Just like spring flowers, in-person events are opening up
BY DAWN MC FARLAND
Conference season is back for our industry, following two years of staying at home — holy moly! And I wouldn’t change a thing. As much as virtual work is part of the daily, there IS a difference when you share space with other humans. And no doubt it is exhausting to restart. I’ll share my experience from the events I have had the good fortune to attend.
- YOU Powered Symposium,(Feb 6, 2022) – a wonderful event with a focus on solutions like direct primary care and data driven decisions vs. accepting the rates spit out of a quoting system.
- NAHU’s Capitol Conference in D.C. – (Feb. 28, 2022) if you have never participated, you should consider it at least once. There is something special about being in our nation’s Capital, doing our civic duty and having a voice in shaping our country’s healthcare. The wide variety of museums and monuments are also a must. Visit the Arlington Cemetery and watch the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier. Makes you think about how lucky we are to be Americans and how many have given their lives for our freedom.
Be sure to check out the CAHIP STATEment for more detail about the legislative activities in D.C. (Speaking of CAHIP Legislative activities, there were over 2200 pieces of legislation introduced this session and CAHIP has determined its list of priorities.)
- CAHIP Women’s Leadership Summit took place in March after a 2-year pandemic postponement. And WOW, the words of wisdom (pun intended) and vulnerability shared filled a lot of cups. It’s been a rough couple of years, compounded by the recovery from years of fighting to be treated equally to our male counterparts. (See coverage on page 22).
- The CAHIP Capitol Summit is next up — first in-person CAHIP event since COVID-19 — and the speaker’s lined up will be worth the trip to Sacramento. Check it out!
Here are a few things I am preparing for as an agent that serves the IFP and Medicare markets.
Two impactful things to be aware of regarding Medi-Cal with a magic date of July 1, 2022:
1. The first change is the COVID-19 Medi-Cal process. During the pandemic no one was moved off of Medi-Cal, even if their income increased to no longer qualify financially. Starting July 1st, as redeterminations occur, people with increased income will lose their Medi-Cal and be directed back into whatever exchange the state they reside in uses.
[See Wayne Guzman’s article on Medi-cal Redetermination on Page 36 of the April CalBroker Magazine.]
The NAHU Education Foundation is working on developing material that can be distributed in low income communities directing them to agents that can help them navigate the change back into the marketplace. NAHU also plans to create material for agents as a resource for the intricacies of this demographic. This is definitely a great way for agents to show up for our communities.
2. Additionally, on July 1, low income seniors will have a chance to qualify for Medi-Cal benefits and help without eating through all of their savings. Currently if a person over age 65 has more than $2,000 in assets they are not eligible for Medi-Cal. On July 1, 2022, the Medi-Cal asset test will significantly increase to $130,000 for an individual and $65,000 for each additional family member. The asset test will be fully eliminated for these Medi-Cal programs effective July 1, 2024. This will be incredibly helpful for the seniors that have $100,000 sitting in an annuity or investment account – there are many beneficiaries I help that have $40-$50 K sitting in a savings vehicle and it makes them ineligible. Medi-Cal benefits have a huge impact on Rx costs for seniors.
Another big topic of conversation in the Medicare market is that the Medi-Cal Medi-Connect program is going away, effective December 31, 2022. This matters to those of us that serve the senior market because there are plans called “DSNP Look Alike Plans” that will no longer be offered so Medicare beneficiaries will need to be helped navigating these moves.
Covered CA still has special enrollment periods (SEP’s) for COVID-19 believe it or not. Another interesting point to factor is if someone had to pay a tax penalty. So, if you run across someone that is stuck without insurance there is still a way to help.
Current discussions are happening around the ARPA additional subsidies that are due to expire at the end of this year.
AND FINALLY it looks like the “Family Glitch” may get fixed! Family Glitch happens when the dependents of an employee (who receives affordable coverage from the employer) do not qualify for a subsidy even if the household income falls in the federal poverty chart. Check out the recent NAHU Healthcare Happy Hour podcast for more info.
In conversations with my employee benefit friends, it seems rates on renewals are showing increases, believed to be evidence of the theory rates would go up when claims started to shake out post COVID-19. (Am I really saying that? POST COVID?!?!?!)
On that note, I know the pandemic and concerns of new strains still exist, and at this point it seems to be getting closer to calling COVID an endemic vs. a pandemic. In fact, “…California has adopted the first endemic policy for COVID in the U.S. According to The Associated Press, the California plan “emphasizes prevention and quick reaction to outbreaks over mandated masking and business shutdowns.” Mental health inquiries are increasing, with employers asking for Employee Assistance Programs (EAP).
Agents are still seeing a lot of growth with new hires in groups and a lot of groups wanting to offer health insurance when they previously didn’t. Employers are also asking for additional benefits where they previously just wanted health insurance. The “Great Resignation” sure did motivate employers to pay more attention to the attract and retain employees! Stay on your toes out there!
So, this is us, in our usual mode of ever changing and evolving. I love seeing vacation pictures and families gathering again. It has been so beautiful in southern California, even if we are having 90 degree weather in APRIL! I know I am itching to step away from the screen and spend a little time chillaxing and enjoying the outside. I bet you are too. Let’s do it! Just make sure you also schedule the upcoming events below, please. I hope to see you soon!
- CAHU Capitol Summit May 9-11 Sacramento, Calif.
- NAHU Convention June 25-28 Austin, Texas.
- NAHU Power Hour – every 4th Wednesday @3:30 pm PST – open to all at no charge. Great place to experience one of my favorite NAHU member benefits – camaraderie!
- YOU Powered Feb. 5-8, 2023 —just announced!
DAWN MCFARLAND is VP of legislation for CAHU (now known as CAHIP) and president of M&M Benefits Solutions in Los Angeles.