Another lawsuit aims to take down the Affordable Care Act

A federal judge in Texas heard arguments Wednesday in a case aimed at doing what the Republican Congress has not yet been able to do — dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

The suit hinges on the change to the individual mandate as a part of the tax overhaul President Trump signed into law in December, which zeroed out the requirement that most Americans have health insurance or pay a fine.

The GOP plaintiffs also sought a “preliminary injunction” of the law, which would mean the law would be suspended while the case is decided. The judge has not made a decision on the injunction yet.

Judge Reed O’Connor, a conservative jurist appointed by George W. Bush, heard arguments from GOP plaintiffs, the Justice Department and 17 Democratic attorneys general, with the bulk of his questions going to the defendants of the law.

The lead Democrat arguing the case, California attorney general Xavier Becerra, cautioned against ending the law, even temporarily, as it “would wreak havoc in our health care system.”

The case was filed in February by 18 GOP attorneys general and two GOP governors. They argue the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate in 2012 as a part of Congress’s authority to tax. Now that the mandate carries no penalty, it can no longer be justified as a tax and should be struck down. And without the mandate, the rest of the law crumbles, including the law’s arguably most popular requirement, that insurers must cover people with pre-existing conditions at no extra cost.

Legal scholars across the political divide believe this is a weak argument, but the case could be the first to go before the more conservative Supreme Court.

Although the Trump administration is technically the defendant in the case, the administration announced in June it would not defend the law. The Justice Department wrote in its filing with the case that it did not think the entire law needed to be eliminated, but it did agree the protections for preexisting conditions should be eliminated January 1, 2019, when the tax penalty goes away.

Filing a case that could put protections for those with pre-existing conditions at risk has already had some political fallout for Republicans, as Democratic candidates have started using it in their campaigns for Congress.

In response, a group of 10 Republican senators introduced legislations last month that prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage or charging more for a pre-existing condition. Democrats point out that the new legislation would not require insurer’s plans to cover treatment for those illnesses, as the Affordable Care Act currently does.

What all of this means is that this is once again a wait-and-see moment for the Affordable Care Act, a daunting concept with open enrollment and an election quickly approaching.

Explore dental coverage for oral health month

When it comes to dental hygiene and overall oral health, there is nothing more important than regular checkups with a dentist, but without dental coverage affording consistent preventative visits can be a struggle.

June is oral health month, the perfect time for business owners to look at their dental coverage and evaluate if they are offering employees all the benefits they need to remain healthy.

Employers can add dental coverage to their plan at any time during the year; they do not need to wait for their health plan renewal. ClaimLinx will consult with any client on the best option to fit a company’s needs and budget.

One option is to set up a traditional supplemental insurance policy for dental coverage through a major carrier, such as Guardian, Aflac, National General, Delta Dental and more. Another is to use ClaimLinx’s third party administrator services to set up a self-funded dental plan in which employees are reimbursed for qualifying expenses.

The American Dental Association recommends people brush their teeth at least twice per day, floss at least once per day and visit the dentist twice per year for a cleaning and checkup.

Twice annual visits are especially important, because they keep oral health costs low by treating an issue before it escalates. It is estimated that for every dollar spent on preventative care, a person can save between $8-$50 in restorative and emergency treatments, according to a study at the University of Illinois.

But many Americans are forced to put off these visits or early treatment because of out-of-pocket costs or because they do not have dental coverage at all. The same study estimates 1 in 4 American adults have untreated tooth decay.

Offering dental benefits can often be a simple and relatively inexpensive way to improve overall health coverage, which gives employees the peace of mind and fiscal confidence to continue consistent checkups. It is the best way to ensure one of your employees does not become one of the 36% of American adults that has gone more than one year without a dental checkup, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Contact sales@claimlinx.com if you would like to start a conversation about your company’s dental coverage.

 

Early 2019 insurance rates highlight a need for benefit alternatives

Inurance Consultant ClaimLinx offers employers a solution for rising health care costs

BOSTONJune 7, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Insurance premium proposals for 2019 are rolling in this month, so far with requested rate hikes as high as 47 percent in some states. This on top of health care costs outpacing economy-wide inflation for the first time since 2010 forecasts a challenging market for business owners.

Nationwide insurance companies are citing policy changes to the Affordable Care Act, including the repeal of the individual mandate and expanded short term options, as the culprit for the requested higher rates.

Also driving up premiums are medical expenditures. They are expected to rise 2.2 percent this year, compared with 1.9 percent for overall inflation, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Yet rising prices have done nothing to quell employees’ desire for improving benefits, as they’re now being used as a benchmark in a tightening job market. Employers are going to need alternative benefit solutions to stay competitive with the national unemployment rate dipping to 3.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

They’re going to need options like those offered at ClaimLinx, a full-service consultant, insurance agency and third-party administrator that specializes in guiding business owners through the insurance market with its own unique strategy for achieving the best, most affordable health plan.

ClaimLinx has pioneered a solution for purchasing health insurance that combines traditional high deductible insurance plans with a customized self-funded medical expense reimbursement plan. The resulting plan enables employers to offer top-notch benefits at a much lower cost.

Tom Quigley, National Benefits Consultant at ClaimLinx, emphasized that this has to be business owners’ first priority.

“You’ve got to be providing the best assets you can to your employees or it’s going to become your liability — no question,” he said.

What started as a small idea in Cincinnati about cutting costs on health insurance has grown to a nationwide service with offices in Boston and North Conway, NH. In 2017 ClaimLinx helped business owners save an estimated $3.2 million.

John Moore, President of the manufacturing company Ohio Metal Products, changed his company’s benefits plan to the ClaimLinx solution because of increasing costs and even more limited options.

“Our company has saved tens of thousands of dollars,” Moore said. “ClaimLinx can provide the benefits that we want, not what the insurance company suggests.”

Contact: Whitney Faber, (617) 892-4655
wfaber@claimlinx.com
www.claimlinx.com

View the published press release.

Due date for 1095 forms moved to March

Tax filing deadlines are coming up so some of you may have employees asking questions about their 1095 health coverage information forms. Please be advised at the end of last year the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) extended the deadline for issuing these forms to March 2, 2018.

This means insurance carriers and other insurance providers have until this date to provide Forms 1095-B or 1095-C to members. This 30-day extension is automatic and does not require any paperwork to request it.

However, this does not mean that employees are required to wait to receive this information to file their individual income tax return. The IRS states these forms can be used to assist in preparing a return but are not required to file.

As a reminder, these forms are issued from the primary insurance carrier on your plan, not by ClaimLinx. If employees have not received this form after this deadline, they can request it from the insurance carrier directly.

If you have received any additional instructions from your primary insurance carrier regarding these forms, such as if your carrier is National General, please follow their instructions for filing as soon as possible.

 

Billing errors cost members and employers on services

As many as 80% of medical bills in the United States contain errors, according to Derek Fitteron, CEO of Medical Cost Advocate, a partner of ClaimLinx. And those errors can lead to an unnecessary increase in a bill’s overall cost. In fact the credit agency Equifax reported that for bills totaling $10,000 or more, there is an average error of $1,300.

A big reason these errors occur is the way healthcare providers classify diagnosis, symptoms and procedures. They use a coding system called the ICD-10-CM (International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification). The system is incredibly complex with mistakes leading to patients potentially being charged for procedures or testing they did not receive or more expensive versions of their care.

Errors can occur on any medical bill, but tend to be found on bills for complex medical procedures, inpatient care, care from a medical specialist or when patients receive care at a facility outside their insurance carrier’s network.

To prevent this issue for all ClaimLinx clients with a Medical Expense Reimbursement Plan, any high dollar medical claims are automatically sent to Medical Cost Advocate for review and negotiation. But employees can also help to combat this issue by being sure to check any medical bills for procedures or testing they do not recognize, especially bills totaling over $1,000.

Members should contact their provider first with questions about any bill. Then if a change must be made to a previously processed claim, they can contact the Claims Department at help@claimlinx.com.

Some of this information was taken from an article which featured our partner, Medical Cost Advocate, published in Employer Benefit News. Read the article.