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Two New Classroom CE Courses Approved

We are happy to report that the Montana Insurance Continuing Education Program just approved two new classroom insurance CE courses:

P&C Smorgasbord was approved for 8 hours of credit and contains eight, 1-hour topics:

  • Renting Cars
  • Bonds
  • Identity Theft
  • Terrorism Insurance
  • Inland Marine Coverages
  • Reinsurance
  • Surplus Lines
  • Cyber Security

Life and Health Smorgasbord was approved for 4 hours of credit and contains three topics:

  • Anti-money laundering (1 hour)
  • Medicare (2 hours)
  • Affordable Care Act (1 hour)

Both courses will be presented in Missoula during the week of September 18, 2016. For more information about pricing and registration, click here.

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Why the Government’s Health Program (PCIP) is Running Out of Money

An article in today’s LifeHealthPro prompted my blog post today.  It’s about the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) that was established by the Affordable Care Act to guarantee health insurance for the unfortunate individuals who had health conditions so serious insurers wouldn’t write insurance on them.

Well, folks, the federally-run PCIP is running out of money to pay for the claims of all the sick people who purchased coverage through the plan.  Why is that? you may wonder.  Well, the government paid more in claims that it expected to pay.  Here’s my question:  Why did the government think insurance companies didn’t want to write coverage for those people?  And here’s my answer:  Because people with health issues have more claims than people without health issues do.

I’m not saying unhealthy people shouldn’t be able to have coverage.  However, since the very nature of insurance–and state insurance regulations–REQUIRES premiums to be adequate enough to pull in enough funds to pay claims, there’s only one things premiums can do when the costs of claims rise.  Yep, you guessed it.  So when the PCIP provided “affordable” insurance, it wasn’t charging enough premiums to pay the claims.  Which is really BAD news for the folks enrolled in the plan.  Which those of us who understand the nature of insurance expected to happen.  [P.S.   The PCIP stopped accepting new enrollees some time ago because the government saw the handwriting on the wall.]

I’m a nonsmoker in my late 50s who has no health issues:  my blood pressure is 120/80, my cholesterol is below 200, and I don’t take regular medication.  I don’t have diabetes or any other condition.  And I pay, personally, out of my own pocket (because I’m self-employed), $563 a month for health insurance.  I understand precisely what consumers are faced with concerning the costs of healthcare.

I’m also one of the few people who has a copy of the text of the Affordable Care Act on her computer, and who has read a good portion of that text.  (I admit it:  I haven’t read the whole thing.)  There are all kinds of provisions most consumers don’t know about.  And I’ll bet a lot of politicians don’t know about them, either.

If you’re interested in reading a brief, consumer-friendly timeline of what will be happening under the Affordable Care Act, you can visit Healtcare.gov at What’s Changing and When. Although many people know more about the Affordable Care Act than I do, I’ve  researched it extensively, written a couple of insurance courses on it, and presented a number of webinars on the topic.  I welcome your questions.

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Montana, Here I Come

Newsflash:

The response to my proposal for offering insurance continuing education classes in Missoula in September was SUCCESSFUL!  So, thanks to all those wonderful people who were able to receive my inquiry and respond so quickly, I’m in the process of negotiating conference space and mapping out the curriculum.

Of course, I need to submit everything to the Montana DOI for course approval, but I’m hoping to have that done within the next couple of weeks.  Once I’ve booked the hotel and scheduled the curriculum, I’ll put up a “Montana CE” page on the website for you to look things over and download a registration form.

Montana, here I come!

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Shall I Head West to Montana?

I moved back to Massachusetts from Montana two years ago.  (Actually, my puppy and I headed out for the 2,700-mile drive on February 26, 2011.)  Since that time, many of the insurance professionals who attended the classroom insurance continuing education courses I offered during the 7 years I lived in Montana have contacted me to see when I would be returning.

Well, how can I resist all the love and devotion of those people … especially after all this time? In two words: I can’t.

I’ve decided to put together 2 days of classroom CE seminars in Missoula during the mid-September if enough people register for them.  Each day will offer two different seminars totaling 8 hours of CE credit.  At the moment, my plans for topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Flood Insurance (meeting FEMA training guidelines)
  • Healthcare Reform
  • Professional Liability (E&O, D&O, EPL, and Cyber)
  • Insurance Fraud
  • Mold
  • Terrorism

If you, or someone you know, are interested in attending and want to be included on my mailing list once I’ve settled on the curriculum and reserved the date and location, email me at Linda@LindaFaulkner.com

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What the Average American DOESN’T Know about the Affordable Care Act – Part II

Continuing from the blog post on Monday, here are few of the major provisions of the PPACA that will go into effect beginning in January 2014.

Most Americans will be required to be covered by health insurance or pay a penalty.  This is what is referred to as the individual mandate.   The following Americans will NOT be subject to a penalty if they aren’t covered by health insurance:

  • Members of a religion opposed to acceptance of health care benefits
  • Undocumented immigrants
  • Individuals serving time in jail
  • Members of an Indian tribe
  • Individuals with household income that doesn’t require the filing of a tax return
  • Individuals who must pay more than 8% of their income for health insurance—after application of any employer contributions and tax credits

A few facts about penalties:

  • They aren’t imposed until an individual has been uninsured for 90 days
  • Penalties are charged per person, with a family maximum, OR as a percentage of family income—whichever is more
  • Penalties, per person, per adult (children’s penalties are one-half the adult penalty) will be:  In 2014:  $95; in 2015:  $325; in 2016:  $695; and after 2016:  adjusted by annual cost of living increases
  • Penalties as a percentage of family income:  In 2014:  1%; in 2015:  2%; and in 2016:  2.5%

The following eligibility and rating restrictions will apply:

  • Coverage cannot be denied or non-renewed because of health status
  • Pre-existing conditions can’t be excluded
  • Premium rates may only be based on:  age, state of residence, individual or family enrollment, and tobacco use
  • Coverage cannot be cancelled or denied because of the enrollee’s participation in clinical trials for cancer or other life-threatening conditions

I’ll continue with more scintillating info on Friday!  So, what do you think so far?  Did you know these facts?  How do you feel about them?  How do you think they’ll affect you and your family?

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What You Probably Don’t Know About the Affordable Care Act – Part I

During the past couple of years, I’ve written numerous insurance texts that are either devoted entirely to the Affordable Care Act or that contain chapters about it.  Formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, the media refers to this recent federal legislation as Obamacare.

I won’t bore you with details about provisions you already know, like the individual mandate and employer requirements going into effect on January 1, 2014.  I will provide you with lesser-known details that will either affect you directly or affect someone you know.  This first blog post discusses some changes that will go into effect in 2013.

(By the way, I have the text of the PPACA on my computer in PDF format; although I haven’t read all 974 pages of it, I have read significant portions of it and have conducted extensive research about it.)

As a warm-up, here are some of the provisions of the PPACA that have already been put into place:

  • Dependent coverage for adult children must now be provided on their parents’ health policies until age 26 (subject to requirements for being a “dependent”)
  • Certain types of preventive care is no longer subject to deductibles and copayments, such as mammograms and colonoscopies
  • Lifetime benefits have been eliminated
  • Annual benefits limits have been restricted
  • Pre-existing conditions limits may not be imposed upon children under age 19

Beginning in 2013, tax-deductibility of medical expenses will change.  At present, taxpayers are permitted to itemize and deduct medical expenses if those expenses exceed 7.5% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income.  This means if you earn $50,000 per year, you may itemize and deduct your medical expenses that exceed $3,750.  In 2013, the threshold increases to 10%.  So, if you earn $50,000 in 2013, you may only itemize and deduct your medical expenses that exceed $5,000.

If a person has a flexible spending account, the maximum contribution will be $2,500 beginning in 2013.  Up until that time, there has been no limit to contributions to this tax-advantaged plan that allows employees to designate a portion of their annual earnings to pay for qualified medical expenses.  (These funds are not taxed if used for qualified medical expenses.)

Also beginning in 2013, the Medicare tax rate for individuals who earn more than $200,000 per year will increase.  The same holds true for married taxpayers filing jointly if their combined wages are in excess of $250,000.  The increased tax rate applies to wages in excess of the thresholds.  These same individuals will also pay a higher Medicare tax rate on their investment income.

So, did you know these facts?  What are your thoughts?

Link to the text of the PPACA

Link to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation site about the PPACA

Link to the U.S. Department of HHS about the PPACA

LifeHealthPro’s list of articles about the PPACA

Link to Healthcare Reform Article by the New York Times