Your health insurance experts for NC & SC

How does COBRA fit in with the Affordable Care Act?

January 20, 2014
You've left or are leaving your job. You're eligible for COBRA. What do you do next?

I know it sounds self-serving, but I can't overstress this: One of the very first things you should do when leaving a job is talk with a reputable health insurance agent. With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, it has never been more important to know your options in the decision-making process.

Leaving a job that offers health insurance benefits is considered a qualifying life event, triggering a Special Enrollment Period. That means you have 60 days in which you're eligible to apply for an individual health insurance plan (either on or off the Marketplace) if you want to.

Without a qualifying life event, you're only eligible to apply for individual insurance during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), normally with a January 1st effective date. (I say "normally" because this very first Annual Enrollment Period is the exception, running for a total of six months.)

If you accept COBRA, you are considered to have insurance. If you find out a month or two later that an individual policy (possibly with a large subsidy) would have saved you a lot of money, it's too late. Dropping that COBRA policy is NOT a qualifying life event, so you're out of luck.

You'll have two options: Keep the COBRA until the next AEP, or drop the COBRA and go uninsured or with a short term medical plan if you're eligible. Neither of those options will protect you from probably having to pay a penalty to the government at tax time.

So when you're offered COBRA, take the time to do a little homework. You may be eligible for a subsidy that will cut your monthly costs considerably. Or an individual plan, even without a subsidy, may well be less expensive.

Either way, calling an expert in health insurance will give you the peace of mind you need at a time that usually is stressful enough without adding health insurance concerns into the mix!

When a Plan with Fewer "Bells & Whistles" Can Actually Lower Your Out-of-pocket Medical Expenses

January 18, 2012
A few weeks back we hosted our annual New Year's Day brunch for a few neighbors. The recent experience of one of my neighbors pointed out that even when an employer is picking up most of the tab for your health insurance premium, a pricier plan doesn't always turn out to be the best choice. Here's Joanne's (not her real name) story:

Joanne had opted for what she thought would be the best coverage her employer offered: one with a deductible (for the "big" things) and copays for certain services...
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Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage

September 21, 2011
If you or a loved one are eligible for Medicare soon, you're probably feeling overwhelmed at this point with all the "stuff" that's come in the mail. You may have figured out that you'll need a Medicare supplement (also called Medigap) policy to cover the things that original Medicare doesn't cover.

But you may be feeling a little confused about the prescription drug part. The short answer is this: You'll also need to purchase a separate plan for prescription drug coverage (a PDP, for ...
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SilverSneakers Program for Seniors

August 3, 2011

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How Having Health Insurance Can Help You Get a Job - or a Better Salary

June 30, 2011
Did you know that having your own health insurance can give you more flexibility when job-hunting?

1) It allows you to accept a part-time or contract position that doesn't provide health insurance benefits (but that might lead to a full-time job offer at some point).
2) It may make you more appealing to an employer who is concerned about the high cost of providing a full benefits package.
3) Having your own health insurance means you won't have to accept a position that you know really isn'...

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A "Grandfathered" Health Plan - What it is and why you should know about it

October 20, 2010
A new term in health insurance with which you should probably familiarize yourself is "grandfathering." Understanding what it means and how it could affect you is important, particularly as it relates to individual health insurance. In fact, because I specialize in individual (as opposed to group, i.e. employer-based) health insurance, I'm not even going to address its implications for group coverage.

Do you remember when Pres. Obama kept emphasizing that if you liked your current health insur...
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We agents work for our clients, not for the insurance companies

September 22, 2010
I had a situation come up recently that reinforced how important communication is - in ALL of life of course - but particularly during the health insurance buying process. I can't stress the importance of letting your agent in on any and all health-related issues that the potential insureds either have now or have had in the past that might impact the underwriting outcome.

I'm well aware that it can be uncomfortable to reveal personal health information to a virtual stranger, but we agent...
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Is Health Insurance Affordable? Maybe you're asking the wrong question.

August 31, 2010
More often than you would think, I come across potential clients who tell me they can't afford health insurance - or who don't come out and say it, but they just never seem to get around to applying for coverage.

Now, these are seldom people whose premiums for a basic policy would be $1200, or $800 or even $500 a month. I "get" that that could put a serious dent in a budget. (Although, I can say with 100% certainty that here in the Nuttall household even those kind of numbers wouldn't stand i...

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Health Care Reform: Unintended Consequences

July 20, 2010
Bits and pieces of Health Care Reform are beginning to fall into place, although of course the lion's share will not go into effect until 2014. As we agents figure out how to best help our current and future clients get and keep coverage, I'll be keeping you up to date on the latest and how it may impact your health insurance decisions. Decisions which, directly or indirectly, often affect life decisions
There is one particularly crucial point of which you should be aware, particularly if you...
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Warning: Combining Medications Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

March 30, 2010
Did you know that over 600,000 emergency room visits each year involved adverse reactions to or interactions of prescriptions or over-the counter drugs or supplements? Here are some of the main risks:
  • Taking different drugs prescribed by more than one doctor
  • Using drugs to treat conditions for which they weren't originally prescribed
  • Taking leftover drugs that were stockpiled and later used incorrectly
  • Using a drug that was appropriate initially but caused a toxic interaction when a new dr...

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