Yes, it’s April 1st but don’t be fooled!
If you’ve ever heard “Be your own advocate!” when it comes to health care, or ever been in a situation where that would apply… you know how true it is. Things are happening in health care. Big things. And while some of them are huge innovations, strides with technology and more knowledge than medical professionals ever dreamed of… there’s still a bit of a dark side that the average consumer needs to be aware of. Billing. Womp womp.
Now before this gets misconstrued as a negative connotation of doctors, nurses, hospitals or anything else specific to the medical world, we are not by any means speaking generally or negatively about all things health-related. This is simply a warning to patients to pay attention.
Here are some quick stats from a healthline study to ensure that we are providing facts rather than opinions on this:
- Up to 80% of medical bills have errors
- Nearly 1/3 of Americans learn that their health insurance doesn’t pay what they expected
- 59% of the time Americans are contacted by debt collectors is for an outstanding medical bill
- 16% of Americans’ credit report includes medical debt totaling over $80 billion
Instead of pointing the finger at medical professionals or facilities for over charging, let’s discuss a few ways you can prevent being on the receiving end of those not so fun surprise charges:
- Speak up. If you don’t understand a procedure, diagnosis, treatment plan or medication, find your voice and use it. Ask questions. Make notes. Do some research. You know your phone is close by, look it up online and educate yourself. Yes, you should trust the licensed and very well educated professional that spent a lot of time in school to do this for a living but understand what they’re telling you and be sure you’re on board.
- Price shop. Find out if certain facilities perform procedures for less and why. This is common with teaching hospitals. This also applies heavily to prescription drugs. Don’t just use the pharmacy closest to your house because it’s convenient and they have a drive-thru. Look at goodrx.com or call around to others to see what their cost is. Now obviously, keep in mind that if you have health insurance, there may be certain pharmacies they work with or providers that are in or out of their network. But don’t just default to the most popular or most convenient. Your wallet will thank you.
- Request details. Ask for an itemized bill/Explanation of Benefits. Keep documentation for your records. Don’t just pay whatever you’re told without knowing what exactly it’s for.
- Channel that feisty preteen 7th grader in debate class that we know is still in you and fight for yourself. It might amaze you at how much health care providers are willing to negotiate if you can come to an agreement of either a payment plan, pay in full discount or overall reduction if it can be justified.
Your health is not a game and you can’t put a price on a medical necessity… so you should by all means get the best care possible. However, a little awareness and self-advocacy can go a long way and may even help facilitate a more proactive approach to good health… now that you’ll be able to afford it.
Another year’s gone by and it’s time to file your taxes again. But what do these 1095 forms mean? What we said in our tax form blog last year still stands true. To refresh your memory, visit our site here for some good information on the various 1095 forms: https://mcgriffwilliams.com/blog/1095-tax-forms/ or even another one we did prior to that: https://mcgriffwilliams.com/blog/health-insurance-tax-forms/.
Good stuff, right? That was all pertaining to individual under 65 health plans. When it comes to Medicare, there are so many glorious things that happen when you’re finally eligible to switch over. Yes, you’re another year older but these days, many people look forward to that birthday in particular. Your health insurance rates typically go down when you transition from an individual plan and the coverage may even get better. It’s a great system that seems to run very smoothly.
There is one thing that you may not know though… you’ll still get those aforementioned tax forms in the mail. If you’re on Medicare, whether it be an Advantage plan or a supplement, you may still receive a 1095 form. The only difference now is that you aren’t required to submit it when you file your taxes. Hold on to this form for future reference if needed, it’s really just for your records.
Things are ever-changing in the health insurance and income tax world so if you ever have questions or concerns, we are happy to help. Give us a ring at (352)371-7977 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The time for 2019 coverage selection is now! It’s open enrollment, the short time frame that is infamous for all decisions to be made regarding upcoming health insurance coverage. McGriff-Williams can assist in plan changes or confirmation of renewal if you stay on the same plan that you currently have. Our agents are knowledgeable and ready to help guide you through this process. And if you don’t have a plan already in place, now’s also the time to purchase new coverage! Here are some important dates to keep in mind:
October 1 – Open enrollment begins for off-marketplace (ACA but non-subsidized) plans
November 1 – Open enrollment begins for marketplace (subsidized) plans
December 15 – Deadline for all new coverage and plan changes, which will be effective January 1, 2019
Medicare Open Enrollment begins today, October 15th. This is the time of year when you can review and change your Medicare coverage for 2019. Being educated on your options and comfortable in your decision ensures you are getting the right coverage to fit your needs.
Changes can be made NOW through December 7th, however, you are not required to take any action during this time if you do not wish. If you currently have original Medicare and either an advantage plan or a supplement and you are happy…. Your coverage will renew as is for next year. If you’d like to switch things up and try a different route, now’s the time!
Whether you’re brand new to Medicare or not quite there but starting to get inundated with information, we can help! At McGriff-Williams, we hold quarterly seminars to explain and simplify the whole Medicare process, while also comparing advantage plans to supplements and how prescription drug coverage comes into play. We understand this can be very overwhelming and stressful but it doesn’t have to be! Let us help you navigate the joys of being 65 and/or retired so you can reap the benefits of all the hard work you put in.
Please contact us anytime with Medicare-related questions or call to register for one of our 2019 seminars, which are all Wednesdays @ 10:00am:
April 17th, 2019
July 17th, 2019
October 16th, 2019
Did you know Florida Blue has a member website? Did you know that creating a login for the site makes updating contact information easier, provides details about your claims and deductibles, and can earn you discounts?
Setting up your account is quick and easy! Follow this link and the instructions. All you need is your Member Number that is on your member ID card. Once you are registered you can access your health insurance account on a completely secure and accessible site. You can view recent claims and the status of you and your family members deductibles. There is also information about your spending toward your out-of-pocket maximum. You have access to a provider directory and information about what is included in your specific plan as well. Another benefit of the account is the ability to compare costs. You can choose a service, provider, and location to estimate costs of x-rays, MRIs, surgical procedures, and specialty visits.
Need more reasons to create an account? By becoming a user on the site you have access to tons of deals. Go to https://www.blue365deals.com/browse-all-deals to get deals ranging from discounts on hearing aids to access to some of the top fitness centers at a reduced cost.
Florida Blue also offers a free mobile application on Google Play and in the App Store. The mobile app provides the same great information as the member website on the go! When you need to find a provider in a hurry, the app ensures that you choose someone who is included in-network for your specific plan and based on your current location. If you need your member ID card the app also provides a digital copy.
Creating a Florida Blue member account helps to ease stress, provide convenient and quick information, and keeps you up-to-date on your plan and Florida Blue. Take the time to create your account today!