Bar’s health insurance exchange is signing up members
The Florida Bar News | December 15, 2013
Florida lawyers who want to obtain health insurance through The Florida Bar’s private health insurance exchange by February 1 must have their applications completed by January 15.
Those wanting to have health coverage take effect on January 1 had to have completed the registration process by December 15.
The Florida Bar launched its private health exchange in October to assist individual members and employer groups in securing health insurance coverage, as part of the Bar’s Member Benefits package.
Member Benefits, Inc., the administrator of The Florida Bar Member Insurance Programs, designed the multi-carrier private insurance exchange to offer a consumer-friendly approach to purchasing health insurance and other coverages. The private exchange was created in two components, the “Individual Marketplace,” designed to provide an array of insurance choices for individuals and small employer groups with less than five employees, and the “Employer Exchange” for employer groups with five or more employees, which features multiple health insurance provider options for employees, group voluntary products like dental, vision, disability, and term life. It also has a cafeteria plan and defined contribution.
“Members are able to view plans from a variety of health insurance providers, compare benefits and costs, and make purchasing decisions based on their specific health needs and budget,” said Nicklaus A. Trefry of Member Benefits, Inc. “With live assistance from licensed benefits counselors, members are getting the information and service they need to evaluate how to best move forward with their health insurance decisions.”
Currently, health insurance companies are accepting enrollments in the private exchange for a six-month open enrollment period, which runs until March 31 for coverage effective dates of January 1 and thereafter. A special enrollment period may be opened thereafter if Bar members have a qualifying event.
Trefry said medical plan options currently include Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida (FloridaBlue), Cigna, and Humana, with new plans from Aetna and United (Golden Rule) coming in January.
Members can call 800-282-8626 or visit www.memberbenefits.com/floridabar to watch a video about the “Individual Marketplace,” register to create an account and start shopping for plans.
Trefry said the federal exchange website (Healthcare.gov) has begun to operate more smoothly and, as a result, the benefits counselors at The Florida Bar Private Health Exchange are now assisting members, spouses, and employees of members who may qualify for a government-subsidized plan through the federal public exchange.
“A simple calculator during the private exchange registration process at www.memberbenefits.com/floridabar will help members determine if they potentially qualify for subsidized coverage,” Trefry said. “If so, benefits counselors are available to assist with the government application and in selecting coverage through Healthcare.gov.” Deadlines to apply are the same as through the private exchange with the exception of December 23 being the deadline to apply through Healthcare.gov for a January 1 coverage effective date.
Private Exchange for Employer Groups
Trefry said employers with five or more enrolled employees now have a way to address the different requirements of each employee. That means cost control and predictability for the employer, and greater involvement and choice for the employee. The availability of the exchange is timely as many employers are experiencing significant rate increases on their group plan renewals due to health care reform, he said. Once agreeing to set up their private exchange account, employers choose the benefit plan options to make available, set up a defined contribution strategy, and allow employees to log-in and shop for their own benefits. Employees receive enrollment assistance from decision support technology through the exchange, as well as through the assistance of live benefits counselors and also have the opportunity to access subsidized coverage through the private exchange or the federal public site, Healthcare.gov. The exchange for employers opened on December 2. Employers can now inquire and receive: * Analysis of cost and benefit of the exchange health plans to their existing group health plan, if one exists; * Live demonstration of the private exchange portal; * Proposal including all costs and benefits included with private exchange. Employers can call 800-282-8626 or inquire through the website at www.memberbenefits.com/floridabar