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North Carolina Insurance News
2/11/2014 Professional support for any health care reform issue is available free of charge through an arrangement with OnlineNavigator. All online inquiries are handled personally by Tony Novak, CPA. Online support is available through a number of popular social media channels including Facebook and Google+ as well as e-mail. Telephone support for insurance enrollment is available through Members Insurance Exchange at (800) 609-0683.
7/26/2013 Affordable Smart Term Life Insurance is now available to most North Carolina residents from age 20 through 60 directly online with no physical exam, agent appointment or telephone verification. Most policies are issued on the same day with coverage amounts of $25,000 up to $350,000. The level premium life insurance is available for terms of 10, 15, 20 and 30 years. Sample rates for $150,000 coverage for a preferred risk male age 30, non-tobacco $30.85 per month; tobacco user $49.55 per month. A preferred risk female age 30 non-tobacco user would be $26.49 per month and a tobacco user would be $40.96 per month. Rates are higher for older applicants and lower health risks as described online. Pricing is based on input you provide about your medical history but, unlike most other life insurers, does not consider family medical history. Coverage is issued by innovative National Life Group, rated "A" by A.M. Best Company for 2013.
3/11/2013 This page was updated to include a link to the insurance plan that will be used to determine specific "essential health benefits" for insurance that qualified for 2014 federal tax purposes. Also, a link to additional covered benefits required by state law. Non-qualified insurance is likely to continue to be available at a lower cost that does not include these benefits nor qualify for federal tax purposes.
2/1/2013 Milliman Inc., a research firm hired by the state, estimates that about 40% of the total North Carolina residents who will use an Health Insurance Exchange to purchase cost-subsidized insurance are currently uninsured. Lawmakers point out that more than half, about 60% - of the expected insurance exchange users are already covered and would be using the exchange to find less expensive coverage or tap into taxpayer-paid subsidies. As a result, some North Carolina lawmakers have proposed stopping work on the state-run insurance exchange in order to let the federal government foot the bill for what they fear may be a budget-breaking expense. State Senator Tom Apodaca was quoted as saying "You never know what's going to happen with the federal government. They're with you one day and the next day they pull out and leave you holding the bills."
2/15/2012 Concerns about health insurance consumer data and privacy issues about Health Insurance Smart NC navigator services are addressed on the Universal Health Insurance Blog. While the consumer data collection of Smart NC is clearly more invasive and beyond the scope of what would apparently be required to provide health insurance navigator services, the difference may be explained by the multiple function of this data collection form. We have no information on the custody and usage of personal data collected by the Smart NC program.
2/10/2012 North Carolina Department said that Wellpath Select, the state's second largest individual health insurance issuer expects to lose more than 80 percent of its customers due to federal benefits ratio requirements that caused the company to reduce compensation to its agents. The department hopes to prevent other insurance companies from leaving the state entirely due to the same federal regulation.
2/1/2012 The Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, a division of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that as of June 30, 2011 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and UnitedHealthcare are the state's largest health insurance providers and as such, earn the right to set the benchmark for the development of the state's essential benefit plans to debut in 2014 under health reform law.
1/12/2012 Value Access Guarantee is no longer available in North Carolina.
9/12/2011 The popular defined benefit medical expense insurance marketed under the brand name "Core Health Insurance" is no longer available in North Carolina. This coverage has been the fastest growing type of individual insurance throughout most of the United States. North Carolina residents may need to continue to use the older major medical type policies for now. Federal law may eventually make this limited type health insurance coverage available across state lines regardless of residence.
8/12/2011 Long term care partnership update - The NC Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have approved the amendment to the North Carolina Medicaid State Plan to allow for resource disregard at long-term care Medicaid eligibility determination and resource protection at estate recovery. This allows individuals the freedom to purchase insurance without worrying about the risk of losing coverage that might have been available through Medicaid. The new “Partnership Program” is offered through independent insurance agents in conjunction with Medicaid. Transamerica Life, Mutual of Omaha and Massachusetts Mutual are all participating in the insurance program.
5/29/2011 North Carolina lawmakers plan to cut spending for "optional" services provided by Medicaid. The affected services include items such as insulin, podiatry, chiropractic services, eye exams, dental care and at-home chemotherapy. These services account for about half of the spending of the 1.4 million residents currently covered by the state's Medicaid programs. The cuts follow a national trend to trim benefits under Medicaid programs as enrollment and spending increases. It is unclear whether those affected by the benefit cutbacks will avoid these medical treatments or will try to afford their treatment through another means. The cutbacks are predicted to lead to an increase in more serious and more expensive medical conditions.
2/12/2011 With dozens of health plans choices available online offering a wide range of pricing and benefits, how do you find the best combination of price and benefits? Celtic Insurance realizes that the choices can be overwhelming; the company offers more than 40 possible health plan designs in many parts of the United States. A new feature called "Help Me Choose" lets users easily and quickly select the benefits they value most and narrows the list down to a few of the best choices. No personal information is required other than zip code and date of birth.
1/3/2011 Premium rates for Inclusive Health, the state's high risk health insurance plan, dropped by 10% or more for 2011. For those 63 and over, premiums have decreased as much as 31 percent. The premium rate for a 64-year-old non-smoker drops from $592 per month to $412. The rate for applicants age 50 or younger drops from $346 to $315. The national average health insurance premium is now about $400 per month so these new premium rates for Inclusive Health plan are very competitive. A total of 513 North Carolina residents signed up for the plan in 2010 but it is not known how many policies were still in force for 2011. The premium reduction may help attract more previously uninsured members.
12/16/2010 North Carolina Department of Insurance officials met representatives of 44 other states and numerous employees of the federal Health and Human Services Department in Washington DC this week for a two-day working meeting to discuss the next steps in establish a government-run health insurance exchange under the American Health Benefit Exchange Model Act. Their attendance at this meeting was paid for by a $1 million federal grant awarded by HHS in September to the state for research how to set up an insurance exchange. Two states (Alaska and Minnesota) declined to participate, saying that it was a waste of taxpayer money. Four other states (not identified in press reports) that received federal grants did not send representatives to the meeting. Attendees included representatives of 16 states that are suing the federal government in an attempt to overturn the federal health reform law; specifically the requirement that forces individuals to buy health insurance on the insurance exchange or pay a hefty tax fine.
In its initial federal grant request for the insurance exchange project, North Carolina said that it would: 1) Create an interagency group to work on the planning and establishing a foundation for the feasibility of the establishment of Exchange(s) in North Carolina. An advisory group has already been formed with eight different work groups to focus on different areas, 2) Build on the work of its SHAP grant to address the needs of the poor and near-poor, and 3) Determine if the implementation of NC Fast will have to be reexamined to function and/or interface with the Exchange. North Carolina has undertaken a multi-year program to streamline and combine the eligibility process for many of its income determined social programs.
The meeting reportedly did not address the role of the commercial health insurance exchanges on the implementation of new competing government systems. The model act does not address inter-state insurance exchange proposals nor insurance sales across state lines. Federal officials admitted that they may not be able to provide further guidance until 2012. Meanwhile, most states are motivated to continue to meet requirements to obtain additional funding promised by the federal government for the establishment of insurance exchange by 2014. Freedom Benefits has previously voiced the opinion that the huge amount of money being spent to set up alternate insurance sales system technologies could be better used providing health benefits to the public. We proposed on the Universal Health Insurance blog that adequate commercial insurance sales systems are already in place that could be modified in a public/private partnership to make health insurance more affordable.
5/14/2010 Diabetes Coverage: A new resource to help find health insurance for diabetics in North Carolina is now available at Freedom Benefits.
This Web site is independently owned and operated by Tony Novak operating under the trademarks "Freedom Benefits", "OnlineAdviser" and "OnlineNavigator". Opinions expressed are the sole responsibility of the author and do not represent the opinion of any other person, company or entity mentioned. Tony Novak is not an agent, broker, producer or navigator for any federal or state health insurance exchange but may provide uncompensated advice, reviews and referrals to these resources. Novak is compensated as an accountant, adviser, affiliate consultant, marketer, reviewer, endorser, producer, lead generator or referrer to some of the other commercial companies listed on this site. Information is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed. Any tax advice in this communication including attachments and linked resources cannot be used by the taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer.