2nd Qtr Newsletter from the Benefits Department

Premier NW Insurance Newsletter
2nd Quarter 2010

COBRA/State Continuation Subsidy Extension

On April 15, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Continuing Extension Act of 2010 (HR 4851). Among other provisions, this law once again extends the COBRA subsidy eligibility period under ARRA, this time through May 31, 2010.

As with ARRA, the changes affect continuation coverage offered under COBRA and any comparable state law. Like its COBRA predecessors, this law takes immediate effect and is retroactive to April 1, 2010.

The law makes the following changes:

    New Sunset Date: The COBRA subsidy eligibility period (for Qualifying Events on or after September 1, 2008) now ends on May 31, 2010. This period had expired on March 31, 2010. As a refresher, the subsidy is a 65 percent discount off the regular COBRA premium for up to 15 months. Only Assistance Eligible Individuals (AEIs) qualify for the subsidy.

    Eligible Qualifying Events: As before, two types of Qualifying Events are subsidy eligible. The first one is an involuntary termination of employment. The second one is a reduction in hours followed by an involuntary termination of employment if that involuntary termination occurs on or after March 2, 2010, and on or before May 31, 2010.

The new law does not change the length of the COBRA maximum coverage period. It is still based on the original reduction in hours Qualifying Event date. Also, the subsidy period (up to 15 months) is unchanged.

UPDATE on Health Care Reform

As you know, Health Care Reform has passed and continues to be discussed and analyzed and debated! To help you understand how this reform will affect you and your employees, we have attached a simplified timeline for the major components of the law.

In the immediate future (for groups renewing in October 2010 and each month thereafter) the major changes that will affect your health insurance policy in 2010 are:

    1. Dependent Children will be covered to age 26
    2. Bans lifetime and annual maximums
    3. Children cannot be excluded from group or individual coverage for pre-existing conditions.
    4. Requires insurance carriers to fully cover preventive care services (with no cost sharing by subscriber)
    5. Provides a Tax Credit available for Small Employers (under 25 employees for calendar year 2010) who purchase health coverage for their employees.






A few other items to be aware of that will become effective in 2011:

    1. Employees who have access to a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) will no longer be able to be reimbursed through the FSA for over the counter drugs.

    2. Employees who have access to an HSA account will now be taxed 20% (was 10%) for non-qualified medical expense distributions.

We will continue to keep you updated on any changes in the law or updates as we are notified. We also would encourage you to sign up on the State of Oregon DHS website, for daily updates to Health Care Reform. That website is: http://insurance.oregon.gov/FAQs/fedrealhealthreform-oregon.html

The CLASS Act (part of Health Care Reform)

There is a small “hidden” provision that was deep in the heart of the Health Reform Law that was passed, which may escape people’s radar, but is important for employers to know about. It is THE CLASS Act (Community Living Assistance Services and Support). This is a government sponsored, long-term care plan that offers a basic level of guaranteed issue coverage to working Americans. Employers will be strongly encouraged to offer this plan, but it will not be mandatory. As of now, it appears that all working Americans will be automatically enrolled in this program unless they choose to opt-out. Premiums have not been set, but they will be automatically deducted from employees’ checks. The government is hoping to raise revenue with this product to help pay for the cost of the Health Care Reform.

Employee Benefits Department Contacts:

Suzie Moll, Employee Benefits Manager

  • 503-655-6344 ext 33
  • Stephanie Bartrug, Employee Benefits Specialist

  • 503-655-6344 ext 27
  • Robert Rivenburgh, Employee Benefits Specialist

  • 503-655-6344 ext 32
  • Jared Harding, Employee Benefits Specialist

  • 503-655-6344 ext 29
  • Lisa Ewers, Office Support, Individual/Medicare

  • 503-655-6344 ext 31
  • 1st Qtr Newsletter from the Benefits Department

    Premier NW Insurance Newsletter
    1st Quarter 2010

    COBRA/State Continuation Subsidy Update

    A new federal act, HR 4691 now extends the eligibility period for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act premium subsidy for an additional 31 days (through March 31, 2010) and clarifies eligibility for the subsidy resulting from an involuntary termination of employment that follows a period of reduction in hours of work that caused an individual to lose health benefits under a group health benefit plan. These temporary rules make the same changes to the state continuation program allowing Oregonians enrolled in the state continuation plans to receive the maximum subsidy provided by the federal law.

    More information can be located at: http://insurance.oregon.gov/FAQs/federal-stimulus-cobra-faq.html#eligibility

    Premium Assistance Helps Families Afford Coverage
    If employees are eligible for your group health coverage, but are unable to afford their portion of the premiums or dependent coverage, a state premium assistance program may be able to help. Several states use funds from their Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) programs to help people who are eligible for employer-sponsored health coverage, but need help in paying their health premiums.
    As part of Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA), employer groups with plan years beginning after February 4, 2010, are required to notify employees of possible premium assistance under state Medicaid and CHIP programs annually.
    • Medicaid Web site: http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/healthplan/index.shtml
    • Medicaid phone: (800) 359-9517
    • CHIP Web site: http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/healthplan/ app_benefits/ohp4u.shtml
    • CHIP phone: (800) 359-9517
    • Medicaid phone: (800) 562-3022
    • CHIP Web Site: http://fortress.wa.gov/dshs/maa/chip/
    • CHIP Phone: (866) 543-7669
    • SHIBA FAQ Sheet: http://www.insurance.wa.gov/publications/shiba_helpline/Losing_employer_insurance.pdf
    Here is a link to the Model Notice: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/chipmodelnotice.doc
    For more information on special enrollment rights, please visit the U.S. Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration Web site at www.dol.gov/ebsa.

    Health Care Reform

    On Sunday, March 21, 2010 the House narrowly approved the Senate-passed healthcare reform bill by a vote of 219 to 212. The bill will be sent immediately to President Obama to be signed into law in a ceremony expected on Tuesday.

    Also Sunday night, the House approved the reconciliation bill containing “fixes” to the Senate-passed bill by a vote of 220 to 211. The reconciliation package will now go to the Senate, where it is expected to face numerous procedural challenges and amendments. If the Senate adopts any changes to the proposal, the House will have to take another vote on the reconciliation bill.

    We will continue to keep ourselves apprised of these matters as they develop and we will make certain to advise you of any changes that occur that could impact your coverage.

    Supplemental Benefits

    As insurance costs rise employers are making the choice to modify their benefits to keep their plans as affordable as possible. We recognize that this is a difficult decision and we want to offer assistance in finding creative ways to cover the gap that higher deductible plans can leave. As such we have partnerships with both Aflac and Colonial Life. Both carriers offer a variety of accident and sickness plans that employees can purchase to help cover their out-of-pocket expenses. If you would like to learn more about these options please contact your agent.

    Individual Plan Updates

    Keep in mind Premier NW Insurance is a full-service agency. If you or your employees need assistance with an Individual medical, dental or Medicare plan, please contact Lisa Ewers at 503-655-6344 or email lisa@clackamas-ins.com.

    ¬¬¬¬¬¬Employee Benefits Department Contacts:

    Suzie Moll, Employee Benefits Manager 503-655-6344 ext 33
    Stephanie Bartrug, Employee Benefits Specialist 503-655-6344 ext 27 Robert Rivenburgh, Employee Benefits Specialist 503-655-6344 ext 32
    Lisa Ewers, Office Support, Individual/Medicare 503-655-6344 ext 31

    Clackamas Insurance Buys Premier Insurance

    In March of 2010, Clackamas Insurance Agency purchased Premier Insurance located at 4741 Liberty Road S in Salem, Oregon.

    Clackamas Insurance was founded in 1972 by Karl Moll and today is run by his son, Mike Moll, with locations in Clackamas and Sandy.

    Spokeswoman Mitzi Thornberg says in regards to their expansion, “We’ve always had close ties with the agricultural industry, so Marion County seemed a perfect fit for us.”

    Premier Insurance has served the Salem community for more than 30 years. Thornberg says “The purchase by Clackamas Insurance brings a much broader level of diversity.”

    Workers’ compensation is one area where we feel we offer a huge advantage to our clients.”

    Clackamas represents more than a dozen major insurance carriers, including Mutual of Enumclaw, Liberty Northwest and Oregon Mutual.
    The firm offers business, farm, home, auto, workman’s comp, and  life and health insurance.

    “Our hope is to fill the void created by other independent agencies who have recently left the Salem area,” Thornberg said, including Wells Fargo Insurance Services.

    The agency has 11 staffers, including the two previous owners, Kirk Marley and Rex Rider, who will stay on as agents. “We don’t expect to make any new hires at this time,” Thornberg said. “Given the addition of new carriers and products, we will be expecting to increase our customer base and will need to address additional staffing as the need arises.”