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Association health plans expanded under Trump look promising so far

PowerPost by Paige Winfield Cunningham

crop of new health insurance plans enabled under regulations from the Trump administration appears more consumer-friendly and less like “junk” insurance than Democrats originally charged.

Chambers of commerce and trade associations have launched more than two dozen of these “association health plans” in 13 states in the seven months since the Labor Department finalized new rules making it easier for small businesses to band together to buy health coverage in the same way large employers do. And there are initial signs the plans are offering generous benefits and premiums lower than can be found in the Obamacare marketplaces.

President Trump billed the new rules as one of several ways to provide consumers with cheaper coverage options than they could find in the Obamacare marketplaces, prompting complaints by Democrats that he was undermining consumer protections laid out in the Affordable Care Act. There’s indeed plenty of evidence the administration is trying to weaken the ACA, including the Justice Department’s refusal to defend it in court.

But when it comes to these new association health plans, they appear — at least so far — to offer benefits comparable to most workplace plans and haven’t tried to discriminate against patients with preexisting conditions, according to an analysis released today by Kev Coleman, a former analyst at the insurance information website HealthPocket.

“We’re not seeing skinny plans,” said Coleman, who founded a website last year with information on association health plans. “We’re seeing the regular doctor care, we’re seeing emergency room care, we’re seeing mental health coverage.”


Association health plans gain foothold with Nevada members

Monday, Dec. 3, 2018

RENO — With members struggling to meet health insurance costs, some Nevada business and trade groups have begun offering discounted policies as one big bloc through a product known as an association health plan.

The Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce and five other Nevada associations have begun offering similar health plans to members, the Reno Gazette Journal reported.

Others are the Las Vegas Metro and Henderson chambers, the Nevada Contractors and Nevada Builders Alliance associations, and the Builders Association of Northern Nevada.

Reno-Sparks chamber CEO Ann Silver called the option a game-changer for small businesses competing to attract and retain skilled employees.

“Health insurance has been, for at least a decade, unaffordable for small employers,” Silver said, “but small businesses struggle to recruit and retain employees without it.”

Bob Fehling, president of Reno general engineering contractor Versa Grade, said that for more than a decade he was beset by annual double-digit increases in costs and diminished health care.

“The costs keep getting greater and greater and greater while the coverage of the plan decreases,” Fehling told the Reno Gazette Journal. “We’re paying more for less.”

Fehling, who decided to join the Reno-Sparks Chamber Association Health Plan, called it a marked improvement over previous options.

“It has lower deductibles and lower out-of-pocket costs,” he said. “It has better coverage and lower total cost all the way around.”

A Gazette Journal project found that in Nevada, fully-insured association health plans are overseen by the state because they’re offered through traditional insurance carriers such as Prominence, Health Plan of Nevada and Hometown Health Plan.

As the name implies, association health plans pool small businesses to obtain rates like those typically available to larger employers. They fall under a broader category of services known as multiple employer welfare arrangements, which provide members with health and welfare benefits.

Their origins can be traced to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974.

Association health plans had a checkered past before gaining renewed interest after the U.S. House of Representatives in March 2017 passed the Small Business Health Fairness Act. It created federal requirements for the plans, including certification, coverage and rates for contribution.

President Donald Trump signed an October 2017 executive order to further expand their availability to small businesses, and the Department of Labor eased conditions and requirements for the plans.

Department rules took effect Sept. 1 for fully insured association health plans and will take effect in early 2019 for self-funded plans that are not tied to an established insurance carrier.

Not everyone supports the idea.

“We’ve run this experiment before and we saw a lot of fraud and a lot of mismanagement,” said David Chase, vice president of national outreach for Small Business Majority, a network of 58,000 small business owners and 1,000 business partners including chambers of commerce, economic development groups and workers associations.

“At the end of the day, the victims were small business owners and employees. They were the ones left holding the bag the last time we went down this track.”

Stacey Bollinger said she heard association health plan horror stories in the past. But she and her husband Mark, owners of Sierra Nevada Door & Window, signed their staff of 10 up for a Nevada Builders Alliance plan that counts more than 800 companies among its members.

The Gazette Journal reported that coverage, provided through Prominence, was 30 percent cheaper than what Sierra Nevada Door & Window had been paying.

Sign-ups drop, so far, for health insurance exchange

Sign-ups drop, so far, for health insurance exchange in Nevada

By Jessie Bekker / Las Vegas Review-Journal

Purchases of policies on the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces are down nationwide and in Nevada through the first four weeks of open enrollment, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported Wednesday.

Enrollments were down 12.8 percent nationwide and an even steeper 13.3 percent in Nevada.

While the figures concern Heather Korbulic, executive director of Nevada’s Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, they don’t come as a shock, she said.

“We’re really focusing on pushing on the gas pedal with everything we can,” she said.

Korbulic said sign-ups have been affected by competition from association health plans tailored to small-business owners and sole proprietors; the Trump administration’s elimination of the individual mandate that penalized the uninsured; and a widespread robocall campaign urging potential buyers to instead tap into so-called short-term, limited-duration plans and health-sharing ministries.

The Trump administration’s proposed change of a public charge rule also has had a “chilling effect” on immigrants signing up, Korbulic said.

The policy change would consider use of public benefits programs as a basis to deny an immigrant’s petition to legally enter the United States, obtain a green card or adjust an immigration status. It wouldn’t penalize anyone for buying a subsidized plan on the exchange, she said.

CMS also released a report Wednesday that found about 86 percent of those who selected an exchange plan during open enrollment last year paid for it and remained insured into early 2018.



Life Insurance Options – Reno NV

As we grow older, get married, build families and start businesses, we come to realize more and more that life insurance is a fundamental part of having a plan. We can’t know when we’ll pass away. It could be today, tomorrow or 50 years from now. Life insurance can help provide protection for those uncertainties.

Are you looking for a life insurance policy to protect your family in case of an unfortunate death and to ensure their financial stability? Are you interested in saving for your children’s college education and protecting their future?

ACS Business Insurance Services, Inc. works to provide you with the best life insurance plan coverage available based on your lifelong future goals. We know that life insurance options can be overwhelming and confusing at best. That’s why we sit down with you and discuss what options are available that fit your needs and your budget.

If you are interested in learning more about life insurance plans and options, call us today to setup a meeting.

(775) 425-3233


Nevada Health Insurance Robocalls

Warnings for Nevadans besieged by health insurance robocalls

Jessie Bekker / Las Vegas Review-Journal

Her voice is cheery. Her pitch sounds promising.

But insurance experts warn that health insurance robocalls offering low co-pays and premiums to all are often misleading or false.

“If it seems too good to be true, it probably is,” says Heidi Sterner, president-elect and legislative chair for the Nevada Association of Health Underwriters, a group for licensed health insurance professionals.

With the annual open enrollment period for health insurance through the state exchange now open and running through Dec. 15, Nevadans are being bombarded by canned sales calls offering the opportunity to sign up at great rates.

One recent phone call claimed to offer Blue Cross Blue Shield and Aetna plans that would help consumers “save up to 50 percent.”

“Enrollment is easy, approval is guaranteed and all ages are accepted,” a female voice says. “Press ‘one’ to be connected.” It came from a local area code, but when a Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter tried to call the number back, it was disconnected.

Blue Cross Blue Shield did not respond to a request for comment, but an Aetna spokeswoman said in an email the company wasn’t responsible for the call and stopped selling individual plans in the non-Medicare market over a year ago.

‘Buyer-beware market’

Experts say the caller’s claims are misleading at best.

Nevada Division of Insurance Deputy Commissioner David Cassetty said he’s noticed an increase in the frequency of such calls since the Trump administration announced a rule in February extending short-term, limited-duration policies.


Read Full Article Here

HMO vs. PPO What’s the Difference between Plans

When it comes to health insurance, you have your choice of several plan types. Two you’ve probably heard of are a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). Generally speaking, the difference between HMO and PPO plans includes the size of the plan network, ability to see specialists, plan costs, and coverage for out-of-network services.

Be sure to consider your medical needs, the availability of HMOs in your area and income. If you’re looking at an HMO, take a close look at the network to determine if the choices of doctors and medical facilities are enough to meet your needs. A PPO gives you more freedom, including the potential to be covered for medical bills outside the network, but your costs may be higher.

Contact ACS Insurance if you would like to discuss your options for either of these insurance plans (775) 425-3233 or andy@acsinsurance.com.

Buying Health Insurance

Buying Health Insurance: What to Know About Plans Outside the Exchange

Updated: KTVN – Monday, September 10th 2018

Open enrollment for health insurance through Nevada Health Link starts November first.  And new rules mean Federal requirements for some health insurance plans sold outside of the Exchange have been loosened; these short-term plans are sometimes called “junk plans.”

“They are calling them junk plans because they’re not as comprehensive as qualified health plans,” said Heather Korbulic, Executive Director of Silver State Health Insurance Exchange.  “They don’t have to cover the 10 essential health benefits and they don’t connect you to subsidies.”

The 10 essential health benefits are services that insurance plans must cover under the Affordable Care Act.  Plans purchased through Nevada Health Link with the two participating companies –  Health Plan of Nevada and Silver Summit – cover these services.

“The qualified health plans cover the 10 essential health benefits like maternity and newborn care, substance abuse services and prescriptions,” Korbulic said.   “So on an exchange plan they’re not allowed to discriminate against you based on your preexisting conditions; you get the same rate despite what your medical conditions are.”

She says that’s not necessarily the case with some of these short-term plans.

“With those plans, they’re more designed to basically take your preexisting condition and charge you more or tell you you can’t be on those plans at all,” Korbulic said.  “What’s really concerning is they can do post-claim underwriting –  meaning they can retroactively terminate you if they find that you’ve not disclosed a medical condition,  and then you’re left high and dry with no insurance.”

She says while the premiums might look appealing at first glance, they could cost customers more in the long run.

Before the Affordable Care Act this is kind of how the entire insurance market operated,” Korbulic said.  “By discriminated pricing based on preexisting conditions and sometimes pricing you out entirely.”

With open enrollment coming up, state health officials want to make sure Nevadans looking for health coverage know all their options before they buy.

Read Full Story Here

2018 Open Enrollment Marketplace Health Insurance

Open Enrollment for 2018 Marketplace Health Insurance Starts November 1 through December 15 in Nevada. Shop and compare the BEST Insurance plans for your health.

Call ACS Insurance for more information (775) 425-3233.

2018 Open Enrollment Marketplace Health Insurance

Health Savings Accounts – The Pros and Cons

HSA Accounts Pros and Cons

Pros and Cons of a Health Savings Account

Investopedia – By Jean Folger November 17, 2017

A Health Savings Account (HSA) is like a personal savings account, but the money is used only for qualified health care expenses. The account can be set up with you as the sole beneficiary, or for you plus your spouse and/or dependents. Established in 2003 as part of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act, HSAs allow people with High-Deductible Health Plans to pay for current healthcare expenses and save for future expenses on a tax-favored basis. Here, we look at the eligibility requirements, pros and cons and other important details about Health Savings Plans.


To be eligible for an HSA, you must be enrolled in a special health insurance plan called a High-Deductible Health Plan, or HDHP. While these plans have high deductibles, monthly premiums are typically much less than for plans with lower deductibles, which makes them appealing to people trying to minimize up-front costs associated with healthcare. HDHPs are intended to cover serious illness or injury, and with the exception of preventive care (such as annual physicals, child and adult immunizations, and screening services), your annual deductible must be met before any plan benefits are paid.


Health Savings Accounts offer a way to save for – and pay for – healthcare expenses. There are many advantages to having a Health Savings Account:

  • Others can contribute to your HSA. Contributions can come from various sources, including you, your employer, a relative and anyone else who wants to add to your HSA.
  • Pre-tax contributions. Contributions made through payroll deposits (through your employer) are typically made with pre-tax dollars, which means they are not subject to federal income taxes. In most states, contributions are not subject to state income taxes either. Your employer can also make contributions on your behalf, and the contribution is not included in your gross income.
  • Tax-deductible contributions. Contributions made with after-tax dollars can be deducted from your gross income on your tax return, which means you may owe less tax at the end of the year.
  • Tax-free withdrawals. Withdrawals from your HSA are not subject to federal (or in most cases, state) income taxes if they are used for qualified medical expenses.
  • Earnings are tax-fee. Any interest or other earnings on the assets in the account are tax free.
  • Funds roll over. If you have money left in your HSA at the end of the year, it rolls over to the next year.
  • Portable. The money in your HSA remains available for future qualified medical expenses even if you change health insurance plans, change employers or retire. Funds left in your account continue to grow tax fee.
  • Convenient. Most HSAs issue a debit card, so you can pay for your prescription medication and other expenses right away. If you wait for a bill to come in the mail, you can call the billing center and make a payment over the phone using your debit card.  And, you can use the card at an ATM to access cash.

Proposed rate changes for the individual health insurance market

The Division of Insurance has posted proposed rate changes for the individual health insurance market

CARSON CITY, NV – The Nevada Division of Insurance has received and made public the proposed health insurance rate changes from carriers on and off the Exchange for Plan Year 2019.

Based on the rate submissions the Division has received for 2019 plans, there will be two insurance companies offering plans on the Exchange with up to 15 individual health plans to choose from. The average proposed rate change for the individual market on Exchange is an increase of 1.9%

“This is the lowest proposed rate increase the Division has received since the beginning of the Affordable Care Act (ACA),” explained Insurance Commissioner Barbara Richardson. “The Division is working diligently reviewing these requests from carriers. We always caution that these proposed rates are subject to change depending on any new federal decisions that are made.”

“I am pleased with the initial proposed rate changes from insurance carriers as this is great news for Nevadans,” Governor Brian Sandoval said. “Even though there has been uncertainty in the past, these proposed filings reflect the hard work the Silver State has done to try and stabilize the health insurance market for its citizens.”

For the off-exchange market, there will be four insurance companies offering up to 41 individual health plans to choose from with an average proposed rate change of 3.1%

The Division encourages consumers to review these rate changes and submit their comments to the Division during this rate review process.

Additional information on proposed rate changes can be accessed by viewing a summary of the proposed rate changes or by visiting the Division’s website at http://doi.nv.gov/rate-filings.

Approved rates will be posted on October 2, 2018.

About the Nevada Division of Insurance

The State of Nevada Division of Insurance, a Division of the Nevada Department of Business and Industry, protects the rights of Nevada consumers and regulates Nevada’s $14 billion insurance industry. The Division of Insurance has offices in Carson City and Las Vegas. In 2017, the Division investigated more than 3,200 consumer complaints and recovered over $5 million on behalf of consumers. For more information about the Division of Insurance, visit DOI.NV.GOV.