Blue Cross of Arizona
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Arizona Family Health Insurance
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Affordable Health Insurance in Arizona
"I was glad that you answered the phone. I know I made a good choice choosing you as my broker and applying with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona. The more I think about it, the more I want to be with a company that has widespread recognition and is everywhere. So thanks again for everything!" - Liza more
Blue Cross® Blue Shield® of Arizona
ALERT: As of April 1st, 2017, short term plans will be limited to a maximum of 89 days of coverage. This rule change will likely be replaced by the end of 2017, allowing for short term plans to be purchased for up to one year at a time. Please call 602.405.8769 if interested in a short term policy, or apply here https://www.ihcmarketplace.com/Agent/0500117?productType=STMB&bundleGID=165
The federal government will most likely not repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in 2017.
Reducing the distortion of the health insurance market by the federal/state government is of utmost importance. Health insurance is a financial tool, nothing more, nothing less. Health insurance does not provide health care, it manages risk. A common misconception about health insurance is that healthy individuals pay for those less healthy, sharing in their cost of care. In reality, health insurance requires that you pay while healthy in order to reduce financial risk when sick. If you knew exactly when you were going to become ill, and how much treatment would cost, you could simply set aside money on your own in preparation. Of course, no one knows the future, what illness may strike, what costs will be involved, hence health insurance. The ACA failed to manage risk because it was never intended to do so. The ACA was designed to dramatically expand Medicaid, and in this respect was quite successful.
84% of the 14 million newly insured through the ACA are enrolled in Medicaid, not private individual plans such as those offered in the past by BCBSAZ, AETNA, and CIGNA, which left the market in 2017 due to staggering losses. Though the ACA went into effect on March 23rd, 2010, 30 million people remain uninsured today. Dramatic changes in law will be required to address the national implosion of the ACA, yet do so within the confines of a nation with $20 trillion dollars in debt. Government accounts for 87% of all healthcare dollars spent each year, and reducing Medicaid outlays will be a net positive over time.
The death spiral of the individual health insurance market in Arizona has begun, and is in full-force in Maricopa County. Across the country the situation is much the same, or worse. In Maricopa County, AZ., there is one health insurance company offering individual ACA coverage on www.healthcare.gov in 2017, AmBetter HMO. Effective 01/01/2017, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Arizona, Aetna, United Healthcare, HealthNet, Cigna, and Humana no longer offer Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual and family policies in Maricopa County through www.healthcare.gov, though BCBSAZ will continue offering individual plans in many rural counties throughout the state. BCBSAZ ACA individual/family policyholders in Maricopa County lost coverage effective 01/01/2017, affecting 60,000 members. The most populous cities in Arizona such as Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Gilbert are located in Maricopa County.
Premium rates are approximately 116% higher than 2016 rates, and with much smaller provider networks. NO PPO networks are available in the individual market. With the combination of one insurer, few in-network doctors, no coverage for out of network doctors, and tens of thousands of individuals and families seeking care, delays in receiving medical attention should be expected. Like all HMO’s, there will be no coverage available out of network unless it is an emergency, and specialist care must be approved by the insurer beforehand.
If you are one of the tens of thousands of individuals and families that have lost coverage in 2017, it is recommended that you consider purchasing a short term health insurance policy. BCBSAZ offers such policies through a separate company, IHC, and can be purchased on this website, link at top of page. Short term policies are much less expensive than ACA policies, offer very good protection, but do not count as ACA creditable coverage. As non-creditable coverage policies, exposure to an IRS tax penalty at the end of the year is possible, though not likely, based on the outcome of the recent elections. It has recently been reported by many news outlets that the IRS will not enforce the tax penalty for those without proof of coverage on their 2016 tax returns. Short term policies are medically underwritten. The applicant must answer several general medical questions to see if they qualify for coverage.
Not Affected/BCBSAZ: Those currently insured with a BCBSAZ Grandfathered or Grandmothered individual or family plan will NOT lose coverage in 2017, and it is highly recommended that such policies be kept in force. Policyholders with individual ACA plans residing outside of Maricopa County will not be affected. The federal government will now allow those with Grandmothered plans to keep such plans through 2018, as opposed to the previous 04/30/2017 expiration date. Grandfathered individual policies are those purchased on or before the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on March, 23, 2010. Grandmothered individual plans are those purchased after March, 23rd, 2010, but before January 1st, 2014. ACA individual plans are those purchased on or after January, 1st, 2014, and these are the policies discontinued in Maricopa County. Medicare supplement and group health plans will NOT be affected.
Mike Higgins is federally certified to assist those that qualify for individual/family plans on the 2017 Marketplace Exchange. Please feel free to call Mike any day or time at 602-405-8769 if you have any questions. Subsidies are not available for off-Exchange policies. Blue Cross of Arizona no longer offers individual plans on or off the Exchange in Maricopa County in 2017.
BCBSAZ will continue to offer group policies to small and large groups. Small group policies require a minimum of two enrolled, cannot be husband and wife if the only two enrolling, and employees must be W-2. Premium assistance for up to three years from the Arizona Department of Revenue may be available for groups with less than 25 employees, though there is a long waiting list as of 12/1/16. To qualify for AZDOR funds, the company must be based in Arizona, in existence at least one year, and have not offered group coverage in at least six months. Please call Mike Higgins at 602.405.8769 for further details. Tax credits/premium assistance may also be available to certain small groups through the federal SHOP program, of which Mike Higgins is also a certified broker.
The open enrollment period for 2017 is Nov. 1, 2016, through Jan. 31, 2017. You may enroll anytime during the year if you have a qualifying event such as loss of group coverage, divorce, death in the family, etc. Please call Mike Higgins at 602.405.8769 to discuss all options available outside of open enrollment.
THANK YOU: Michael Higgins has been ranked, once again, as a Top 10 broker in 2016, according to Ranking Arizona magazine. Ranking Arizona, now in its 20th year, is the largest business opinion poll in Arizona. 1.5 million participants vote each year, with recommendations based on quality of service, and with whom they would recommend doing business. To vote, please click on the, “Top 10 Ranking Arizona,” link on the upper-right of this webpage.
Please call 602.405.8769 for an employer group quote. Small group quotes are available over the phone. Premium rates are much lower than individual rates, and offer much larger provider networks throughout the state and country.
As of 01/01/2014, no Arizona health insurance company may deny coverage during open enrollment, (or during the year if an applicant has a Special Enrollment Period qualifying event.) Insurers may no longer apply a rate-up due to pre-existing conditions, or base premium rates on the sex of an applicant. Insurers may base premiums on age, zip-code, and whether one uses tobacco or not, (the PPACA, “Obamacare,” allows up to a 50% rate increase for tobacco use.) BCBSAZ group plans are currently not subject to the tobacco rate-up.
Michael Higgins Insurance, LLC., an independent Arizona health insurance agency, specializes in individual and group health insurance. With decades of experience in the Arizona health insurance market, obtaining the right policy for you is most important to Mike. He will take the time necessary to solve your Arizona health insurance needs, suggesting different approaches or programs that may be beneficial. Along with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Arizona, Mike also offers Aetna, United Healthcare, and Cigna individual and group plans where available.
Term-Life policies are available from many A+ rated life insurance carriers. Please call Mike for a quote, 602.405.8769.
Child-Only policies are now offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona in select counties.
Short-term policies are an alternative to child-only policies, and for those seeking coverage for up to 89 days. The short term link is at the top of the page, and you may apply online if you would like. Please keep in mind that short-term health insurance policies DO NOT qualify as essential coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, (Obamacare.) Being uninsured for more than 90 continuous days triggers an IRS penalty of $695.00, or 2.5% of MAGI, whichever is greater. Under certain conditions the IRS may waive the penalty. Based on the 2016 presidential election, it is likely that the tax penalty, and the ACA in general, will be repealed early in 2017.
CIGNA/Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
There is a lot of confusion in the individual and family market, which Arizona health insurance plans are available in 2017, and in which counties. Instead of searching high and low for answers on the Internet, you may find it easiest to simply call Mike Higgins, 602.405.8769, any time, any day.
For further information, 24/7, please call 602.405.8769 and speak with Mike.