Jonathan Edewards

Breaking News! Cedars-Sinai Joins Blue Shield PPO Network—March 2015

In-Demand Hospital finally becomes accessible to many residents who live on Los Angeles’ West side.

On January 26, Cedars’ website was updated to show Blue Shield’s Individual and Family Plan (IFP) PPO options as “in-network”.

Screenshot of cedars-sinai.edu taken on1/29/15

Screenshot of Cedars’ Insurance Page taken on 1/29/15.

These plans are available both “on-exchange” (through a Covered California Certified Agent) and “off-exchange” (directly through a Blue Shield agent).  There is no difference between “on” and “off” exchange plans; simply a different method of submitting an application for coverage.  (Purchasing an on-exchange plan is the only method to apply for a tax credit/subsidy, however).

Blue Shield’s plans have been the lowest-cost PPO plans available in LA County for the last two years, but the lack of access to Cedars-Sinai was previously a disadvantage that was a deal breaker to many people who live nearby in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and Los Angeles, or who value the hospital’s excellent reputation.Print

Now, many people may consider switching plans to take advantage of the premium savings.  However, the opportunity to change plans (or enroll in a new plan) closes with the end of Open Enrollment on February 15, 2015.

Blue Shield also offers excellent Dental and Vision Insurance options, but only when enrolling “Off-exchange”. (Covered California has plans to offer Dental options, but the rollout has been delayed.

If you would like to explore your options with Blue Shield (or any other insurance company) call me at 626-676-3466 and I’ll be happy to provide advice and assistance.

Or, click THIS LINK or the photos below to explore your options online.

 

 

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How much is the penalty for not buying Health Insurance?

Starting January 1, 2014, most consumers must have health insurance. This may be through your employer, coverage you buy for yourself, Medicare, or Medi-Cal.

Consumers who don’t have health insurance may have to pay a penalty called a “shared responsibility fee” that increases each year up to a maximum amount.

2015: The fee is 2% or $325 per adult, plus kids.

In 2015, the fee is 2% of the annual household income, or $325 per adult, whichever is higher.

In 2016, the fee increases to 2.5% or $695 per adult, whichever is higher.

For example, the chart below shows the penalty with the maximum for an uninsured household of four:
Health-Insurance-Penalty-Fee-2015-2016
If you’re uninsured for just part of the year (longer than 3 months), you pay a pro-rated penalty.  That is, 1/12 of the yearly penalty for each month you’re uninsured.

The penalty is due when you file your taxes at tax time.

Remember, if you are uninsured you also pay 100% of your medical costs.

The Good News: Help is Available.

If you can’t afford either the monthly premiums or the penalty, there is help available.  Call me at 626-676-3466 and we can discuss your options.

 

Customer Service Matters – The Hartford

Will you be treated right?

When things go wrong–and even for every day needs like billing and showing proof of coverage–you want an insurance company that responds quickly and efficiently.  An insurance agent can help you when the insurance company is slow to respond, but why not start out with the best?

When it comes to customer service and satisfaction, I think that The Hartford Insurance Company is one of the best available.  I’ve personally seen The Hartford respond time and time again, and they are unfailingly pleasant and eager to help.

If you aren’t receiving the customer service that you’d like, and you are losing money because you are wasting time trying to fix insurance problems, call me and we’ll get you started with The Hartford immediately.

 

[UPDATE SEPT 2017:  Unfortunately, due to poor loss experience (higher than anticipated claims) The Hartford has discontinued issuing new Homeowners & Auto policies in the state of California. They will continue to offer Business Insurance and other types of insurance and financial products.]

Making your home earthquake safe; Retrofitting

Earthquake Insurance for homes and condos typically carries a requirement that the dwelling be bolted to the foundation.  Many older homes were not built this way and require a specialized contractor to retrofit a home for earthquake safety. A recent article in the Pasadena Star News interviews one such contractor:

Highlights:

  • Typical cost to retrofit a home for earthquake safety is: $4,000
  • Many homes in San Marino and Beverly Hills already are bolted, but most other areas are not.
  • Bolts should be space 6ft apart for one-story dwellings, and 4ft apart for 2 story dwellings.
  • Foundations made of brick or river rock (as opposed to concrete) may require a new secondary foundation, which costs much more, ~$25,000.

Greg Sylvis retrofits homes to make them earthquake safe – SGVTribune.com.

Earthquake Insurance can be quite costly, often equal to or more than the homeowners policy, but some rates are decreasing.

The California Earthquake Authority (CEA) has announced that its statewide rates will decrease on average 12.5%, effective Jan. 1, 2012, for new and renewal CEA policies.

The California Earthquake Authority (CEA) is a publicly managed, largely privately funded organization that provides catastrophic residential earthquake insurance through private insurance companies, including to Safeco’s property insurance customers.

There are other alternatives to the CEA, including GeoVera Insurance Company, Travelers Insurance, and CIG Insurance companies, and rates vary widely between companies depending on the specific address of each home.