We just published the results of our latest retiree survey. We asked 504 retirees how satisfied they are with their individual Medicare coverage – and how it compares to the group insurance they had with their former employers. 85% said they are “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with their Medicare coverage. And 67% said they are as satisfied, or more satisfied, with Medicare than their previous employer-sponsored group health plans. Top reasons for overall satisfaction were (a) fewer billing and payment problems (37%), (b) better benefits (30%) and (c) lower cost (28%). You can see all the results in this press release.

The latest Kaiser Family Foundation health tracking poll shows some interesting results. The number of people with an unfavorable view of reform has dropped to 35%, from 41% last month, but the number who have a favorable view has only increased by 2%, up to 50%.

This month’s poll took a closer look at the attitudes of seniors, who’ve been the most unfavorable group overall so far. This and an earlier survey by the National Council on Aging give an indication why: both show that a majority of seniors are misinformed about key components of the bill, with many believing that it cuts basic Medicare benefits, institutes so-called “death panels,” and will weaken the financial condition of the Medicare fund. A majority are unaware of new benefits for Medicare recipients such as free preventive screening and yearly checkups.

This entry is the first of several written by Avalere Health for the Extend Health client base. We will post them here over the coming weeks.

Grandfathered Health Plans and Reform:  What You Need To Know About Benefit Plan Changes Under the Affordable Care Act

 By Carly Kelly and Kelly Brantley
Avalere Health

The Affordable Care Act has created sweeping changes across healthcare.  Many of the changes impact the fundamentals of health insurance, and affect anyone that manages the creation and administration of employee benefits. 

As you may know, certain “grandfathered” health plans are exempt from some of the new requirements in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released interim regulations to clarify how a health plan can qualify for—or lose— grandfathered status. 

In the preamble to the interim regulations, HHS encourages States not to apply the ACA requirements to retiree-only plans.  Even with this clarification,  the grandfathered health plan regulations are likely to raise questions from employer groups that offer both retiree and non-retiree coverage. Read the rest of this entry »

Milliman has just published a two-page brief that reviews the issues states should consider as they decide whether to create their own exchange or default to the federal government. This useful piece offers pros and cons of both options, and a laundry list of items that should factor into the decision including state self-determination, ongoing cost, coordination with Medicare and Medicaid, accountability to the federal government, and regulation of insurers. Food for thought!  

We recently published the second issue of our quarterly newsletter. We built it to be a resource for our employer clients, providing information on retiree health benefits with news and advice about important political, economic, social, and technological developments in retiree healthcare. Have a look and let us know what you think – we’d love suggestions for making it better.

State officials all over the country are warning seniors to beware of people posing as Medicare or government insurance representatives, asking for personal information such as Medicare numbers, bank account numbers, or social security numbers. This article on RetireNet.com tells seniors what to look for and how to defend themselves against these unprincipled scammers.

Extend Health is now providing articles to RetireNet.com as the resident expert on Medicare for their 103,000+ members. Our published articles will help Medicare recipients understand some of the changes brought about by the health care reform law. We’ve agreed to provide regular content to the RetireNet community around this important and sometimes confusing topic.

Another survey of the Extend Health retiree base shows that 67% of our Medicare enrollees feel they have health care independence. When asked to define “health care independence,” retirees’ top two responses were “I can find plans that let me go to the doctors I want to see,” and “I have choices about the health care plans I buy.”  Read the rest of this entry »