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 [email protected].
The IRS has an early holiday gift for employers, on November 29, 2018, the IRS released an extension for large employers to file the 2018 Form 1095-C or 1095-B under the Affordable Care Act requirements. The agency has pushed back a critical Affordable Care Act (ACA) deadline for the fourth year in a row. The forms, which outline employer-provided medical benefits, must be submitted annually by businesses with 50 or more full-time workers. The IRS uses these reports to track employer compliance.
-The deadline for furnishing 2018 Form 1095-C, or Form 1095-B, if applicable, to employees and individuals is March 4, 2019 (extended from January 31, 2019).
-The deadline for filing copies of the 2018 Forms 1095-C, along with transmittal Form 1094-C (or copies of Forms 1095-B with transmittal Form 1094-B), if applicable, remains unchanged:
-If filing by paper, February 28, 2019.
-If filing electronically, April 1, 2019.
The extended due date applies automatically so employers do not need to make individual requests for the extension.
Ever consider price shopping prescription drugs before filling at your usual pharmacy? Your answer is most likely no, as most people just have their doctor call it into the place closest to your house or even who may have a drive-thru, whatever is most convenient.
Prescription drugs can get very expensive so it may be worth your time to see who has the least expensive medications in your area. A good tool to use is www.goodrx.com. On this website, you can search by specific drug in your zip code to get a full comparison of all pharmacy charges, with or without a coupon, and even print cost savings vouchers. Here is an example of a search we did for 5 of the top 10 most filled drugs in 2017:
Whether it be your personal wallet or your employer’s, you could save a lot of money by doing a little bit of homework before filling your next prescription. If there’s ever any way we can assist with your prescription drug or health insurance questions, please call (352)371-7977 or email [email protected].
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!