AFLAC Incorporated : Aflac Launches Enhanced Health Care Reform Website for Employers

08/16/2013 | 10:25am US/Eastern

COLUMBUS, Ga., Aug. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Health care reform is a puzzle to many U.S. employers and their employees. To help them better understand how to assemble the pieces, Aflac, the No. 1 provider of voluntary and guaranteed renewable insurance in the U.S.(1), has enhanced its health care reform website with materials that explain the legislation in clear, easy-to-understand language.

“Business leaders are confused about health care reform and for good reason – it is complex and as the law is implemented, it can be increasingly difficult for them to understand their options and the specific actions they need to take,” said Michael Zuna, Aflac executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “By using the tools on our site and speaking to our nationwide network of agents, employers can not only stay up to date and understand key decision points, but also obtain information that will help them make the best benefits decisions for their organizations and employees.”

Site visitors will find a variety of tools and resources designed to help employers understand health care reform and how the law affects both businesses and workers. Materials include:

    --  Health Care Reform Communications Toolkit: Provides employers with the
        resources they need to meet the October 1 deadline for informing
        employees about the Health Insurance Marketplace.The kit features:
        --  A PowerPoint presentation with a high-level reform overview of the
            ACA.
        --  Two sets of email and letter templates - one for employers who will
            offer health insurance and one for those who won't.
        --  FAQs that address changes to employee benefits plans.
        --  Videos highlighting Health Insurance Marketplace basics and levels
            of coverage.
    --  Employer's Guide: Explains health care reform and its effect on U.S.
        businesses.
    --  HCR Essentials: A quick guide to HCR information for employers.
    --  Consumer-Driven Health Care Insights: Features tips for helping
        employees understand reform.

Answering Questions, Outlining Solutions

Aflac put additional efforts into developing even more robust health care reform materials after the 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report revealed that employers and workers are having continued trouble understanding the legislation.(2)

Fully 55 percent of employees who took part in the Aflac WorkForces Report said they’d done nothing to prepare for reform-driven changes to their benefits plans, and 76 percent agreed health care reform is too complicated to understand. Employers find reform puzzling too: Just 27 percent said they understand the legislation very or extremely well.

“Aflac is dedicated to helping employers and employees comprehend the changing benefits and health insurance landscape by providing regular updates and new tools throughout the implementation of the ACA,” Zuna said. “Employers can look to Aflac as a partner in demystifying the law, helping educate employees on the resulting changes and providing much-needed voluntary benefits that can help offset rising health care costs.”

Employers who want straight forward and easy-to-understand advice about health care reform should visit aflac.com/healthcare_reform.

About Aflac
When a policyholder gets sick or hurt, Aflac pays cash benefits fast. For nearly six decades, Aflac insurance policies have given policyholders the opportunity to focus on recovery, not financial stress. In the United States, Aflac is the number one provider of guaranteed-renewable insurance. In Japan, Aflac is the number one life insurance company in terms of individual policies in force. Aflac individual and group insurance products provide protection to more than 50 million people worldwide. For seven consecutive years, Aflac has been recognized by Ethisphere magazine as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies. In 2013, FORTUNE magazine recognized Aflac as one of the 100 Best Companies to Work for in America for the 15th consecutive year. Also, in 2013, FORTUNE magazine included Aflac on its list of Most Admired Companies for the 12th time, ranking the company number one in the life and health insurance category. Aflac Incorporated is a Fortune 500 company listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol AFL. To find out more about Aflac, visit aflac.com or espanol.aflac.com.

This material is intended to provide general information about an evolving topic and does not constitute legal, tax or accounting advice regarding any specific situation. Aflac cannot anticipate all the facts that a particular employer or individual will have to consider in their benefits decision-making process. We strongly encourage readers to discuss their HCR situations with their advisors to determine the actions they need to take or to visit healthcare.gov (which may also be contacted at 1-800-318-2596) for additional information.

(1 )The NU 200 Industry Leaders,” National Underwriter, September 19, 2011
(2) The 2013 Aflac WorkForces Report was conducted by Research Now on behalf of Aflac,http://www.aflac.com/aflac_workforces_report/2013/executive_summmary.aspx – accessed July 19, 2013

Source Link:  http://www.4-traders.com/AFLAC-INCORPORATED-11556/news/AFLAC-Incorporated-Aflac-Launches-Enhanced-Health-Care-Reform-Website-for-Employers-17196067/

 

Grants will help pay for Affordable Care Act ‘navigators’

Lena H. Sun of The Washington Post

 

WASHINGTON — Federal health officials awarded $67 million in grants Thursday to more than 100 organizations around the country to help uninsured consumers sign up for health coverage in new insurance marketplaces this fall.

The long anticipated grants — $13 million more than expected — will be used to hire special guides, or “navigators,” who can give individuals face-to-face assistance in shopping for health plans under the federal health-care law known as the Affordable Care Act and derided by critics as Obamacare.

Consumer outreach and assistance are considered keys to the success of the Affordable Care Act. Many uninsured Americans don’t know about the marketplaces or have little idea how they would work, polls show.

Complicating the enrollment process are the huge gaps in resources and readiness between the 17 states and the District of Columbia that are running their own marketplaces and the 34 states that resisted and are being run or partly run by the federal government. The health-care law set aside much more money for states operating their own marketplaces.

Administration officials touted the grants as progress toward implementing the health law, which has run into several delays in recent months.

In February, the administration said it was giving some insurers and employers until 2015 to cap the amount consumers can be charged through deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance.

In July, the administration postponed until 2015 a mandate that all employers with more than 50 employees provide coverage to their workers.

In announcing the grants, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the marketplaces and consumer assistance were on track for enrollment beginning Oct. 1 for coverage effective in January.

“We know we have a lot of work to do, but we’ll be ready for whatever comes up,” she said in a conference call with reporters.

Under the health law, all states must set up websites where people can compare and shop for health insurance coverage. People will also be able to find out whether they qualify for subsidies to reduce their costs or whether they are eligible for Medicaid, the state-federal program for the poor.

Republicans have raised privacy concerns about the access that navigators would have to personal information from people seeking to buy insurance.

Thirteen Republican state attorneys general sent a letter to Sebelius on Wednesday questioning whether there will be enough protection of consumer data in the navigator program.

Sebelius said that navigators will be required to adhere to strict security and privacy standards, including how to safeguard a consumer’s personal information. They will be required to complete 20 to 30 hours of training to be certified and take additional training throughout the year. Training will begin this month.

The exact number of navigators to be hired will be made by the individual organizations receiving grants. They include universities, health departments and health systems, including Ascencion Health, the country’s largest Catholic and nonprofit health system. Planned Parenthood affiliates in Iowa, Montana and New Hampshire also received grants totalling $655,000.

The extra $13 million comes from funds previously set aside for outreach and does not represent new money, officials said.

Federal health officials made the awards based on the numbers of uninsured in each state. States with the largest numbers of uninsured received significantly more funding than earlier projections.

Florida received $7.8 million in grants, more than $2 million more than earlier forecasts. Texas group are receiving nearly $11 million, $2.7 million more than previous estimates.

Other states that received larger grants were Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Two states received a smaller total than previous estimates: Maine and South Carolina.

Virginia, the only jurisdiction in the metro Washington region that is defaulting to the federal government to run its marketplace, is receiving about $1.7 million, about $350,000 more than an earlier estimate. One of the recipients is the Virginia Poverty Law Center, which is receiving nearly $1.3 million to hire about 16 navigators across the state.

By contrast, Maryland, which has roughly the same number of uninsured residents, has $24 million to hire 175 navigators and an additional 150 helpers.

The District of Columbia is awarding $6.4 million to 35 community organizations to hire guides to provide in-person help.

The federal government is also enlisting businesses and organizations such as the American Medical Association , the NAACP and the League of United Latin American Citizens to help with outreach.

Source Link:  http://union-bulletin.com/news/2013/aug/16/health-law-navigator-grants-awarded/

 

How the health reform law will affect senior care

By KATRINA CAMERON-Staff Writer

POSTED:   08/17/2013 12:19:05 AM PDT

The Affordable Care Act won’t hurt health care for the baby boomer population, and it will strengthen Medicare, the national insurance program for people age 65 and older.Every day across the nation, 10,000 people are turning 65, said Myron Machula, vice president and CFO of Enloe Medical Center. The total number of people age 65 or older in Butte, Glenn and Tehama counties is 55,000.

“That’s a fair amount of the population,” Machula said. “They count on this Medicare program for the health care that they receive.”

“There has been a misconception that the Affordable Care Act is going to take away benefits from people with Medicare, and it isn’t going to,” said Tatiana Fassieux, program manager at Passages.

Instead of cutting basic Medicare benefits, it improves them, she said.

According to the National Council on Aging, prescription drug costs will lessen because the coverage gap — better known as the “donut hole” — for those with Part D plans will be slowly phased out by 2020.

“Ideally, what’s going to happen is on a general basis nationally people won’t have to spend more than 25 percent for their prescriptions, so that was one aspect of the Affordable Care Act,” Fassieux said.

Medicare beneficiaries will also benefit from more preventative care, such as cancer and diabetes screening, according to the National Council on Aging. A free annual wellness visit allows the beneficiary and doctor to develop a prevention plan to keep the patient healthy. Patients can also get free vaccines.

“Preventative care is what saves money,” Fassieux said.

The law also helps ensure Medicare patients return home successfully from hospital stays, according to the National Council on Aging.

Eighty percent of older American have a least one chronic medical condition such as high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes.

About 65 percent of Enloe Medical Center’s in-patient care is Medicare beneficiaries, Machula said. About 40 percent of outpatients are on Medicare.

The law also makes it easier to receive and pay for long-term care at home, according to the National Council on Aging. Medicare doesn’t currently cover long-term care, but starting in 2014 the law will increase protection for spouses of individuals who receive Medicaid home care services.

Another benefit is the law allows the Department of Justice to go after individuals or hospitals that have committed Medicare fraud, Fassieux said.

Medicare began paying bonuses of 10 percent to primary care doctors to improve access, according to the National Council on Aging.

The difficulty of getting into a primary physician’s office has already been an issue, but the rising number of people who will soon have insurance through the Affordable Care Act may make it more problematic.

“Why is that occurring?” Machula said. “Well, because again the volume of physicians is shy of what the need is, so the idea is to take the mid-level practitioners to help with what will be this increase for those who need care because they have the card.”

A question still unanswered is what an individual is to do if he or she bought an exchange insurance plan and then becomes eligible for Medicare. Fassieux said it’s unknown if someone can have both Medicare and the exchange plan.

Although there are still many unanswered questions regarding the Affordable Care Act, it appears that it will benefit older Americans.

Source Link: http://www.chicoer.com/health/ci_23882967/how-health-reform-law-will-affect-senior-care