IRS sets HSA limits for 2019

Posted by Emily Kubis on Wed, May 16, 2018 @ 09:05

Limits slightly increased

The IRS has released the new Health Savings Accounts contribution limits and maximum out-of-pocket figures for 2019.

Next year, contribution limits for individuals rise to $3,500, from $3,450 in 2018. For families, limits rise to $7,000, from 2017’s $6,900.

Maximum out-of-pocket figures also rose—for individuals, the max out-of-pocket is $6,750, up from $6,650 in 2018, and for families, max out-of-pocket is $13,500, from $13,300 in  2018.

Bernard Health's HSA-eligible plan adoption rate is 81 percent—well over industry averages.  Here are three things to know about HSAs in 2019.

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Tags: Affordable Care Act, HSAs, health savings account, obamacare, HSA Rules, health reform, health savings accounts, heath insurance

Is Obamacare repeal over?

Posted by Emily Kubis on Mon, Feb 12, 2018 @ 07:02

Repeal train slows, but what’s next?

Is the GOP giving up on Obamacare? Healthcare stakeholders and political news entities are suggesting as much. Forbes reports “insurer profits rise as Trump waves white flag on Obamacare,” noting the President mentioned Obamacare only once during his State of the Union address.

Politico reported there were no discussions of repeal and replace at a recent House and Senate joint retreat, and BenefitsPro said Republican leaders in the House and the Senate see a lot of risk and little reward in trying repeal again.

While hardly anything is certain when it comes to U.S. healthcare policy, if the GOP does move on to new priorities in 2018, where does that leave brokers and employers?

Here are three things employers should consider.

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Tags: employee benefit adviser, employer digest, health insurance small employers, employers, obamacare, aca, Affordable Care Act, repeal and replace

Three healthcare resolutions for consumers in 2018

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Jan 10, 2018 @ 08:01

Looking ahead to 2018

Healthcare policies made plenty of headlines in 2017, but unfortunately, there won’t be much relief for consumers when it comes to high costs and out-of-pocket spending.

Republicans were largely focused on repealing the Affordable Care Act this year, in efforts that were ultimately unsuccessful. The party did successfully repeal the individual mandate through the Republican tax bill, but a year later, the law is still largely intact, and very little time has been spent trying to improve it.

Both the law’s supporters and opponents agree that Obamacare has challenges—particularly around affordability. But a bipartisan solution to those challenges was not in the cards this year, and 2018 doesn’t seem promising, either.

Repealing the individual mandate will reduce the tax burden for consumers who don’t want to carry insurance, but it won’t affect many of the other challenges healthcare consumers face. These include rising medical bills, narrow networks, and increased out-of-pocket costs.

The takeaway? Expect expenses to remain steady or rise next year. In light of this, here are three resolutions for consumers about how to minimize your costs and become a better healthcare consumer. It won’t help you avoid all of your bills, but it might help reduce your costs.

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Tags: Huffington Post, health insurance, obamacare, Affordable Care Act, individual market, marketplace, single-payer, universal healthcare, Bernie Sanders, tim kaine

Three healthcare resolutions for Democrats in 2018

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Fri, Jan 05, 2018 @ 07:01

Looking ahead to 2018

After Republicans failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017, some Democrats might be thinking that the issue is resolved—but that would be a mistake.

Republicans successfully repealed the law’s individual mandate through their tax bill, which leaves the fate of the U.S. healthcare system as uncertain as ever. Further, Republicans have said they are not giving up on repealing Obamacare in total, and the law still faces challenges related to affordability and access for many consumers.

So as Democrats look ahead to 2018, the party should remain focused on improving the healthcare system, while staying vigilant when it comes to repeal. Here are three healthcare resolutions for the party.

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Tags: Huffington Post, health insurance, obamacare, Affordable Care Act, individual market, marketplace, single-payer, universal healthcare, Bernie Sanders, tim kaine

2018 healthcare resolutions for Republicans

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Dec 27, 2017 @ 09:12

Looking ahead to 2018

When it comes to healthcare, the events of 2017 were probably not what many Republicans hoped for.

This time last year, repeal of the Affordable Care Act seemed imminent. Even up until a few months ago, rolling back the health reform law still seemed pretty likely. But after multiple proposals to repeal the ACA failed to pass, efforts are now at a standstill.

As Republicans look toward 2018, all the hopes for repeal are pinned on the party’s tax bill. The bill currently includes a provision that would repeal the individual mandate, setting the party up to reshape the U.S. healthcare system in the coming year.

So as the party looks back on the lessons of 2017 and into the new year, here are three healthcare “New Year’s Resolutions” for Republicans.

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Tags: Huffington Post, health insurance, obamacare, Affordable Care Act, individual market, marketplace, single-payer, universal healthcare, Bernie Sanders, tim kaine

Sanders' single-payer versus Kaine's public option

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 @ 08:11

With Democrats leaning left on healthcare, which proposal will win the party?

Two Democratic senators have proposed different paths this year to achieve the party’s goal of universal healthcare. Senator Bernie Sanders has proposed a single-payer bill, and Senator Tim Kaine has put forth a proposal that would allow individuals to buy into Medicare.

The plans are called “Medicare-for-All” and “Medicare X,” respectively, and they both share the goal of accessible, affordable health coverage for every American. But they accomplish this goal in two very different ways.

To compare Medicare-for-All and Medicare X, we need to first explore the differences between universal healthcare and single-payer.

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Tags: Huffington Post, health insurance, obamacare, Affordable Care Act, individual market, marketplace, single-payer, universal healthcare, Bernie Sanders, tim kaine

Should your address determine your insurance options?

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, Nov 06, 2017 @ 07:11

Different county, different options

In just a few weeks, individuals without group health insurance will start making selections for their 2018 coverage during open enrollment. After several years of insurer shakeups, some consumers have fewer options this year than last.

But what determines which options you have? Many consumers might not realize that it’s all about your address.

Insurers make decisions on where to sell coverage on a regional basis. Regions are a set of counties, and carriers make their decisions on a variety of factors, including the demographics of that region, the population size, expected health status, and more. If they think it will cost significantly more to cover a region than they will make in premiums, they might decide not to sell there.

If you live near the regional divide, this can feel unfair. If you lived just one street over, you might have more insurance options. But what keeps consumers from moving to a county where their preferred insurer is selling?

People move into counties with better school districts all the time. They might also move for tax rates or a number of other reasons, and aside from the hassle of moving, there is no disincentive for them to do so.

Now, insurance options might be another reason people move.

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Tags: Huffington Post, health insurance, obamacare, Affordable Care Act, individual market, marketplace

If cost-sharing subsidies are cut, will I be affected?

Posted by Emily Kubis on Fri, Oct 27, 2017 @ 08:10

Understanding the impact on consumers

President Trump’s executive order to cut “cost-sharing reduction” payments to insurers created a lot of questions for consumers. What are the payments, and will cutting them affect consumers next year?

The short answer is no. If you are eligible for these reductions, you will not be impacted next year. But consumers who do not receive any subsidies for indiviual insurance will be affected, and the ramifications of cutting the payments, sometimes called CSRs, could be felt by all individual consumers in 2019.

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Tags: individual digest, Individual health insurance, aca, Affordable Care Act, Donald Trump, obamacare, cost-sharing reduction payments, CSR

How Bernard Health helps individuals through financial advisors & employers

Posted by Ryan McCostlin on Wed, Oct 18, 2017 @ 08:10

A note to our friends and clients

Bernard Health is now offering health insurance advice and assistance to individuals and families exclusively through our partnerships with financial advisors and employers.

What does this mean?

If your employer is a client of Bernard Health, you can continue to work with our team of licensed, noncommissioned advisors for free. We support hundreds of employers including businesses, nonprofits, and municipalities.

Also, if you have a relationship with a financial advisor who partners with Bernard Health, you can access our advisory services for free. We began partnering with financial advisors in mid-2017, and several financial advisors who help clients all over the country have already made an investment to make Bernard Health's services free to their clients. If you have a relationship with a financial advisor, please ask them if they're already working with Bernard Health. If they are, we may be able to provide your family with unlimited healthcare advisory services for free! If they're not, you can encourage them to consider partnering with us, and you start by sharing this link with them

Due to changes in health insurance, we will not be offering fee-based consulting services in our stores this year. If you're one of thousands of individuals or families who has counted on Bernard Health in the past and was hoping to work with us again this year, please know that we're just as disappointed as you are that we're no longer able to help the general public. We know people still need guidance. While we are not able to offer specific advice to individual consumers, here is general information about what to expect during this year’s open enrollment and links to a few other resources. 

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Tags: individuals, Individual health insurance, Individual Plans, individual digest, individual health insurance questions, aca, obamacare, Medicare, Affordable Care Act, Nashville health insurance, nashville, financial advisors, financial planner

For two weeks, every county had an Obamacare option

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Sep 13, 2017 @ 09:09

Markets not yet stable

t the beginning of the summer, the Obamacare insurance exchanges were in dire straits. Repeal discussions in Congress were robust, and close to 40 counties had no insurers planning to sell individual plans in 2018.

Repeal, market collapse, or both seemed like a reasonable bet. But over the summer, things started to look differently. Congress failed—more than once—to pass a repeal bill, and its chances to do so dwindle as the weeks tick by. Slowly but surely, insurers sought approval to sell 2018 plans in every one of the nearly 40 “empty shelf” counties.

To some, it may have seemed the market was stabilizing. But in Nashville, we knew better.

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Tags: Huffington Post, healthcare costs, health insurance, obamacare, Affordable Care Act, repeal, individual market, marketplace

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