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1 month ago · by · 0 comments

Big Changes to Health Insurance!

Some big changes to your health insurance are afoot. You’ve most likely heard about the massive $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that was enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Biden last week. But what you may not have heard is that the bill addresses one of the most significant longstanding issues with the Affordable Care Act. The problem is known within the industry as the “subsidy cliff,” and it means that benefits of the Affordable Care Act decline or stop abruptly once a certain income threshold is met. Under the old rule, if Linda makes $45,000 per year she would pay $318 per month for a silver plan, or 8% of her income. But if she gets a raise to $50,000 per year, the change pushes her over the subsidy cliff and the subsidy stops, causing her premiums to skyrocket to $943 per month, or 23% of her income. How does that happen?

The answer lies in the way the ACA was originally written in 2010. It was a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster with all the compromises required to appease the competing interests and get it moved through Congress. The primary consideration at that time was to reform the industry and require insurers to cover patients with pre-existing conditions and make sure that basic coverage was adequate for everyone. Pretty much everybody knew that those things would cause premiums to rise because insurance companies can’t assume increased risk and cost without increasing revenue, and so a way to offset those additional costs was needed. The compromise reached was the individual mandate, which required everyone – including young and healthy people who didn’t qualify for subsidies – to purchase health insurance to balance the risk pool.

This worked somewhat, but not particularly well, and a lot of middle-income earners saw their premiums increase substantially. Then in 2017 as part of the massive tax overhaul, Congress made it even worse by removing the individual mandate, stripping away the few protections it did provide and pushing premium costs even higher. The result was a dysfunctional schism where low-income earners who qualified for subsidies were paying little or nothing, and marginally higher earners who didn’t qualify for subsidies were paying astronomically high premiums.

Under the old rule, subsidized earners were expected to pay anywhere between 2% and 9.8% of their earnings on a sliding scale, and non-subsidized earners paid pretty much market premiums. Under the 2021 reform, no one who buys insurance on the exchange is required to pay more than 8.5% of his or her income in premiums. This will be particularly helpful to people living in states that have not elected to expand Medicaid under the ACA. As a bonus, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the change will be dirt cheap relative to the overall cost of the massive spending bill, just $22 billion out of the $1.9 trillion.

Unfortunately, the change is temporary and will expire in 2023, but Congress has until then to make it permanent. The current Special Enrollment Period ends May 15, so be sure to contact us today to see how this change will affect you before it’s too late.

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6 months ago · by · 0 comments

Congress Limits Medicare Part B Premium Increase

Good news! We could all use some these days, right? Well if you are a Medicare beneficiary enrolled in Part B, here you go. Your Part B premium increase next year will be about $4.

Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office announced that Congress had reached a budget agreement which would add enough funds to Medicare to keep Part B premium increases largely in check for the next year. This is especially welcome news, considering that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had previously calculated that 2021 premiums could increase by as much as $50 per month from the current 2020 base premium of $144.60. Such a single-year increase would have been larger than all the increases of the previous decade combined, and could leave many with limited means unable to pay. This alarming projection was largely in response to increased emergency Medicare spending to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Speaker’s office said that premium increases were expected to average around $4 per month instead of the previously projected $50, which is especially important to the roughly 2/3 of Medicare beneficiaries who have the premium deducted from their monthly Social Security income. The Social Security Administration last week announced a 1.3% cost of living adjustment for 2021, which will average around $20 per month for most recipients, meaning that recipients may actually get to see a little bit of that increase in their pockets. It also means that the “hold harmless” provision won’t kick in, meaning that extra costs above the COLA won’t be redistributed to beneficiaries who are not yet drawing Social Security, and that’s good for everybody.

The annual Medicare Part B premium increase has been one of the fastest-growing costs of retirement in recent years, increasing 218% in the last 20 years, compared to a corresponding 54% inflation rate. It increased 7% last year alone. So this relief will certainly come as welcome news to seniors at a time they need it most. Congress finally did something right.

As always, contact us with your concerns about anything to do with your Medicare.

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2 years ago · by · 1 comment

It’s open enrollment time!

Open Enrollment October 15-December 7

Yes, it’s open enrollment time again! Did you know that most Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans change from year to year? Sometimes those changes can be quite significant. That means the plan that was right for you last year may not be the best plan this year, so it’s important to get a good checkup on your plan every year during open enrollment. Stop by our new office at 1744 Cliff Gookin Blvd for your FREE consultation and let our healthcare experts take the headache out of reviewing your plan options. We’re your friendly one-stop healthcare service agency, and we’re here to save you money! Call us at 662-269-2519 or send us an email today.

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Company Information

Burns Insurance Group
Tammy Burns
Alan Burns

1744 Cliff Gookin Blvd
Tupelo, MS 38801

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