CareFirst Data BreachDid You Enroll in CareFirst’s Online Policyholder Services Before June 20, 2014?

If you answered YES, then you are among the approximately 1.1 million victims of the latest incidence of cyberattack on a health insurance company.

CareFirst announced today that cyberattackers gained limited, unauthorized access to a customer database on June 19, 2014.

Carefirst Logo

We are working closely with CareFirst to understand the full implications of the breach.

Here’s what we know so far:

  • The hacked CareFirst database contained only limited personal information — no social security numbers, medical claims information, credit card, or financial information was stolen.
  • The attack affects only those CareFirst members who registered to use CareFirst online services through www.carefirst.com prior to June 20, 2014.  If you signed up on or after June 20, 2014 your data was not compromised.
  • If you are affected, you will receive a notification from CareFirst by mail in the next 1 to 3 weeks.  Please be wary of any unsolicited phone calls or emails claiming to be from CareFirst.
  • You can visit CareFirst’s dedicated public website — http://carefirstanswers.com/ — to get more details and information about the attack and how it may impact you.

Please know we will continue to stay apprised of the situation as it unfolds. If you have any questions, we will do our best to answer them.  Give us a call at 703-707-8270.

 

 

 

 

 

GraduationGraduations mark a transition into the “real world” for many young adults. And part of being in the “real world” is having health insurance!

If you are entering the working world, you may be eligible for health insurance through your employer.

But if you don’t get a job right away, you still need health insurance (it’s the law!) and you have a few options:

1 – Remain on Your Parent’s Health Plan

If your parent’s health plan covers children, you can be added to or stay on that plan until age 26 — even if you are married, not living at home, or financially independent from your parents.

2 -Purchase Your Own Health Insurance

You can purchase health insurance in the individual marketplace.

All Affordable Care Act (ACA)-compliant plans cover things like doctor visits, preventive care, immunizations, inpatient hospital stays, prescriptions, etc.

Depending on your income level, you may even be eligible for a subsidy to help you pay for coverage.

Each year, there is a period of open enrollment during which you can purchase coverage for any reason. For 2015 plans, open enrollment ended on February 15, 2015.

Outside the dates of open enrollment, however, you may enroll during a special enrollment period if you experience a qualifying event.

Here are some qualifying events that are pretty common for new graduates:

  • Your student health plan ends
  • You lose other health insurance when you graduate
  • You move to a new area
  • You get married or have a baby
  • You age off of your parent’s health plan

If you do experience one of these or other qualifying events, get in touch with us at 703-707-8270 right away. You typically have 60 days from the date of the event during which you can buy coverage.

3 – Buy Short-Term Health Insurance

Although we don’t recommend short-term health insurance in general, there are times when it is the best option.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Short-term plans are not subject to the rules of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Therefore, they provide less coverage than ACA-compliant plans.  Since they do not meet ACA minimum essential coverage requirements they typically do not cover things like preventive care, immunizations, maternity care, allergies, etc.
  • Short-term coverage can be denied for anyone who is sick.
  • Pre-existing conditions are usually not covered by short-term policies.
  • A short-term policy does not have guaranteed renewal.  This means if you buy, for example, a 60-day plan, the carrier is not required to renew your coverage at the end of 60 days.  If you get sick during those 60 days, your request to renew can be denied.
  • If you get sick during your initial policy period and your carrier does permit you to renew, that sickness is now considered a pre-existing condition under your new policy.  Any treatment for that condition will be denied.
  • Since they do not meet minimum essential coverage requirements, short-term plans do not satisfy ACA’s individual mandate.  This means if you have a short-term policy, you may still be subjected to a tax penalty under ACA.

Short-term coverage is not ideal, but it is surely better than having no coverage at all.

Virginia Medical Plans Can Help

If you live in Virginia, Maryland, or the District of Columbia, we can help you find the best coverage to meet your needs based on your situation.

If you are a Virginia or DC resident, we can help you enroll in a plan with or without a subsidy. If you live in Maryland, we can help you enroll off-exchange (without a subsidy).

Give us a call at 703-707-8270 or click on the Instant Quote button in the upper right corner of this page to get started.

Dollar signsWill you have enough funds to pay for long-term care, should you ever need it?

Do you have a sense of how much it would cost to, say, live in an assisted living facility?  Or nursing home?  Or to hire someone to help you with basic needs at home?

Understanding these expenses — and projecting what they may be in the future — is important when planning ahead for the possibility of long-term care.

Genworth 2015 Cost of Care Survey

Genworth Financial, a leading provider of long-term care insurance, publishes an annual report on the cost of care, by state and region.

The 2015 Cost of Care Survey came out last month and showed that in general, the cost of facility-based care is rising faster than the cost of in-home care.

Here is a snapshot of today’s median costs in Virginia (not including Northern Virginia):

Homemaker Services (help with cooking, laundry, etc.): $41,184 / year
Home Health Aide $43,472 / year
Assisted Living Facility (one bedroom, single occupancy) $47,196 / year
Nursing Home (semi-private room) $80,483 / year
Nursing Home (private room) $92, 688 / year

2015 cost of care in Northern Virginia is even higher (on the report, Northern Virginia is included with DC):

Homemaker Services (help with cooking, laundry, etc.): $45,760 / year
Home Health Aide $50,446 / year
Assisted Living Facility (one bedroom, single occupancy) $94,050 / year
Nursing Home (semi-private room) $98,550 / year
Nursing Home (private room) $98,550 / year

Use Genworth’s online tool to compare today’s costs across the country.

Long-term Care Costs on the Rise

Costs of long-term care have been rising each year — between 1% and 5% per year over the last 5 years in Virginia (except in DC/Northern Virginia where the cost of an assisted living facility has risen an average of 13% over the last 5 years!).

All signs would point to this trend continuing.

Start Planning While You’re Young and Healthy

It’s a good idea to start planning for your own long-term care needs when you are young and healthy.  Most financial planners recommend starting as early as your 40’s, and certainly by your 50’s. However, as long as you are healthy, it’s not too late.

We are available to help with long-term care planning.  Give us a call!  703-707-8270

The Push towards Telemedicine

Telemedicine

How many times have you been bothered by a cough, rash, fever, or other minor medical problem, but can’t easily get to your regular doctor?  Imagine being able to be seen by a doctor without leaving your home or office. Or having access to medical care when you’re traveling.

Telemedicine may be the answer.

Most major health insurance carriers are making a big push towards including telemedicine — online doctor visits — as a covered benefit on their health plans.

Anthem BC/BS launched a telemedicine service, LiveHealth Online, back in 2013 to a limited market.  Last summer, it was made available as a covered benefit to all Anthem BC/BS policyholders.  Non-Anthem policyholders can also use the service for a fee of $49.

Anthem will begin heavily publicizing LiveHealth Online to its members — both individual and group policyholders — in the upcoming weeks, and will be offering incentives for those who register by a certain date.

So if you are an Anthem customer, be on the lookout for more information via phone, email, or direct mail. Rumor has it they’ll be offering prizes like a chance to win a $500 gift card.

Benefits of Telemedicine

Telemedicine is a trend that is not likely to go away, given today’s busy lives and increasing reliance on technology.

The benefits of an online doctor visit are not hard to imagine:

  • Doctor available 24/7, 365 days a year from wherever you happen to be (as long as you have access to internet service and a computer or mobile device!)
  • Faster than a visit to urgent care when your regular doctor is not available
  • No appointment necessary
  • No driving
  • No long wait times
  • Access to prescriptions in many states (including Virginia, Maryland, DC)

When to Use Telemedicine

Of course, there are times when an online visit will not be not a good substitute for an actual visit with your regular doctor. For serious health issues, it’s best to be seen in person.  For medical emergencies, you should seek immediate care or call 911.

We strongly recommend you develop and maintain an in-person relationship with your primary care provider so you have someone you trust to manage your health.

But for times when convenience is important, an online visit to address more minor things like allergies, colds, sore throats, pink eye, flu, sinus infection, stomach bug, rashes, etc., may be appropriate.

Learn more about the benefits of telemedicine here.