HEALTH CARE LAW UPDATES

The health care law: Will it impact my coverage?

Whether your health insurance coverage will change as a result of new health care rules that go into effect January 1, 2014, depends on when you bought your health insurance and whether you bought it at work or on your own.

Medicare Plans

If you are on a Medicare Supplement plan, regardless of when it was purchased, you won’t see any changes to your plan coverage in 2014 as a result of the health care law. If you have a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, the process for notifying you about 2014 changes at the end of September 2013 remains unchanged as a result of the law.

Plans purchased before March 2010

If your health plan was in place before the law was passed in March 2010, whether purchased through your employer or on your own, you may have what is known as a "grandfathered" plan. A number of changes already have been made to these policies to meet new legal requirements. Changes include allowing children to stay on a parent’s health plan until their 26th birthday and removing lifetime dollar limits on some medical services. These plans will not see any big changes in 2014. If you are unsure whether your plan is grandfathered, call the customer service number on your ID card or contact your human resources administrator.

Employer Plans

(purchased after March 2010)

If you have coverage through a company with 100 or more employees, many changes required by the health care law already have been applied to your health plan. These required changes included removing any annual or lifetime dollar limits on certain medical services and adding preventive services if your plan did not include them. A major change that will be implemented relates to your total out-of-pocket cost. When this rule is put in place for your health plan, all deductibles, coinsurance and copayments will count toward your out-of-pocket maximum.

If your employer employs 51 to 100 employees, similar changes will become effective in 2016.

Employers with 50 or fewer employees are likely to see a number of changes to their coverage if the plan is not a grandfathered plan. The law requires that these health plans include a core set of benefits (essential health benefits) and cover preventive services at 100 percent with no member out-of-pocket costs. Among the preventive services provided with no cost sharing are colonoscopies and contraceptives. Also in 2014, your health plan will cover medical conditions that previously required a waiting period. Employers with two to 50 employees will be invited to attend meetings with Arkansas Blue Cross to discuss in detail how the health care law is impacting our employer customers. After the meeting, employers will be contacted by their agent or an Arkansas Blue Cross representative, to determine the most affordable option for their organization.

Those who bought coverage on their own after March 2010

If you bought an individual or family health plan (not a Medicare plan) on your own and it was purchased after March 2010, you can keep the policy you currently have until December 30, 2014, with no changes.

Some of our members will find the new health plans to be more desirable. You may receive a new kind of tax credit that lowers their monthly health plan costs. If that is the case, your agent or an Arkansas Blue Cross representative will make you aware of a more affordable option.

New health care plans will cover preventive health benefits at 100 percent, will have no waiting periods for medical conditions and you will have guaranteed approval for health care coverage. Also, all deductibles, copayments and coinsurance will go toward your out-of- pocket maximum.

We are here to help

This summer we are asking our members with individual or family health plans (not Medicare plans) to call their agent or us or come in and let us check to see if a lower cost plan will be available under the new law. Our representatives are trained and ready to talk with you. You can call us at 1-800-310-3778 or you can visit with us in person at one of our offices around the state. Arkansas Blue Cross has been providing Arkansans quality health plans at affordable prices for 65 years, and we look forward to working with you.