Are we witnessing a turning point in U.S. healthcare?

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Apr 26, 2017 @ 10:04

How essential health benefits sunk the AHCA

A key debate among Republicans on the American Health Care Act — the now-pulled Affordable Care Act replacement bill — was whether to cut the law’s “essential health benefits” for individual health insurance consumers.

The AHCA, put forth by House Speaker Paul Ryan and supported by the Trump administration, would have repealed the law known as Obamacare, but kept much of the law intact — including EHBs.

This was unacceptable to more conservative Republicans, who wanted to see the law completely dismantled. Particularly, a group of legislators known as the “Freedom Caucus” were opposed to the law for not going far enough in its reversal of Obamacare.

But on the other side of the GOP, moderate Republicans were already concerned the AHCA would lead to coverage losses, and were opposed to the additional cuts wanted by the Freedom Caucus. Ultimately, this was the debate that forced Paul Ryan to conclude that no consensus could be reached in time for a vote.

The series of events is arguably a turning point in U.S. healthcare. Despite almost unanimous Republican opposition to the ACA since its inception, the stalled repeal indicates some legislators are too nervous about the consequences of repeal to move forward.

Essentially, the ACA may have created a new “healthcare floor” of what consumers, and their representatives, are willing to accept in their coverage.

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Tags: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, obamacare, aca, healthcare costs, essential health benefits, Huffington Post, American Health Care Act

Pregnant? How four Nashville-area practices bill for delivering your baby

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 @ 08:04

How to avoid billing surprises

Medical bills can be confusing, and the many bills you receive after pregnancy can be especially complicated.

An issue we frequently run into at Bernard Health is patients who are asked by their OB/GYN to pay their deductible upfront and in full before the baby is born. Most women believe — and understandably so — that their deductible has been paid. But after the baby is born they often discover that from the insurer's perspective, the deductible is still unpaid. What is going on here?

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Tags: deductible, healthcare, pregnant, pregnancy, The Tennessean, healthcare costs, individual digest, OB/GYN, prenatal care, deductibles, pre-natal care

What are high risk pools?

Posted by Emily Kubis on Fri, Apr 21, 2017 @ 10:04

Republican healthcare plan would allow states to opt out of some regulations in favor of high risk pools

The newest iteration of the American Health Care Act, the Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, would allow states to opt out of a few of the ACA’s insurance regulations.

If passed, the AHCA would allow states to opt out of the ACA’s essential health benefits and community rating requirements, as long as the states provide high-risk pools.

But what does all this mean? What are essential health benefits, community rating requirements, and high risk pools?

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Tags: Affordable Care Act, Individual health insurance, individual health insurance questions, individual digest, American Health Care Act, high risk pool, high risk pools

How Bernard Health advisors bring peace of mind to employees

Posted by Emily Kubis on Wed, Apr 19, 2017 @ 09:04

Limit liability and get the best coverage for your team

One of the key benefits to working with Bernard Health on your benefits plan design is that employees have complimentary access to our team of noncommissioned insurance advisors.

For any question they may have about their coverage, employees can reach out to a Bernard Health advisor and get answers.

Overall, this leads to happier employees who feel more confident about their plan selections and how to use their coverage. But in a few particular cases, this can result in financial benefits for both the employer and employee.

Here’s how Bernard Health helps employers limit plan liability:

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Tags: employer health benefits, health insurance small employers, employer plans, employer digest, limit plan liability, claims

How to market HSA-eligible plans to employees

Posted by Emily Kubis on Mon, Apr 17, 2017 @ 09:04

Messaging matters

HSA-eligible health plans represent clear financial benefits to employers. In one case study we conducted at Bernard Health, switching to this strategy created more than $260,000 in savings over five years for our employer client.

But adoption is key to a successful HSA strategy. About half of U.S. employers offer at least one HSA-eligible plan, but only about 29 percent of employees are enrolled in one, according to Kaiser Family Foundation

Certainly, there is room for improvement. At Bernard Health, HSAs are the foundation of our brokerage, and our average adoption rate is 81 percent—well over industry standards. We’ve been helping employers maximize value in their benefits packages for ten years, and here’s what we’ve learned about improving your messaging and in turn, your adoption rates.

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Tags: health savings account, employer health benefits, health savings accounts, health insurance small employers, employer digest

Can Tennessee’s U.S. senators help healthcare consumers?

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Fri, Apr 14, 2017 @ 08:04

State faces challenging market

A new bill filed by U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker could give some relief to Tennesseans who are facing a bleak individual health insurance market in 2018. Called “The Health Care Options Act of 2017,” the bill aims to do two things. First, it aims to waive the federal penalty for individuals who don’t get qualified coverage because no carrier offers it on the exchange in their county. Second, it aims to allow individuals to apply any federal subsidy for which they qualify to non-qualified and off-exchange health plans.

It is not a coincidence that this bill is sponsored by the senators from Tennessee. The dynamics of the individual health insurance market in Tennessee are extremely challenging right now and the state is at risk of not having any options on the exchange at all in 2018.

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Tags: healthcare, price transparency, The Tennessean, healthcare costs, healthcare bluebook, individual digest

Why Bernard Health?

Posted by Emily Kubis on Wed, Apr 12, 2017 @ 08:04

What sets us apart

Not all benefit advisors are created equally. For Bernard Health, it comes down to meeting both employers’ strategic healthcare needs as well as their transactional HR challenges. Our goals are keeping our clients in compliance, ensuring a sustainable health plan, and getting online.

Why focus on getting online? The benefits industry is moving beyond providing value in group plan pricing. Because healthcare touches everything, clients look to brokers for advice on compliance, onboarding, PTO, payroll, and more.

While healthcare challenges are best solved with the help of a strategic advisor, transactional HR needs are better met with software. Including and in addition to our all-in-one HR and benefits technology, we provide a number of benefits solutions for small to mid-sized employers:

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Tags: employer health benefits, health insurance small employers, employer digest

How to save money with a high deductible

Posted by Emily Kubis on Mon, Apr 10, 2017 @ 09:04

Five tips for your health plan

High deductible plans are on the rise, both in employer-sponsored coverage and on the individual market. Millennials in particular are attracted to these insurance plans, which typically have lower premiums in exchange for higher out-of-pocket costs.

But high deductibles can be challenging. Some consumers sign up for these plans without fully understanding what a high deductible means. In any health plan, your deductible is the amount you must pay out-of-pocket before your insurer starts chipping in. In high deductible plans, this amount can be thousands of dollars.

If you have a high deductible plan, here are five tips for maximizing value and avoiding, as best you can, expensive medical bills.

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Tags: deductible, High Deductible Health Plan, health insurance deductible, Individual health insurance, high deductibles, individual digest

Why are insurers pulling out of Obamacare?

Posted by Emily Kubis on Fri, Apr 07, 2017 @ 10:04

Most say the market is too risky

This week’s news that two health insurers in Iowa will depart the Affordable Care Act marketplaces next year has renewed the conversation about repealing or repairing the health law.

Over the last two years, several carriers have decided to stop selling insurance on the ACA exchanges—UnitedHealthcare and Humana have pulled out nationally, and other regional carriers have pulled out in different areas around the country.

This trend has raised many questions for consumers. Why do carriers keep pulling out of the market? Is this a consequence of ‘Obamacare?” What does it mean for consumers who rely on the ACA for coverage, and are there any solutions?

Here are a few things to know:

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Tags: Affordable Care Act, obamacare, aca, Individual health insurance, affordable health insurance, individual digest, American Health Care Act, AHCA

What does it really mean for HR and benefits to be online?

Posted by Emily Kubis on Wed, Apr 05, 2017 @ 09:04

The importance of integration

Taking your benefits administration and HR processes online can save your organization time and money in reduced errors and improved efficiencies.

At Bernard Health, we often hear from both current and prospective clients that their benefits are already online or web-based. But it isn’t enough to be manually inputting employee data through a carrier’s website—a truly integrated system is capable of far more.

There are varying levels of integration and many misconceptions about what it means to be comprehensively online.

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Tags: Online Benefits Administration, employer health benefits, HR, health insurance small employers, employer health plans, employer, hr software, employer digest, benefits administration

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