african american man stressed and dealing with depression at work

Attorneys: When Depression Strikes and When to See A Doctor

When the air turns cooler and the autumn breeze picks up the holiday season is never far behind. It is a time for family, friends, good food, shopping for gifts, and enjoying each other’s company. But what happens when you can’t seem to find your holiday spirit?

Just because your holiday spirit is lacking doesn’t necessarily make you a Grinch, though it could be a sign of something much more important.

Depression doesn’t strike when it is most convenient for you, sometimes there is a reason for it and sometimes there is not. In fact, it is not at all uncommon to develop depression symptoms during the holiday season.

But not all cases of the winter blues are the same and therefore, it is important to know when to reach out to your doctor and discuss what you are experiencing.

Know The Signs of Depression

Being a lawyer is one of the most stressful professions, so it’s understandable if you count yourself among the 28 percent of lawyers who struggle with depression.

According to Tyger Latham Psy.D. in an article posted on Psychology Today, “In counseling law students and many early career attorneys, I’ve come to recognize some common characteristics amongst those in the profession. Most, from my experience, tend to be ‘Type A’s’ (i.e., highly ambitious and over-achieving individuals). They also have a tendency toward perfectionism, not just in their professional pursuits but in nearly every aspect of their lives. While this characteristic is not unique to the legal profession – nor is it necessarily a bad thing – when rigidly applied, it can be problematic. The propensity of many law students and attorneys to be perfectionistic can sometimes impede their ability to be flexible and accommodating, qualities that are important in so many non-legal domains.”

In short, Latham goes on to suggest that it is the very character traits that make lawyers successful that also makes them prone to experiencing depression and anxiety.

But how do you know when you are displaying symptoms of depression?

One of the largest misconceptions regarding depression is that people who suffer from it are sad all the time and in some cases, may want to commit suicide. What many fail to realize is that depression is much more than that.

Depression is different in that it can creep up on you without you even noticing it. Symptoms that might be described as being in relation to a bad day may continue to linger for multiple days or weeks before you even realize feeling off.

According to Mayo Clinic, the most common symptoms of depression are as follows:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness.
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports.
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much.
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort.
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain.
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness.
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame.
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things.
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide.
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches.

If you should experience any of these symptoms, or a combination of them for a period of two weeks or more, it is advised to consult with your primary care physician.

Taking Care of Yourself

If you are without health insurance or haven’t reviewed your current health insurance plan this year, from now until December 15th is the 2018 Open Enrollment period where you can enroll in a health insurance plan designed to provide you and your family with the health care you need.

To learn more about Open Enrollment or to see your health insurance options, visit your association page for additional information.

If you would like additional assistance, our licensed Benefits Counselors are on hand to help. Click here to schedule an appointment to speak with one about your 2018 health insurance options.

young happy doctor high fiving little girl after open enrollment

Knowing Your Open Enrollment Options In 2018

Here are some important reminders to help guide you through the 2018 Open Enrollment process.

You may have recently received a letter from your health insurance carrier about the 2018 year. If the letter was confusing, don’t worry—a licensed Benefits Counselor will help you navigate your health insurance elections for the 2018 coverage year.

Need To Know For Open Enrollment 2018

Unlike years past, this year the Open Enrollment period lasts from a start date of November 1, 2017, and ends on December 15, 2017.

In order to obtain coverage on January 1, 2018, you must apply by the December 15, 2017, Open Enrollment deadline.

Plans and pricing will be available for review on November 1, 2017. We recommend that you evaluate your health insurance options every year in order to ensure that you are still receiving the benefits you need.

applying for health insurance on atablet during open enrollmentOpen Enrollment Is The Time For Changes

Open Enrollment is the time to make changes to your current plan.

If you are currently enrolled in a health insurance plan from the exchange, it may automatically renew if it is still available in your area. However, it is still important to review the details of your current plan, as providers may have made important changes that will be implemented for the 2018 coverage year.

If you have received a notice notifying you of upcoming changes to your plan, it is important to take the time to read it and determine what these changes could mean for you and your family. Be sure to check that your preferred doctors and hospitals will still be considered in-network. It is important to note that in some cases, you may not be covered at all should you receive care out-of-network.

It is possible that your prescription drug coverage could also change with the new year. Your plan may no longer cover the essential medications you, or your dependents, require in order to manage chronic conditions. This is why it is of the utmost importance that you review your existing plan’s drug benefits for 2018 before you allow it to renew.

Enroll Now Or Wait Until Next Year

So, what happens if you miss the Open Enrollment deadline? In the event that you miss the Open Enrollment cut-off date and still find yourself without insurance, you may be forced to wait another year until the next Open Enrollment period unless you qualify for a special enrollment period.

A Special Enrollment Period can be classified as a divorce, marriage, birth or adoption of a child, death of a spouse or a partner that leaves you without health insurance, your spouse or partner who has you covered loses his/her job and health insurance, you lose your job and with it your health insurance, your hours are cut making you ineligible for your employer’s health insurance plan, or you are in an HMO and move outside its designated coverage area.

In order to avoid paying a penalty on your taxes, you must have health insurance as per the Affordable Care Act.

Applying For 2018 Coverage

When you are ready to apply, make sure you have the details of your current plan, payment information, and any dependent information (social security number, birth date, etc.) on hand to make the application process easier.

Schedule an appointment with a licensed Benefits Counselor for a simple one-on-one approach to Open Enrollment. Our Benefits Counselors are specially trained to focus on your individual needs in a health plan and find you the best fit.

To schedule an appointment, please fill out our Online Appointment Scheduling form to secure your preferred date and time today!

young female asian doctor treating mother and daughter

What You Need For Open Enrollment 2018

Open Enrollment 2018 is just around the corner and for many, this is the only time to secure health insurance coverage for you and your dependents.

Since the beginning of the Affordable Care Act, the term Open Enrollment refers to the specific period of time each year when an individual can enroll in, or switch, their health insurance plan without the need to qualify for a special enrollment period. This is also when additional eligible members can be added to an existing plan.

Open enrollment only occurs once per year, so keeping an eye on the Open Enrollment deadlines is important in order to avoid losing coverage. This year the Open Enrollment window has been shortened and begins November 1st with a December 15th deadline.

young doctor explaining open enrollment 2018 to coupleKnow The Open Enrollment 2018 Terms

We know that Open Enrollment can seem stressful and completely overwhelming — but it doesn’t need to be! One of the best things you can do to make the Open Enrollment process easier is to know the most frequently used terms:

  • Coinsurance: Coinsurance is your share of the costs of a covered healthcare service calculated as a percent (for example, 20 percent) of the allowed amount for the service. You pay coinsurance plus any deductibles you still owe for a covered health service.
  • Premium: A premium is the amount of money charged by an insurance company for coverage. The cost of premiums may be determined by several factors, including age, geographic area, tobacco use, and number of dependents.
  • Copayment: A copayment, or copay, is a fixed amount you pay for a covered healthcare service, usually at the time of service. The amount can vary by the type of covered healthcare service.
  • Deductible: A deductible is the amount you owe for healthcare services each year before the insurance company begins to pay.
  • Out-of-pocket Maximum (OOPM): An out-of-pocket maximum is the most you should have to pay for your healthcare during a year, excluding the monthly premium. It protects you from very high medical expenses. After you reach the annual out-of-pocket maximum, your health insurance or plan begins to pay 100 percent of the allowed amount for covered healthcare services for the rest of the year. The deductible, coinsurance, copays and prescription drug copays are included in the out-of-pocket maximum.
  • Preventive Care: Rather than waiting for a patient to become sick, preventive care aims to keep people healthy, or at least catch illnesses at their earliest and most treatable stages. Preventive care includes preventive services performed by providers, such as annual physicals or mammograms. Under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), policies must cover various preventive services for men, women, and children without sharing the cost for these services through coinsurance, deductibles or copayments. Certain Preventive care services are subject to frequency limitations.
  • Annual Limit and Lifetime Limit: In the past, health insurance carriers imposed Annual and Lifetime limits on the benefits you receive. You are no longer subject to these limitations and there is no maximum to the benefits you may receive.

Asking For Help

Our team of licensed Benefits Counselors are here to help! Schedule an appointment so you can get your questions answered —And don’t forget, Open Enrollment only runs through December 15th for the 2018 season!

family in white smiling and happy about ancillary benefits

Beyond Health: The Ancillary Benefits Your Association Needs

We’ve all heard of Health Insurance, but it’s not uncommon to hear the term “Ancillary Benefits” in the same sentence. But while everyone is familiar with health insurance, not everyone is equally familiar with ancillary benefits. So, what exactly are they and should you be offering them to your employees?

First and foremost, while health insurance is just health insurance, ancillary benefits can be made up of a variety of different insurance and benefits offerings made available to your employees. Oftentimes, instead of listing out each and every benefit and insurance offering a company may offer, the term “ancillary” may be used instead.

Potential Ancillary Benefits Offerings

But despite the unfamiliarity of the term, the types of insurance benefit offerings it can refer to are all too common. Offerings such as Dental and Vision insurance, Term Life insurance, Long-Term Disability Insurance, LifeLock, Pet Insurance, among many others are among the most popular ancillary benefit offerings companies and associations can offer their employees.

inside of dental office with toolsDental and Vision Insurance

Providing your employees with dental insurance can benefit you as much as them. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular dental check-ups can improve an individual’s personal health and having dental insurance can help save your employees from additional costly expenses should more serious treatments be needed. As is the case with anything health related, regular check-ups are the key to catching any potential problems early and avoiding costly procedures later on.

Like dental check-ups, regular eye exams not only diagnose vision problems but can also provide early detection of serious health problems. Vision insurance is frequently offered alongside dental insurance and can be every bit as beneficial for employees to have as poor vision can result in everything from migraines, to blindness, and more.

Term-Life Insurance

Life insurance provides crucial financial protection for your family if something were to ever happen to you. An offering like this would help to give your employees peace of mind and let them know that you are looking out for their family’s financial future. It is not uncommon for Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) insurance to be included as well.

man in a wheelchair rolling down street next to carLong-Term Disability Insurance

Long-Term Disability insurance has been designed to help protect your employee’s financial well-being in the event an accident or illness occurs outside of the workplace. It is estimated that just over one in four of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before they retire. Long-Term Disability insurance helps your employees replace their lost income if they have an accident or illness that prevents them from working. Leading Long-Term Disability Insurance provider Guardian, can provide your employees with up to $10,000 in monthly disability coverage.

LifeLock

In today’s internet age, you can never be too careful when it comes to protecting your identity. According to the 2017 Identity Fraud Study, conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research over $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million consumers in the U.S. in 2016—up 700 million from the previous year. With cyber criminals showing no sign of slowing down, it falls on individuals to protect their identity with smart banking practices and services offered by companies such as LifeLock.

LifeLock is a great ancillary benefit for employers to offer to their employees and is becoming arguably as important as health insurance to have.

Pet Insurance

Nothing will show your employees that you value them and their happiness more than by offering pet insurance for their four-legged friends. Just like the health costs for your employees, vet bills can be every bit as expensive. But by offering your employees pet insurance, they will be able to make sure that their pets stay as healthy as possible and be reimbursed for their vet visits via their pet insurance company.

Why Your Association Should Offer Ancillary Benefits

When benefit programs meet employees’ needs, employers enjoy a significant competitive advantage in attracting and retaining valuable employees. In addition, employees are more satisfied and become more willing to stay with your company. When you go through your association program, you get access to rate and participation concessions on Dental, Vision, Life, Disability, and more!

To see the insurance benefits we currently offer, please visit your association page https://mobar.memberbenefits.com/.

Visit a Dentist— ANY Dentist

You chose a dental plan that can help you save1 and get the care you need.

No matter who your dentist may be, with the MetLife Preferred Dentist Program, the power to choose and save is yours.

Here are the facts:

  • You can go to any licensed dentist, in or out of the network.
  • Reimbursement for your out-of-network dental care is based on the 90th percentile of “reasonable and customary” charges1. We look at what dentists in your area actually charge for services, and we calculate reimbursement based on the 90th percentile of those charges.
  • The way we determine allowable charges for the 90th R&C means your eligible benefit amount for out-of-network care is high relative to average dental charges in the community. This helps you pay less out of pocket.
  • Sometimes when you visit an out-of-network dentist you may have to pay part of the bill. This is called balance billing. But with a 90th percentile R&C plan, in most cases you won’t be balance billed above your typical out-of-pocket costs – your deductible, coinsurance amount and your plan maximum.

Take charge of your dental care

Talk to your dentist

Before you get any major dental work, you should talk to your dentist about getting a pretreatment estimate2. That’s when your dentist sends the plan for your care to MetLife.

For most procedures, you and your dentists will receive the estimate – online or by fax – during your visit. The statement shows amounts for what your plan covers. Then  you and your dentist can talk about your care and costs before your treatment. It’s a great way to be prepared and plan ahead.

Get your plan information – fast!

Managing your dental benefits has never  been easier. You’ve got MyBenefits – your secure member website. Just log on at www.metlife.com/mybenefits. With the 24/7 website you can3:

  • Review your plan information, including what’s covered and coinsurance
  • Track your deductible and plan maximums
  • Find a dentist or view your claim history
  • Read up on the oral health information you need to make informed decisions about your care

Take a look at the charts below. They will give you a better idea of how your plan works when you visit a participating (in-network) or a non-participating (out-of-network) dentist.

The 90th bar

This chart shows how often plan members across the nation usually go to a participating or non-participating dentist. It also shows just how rare it is for you to pay more than your typical out-of-pocket costs.

Savings example

This hypothetical example shows that whether you get a cleaning from a participating or non-participating dentist, you can still save money4.

Visit any licensed dentist. The choice is all yours!

Like most group benefit programs, benefit programs offered by MetLife and its affiliates contain certain exclusions, exceptions, waiting periods, reductions of benefits, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. Please contact MetLife or your Plan Administrator for complete details.

Learn more about your dental plan.

1R&C fee refers to the Reasonable and Customary (R&C) charge, which is based on the lowest of 1) the dentist’s actual charge, 2) the dentist’s usual charge for the

same or similar services or the usual charge of most dentists in the same geographic area for the same or similar services as determined by MetLife.

2Actual benefit determinations are made when services are rendered and are subject to the following as applicable on the date of service: patient eligibility; plan and frequency limitations; maximums and deductibles; and other coverages.

3With the exception of scheduled or unscheduled systems maintenance or interruptions, the MyBenefits website is typically available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

4Please note: This is a hypothetical example that reviews an adult teeth cleaning (D1110) in the Chicago area, zip 60601.  It assumes that the annual deductible has been met.

5This example excludes non-participating dentists who charge more than what 90% of what other dentists in the area charge. Please note that if you receive care from a dentist that falls into this category, your out-of-pocket costs may be higher.

6Negotiated Fee refers to the fees that in-network dentists have agreed to accept as payment in full, subject to any co-payments, deductibles, cost sharing and benefits maximums.

Young People Discussing Group Insurance Benefits with an agent

3 Benefits of Group Health Insurance For Employers

Group health insurance is usually provided by an employer and can cover just the employee or even the employee’s spouse and children.

Not providing group health coverage could be a major misstep for some companies regardless of size, as there are a number of benefits to providing Group Health Insurance coverage.

1. Lower Costs Than Individual Plans

There is no question that the term health care reform has been a hot-button topic and on the lips of nearly every politician regardless of political party over the course of the past 10 years. In light of the Affordable Care Act, it has now become more affordable to purchase Group Health Insurance than for your employees to purchase health insurance individually.

Level-funding insurance plan options have been growing in popularity over the past number years. Level-funded plans are ERISA compliant and may offer more flexibility for employers with virtually no risk and offered by several reputable insurance carriers with a nationwide network of hospitals and physicians to choose from.

What has many employers especially excited about these plans is the opportunity for 10%-15% in lower premium costs and the Return of Premium potential. Unlike other policies on the market, with level-funded options, if your employees don’t rack up a large number of claims throughout the year, your company may have a substantial amount of money (originally paid in premiums) returned.

Insurance Agent Explaining Group Insurance to employee2. Attraction and Retention

If looking at the cost of a group health insurance plan leaves you feeling queasy and the idea of paying the tax penalty sounds more appeal, you may want to think twice.

As job seekers now expect for their employers to at least partially cover their healthcare needs through group health insurance policies, walking into a job interview and being told that the company refuses to pay health care for full-time workers is a red flag. Even if a potential employee is in trouble financially, they may still take the job out of desperation but will jump ship as soon as they can afford to for greener pastures.

Providing Group Health Insurance for your employees shows a certain level of care and respect that new and existing employees will appreciate and keep in mind going further within your company.

3. Tax Benefits of Providing Group Health Insurance

In some cases, it’s possible that providing your employees with Group Health Insurance could give you a welcome tax write-off, not to mention added tax benefits for your employees.

Payments made to group health insurance premiums, reimbursement plans (HRAs), and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are generally all eligible for tax advantages as all of these payments can be made as pre-tax contributions.

As an added bonus, qualifying health insurance plans may also be eligible for HSAs for their employees. HSA’s are 100 percent owned by the individual employee and not tied to you in any way. In a 2015 study conducted by Devenir compiled data from the top twenty HSA providers in the U.S. and found a 1775% increase in assets between 2006 and 2015, showing that now more than ever, people are choosing to invest their money in HSA’s rather than insurance plans with more coverage.

 

Member Benefits has been in the insurance brokerage business for over 30 years and is the recommended broker of The State Bar of Missouri. To see the insurance benefits we provide to The State Bar of Missouri, visit www.mobar.memberbenefits.com.

To see what Member Benefits can do for your business, visit www.memberbenefits.com.

man with long term disability insurance with son at park

The Underestimated Value of Long-Term Disability Insurance For Attorneys

For many, the thought of investing in a long-term disability insurance policy may sound like an unnecessary expense. It is estimated that roughly 86 percent of Americans have desk jobs, therefore it is easy to understand why they might be under the impression that they have little to no chance of becoming disabled during the course of their career. This is a potentially dangerous mistake.

The Odds of Needing Long-Term Disability Insurance

While it is true that those who work more labor-intensive jobs may have an increased risk of becoming injured or disabled at some point in their careers, those who work in office settings also have at least a one in four chance of the same thing happening to them.

In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Services estimated that there were 1,153,490 cases of work-related injuries and illnesses that resulted in missing days from work. This statistic can be scary for both businesses and individuals alike. And while most states mandate that every business with one of more employees must have workers’ comp. insurance, what happens when workers’ comp. and social security disability benefits just aren’t enough?

man with long term disability insurance with son at parkThe Cost of Becoming Disabled

If you find yourself injured or sick and unable to earn an income, mounting medical bills, combined with the general cost of living expenses can quickly become overwhelming. You are not alone… it is estimated by the Council for Disability Awareness that over one in four will find themselves disabled prior to retiring.

Could your family sustain the loss of your paycheck? Many, if not most, could not. According to the 2012 Life Happens Disability Survey, only half of working Americans have enough money in their savings to financially handle being out of work for one month before feeling any sort of financial strain. For members of The Missouri Bar who opt to invest in member group long-term disability insurance plans, monthly benefit amounts range anywhere from a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $10,000.

While most people may equate being disabled with a workplace injury of some sort, in all actuality, less than 5% of disabling accidents and illnesses are work related according to the Social Security Administration, and even then the average monthly benefit in Social Security Disability is $1,165 a month. Could you support your family on only $1,165 a month?

Protecting Your Financial Security

The key to protecting your financial security is planning ahead. That is where Long-Term Disability Insurance comes in. Long-Term Disability insurance will help you pay for things such as your mortgage, utilities, child care expenses, and other everyday living expenses should you become disabled. To ensure members have access to the long-term disability insurance plan options that they need to protect themselves and their family’s financial security in the event they become disabled, The Missouri Member Benefits programs provides Member Group plan through well-known insurance provider Guardian, to fulfill their need.

If you wish to receive more information about how you can safeguard your financial future in the event of being diagnosed with a long-term disability, please visit www.mobar.memberbenefits.com/long-term-disability/ to view the complete Long-Term Disability brochure or to download an application.

grandfather blowing out birthday cake candles at a birthday party with family

Waiting to Enroll in a Medigap Policy Could Cost You

Throughout our lives, we have a number of birthdays but only a few age milestones ever really stand out—thirteen, sixteen, eighteen, twenty-one, forty, and sixty-five. The milestones get fewer as we age, but few are as important as the final one.

If you or someone you love is soon to turn 65, there are a number of things to start to consider. While the potential for retirement is one, another really big decision to make is how much, or how little insurance you will need.

Three months prior to turning 65, you become eligible to sign up for Medicare.  Once you review your options and make your selections between Part A, B, C, and D you must then decide if these plan benefits will be enough for you.

elderly woman receiving help signing up for medigap coverage with forms from her daughterAbout Medicare Supplemental Insurance (Medigap)

For those who feel they need additional coverage and benefits, supplemental Medicare insurance (otherwise known as Medigap Supplement Plans) is there to help offset any additional costs you may not have foreseen when you originally signed up for Medicare. In fact, Medicare Supplemental Insurance is sometimes called Medigap coverage because it helps to fill in the gaps in coverage that Medicare can sometimes leave behind.

Your open enrollment eligibility to sign up for one of these policies begins on the day your turn 65 and are covered under Medicare Part B. To be eligible to sign up for a Medigap policy, you must be covered under Parts A and B of Medicare.

Your open enrollment period ends six months after your 65th birthday. So what happens then? What happens if you choose to not sign up for a Medigap policy within that specific time frame but still wish to purchase it?

The simple truth of it is, you may not be able to. In the event you are able to purchase a Medigap policy in your state after the initial six-month-period of open enrollment eligibility, it may cost you a great deal more than you were originally quoted to secure the same coverage you would have gotten if you had signed up immediately following your 65th birthday. In short, there are no positives to waiting to secure a Medigap Supplemental Insurance.

senior woman giving credit card details over the phoneWhy Buy Medigap coverage?

Medicare Parts A and Part B do not offer you 100% medical coverage from the age of 65 on. While Medicare does cover a great deal of expenses that could otherwise be quite costly and stressful, it does not cover everything.

According to Medicare.gov, Medicare Parts A and B fail to cover the following:

  • Long-term care
  • Prescription drugs (Medicare Part D helps cover this)
  • Most dental care services
  • Eye exams pertaining to eyeglasses
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Acupuncture
  • The vast majority of Chiropractic services
  • Exams and fittings related to hearing aids
  • Routine foot care, not including injuries where a podiatrist might be necessary

For many, Medicare Part A is free and is designed to help enrollees pay for inpatient services, however, according to Medicare.gov, enrollees have a $1,316 hospital inpatient deductible for each benefit period.

While Medigap will not assist enrollees in paying for long-term care, it will assist with coinsurance, deductibles, copays, and serious vision issues such as cataracts surgery which can all greatly help senior citizens looking to minimize their out-of-pocket medical expenses.

For more information on Medicare Supplemental Insurance (Medigap) and what it can do for you or someone you love, please visit www.mobar.memberbenefits.com/services/medicare-supplement/.

gray map of counties in missouri and kansas

Blue Cross Abandons Affordable Care Act Insurance Exchange in Missouri

UPDATE 6/13/2017: 

St. Louis-based Insurance company, Centene Corp., has announced plans to enter the Missouri, Kansas, and Nevada Affordable Care Act insurance exchanges in 2018. In April of this year, Centene CEO Michael Neidorff was quoted as saying “As to exchanges, we see nothing at this point to prevent us from proceeding with our 2018 marketplace participation.

According to Kansas City Business Journal, “As of March 31st, Centene served about 1.2 million exchange members, up about 500,00 from the previous year.” Centene Corp. is also expected to expand its six current markets in Washington, Indiana, Ohio, Georgia, Florida, and Texas signaling the potential for even more growth in 2018.

In a statement, Neidorff said, “Centene recognizes there is uncertainty of new healthcare legislation, but we are well positioned to continue providing accessible, high quality and culturally sensitive healthcare services to our members” according to an article on Reuters.

 

Citing major and “unsustainable” financial losses, insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield have announced plans to abandon individual plans offered through the Affordable Care Act Insurance Exchange for 2018 in both Missouri and Kansas.

According to the press release, “Like many other health insurers across the country, we have been faced with challenges in this market. Through 2016, we have lost more than $100 million. This is unsustainable for our company. We have a responsibility to our members and the greater community to remain stable and secure, and the uncertain direction of this market is a barrier to our continued participation.”

This decision comes on the heels of Aetna’s recent decision to completely pull out of the insurance exchange program after a citing a $450 million loss financial loss in 2016 and an additional projected $200 million loss this year.

While Blue Cross has roughly 1 million members in the affected area, they are estimating that approximately 67,000 will lose coverage. The new decision will not impact members who purchased their plans prior to October 1st, 2013, those who purchased Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, short-term or student health plan from Blue KC, or members who have Blue Cross coverage through their employer.

Nonetheless, the move by Blue Cross comes as a major blow to families and individuals in the area, not to mention the Affordable Care Act itself. Out of the 32 counties the decision impacts, 25 will be left without any options available on the exchange as the situation stands today. Insurance providers have until June 21st to inform the government where or if they will sell plans on the insurance exchanges for 2018.

map of missouri counties effected by blue cross decision to leave insurance exchangeThe State of the ACA Insurance Exchange in Missouri

According to Fox4kc.com “This year, 97 out of Missouri’s 114 counties and the City of St. Louis have only one insurer offering plans on the exchanges. Earlier this year, Humana announced that it is also withdrawing from the exchanges. As things stand today, that leaves 25 counties with no insurer option and 77 counties with only one insurer option next year.

This comes on top of a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services showing that under Obamacare insurance premiums in Missouri’s individual market have increased by an astonishing 145% in just four years.”

Missouri isn’t the only state where insurance providers have been struggling. Healthcare Economist at Washington University in St. Louis, Tim McBride, believes the decision made by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City “is part of a larger trend with insurers pulling out of marketplaces in Virginia and Iowa as well.”

If you find yourself one of the 67,000 people in the Missouri and Kansas area that this decision impacts—we can help. For over 30 years, we have assisted thousands of employers and individuals secure the coverage they need for themselves and their families. Our benefits counselors are on hand M-F 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and are specially trained in helping attorneys with their insurance needs and may be able to help in the event of a loss of coverage for 2018.

Stay tuned to The Missouri Bar Private Insurance Exchange for more updates, or contact us today at www.mobar.memberbenefits.com/contact/ to see what options may be available to you.

To view the full press release from Blue Cross Blue Shield visit www.bluekc.com.

young blonde woman playfully smiling and hiding half of her face wearing fun eyeglasses

6 Best Online Stores to Purchase Eyeglasses From

With a variety of lens materials, types, and coatings available to choose from – sitting in your optometrist’s office listening to the tech rattle off your options can understandably feel overwhelming. For the most part, consumers want something to get the job done at the lowest possible price unless they have other very specific concerns.

However, depending on your location, prescription strength and needs, as well as your eye doctor, you could be spending anywhere from approximately $95 to over $1,000 for a pair of prescription eyeglasses. According to health.costhelper.com, consumers spend on average approximately $196 for a pair of eyeglasses, and until fairly recently they didn’t have much of a choice.

However, over the course of the past 10 to 15 years, a new kind of eyeglass business has hit the market, cutting out the middleman, and cutting the ultimate cost for consumers. Zenni Optical, for example, will sell the complete set of fashionable eyeglasses (frame and lenses) for as low as $12, and their competitors aren’t too far behind.

Just in the past five years, a number of these online eyeglass retailers have been the talk of the fiscally conscious eyeglass consumer community since their inception.

But with all of these new online retailers on the market, which ones are the best to purchase eyeglasses from?

young trendy man walking in the street wearing eyeglasses purchased online1. Zenni Optical

Founded in 2003, Zenni Optical has quickly become one of the most buzzed about online eyeglass retailers on the web today. One of the few sites where customers are able to upload their own photos or select from one of Zenni’s models to try on available frames using the Zenni Frame Fit feature. Search by frame shape or material, and in the event you are unhappy with your finished products, Zenni will issue a 50% refund. Complete eyeglasses can be purchased for under $20.

2. EyeBuy Direct

Boasting rates almost as low as Zenni, with EyeBuy Direct, shoppers can look to purchase eyeglasses for under $50. While there is no virtual mirror, the site does offer a 14-day fit and style guarantee policy. In the event a customer is unhappy with their purchase for any reason, they are able to exchange or return their eyeglasses. One service EyeBuy Direct offers that few others seem to is that customers become eligible for a one-time replacement pair of eyeglasses within 12 months of purchase. This benefit comes with certain stipulations but if you are someone with bad luck when it comes to the lifespan of your eyewear, EyeBuy Direct may be worth checking out.

3. Warby Parker

One of the latest retailers to emerge in the market is Warby Parker. From their marketing to their selection of frames, Warby Parker seems to appeal to a trendier eclectic crowd, even going so far as to be selling the whimsical “Colonel Monocle.” Though slightly more expensive than competitors, Warby Parker offers a host of other perks that may prove worth it to some consumers.

To start, as a customer you have the option of selecting up to five frames and having them sent to you to try on for free for five days. No models, no uploading photos, and no cost. If you’re having trouble deciding on frames to try, Warby Parker offers an online style quiz with results tailored to your face shape, frame shape preferences, colors, and frame materials.

The majority of frames found on their website can be purchased for $95. If that seems a little high, it could be because for every pair of glasses Warby Parker sells they donate another pair to those in need.

young asian woman researching how to purchase eyeglasses online4. Ottica

Because Ottica features a wide selection of designer frames, consumers can expect to spend a bit more than other online eyeglass retailers on the web depending on frames but still be able to pocket some deep savings. Like a select few other competitors, buyers are able to upload their own photos, or select photos of models and try frames on virtually.

Ottica boasts a selection of over 2,000 designer frames on their website and offers customers a full refund if a purchased pair of frames is returned within 30 days.

5. GlassesUSA

To students, GlassesUSA may be your best bet. Unlike any of the other online eyeglass retailers on this list, GlassesUSA allows students (and first time buyers) to purchase eyeglasses at a steep 55 percent discount off their already discounted designer options.

Customers are able to upload photos of themselves in order to try the frames on virtually and receive free shipping and returns on their order. In the event you are unsatisfied with your purchase, GlassesUSA will issue you a full refund within 14 days of purchase.

6. Frames Direct

For those a little leery of placing an order for prescription eyeglasses online, Frames Direct may be the online retailer for you. Founded in 1996, Frames Direct claims to be the first online eyeglass retailer on the market for consumers. For every order that comes through their system, a licensed optician is on hand to review the prescription levels and work to ensure that there are no errors. Like certain other online retailers, Frames Direct sells designer frames at a discounted rate.

An added bonus of purchasing eyeglasses online, is that a number of these online retailers accept vision insurance. If you wish to learn more about our vision insurance option, please visit www.mobar.memberbenefits.com/dentalvision/.

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