Have You Ever Looked at a Hospital’s Ceilings?

Posted by: Jonathan Tate, Vice-President of Sales

The last time you were at a hospital, did you notice the ceilings?  Fortunately, most times I have been at the hospital I have been visiting a friend or walking to get a test done.  I see the walls, the doors, the decorations, and the staff.  But I recently was there for a minor knee surgery and saw the hospital from a perspective that’s new to me.

I was flat on my back on a gurney as I was wheeled from pre-op to the operating room and then to post-op afterward.  The whole time my only view was that of the hospital ceiling tile. A lot can go through a person’s mind when all you can see is hospital ceiling tile.  

No procedure is without risk.  Did I remember to bring my crutches?  Did I get everything ready at home? There are a lot of unknowns.

How much is this procedure going to cost me?  What is my deductible? Coinsurance? Is this going to be covered?  The best time to prepare the answers to these questions is when you develop your health plan or during your annual review.  Whether it’s health insurance or Medicare, Venture Insurance knows ways to package plans together so that one picks up where the other one ends.  Often, layering policies this way means you get the best of both policies. Can packaging two (or more) policies together offer richer coverage and lower premium?  YES!

It’s worthwhile to learn the possibilities to see if packaging plans together is a good strategy for you.  Whether you have an individual health plan, a health plan through work, or Medicare, please contact me and ask what packages are available for you.  Let us help you find your answers now so that you’re not wondering about the answers while looking at a hospital ceiling.


Mom Tate Cookies…and Insurance?

I baked my mom’s famous cookies last night. My kids have gotten used to them as part of their lunch, and they would be disappointed without one. I had “Mom Tate” cookies in my lunch every day while growing up, so I know the feeling.

Mom Tate cookies are one of a kind, but Mom has always been happy to share the recipe. After emailing the recipe to one of our carrier reps a few years ago, I received a quick reply that said, “that’s too complicated for me.” Actually, the recipe only has 8 ingredients. They’re the same ingredients probably found in every chocolate chip cookie recipe. Anyone can mix 8 ingredients together, right?

The difference is in how my mom puts those ingredients together, so in my email I included details such as: sift the flour, use a silver cookie sheet, and (most important) when you roll out the cookie dough be sure to have a little flour on your hands. It was this detail that the reader found discouraging, but these are vital steps! Originally, my mom may have put a little flour on her hands just to keep the dough from sticking. But that extra flour on top of the dough while it bakes is what gives the cookies the cracked finish. They’re just not the same without it. Details matter.

How does making cookies turn into an insurance blog? When we at Venture Insurance Group are asked to help a client, we follow a detailed process. I’ll use Medicare planning as an example, but the same holds true for health, life, auto, home, and all other lines of insurance as well. With Medicare, all of the plan information is publicly available. Anyone can shop plans on Medicare.gov just as anyone can mix 8 ingredients to make cookies. But which plans include your doctor in their network? Which plans cover your drugs? And where can you get Medigap rates since they’re not listed on Medicare.gov? Those are additional steps that we take in our process to make sure your plan is right for you.

I took my mother’s cookies for granted while I was growing up. As I got older, I assumed the dough for sale off the shelf would be just as good. I mean – who doesn’t like the dough boy commercials? But even though “off-the-shelf” cookies are good, they just lack that detail that puts them over the top. Had I never tasted Mom Tate cookies, I never would have known what I was missing.

An “off-the-shelf” insurance policy may seem just fine for you. But when our clients work with us many of them tell us that they just didn’t know what they were missing. I invite you to visit us at Venture Insurance Group. Remove the taste of “off-the-shelf” insurance and find out what you may be missing. And if we have fresh cookies, we’ll be happy to share.

Health Insurance Has Changed. What Are We Doing About It?

On April 3, 2018, CMS released the Health Insurance Exchanges 2018 Open Enrollment Period Final Report. We here at Venture Insurance Group are interested in the report because…well, we’re obsessed with insurance. If you pay for your own health insurance, there are others facing similar challenges. Knowing what others have done may help you decide what you want to do.

Here is a link to the full report.

1 – Premiums Increased (but for whom?):

Consider the following true statements:
-The average premium nationally before tax credit was $621 (up 30% from $476 in 2017).
-The average premium nationally was $153 after tax credit.
-The average individual qualified for a tax credit which lowered their premium (83% of consumers received a tax credit).
-The average consumer chose a Silver-level plan (63%).
-Of those who received a tax credit, the average (82% of those qualifying) income was below 250% of federal poverty level and therefore claimed a large subsidy.
-Of those who received a tax credit, the average premium was $89.
-Of those who did not receive a tax credit, the average premium was $522.

Is there strong correlation between these statistics?

Yes. Marketplace plans offer a good solution for many people. But for those who receive little to no subsidy (tax credit), premiums went up significantly. The 15% of total consumers who do not receive a tax credit plus nearly 20% of those who do qualify for a tax credit pay significantly more in 2018 than they did in 2017. That number represents over 3.5 million people in the United States. Every one of them are not average.

2 – What Did People Do About It?

Most people purchased a Silver Level Plan and qualified for tax subsidy (which lowers the plan premium), cost share reduction (which lowers the plans copays and deductibles), or both. Those who purchased a Marketpalce plan and did not qualify for a subsidy on average chose a less expensive, lower-benefit Bronze level plan with higher deductibles and copays.

What else did they do?
-Lower percentage of 0-17 year olds (9% in 2018 vs 10% in 2017)
-Lower percentage of 18-34 year olds (26% in 2018 vs 27% in 2017)
-Higher percentage of 55+ (29% in 2018 vs 27% in 2017).
-An additional estimated 7 million people purchase plans off the marketplace (source).

The total insured population divides itself into 3 categories:
1. Those who receive a significant subsidy (8.3 million people)
2. Those who receive no- or low- subsidy (3.5 million people)
3. Those who purchase off-exchange plans (7 million people)

Those who qualify for no- or low- subsidy may consider off-exchange products at a potentially lower rate.

3 – What Will Happen in 2019?

The individual mandate will no longer be in effect in 2019. We expect that premiums changes will continue to particularly impact those who receive no- or low- subsidy. Off-exchange products will increase in popularity with an eventual shift to only 2 categories:
1. Those who receive a significant subsidy;
2. Those who purchase off-exchange plans.

Off-exchange products will offer unique solutions in 2019 that have not been available since before the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

4 – What Can I Do?

“Off the shelf” marketplace plans worked very well for the average person. So first determine if you are average. If you:
-Are 5’ 10” tall,
-Weigh 191 pounds,
-Have brown hair,
-Have brown eyes, and
-Have 1.9 children…

…then as a perfectly average individual, you can expect an off-the shelf marketplace plan to work well for you.

But if you are anyone else, consider working with a qualified professional who knows how to turn an average premium into an above-average plan.

Jonathan Tate
Providing Serious Solutions from Silly Numbers