Tag Archives: Wisconsin Health Insurance

Important Announcement for Clients with Network Health

If you have Network Health Plan, please read this update.

You may have already read information about Network Health Plan and ThedaCare terming their relationship next July 2016. Our advice is to not worry yet.

  • If you a small group and have Network Health Plan, nothing will change before July 2016

  • If you have a Network Health’s Medicare Advantage Plan, nothing changes before July 2016

  • If you have a pre-ACA individual health plan with Network Health, again, no changes before July 2016

It’s too early to tell what will happen with the negotiations.  Until it’s a firm deal, anything can change in our world of the new Affordable Care Act.  Stay tuned, but relax and know nothing is changing yet.

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To view the announcement from Network Health, click here

Hanson Recognized as IIAW Employee Benefits Agent of the Year

Chris Hanson & MattChris Hanson, principal of Hanson Benefits in Appleton, was named Employee Benefits Agent of the Year at the 2015 Independent Insurance Agents of Wisconsin (IIAW) state convention in Wisconsin Dells.

IMG_5298“Chris consistently demonstrates an exemplary commitment to our Association, her business, and most importantly, her community,” said Matt Banaszynski, IIAW Executive Vice President. “This award recognizes her work to serve in the public’s best interest by holding herself to the highest ethical standards while working to insure the American Dream.”

The IIAW is one of the largest trade association’s in the state of Wisconsin with over 5,000 independent insurance agents selling property, casualty, life and health insurance.

Carrie Abraham Joins Hanson Benefits as Account Manager

Hanson 408A8637-2v2Benefits (HBI) welcomes Carrie Abraham as our account manager. As a licensed agent, Carrie comes to HBI with over 20 years of experience providing account and sales support in the benefits field. Her ability to provide great service is proven in her work and life philosophies: living by the Golden rule, being compassionate, staying positive and taking care of the details. Carrie will be the first contact for many clients, responding to enrollment and billing questions. She will also assist in quoting, renewal comparisons and enrollment tracking. Carrie looks forward to providing the Hanson Benefits “Hi-touch” service and says, “Benefits can be complicated, so no matter is too small to respond to. Clients should feel comfortable contacting our team for any question that comes up.”

Carrie met Chris Hanson over fifteen years ago when they worked together at a local benefits consulting practice. When the opportunity came up to join Hanson Benefits, Carrie reflected on the trusted advisor reputation Chris and her team have earned since growing the business from the ground up. She says, “I like working for a smaller organization. You can make a greater difference and feel valued. I feel at Hanson Benefits, I will be able to be in charge of the details while Chris and her team drive the business.”

When asked about what she enjoys most outside of work, Carrie enthusiastically says “shopping”. She creates an analogy of the benefits industry and her passion to shop. “I’m a bargain hunter, always finding opportunities to get the best value for something I purchase for myself or my family. This mindset transfers over to my work, where if I will do what it takes if I can get a better offer for clients.”

On a personal note, Carrie and her husband, a private pilot, enjoy volunteering for the Young Eagles program at EAA. You just may see them at the rallies in April and September, helping children experience their first flights!

The SHOP Exchange Comes to Wisconsin…What is it Anyway?

SHOPphotoSmallSHOP stands for “Small Business Health Options Program”, which is an on-line Marketplace for small business owners. Unfortunately, is not operational, just like the individual health insurance Marketplace (www.healthcare.gov).

With the Federal Government focusing its efforts this past year on the individual Marketplace, they made the decision to keep the SHOP Exchange off-line, through paper applications and limit the options to one carrier, per small employer.

With that said, there probably won’t be much traction in this offering for 2014, as there are only two carriers in the Fox Valley region even on the SHOP Exchange: Arise Health Plan and Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative (so much for more choices). And neither of these carriers offers the Affinity providers as “in-plan” providers.

With Network Health Plan’s dominance in the small group market through the local Chambers of Commerce, I am seeing most small businesses take advantage of the “early renewal” option and sitting on the sidelines of the ACA for the next year, as the dust settles.

The tax credits for small business (promised through the SHOP) are also proving to be more fluff than meat, as there are prerequisites in order to actually receive the tax credits. These include having to purchase health insurance through the SHOP and having less than 25 FTE’s who make less than $50,000/year.

By the time the calculations to qualify are completed by yourself or your accountant, you’ve either spent an exorbitant amount of time, or spent a lot of accounting time/money for maybe $1,000 of tax credit. My accountant friend said that she had only two clients even be eligible last year, and her entire book of business is employers with less than 50 employees. So, maybe the whole SHOP exchange for small businesses in Wisconsin is “much ado about nothing”?

The “Expedia.com” of Healthcare is not Delivering

2012/04/12TraceyWe have been gearing up for over three years for October 1, 2013, with continuing education, on-line training modules, testing and certification, and broker summits/trainings in order to be prepared and ready to sell on the online Healthcare Exchange (www.healthcare.gov). With all the preparation and anticipation, here we sit today with no ability to sell on the Exchange, let alone quote or even view any plans!  Many of our individual clients in Wisconsin have been calling us, sharing their frustration, and we are no less frustrated as well.  Individuals in other states are penning articles about their experiences, just like Maggie Thurber for Ohio Watchdog.

We are taking healthcare reform one day and many times, one hour at a time, as we all continue to “navigate” through a new world of health insurance purchasing.  Our HIRSP clients have now received letters stating that their policies will be terminating December 31, and yet, here we are not able to help them fully.

Under these circumstances, here is my advice for health insurance seekers. If you (or your employees) are not eligible for the Federal subsidy (premium reduction) because of your household income, then there is no reason to remain frustrated with www.healthcare.gov. We can assist with quoting and enrollment directly with the insurance carriers, who are operating off of the Exchange.  And there are more options off the Exchange than on!  How’s that for more competition?

Hanson Selected to Serve on State Board of the Independent Insurance Agents of Wisconsin

iiawWhen the Wisconsin Employee Benefits Advisors (WEBA)  voted unanimously last month to merge into the Independent Insurance Agents of Wisconsin (IIAW), they added extensive experience and leadership regarding employee benefits and health insurance.

Among those changes was selecting Chris Hanson, an Appleton-based health insurance consultant and agent, to the Board of Directors for the IIAW. She has over 25 years of experience in health care and health care insurance. Her business, Hanson Benefits, helps individuals find health insurance on and off the Health Care Exchange. Her past leadership roles include terms as Current Vice-President of the Wisconsin Employee Benefits Advisors, Health Insurance Risk Sharing Plan (HIRSP) Board, and Past President of the Fox Valley Chapter of Wisconsin Association of Health Underwriters.

“The IIAW’s strong membership base of over 6,000 licensed agents in Wisconsin and our expertise in the employee benefits/health insurance helps not only small business owners, but all Wisconsin residents in purchasing health insurance for themselves and their families in 2014.  IIAW has earned the reputation as the trusted choice based on their knowledge and expertise, which is especially important with the volatility and unknowns in health insurance today,” states Chris Hanson of Hanson Benefits.

Model Notices for Health Care Reform: “Much Ado About Nothing?”

Shakespeare with computer.It’s another good day to “take a breath” in the world of Health Care reform, as we can now relax, knowing that employers are not going to be penalized for NOT distributing the Model Notices provided by the Department of Labor. Here is the proof of what I just shared, right on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) website.

The Department of Labor was quick to relay a few months ago that employers would be penalized if they did not adhere to the ACA guidelines of informing all employees (FT, PT and even seasonal) of the Federally-Facilitated Marketplace (aka Exchange) here in Wisconsin by October 1, 2013! Business owners were scrambling for find the right information to comply.

I wrote a blog update on August 16, relaying that although the notices were due October 1, I wasn’t in any big hurry to get clients too excited about complying, that there would indeed be plenty of time in late September to get these notices to their employees. My impetus for this was because of the other delays that we had already witnessed, namely the one year delay in the 50+ employee mandate of “play or pay”.

Interestingly enough, this update on the DOL website has very quietly been released with no fanfare no media frenzy or anything.  Do you wonder why?  I do, and I have a theory about it. However, at this point, I may keep the theory to myself and just watch this all unfold, as we count down the days to October 1st.  Does it ever feel like this is a case of deja vu?  Sounds like “Y2K” to me. No, the sky won’t fall, but I have to wonder what else may happen between now and October that we all might be thinking that it was “much ado about nothing.”

When Should A Business Send Employee Notices for ObamaCare?

With the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), businesses will be required to give all employees notification (no later than October 1, 2013), explaining their option to purchase health insurance (if they choose) through the Health Insurance Marketplace (aka Exchange) here in Wisconsin.

This notice provides employees basic information about the new Health Insurance Marketplace. We do have some clients here in Northeast Wisconsin working on these notices as I write this blog post. However, my personal opinion and concern with being efficient now and getting these notices out is this: What if the Federal Government delays the Exchanges at the eleventh hour?  What we have been witnessing over the past few months is any part of the Affordable Care Act can change and in many instances has changed.

My advice for business owners is to create a template for the notice to employees and wait to distribute them until we are sure that the Exchanges will be operational on October 1. For a small fee, we can help create those documents for clients who are interested.

Whatever we know about health insurance today is sure to change within the next three months. We all need to remain informed and try out best to stay calm while we prepare for the upcoming change!

One Health Insurance Plan? The First of Many ObamaCare Myths

My main purpose as a health insurance agent is to help individuals and business owners navigate through the complexities of health care plans. That’s why it is so concerning to me to hear how much confusion there is surrounding “ObamaCare”.

Several individuals I have met with, who are concerned about their individual rates going up, look at ObamaCare as a singular option for them (i.e. if I don’t take my current coverage, my second choice is ObamaCare). Their understanding is ObamaCare is a health plan choice. What they don’t realize is that there are regulations and mandates that all health plans will have to include as of January 1, 2014. There will be options both in the Exchange (Marketplace), as well as the private marketplace for the same cost.

Now that we have the first myth debunked (ObamaCare is one plan), let’s move forward in explaining which insurance companies in Northeast Wisconsin have selected to offer their health care plans in the (Federally Facilitated) Exchange.

The health care insurance companies in Northeast Wisconsin are:

  • Compcare Health Services Insurance Corporation (a division of Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield)

  • Prevea 360 (a division of Dean Health Plan, Inc.)

  • Arise Health Plan (parent company WPS Health Plan, Inc.)

Note: The State of Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner‘s office did not release rate information or coverage area details.

Do you know which of these three plans on the ObamaCare exchange are right for you? That’s where a licensed insurance agent (something I’m proud to be) will help you navigate through the complexities. Now how has ObamaCare made health insurance any easier for individuals?

Health Insurance With Several Northeast Wisconsin Chambers Comes to an End

After nearly two decades working with area Chambers, Network Health has decided not to renew their partnership.  As a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there are two items that directly affected NHP’s decision. One is the requirement for community rating of small group health insurance and the other is the medical loss ratio requirement (MLR).

If you were covered under a Chamber health plan, your plan or rates will not change. It’s important for businesses to know they are no longer required to renew a Chamber membership in order to maintain current Network Health insurance coverage and rates.  However, as a long-term Chamber member ourselves, we believe in the value the area Chambers bring to our community and we encourage business owners to maintain their memberships.

At Hanson Benefits, we remain heavily involved with Healthcare Reform through various committees and working groups in Madison. We will keep you informed as vital information continues to be released.