adult couple reviewing bills and open enrollment materials

4 Myths About the Individual Health Insurance Open Enrollment Period

We’ve heard a lot of Open Enrollment myths over the years and want to set the record straight.

Myth #1 “There are fewer insurers to choose from.”

Many carriers who initially fled the federal exchange have returned and now offer plans alongside others who have entered the marketplace. This increase in the number of plans being offered has allowed many individuals and families to re-examine their needs and adjust their coverage amounts accordingly.

In addition to having access to the same carriers and plans listed on the federal exchange, your association’s marketplace or exchange can offer members even more options. To view the full range of available ACA-compliant health plans, please visit your association’s exchange or marketplace.

Myth #2 “The premiums are too expensive.”

Now that the federal exchange marketplace has stabilized, there may be lower-cost options for ACA-compliant health plans than past Open Enrollment periods. For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield has filed for a 2.03% decrease in premiums in Texas.

Even if your coverage needs remain the same, you may be able to find a lower premium being offered by a different insurer. We recommend always reviewing the health insurance options available to you during the annual Open Enrollment period.

Myth #3 “You’ll be penalized at tax time for not having insurance.”

In previous years, if an individual did not have health insurance for more than 2 months of the year and did not qualify for an exemption they would face a tax penalty of $695 or 2.5% of their taxable income (whichever amount was greater). As of January 1, 2019, the tax penalty known as the individual mandate has been repealed, though some states may still enforce penalties on individuals who don’t have health insurance.

Myth #4 “Applications are processed instantly.”

On average, our team will process an enrollment application within 24 business hours and submit it to the carrier. Once the application is with the carrier, their team will take over and require an additional 10-15 business days to process the application.

The carriers often get overwhelmed with applications during the Open Enrollment period, so we recommend enrollees submit their health insurance applications as early as possible.

Securing ACA-Complaint Coverage for 2020

This year, Open Enrollment runs from November 1 through December 15 with a coverage effective date of January 1, 2020. This is the one time of year where individuals and families can enroll in ACA-compliant health insurance plans.

Ready to start shopping? Visit your association’s exchange or marketplace to shop ACA-compliant health plans today.

Not sure where to start? Schedule an appointment with one of our licensed benefits counselors and let us walk you through finding the best health insurance fit for your needs.

happy family on couch browsing health insurance options on tablet

Getting the Most out of Open Enrollment

With 2020 Open Enrollment period in full swing, families across the country are reviewing their current insurance coverages and seeing what other options may be available to them. Below are a few tips to help you navigate the process.

  1. Learn the Language

Insurance jargon may be enough to make some people’s heads spin but learning just a few key terms could help you pick the best health coverage for you and your family. To make it easy, here are a few words we feel you should know:

  • ACA-compliant” refers to plans that follow all the guidelines and regulations in the Affordable Care Act. These plans are only available during the annual Open Enrollment period or through a Special enrollment period, if you have a qualifying event.
  • Non-ACA plans” also known as short term health plans do not adhere to all of the Affordable Care Act’s guidelines and regulations.
  • Deductible” the amount of money you must pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in
  • Premium” the amount you pay to your insurance company every month
  • In-network” refers to a provider that has a contract with your insurance provider
  • Out-of-network” refers to a provider that does not have a contract with your insurance provider
  1. Think of the Future

No one can predict the future, but you may be able to take an educated guess as to what the next 12 months could hold. Thinking about the coming year could help you determine how much coverage is right for you and your family. Have you had any health issues in the past year? Are you taking any medications? By examining your current health status and concerns you may be able to narrow down your health insurance plan options.

  1. Utilize Your Resources

Did you know you have access to our team of licensed Benefits Counselors? Our Benefits Counselors are experts in their field and are standing by to help you navigate the Open Enrollment process and find the best health insurance for you and your family’s needs.

We’ve been providing health insurance answers and guidance for over 30 years. Be sure to visit our Individuals page for access to appointment scheduling services, webinar replays, and other informational resources designed to help make the Open Enrollment process as quick and easy as possible.

  1. Know Your Deadlines

Like last year, the annual individual health insurance Open Enrollment period began on November 1 and will run until December 15. For those who enroll in one of these ACA-compliant plans, you can expect an effective date of January 1.

Non-ACA plans typically do not follow the ACA open enrollment period dates and are available in most states year-round.

Ready to make your decision? Visit https://memberbenefits.com/individuals/ today to secure ACA-compliant coverage for you and your family in 2020.

Upcoming 2020 Individual Health Insurance Open Enrollment Webinar

Join us for a free webinar on Tuesday, October 29 from 12:00pm-12:30pm EDT, where we’ll review the upcoming 2020 Individual Health Insurance Open Enrollment period and cover topics such as important dates, preparation tips, industry updates, and more! Reserve your spot by registering today. Can’t make it to the webinar? Register anyway and we’ll send you a link to the video replay later that day.

STATE BAR OF NEVADA TAPS MEMBER BENEFITS, INC TO RUN THEIR HEALTH BENEFITS MARKETPLACE

Nevada becomes sixth state bar association to choose Member Benefits

JACKSONVILLE, FL (October 10, 2019) – Member Benefits, a national leader in association benefits and private health exchanges, has announced their appointment as the exclusive provider of a private health insurance marketplace for members of the State Bar of Nevada.

Members will be able to shop customized benefit plans for individuals and explore group health options for law firms. The private exchange utilizes decision support technology to help members select the plans best suited for their needs.

“The State Bar of Nevada is excited to partner with Member Benefits on this insurance exchange. With health coverage on the minds of so many members, we’re pleased to be able to provide options for law firms, as well as solo and small firm practitioners,” said Kimberly K. Farmer, State Bar of Nevada Executive Director.

The State Bar of Nevada is in good company; several other state bar associations are already on Member Benefits’ client roster – including the State Bar of Texas, The Florida Bar, the State Bar of Georgia, The Missouri Bar, and the Washington State Bar Association.

Product offerings available to State Bar of Nevada members will initially include:

  • group health insurance
  • individual health insurance
  • dental insurance
  • vision insurance
  • long-term disability insurance
  • term life insurance
  • long-term care insurance
  • Medicare supplemental insurance

These offerings will be available to Bar members, and their spouses, eligible dependents, and employees.

“When we launch a new exchange, the members are often pleasantly surprised with the service model behind the exchange. In other words, it’s more than just offering quality products. Our team of in-house benefits counselors have extensive experience working with lawyer’s insurance needs and provide an enhanced customer experience to each member,” said Nick Trefry, COO of Member Benefits.

The program, titled The State Bar of Nevada Health Insurance Marketplace, will be available to members starting in October 2019.

About Member Benefits

Member Benefits is a technology-driven insurance brokerage and third-party administrator that focuses on benefit programs and insurance exchanges for member-based organizations. They specialize in the design, marketing, and administration of programs for employer groups, associations, affinity groups, and franchises. The company has office locations in Jacksonville, FL and Austin, TX.

About The State Bar of Nevada

The State Bar of Nevada is a public corporation that operates under the supervision of the Nevada Supreme Court. The state bar regulates attorneys in Nevada and provides education and development programs for the legal profession and the public. The state bar has two office locations in Las Vegas and Reno and supports a staff of about 50 people who perform a wide variety of services.

 

Contact Information:

Member Benefits, Inc.
Tom Charde, Director of Marketing
904-396-8626
memberbenefits.com

 

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children eating ice cream cones on a park bench

Two Things Your Teeth Want You to Avoid This Summer

Summer is finally here. This is the time of year where families all over the country can sit back, relax together, and enjoy the warm weather. But while you and your family are trying to keep cool, there are a few summer staples you should avoid in order to prevent tooth decay and the resulting costly dental procedures.

Fruity Drinks

No summer is complete without at least a few fruity drinks by the pool. And while the fruit may be good for you and help keep you hydrated in the summer heat, the excess sugar won’t do you any favors. Despite the main ingredient being fruits and/or veggies, smoothies can contain lots of hidden sugar which can wreak havoc on not just your waistline, but your teeth as well.

According to WebMD, “tooth decay is caused by bacteria that feeds on sugars from food and drinks. That bacteria — called plaque — can stick to your teeth, producing acids that eat through the enamel on your teeth.” So, while a fruity drink or smoothie may sound great, don’t forget that water can be just as refreshing.

Chewing Ice

When it comes to ice cubes, those frozen cubes are best left melting in your cup.

Chewing on ice may seem like a harmless zero-calorie way to keep cool but it can lead to enamel damage. Like all hard foods, chewing on ice cubes can cause chips and cracks to your teeth and create a passageway for bacteria to get in and cause infections.

Aside from the potential for dental damage, chewing or craving ice can also be a sign of a larger health concern such an iron deficiency, or an eating disorder.

Keeping Your Mouth Protected

When it comes to maintaining good oral health and protecting yourself from costly dental work, the best thing you can do is to get covered.

Want to learn more about what dental plan options you have access to? Visit https://memberbenefits.com/individuals/dental-and-vision/ to learn more and to pick a plan that best fits your needs.

elderly man getting eye exam for cataracts

What to Expect: Seeing Your Way Through Cataracts Surgery

No one ever claimed that getting older would be fun. And while the many technological advancements in medicine can’t solve everything related to aging, it can help restore vision loss due to cataracts.

What are Cataracts?

According to All About Vision, “A cataract is a clouding of the lens inside the eye, causing vision loss that cannot be corrected with glasses, contact lenses or corneal refractive surgery like LASIK.” While this may sound serious, cataracts are considered common. By the age of 60, more than half of American seniors will be diagnosed with one.

As our eyes age, our lenses become thicker and increasingly opaque. In some cases, the lens may begin to break down, causing a cloudiness and eventually forming into a cataract. While there are other risk factors that can increase your chances of developing cataracts, the development is most often attributed to age.

In 2015, it was estimated that more than 3.6 million cataract surgeries would be performed in the U.S., and more than 20 million worldwide. Because the development of cataracts has become so common, cataracts surgery has become accepted as a fairly normal part of aging.

What to Expect

If you have cataracts, chances are you and your eye doctor have already been aware of it for some time. Cataracts need to progress to a certain point before they become medically necessary to remove. Once this happens, you and your doctor will schedule a date for a pre-op appointment and surgery.

While the surgery only typically takes approximately ten minutes to perform, the in-office recovery time can take anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour before you can be driven home. Your eye doctor will often send you home with an eye patch, some medicated drops, and a list of activities to avoid until you recover.

Some of these activities may include:

  • Strenuous activity (exercise, lifting anything over 25 lbs)
  • Bending down
  • Getting water in your eyes
  • Exposing your eye to dust or contaminants

Strict adherence to your doctor’s after-care instructions is essential to a full recovery.

Unforeseen Costs

If your doctor considers the surgery medically necessary, Medicare will typically cover most of the cost of the surgery, the pre-surgical exam, and any follow-up care you may require. But Medicare enrollees will still be responsible for meeting their deductible and paying a coinsurance of 20 percent out of pocket. For many seniors living on a fixed income, paying for what Medicare doesn’t can be difficult.

Fortunately, there is Medicare supplement insurance. If you or someone you love is approaching the age of 65, a Medicare supplemental insurance policy (otherwise known as a Medigap policy) can help fill in the financial gaps.

To learn more about the medicare supplement insurance available to you as an association member, please visit https://memberbenefits.com/individuals/medicare/ today.

mother and child practicing good dental hygiene in bathroom

Helpful Dental Hygiene Hacks for Kids

A common question among parents is when they should begin teaching their children oral hygiene. Many dentists assert that parents can start laying the groundwork for good brushing habits before their child’s first tooth even breaks the surface.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), tooth decay is the most common chronic disease found in children and adolescents, and is four times more likely to affect teens between 14 and 17 than asthma.

But for many parents, getting their kids to brush their teeth is a battle not unlike getting them to eat their broccoli or go to bed on time, But it doesn’t need to be this way. There are many ways parents can set their children up for success when it comes to their oral health without needing to resort to bargaining or threats.

Start Early

For newborns, it is common for parents to use gauze or another type of clean cloth to wipe down their gums down after feedings to discourage germs and bacteria from lingering and developing into problems down the line.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), a child’s first trip to the dentist should coincide with the arrival of the first baby tooth, and should happen no later than their first birthday.

Early exposure to dentist visits and cleaning their mouths can help get your child used to these activities in the future. Starting good oral hygiene habits early can help show them that these activities are not out of the ordinary and are just part of the routine and nothing to be afraid of or anxious about.

Lead by Example

Whether it’s what you say or what you do, kids love to imitate adults. So, when it comes to oral hygiene, make sure you’re setting a good example. Try dancing, making funny faces, or even singing or humming a song while brushing. No matter what you do, just be sure that your child sees you enjoying brushing your teeth. This will teach them that brushing is a fun activity that they can look forward to.

Make It Fun

Toothbrush makers know that the more fun they can make brushing for kids, the more likely those kids will grow into adults with healthy brushing habits. That’s why so many toothbrushes now come in flashy colors – some with cartoon characters, some that play music, and others that light up.

And while you won’t be able to find any toothpaste to sing songs to your kids, you will find it available in a variety of colors, flavors, and some even with glitter or other special effects.

Having a cool toothbrush may be half the battle but using positive reinforcement techniques to encourage your toddler to keep brushing also helps. Sticker charts, a special snack, and even an extra ten minutes of play time are all great ideas.

Find What Works

No two children are the same and what works for one, may not work for another. Some children’s gums may be more sensitive than others which will force parents to opt for soft or silicone bristled toothbrushes. Ultimately, it is up to you, the parent, to figure out what works best for your child and hygiene structure.

For parents with children who struggle with developmental disabilities such as autism, the process for learning good oral health habits may prove even more challenging. And with roughly one out of every 40 children in America diagnosed with autism, there is a growing need for more dentists and dental practitioners to be both better equipped and knowledgeable when it comes to serving patients with developmental disabilities.

If your child falls into this group, and getting them to practice good oral hygiene proves too strenuous for both of you, a Board-certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) may be able to help.

The Right Choice for Your Family

When was the last time your child made a trip to the dentist? With our Comprehensive PPO dental plan, your family will have the freedom to visit any licensed dentist in the country. You can save even more when you visit one of over 135,000 preferred dentists and 32,000 specialists nationwide. Make your family’s oral health a priority by visiting your association page today.

woman on smartphone surrounded by locks graphic img

5 Tips To Help You Protect Your Identity In 2019

Despite best efforts on behalf of businesses and consumers alike, cases of identity theft and fraud have continued to rise. In 2017 alone, an estimated 16.7 million individuals had their identities compromised, up 1.3 million from 2016 and 3.6 million from 2015, according to the 2018 Identity Fraud Study conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research.

While banks and retailers have taken steps to protect credit card information from being stolen (such as with EMV chips), many retailers still require customers to swipe – which eliminates the benefits of the EMV chip altogether.

Know Your Options

You may be feeling helpless when it comes to identity theft, but there are steps you can take to keep your information protected.

Tip #1: Freeze your credit

Thanks to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, there is no longer a fee associated with freezing your credit. This is one of the easiest ways you can protect your information without doing anything more than contacting the three major reporting bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. According to Experian, “when you freeze your credit report, you are stopping any of your personal data from being reported to lenders and creditors. Thus, in the event that a fraudster would try to use your Social Security number to apply for a credit card, that application would be rejected, as the bank would be unable to verify your credit score.”

If freezing isn’t for you, all three major credit bureaus offer mobile apps that allow you to lock and unlock your credit using your smartphone.

Tip #2: Update your passwords

The street you grew up on, your pet’s name, or the high school you graduated from are not hard to find out. Instead, consider a random series of letters, numbers, and special characters. Experts such as Perfect Passwords author Mark Burnett suggest coming up with a new secure password every six to twelve months.

Tip #3: Monitor your accounts

If you suspect your identity has been stolen, the faster you act the better. Many banks now monitor your accounts for you and will either text or call you if they suspect any fraudulent activity, but it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your accounts yourself. It’s important to read through every account charge and investigate anything you don’t recognize immediately.

Tip #4: Don’t leave a trail

How many credit card offers do you receive in the mail, and then simply throw away? According to NerdWallet, “Stolen mail is one of the easiest paths to a stolen identity.” If you haven’t already invested in a personal shredder, there are a number of models designed to help keep your identity safe and protected for less than $30.

Tip #5: DON’T CARRY YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY CARD EVERYWHERE

No one means to misplace their wallet, have their car broken into, or their purse stolen, but accidents happen. This is why it is never a good idea to carry your social security card with you at all times. According to Steven J.J. Weisman, Esq., an Amherst, Massachusetts-based college professor who specializes in white-collar crime, “A Social Security number is the most important piece of information that a criminal can use to make you a victim of identity theft so you shouldn’t carry it with you in your wallet, anyway.”

A better place to store your social security card may be at home, in a safe place, preferably under lock and key.

Protect Your Information In 2019

Are you concerned about your risk of identity theft? To learn more about identity theft protection options available to you, please visit your association page.

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