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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
¬¬¬¬¬¬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