding begin the first week of March and a ruling is expected in June. 

You can visit the news pages of our websites http://www.yourmedicaremarketplace and http://www.yourhealthbenefitsmarketplace to stay in touch with the ever evolving changes in our healthcare benefits. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Some Good News For Those On Medicare

By Coleen Elkins

Being in a situation where your doctors work together to coordinate your care can really give a patient peace of mind. For example if your Cardiologist communicates with your Pulmonologist also treating you could have healthier results.  Many hospitals and doctors are letting their patients know about their coordination of care services.

Beginning this month Medicare will pay primary care doctors a monthly fee to practice coordination of care for their chronically ill patients. The fee will be paid even if the doctor did not see the patient that month. Medicare feels this is a step to keeping patients healthier between doctor visits, and avoid costly hospital and nursing home stays.

Coordination of care could benefit patients of all ages. If the doctors practice receives extra funds to practice this way everyone will benefit. It will also help to lower the cost of medical care overall. Patients that have multiple illness often find themselves on several medications. If the doctors are working together and discussing medications etc the patient may end up with fewer monthly doctors visits. It will also lower costs by not repeating tests that may have been run by another physician.

The fee that will be paid is approximately $40 per month for each qualified patient. To earn the fee doctors will be required to come with a care plan for the qualified patients and spend time each month on coordinating their care with other providers monitoring and treating that patient. They will also have staff communicating with the patient with after care follow up calls etc.

Hopefully it will be found that this type of practice benefits everyone not just those at a high risk. Next time you visit your doctor ask them about coordination of your care.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Are You Ready To Talk Health Insurance On Your Tax Forms

By Coleen Elkins
It is the time of year when tax preparing companies remind us April 15th is approaching. The television commercials  are already beginning. Have you seen the green bowtie yet? Major tax preparing companies are warning you that there is an extra step on your taxes this year.

To help you get past the confusion the government is launching a new website. The website is a joint effort of Health and Human Services and the Internal Revenue Service. As of this writing the URL has not been published. The website will provide guidance in sharing your health insurance information and attesting to the fact that you do have health insurance. It will also help you determine if you qualify for an exemption from The Affordable Care Act.

A major tax preparing firm H&R Block has said up to thirty million people would be impacted by the filing changes. Those that have obtained a subsidy must file taxes to keep their subsidy even if they normally would not have to file.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Obamacare Approaches 5th Anniversary - Changes & Challenges Approaching For 2015 That May Impact You

By Coleen Elkins

On March 1st 2015 The Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare will begin it's 5th year.

For those of you on Medicare your doctors may be sending you letters letting you know they may no longer participate in Medicare and this is why. Doctors and hospitals have been encouraged to participate in "meaningful use" of e-records and e-prescribing systems. This very expensive addition to a practice is meant to make the doctors office more efficient and cut down on communication errors that can harm patients. The cost average cost for a physicians office to implement this change is about $165,000.00 for a five person practice in just the first year.

You may have seen some dramatic changes in your Medicare provider network or received a letter from your doctor telling you that you will need to find a new doctor. More than 270,000 doctors and 200 hospitals nationwide will experience funding cuts from Medicare for failing to meet new government requirements. Some have just decided to no longer contract with Medicare and change the focus of their practice. This causing a very angry reaction amongst the Medicare community of those that have been impacted.

The employer mandate takes effect for the first time this year. Employers with 100 or more employees must provide health insurance to their workers. Next year the mandate will be impacting employers of 50 and more employees. Many employers are restructuring or relocating to other countries and cutting workers hours to avoid the mandate.
If you are under age 65 and did not purchase health insurance in 2014 and expecting a refund get ready. Each person without insurance will pay $95 or a one percent income penalty which ever is greater. That amount will increase to 2 percent for 2015. The cash strapped IRS is the appointed watch dog to collect the penalties and monitor insurance status of businesses under the employer mandate. 

Primary care doctors will face pay cuts in 2015. The funding given to states by the Federal Government to encourage them to beef up their Medicaid programs will be decreasing by an average of 43 percent beginning this month. Doctors will have no choice but to turn away patients because of the high cost of treating Medicaid patients coupled with the reduced pay.
Finally CHIP a funding program for children on Medicaid is reauthorized until 2019 but only funded through September of next year. Members of Congress although supportive of the program have failed to take steps to fund the program. They are receiving pleas from governors who want to know now if the program will end.

Continue to follow our blog in 2015 to stay on top of the changes that my impact you!