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Topics of interest to both consumers and agents related to Covered California and the ACA biased in favor of the successful implementation of the Exchange and deliberately apolitical.


Blue Cross Blue Shield Outflanks the Exchange With H&R Block Deal

By on | 5 Comments

This Affordable Care Act represents sweeping changes for how the middle class will get insurance. Whether or not you qualify for premium subsidies, also called “Advanced Tax Credits”, becomes a primary concern for consumers looking for a way to afford mandatory health insurance.

Your 2012 tax return is key to determining if you’re eligible for any financial assistance. Using the information from his 2012 return, a tax advisor at H&R Block advised his client that she would qualify for a significant tax credit and would have to pay pay only about $65 a month in for health insurance after the subsidy. If she skips coverage, H&R Block warned her, she faces a $95 tax penalty next year and $356 the following year.

For customers who want help with getting health insurance, H&R Block refers them to insurers affiliated with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Assn., an industry group that represents both Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California in the state. That partnership stands to give those insurers valuable leads on potential customers.

Although the Blue Cross and Blue Shield logos are present, there is no mention inside H&R Block’s offices of Covered California, the new California health insurance marketplace.

This could be the first evidence of the competition that is likely to develop between health insurance carriers and the exchange. On the one hand carriers are motivated to “partner with the exchanges in a marriage of necessity and on the other hand do what they can to retain or gain market share.

Covered California, is planning to spend about $250 million on marketing statewide to establish its brand name and make it a prime destination for consumer information. Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said he welcomes the information H&R Block is providing before the state’s marketing ramps up this summer closer to when enrollment begins. “We will be exploring relationships with tax preparers because they offer a great way to provide one-on-one assistance,” Lee said. “But we don’t want to be too far ahead of when people can enroll.”

5 Comments

Until the Covered California exchange is up and running and able to provide "education and outreach" as mandated by the ACA, many, but not all, California-licensed Life Agents are capable of providing information on health insurance plans and how they work so that consumers can make informed decisions concerning the Qualified Health Plan in which they ultimately choose to enroll if not covered by an employer-sponsored plan, or their employer's plan meets the criteria for "unaffordable".

Life agents who are knowledgeable in the ACA and California Covered will be happy to provide you with the information you need without cost or obligation, and without trying to "sell" you anything. We can begin your educational process today . . . you don't need to wait until October to learn what you will need to know then.

Although California Covered will be training In-Person Assisters to work with the public, many licensed insurance agents have already been trained and have the knowledge to properly explain plan benefits, copays, coinsurance, deductibles, and out-of-pocket limits that will distinguish the various bronze, silver, gold, and platinum plans that will be available.

The agents best suited to do this represent multiple insurance companies. When the Exchange opens for business in October, you can choose to enroll through the Exchange's Assisters or through a trusted insurance agent. You can be assured that the most reputable agents have only your best interest at heart, will explore the plans available to you without bias, and will recommend only those plans that best meet your individual and/or family needs.

Assisters will be compensated to enroll you, and so will insurance agents. Assisters will be paid by their sponsoring agencies, agents will be paid by the insurance company you choose.

Would you rather get your health insurance information from someone who just learned about it a few days ago, or would you prefer to get the information from someone who has taken a required educational course, passed a comprehensive written exam, and was issued a license by the CA Dept of Insurance?

For those of us who consider ourselves "professionals" in this industry, we do what we do to help folks get what they need, not what we want them to buy. For us, it has nothing to do with "the money" we are paid. It has everything to do with what's right for each of our clients' unique needs.

Hewitt and Hewitt Insurance is excited about Covered California and the Health Benefit Exchange. Finally, affordable health care for millions of Californian's and we are here to help.

We want to help Californians in the San Joaquin Valley to find affordable health insurance for their families and businesess.
Hewitt and Hewitt Insurance has been in business for fourty-two years and we have been in the valley for thirty-eight years.

I am confident the Exchange Assisters will be able to assist Californians to answer their concerns and questions.

However, Hewitt and Hewitt is here to help individuals, families, and small businesses with their insurance needs.

I could not agree more with this comment. As an insurance agent, my absolute focus is helping people get what is right for them. The fact thst assistors and navigators will magically be able to sign individuals snd businesses up for health insurance really scares me. It takes years of experience to know what you are talking about and to be able to advise someone properly. I sure hope the word can be spread effectively that Insurance Agents do not cost more to use and that we are more than happy to help!!!

It is absolutely vital that people get help from a knowledgeable agent, I'm personally reaching out to my local tax preparers to let them know that I am available to help their clients that wish to sign up for a health insurance plan. Fellow insurance agents, it's time to put our skills to work!

What really bothers me is H&R Block is at the local Wal-Mart preparing taxes for the customers. I wonder if H&R Block are referring customers to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California. I recently read in the local newspaper that Wal-Mart is referring the customers to Covered California. Do you think the referral is free or better yet a kick-back to Wal-Mart. How much money does H&R Block, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California and Wal-Mart need? Corporations like the above have control of the market supply. The insurance industry, tax industry, and Wal-Mart industry are the only providers of a service. Where is the competition that Covered California speaks of...sounds like a monopoly to me. The corporations contract with the State of California to provide the services.

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