As October draws to a close Medicare Open Enrollment is upon us. I have been all around town this month helping people understand their options. Do you have health insurance questions? Brownell Insurance offers free consultations to make sure your health insurance plan meets your needs and ACA requirements to avoid fines.
Check out our Facebook page to see what we are up to this October!
Marie Brownell and The Brownell Insurance Team
Remember – we offer free quotes for all of our insurance products. Please don’t hesitate to “Dare to Compare” the insurance coverages you might have elsewhere to see if “bundling” them might save you a few hundred dollars. You just might find the service and savings you have been looking for!
As your independent insurance agent, I can help you evaluate and compare the products of several insurance companies to help you find the insurance solution that best meets your needs. I’ll work hard to warn you of potential risks, and strive to get you the most value out of your insurance. I’ll work to explain all of your options in plain English. And can help you make the choices that are right for you.
Plus, if you ever need to file a claim, I will be right there with you to guide you through the process. And as life changes, you can count on me to help you update those choices. If you have any questions or would like to connect today, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Drive a Commercial Truck?
Did you know that if you operate a commercial vehicle with a GVW of 10,001 or more pounds and you travel across state lines with tools or materials to complete a job, you will be required to obtain a USDOT number from the Federal Government? That will not only require you to include your USDOT number on the side of the truck but also comply with all the rules & regulations that go along with it. You’ll need to comply by January 14, 2017 . Information about these requirements can be found by going to fmcsa.gov
Dates & Deadlines for 2017 Health Insurance
Open Enrollment for 2017 health plans starts November 1, 2016. Important dates to note:
- November 1, 2016: Open Enrollment starts – first day you can enroll, re-enroll, or change a 2017 insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Coverage can start as soon as January 1, 2017.
- December 15, 2016: Last day to enroll in or change plans for coverage to start January 1, 2017.
- January 1, 2017: 2017 coverage starts for those who enroll or change plans by December 15.
- January 31, 2017: Last day to enroll in or change a 2017 health plan. After this date, you can enroll or change plans only if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
Read More at Healthcare.gov
New Hampshire health insurance marketplace CHO leaving; 4 carriers will offer plans in the exchange in 2017
By Louise Norris
Open enrollment for 2017 coverage begins November 1, 2016. New Hampshire’s exchange will have four carriers offering coverage, down from five in 2016.
New Hampshire is one of seven states that operates a partnership exchange with the federal government. These exchanges are considered federally-facilitated, and they use Healthcare.gov’s enrollment platform and call center. But the state also takes an active role, and operates Covering New Hampshire , a resource site for residents to learn about the exchange and the plans that are available.
As of September 2016, there were 48,402 people enrolled in qualified health plans (QHPs) through New Hampshire’s exchange. Medicaid expansion in New Hampshire has been enacted by enrolling eligible residents in plans through the exchange, using Medicaid funds. So another 41,313 people had coverage in QHPs funded by the New Hampshire Medicaid’s Premium Assistance Program (PAP). So total QHP enrollment through the exchange stood at 89,715 as of September.
Community Health Options exiting New Hampshire
Community Health Options, a Maine-based CO-OP that expanded into New Hampshire in 2015, is among the more successful CO-OPs in the country (one of only six that are still operational), although they’ve struggled with financial losses recently. They were the only CO-OP to make a profit in 2014, but they experienced higher-than-expected losses in 2015 (they lost $31 million in 2015, and also set aside $43 million in reserves to cover anticipated losses for 2016; about 85 percent of their membership is in Maine).
As a result, they ceased new individual plan enrollments for 2016 on December 15, 2015 through their website, and December 26 through Healthcare.gov. The carrier continued to offer new group plans, and all individual plans that were in force in December 2015 were eligible for renewal into 2016 if insureds didn’t select coverage with a different carrier instead.
But in September 2016, Community Health Options announced that they would exit the New Hampshire market at the end of 2016 in order to focus entirely on Maine. New Hampshire will still have a CO-OP in the exchange in 2017, as Minuteman Health is remaining in the market.
The bulk of CHO’s enrollees – about 85 percent – are in Maine, but they had 11,438 members in New Hampshire as of July 2016 (as of September, CHO’s total enrollment in the New Hampshire exchange stood at 4,649 in the individual market, including PAP members, along with 524 in the small group exchange; their off-exchange enrollees in New Hampshire -which includes the bulk of their small business enrollments – will also have to find new coverage for 2017).
New Hampshire businesses that are enrolled in CHO’s small group plans will be able to keep their coverage until their renewal date in 2017, but the carrier stopped renewing New Hampshire small group plans in October, and will not sell small group plans in the state for 2017.
2017 rates and carriers
CHO’s exit leaves four carriers offering plans in New Hampshire’s exchange for 2017. But despite the exit, the state reports that there will still be the same number of individual market plans (32) available in 2017, and every hospital in the state will be included in at least one exchange carrier’s network (all but two of the 26 hospitals will be included in at least two networks, and all but three will be included on more than two networks).
These four carriers will offer individual market QHPs in the New Hampshire exchange for 2017, and have proposed the following average rate increases:
- Ambetter by Celtic: 1.35 percent
- Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Hampshire (Matthew Thornton Health Plan): 13.9 percent (Anthem has nearly a third of the on-exchange enrollment in 2016)
- Harvard Pilgrim Health Care of New England: 11.1 percent (Harvard Pilgrim had 19,516 members – including their Elevate and NH networks – as of September, but noted in their rate filing that 9,461 members would see rate increases in excess of 10 percent)
- Minuteman Health (an ACA-created CO-OP): rate increase proposals range from 18 percent to 60 percent, depending on the plan. In April 2016, Minuteman announced that their average rate increase would be 45.2 percent for 2017 (details below), so that might still be the proposed weighted average increase.
As of mid-October, officials in New Hampshire had not yet indicated whether the rates would be approved as requested, or modified before being approved.
Two carriers-Anthem and Delta Dental-will offer dental plans through the New Hampshire exchange in 2017. There are currently four dental carriers, but two of them-Dentegra and Guardian Life Insurance Company-will no longer offer dental plans in the exchange after the end of 2016.
Read more at healthinsurance.org or bring your questions to us!
3-Second Rule for Safe Following Distance
By Chris Hayes
Rear-end collisions are the most common accidents between vehicles. They occur when drivers do not have enough time to perceive and react safely to slowing or stopped traffic. Increasing your following distance can help give you time to react when someone brakes in front of you.
The Three-Second Rule
Increasing the distance between you and the car ahead can help give you the time you need to recognize a hazard and respond safely. The National Safety Council recommends a minimum three-second following distance.
Determining the three-second gap is relatively easy. When following a vehicle, pick an overhead road sign, a tree or other roadside marker. Note when the vehicle ahead passes that marker, then see how many seconds it takes (count 1-1,000; 2-1,000; 3-1,000) for you to pass the same spot. If it is not at least three seconds, leave more space and increase your following distance.
Think of following distance in terms of time, not space. With a standard of 2.5 seconds, highway engineers use time, rather than distance, to represent how long it takes a driver to perceive and react to hazards. The National Safety Council also uses this standard (plus a little extra for safety) when recommending the three-second rule for following distance.
Sometimes Three Seconds Is Not Enough
The three-second rule is recommended for passenger vehicles during ideal road and weather conditions. Slow down and increase your following distance even more during adverse weather conditions or when visibility is reduced. Also increase your following distance if you are driving a larger vehicle or towing a trailer.
Distractions, such as texting, reaching for a drink or glancing at a navigation device, also play a role in rear-end collisions. Even if you use the three-second rule, you may not have time to react to a hazard if you are distracted. It is another reason why you should avoid distractions while driving.
Read full article at Travelers.com
Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons margarine, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F (135 degrees C).
Combine the margarine, salt, garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce and pumpkin seeds. Mix thoroughly and place in shallow baking dish.
Bake for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Recipe courtesy of: AllRecipes.com