Stream Benefits Newsletters

Ensuring Your Company's Insurance Needs

United Healthcare has recently announced that they will not be participating in the individual market Affordable Care Act plans, effective January 1, 2017.  This will affect many individuals in the St. Louis area, but only with individual plans.  This announcement does not have an impact on the small group plans that United Healthcare offers.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have on this subject.

Last year I announced that I was a candidate for mayor of the City of Kirkwood.  The election was held on April 5th.  Unfortunately, I did not win.  And though disappointed by the final results, I enjoyed the entire campaigning process.  I was very humbled by all of the volunteers that worked by my side during the past year.  I felt we ran a very positive campaign and had a very upbeat message.  Thank you to everyone that wished me well on this endeavor.  I will continue to stay involved with our community and work hard for you as your insurance broker.

Scott Stream

A couple of weeks ago I gave a presentation to business owners and interested individuals on the various aspects of a Health Savings Account. This is a health insurance plan and tax savings vehicle wrapped into one product. The Health Savings Account can be used by businesses and individuals. Included in this newsletter is my presentation which also incorporates my powerpoint slides. The full video lasts about 17 minutes. Feel free to review at your leisure and please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions.

As we continue to review the alphabet soup of health insurance, COBRA is one program that has played a large role for many people during the past 25 years.  And during the economic downturn the last few years, I have seen more individuals take advantage of the program. Though it provides a nice safety net, it does have pitfalls as well.

COBRA is an acronym for Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act.  This federal legislation was passed in 1986 and is the vehicle by which an employee can extend health insurance once a qualifying event occurs.  It is the program for larger employer groups, but most states have very similar continuation coverage laws for the small businesses and their employees.

In order to be eligible to participate, a qualifying event (QE) must have occurred.  The main qualifying events are voluntary or involuntary termination of employment, death of a covered employee or divorce of a covered employee.  Based on the QE, there are a number of months that an individual can continue coverage…and this is usually 18 or 36 months.  And so this legislation is very helpful for those than can not obtain coverage due to health conditions or who are in between jobs.

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As the cost of healthcare continues to rise, here are a few strategies that may help you save a few dollars.

Negotiate With Your Doctor and Hospital

Even if you stay within your provider network, multiple visits to the doctor can add up.  Especially if you are in a plan that has a high deductible that leaves you responsible for the full costs.  But don’t hesitate to ask you doctor for a contracted rate that is well below the retail rate.  Sometimes these discounts can be as much as 50-70% especially if you are willing to pay cash.  And if you are going into the hospital with a high deductible, you definitely need to talk to the finance department regarding a negotiated rate along with a payment plan.  Most providers are very willing to work with you.

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