Archives For health insurance virginia

Since Open Enrollment for health insurance began this past Tuesday, all major news outlets have been reporting on the glitches and capacity overload that have prevented users from getting into the sites (see yesterday’s health care news).

When things do settle down and you are actually able to get in, what will you find?

If the consumer experience is anything like what brokers went through to register with the exchanges during the summer months, you can expect to be asked numerous, very specific, identity-verifying questions — along with your name and social security number — in order to establish an account.  Questions like: “on what street did you live in 1982?”  “with what bank did you refinance your home in 2004?” “what was your phone number in 1966?”

Of course, these questions are asked for the purpose of verifying that you truly are who you say you are.  And that is a good thing in light of the prevalence of identity theft.


But, a word of advice:   As a casual user, you will NOT be able to browse plans before establishing an account.  And, establishing an account will not be as simple as choosing a user name and password.  So, be prepared to jump through some hurdles and answer some very detailed — and often obscure — questions about yourself.

We invite you to visit our website   As carriers make their 2014 plan and rate information available, you can find it here, directly on our site.   You can browse available plans with just a few key strokes — and no obligation.

And when your browsing returns 10-15 options, leaving you unsure of the best one, give us a call or send us an email.  We’ll be glad to help!

Open SignOctober 1 is here,  and the exchanges have officially opened.

As we expected, the opening of the exchanges came with technical glitches and system delays.  Both the Virginia and Maryland exchanges, like many across the country, had crashed by 9:00 am.

But, things will settle down, and you will be able to purchase health insurance for next year.  Remember, you have until December 15, 2013 to enroll in a plan effective January 1, 2014.

Despite what you may hear about buying health insurance being as simple as purchasing a plane ticket on a site like Expedia, our experience shows us this is not the case.  Technical glitches aside, the application process is complex, and the choices you will be presented with will likely be difficult to decipher.

Please contact us for help.  We are authorized to enroll people through the exchanges in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.  We can also assist with off-exchange plans.  Best of all, it costs you no more for our services!!

Here are three ways you can get started:

  1. Visit our website:  (click on “Get Quotes”)
  2. Send us an email:
  3. Give us a call: 1-800-867-0800

Please be patient as we work hard to respond to each and every inquiry.  As you can imagine, we are experiencing a high volume traffic at this time!

In the meantime, click here for our 7 easy steps to prepare for enrollment.

Dollar SignHow will health insurance premiums be calculated in 2014, under Affordable Care Act (ACA)?

A policy’s premium is the monthly fee paid to the insurance carrier for health insurance coverage.

In pre-ACA policies, insurance carriers can charge differing premiums based upon many factors including, most notably, a person’s age and current health status.  Today, the premium paid by someone with a medical condition is typically much higher than that of someone with no known medical problems.

Under ACA, starting January 1, 2014, premiums can vary based only on the following:

  • age (note: insurers can charge an older person no more than three times what they would charge a younger person for the same policy)
  • where a person lives
  • whether or not a person smokes

In addition, under ACA,

  • coverage cannot be denied for pre-existing medical conditions
  • coverage cannot be priced higher for someone who is overweight
  • coverage cannot be priced higher for someone in poor health

It is important to note that this discussion is only about PREMIUMS, not total cost of health care.  Typically, you can get a lower monthly premium by increasing the amount you will pay for your care at the time you visit the doctor, emergency room, hospital, clinic, or other medical provider.  This is known as cost-sharing and comes in the form of deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance.

Under ACA, the degree of cost-sharing for a particular policy determines its “level”.  Plans will be classified into four standard levelsbronze, silver, gold, and platinum.  Plans in the gold and platinum tiers will have lower deductibles — and higher premiums — than those in the bronze and silver tiers.

As you can imagine, then, looking only at the monthly premium when choosing a health insurance policy is probably not a good idea!  Be sure you fully understand the provisions of the coverage so you can decide the right balance for you, given your particular situation.

In addition, depending on your income level and household size, buying health insurance on your state’s exchange may entitle you to a subsidy, which could lower your premium considerably.

Let us know, by phone or email, if we can be of assistance to you as you select your coverage for 2014 — on or off the exchange, with or without a subsidy.

Large group of people standing in line

October 1 may become “Terrible Tuesday” as millions of Americans wait in a virtual line to access health insurance online and via phone.

We have been writing for several months urging you to be ready to act on October 1 — the date Open Enrollment begins for health insurance plans effective in 2014.

Everywhere you turn, you’re probably hearing that date in conjunction with Obamacare — the Affordable Care Act.

Well, guess what?  Have you ever stood in line at a popular store on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving)?  Ever lined up at the Apple Store to buy the newest iPhone on the day it was released?  (Our own Jon Katz has been known to do that!!)

At Virginia Medical Plans, we are beginning to think October 1 may be more like “Terrible Tuesday,” with a virtual mob scene of people trying to access health insurance online and over the phone.

As recently as this week, in fact, the Wall Street Journal reports technical glitches are expected to cripple the online marketplaces.  Even before the official opening of the exchanges, health insurance agents all over the country have been experiencing online crashes as they try to register with their state.

So we are adjusting our advice!

Waiting a couple weeks may be your best bet.  Let some of the technical glitches be worked out in those early days of October.  And avoid the mad rush that accompanies the “first day” of something so big.

Most of all, remember, we have until mid-December to get you enrolled in a plan with an effective date of January 1, 2014.

We are expecting a very heavy volume of calls and emails in the coming weeks, so please be patient as we work hard to respond to every one!