Category Archives: Health Insurance

Understanding the Affordable Care Act

connecticut health insuranceEffective October 1, 2013, the Affordable Care Act goes into effect.  This allows CT residents to purchase their health care through a “health insurance exchange” or marketplace.  Access Health CT is Connecticut’s official health insurance marketplace.  It offers residents and small employers a range of qualified health care coverage options from health insurance carriers and public health care programs.  You can get the coverage you need online, over the phone or in person.

Enrollment is now till March 31, 2014.

Some common questions you may have regarding Access Health CT

Will I be able to get a plan with a strong network of doctors and clinics?

Yes: For insurance carriers to be included in Access Health CT, Connecticut’s health insurance marketplace, they must meet certain requirements. One is that their plans include a strong network of doctors and clinics.

What are the tax penalties for individuals and small businesses that do not sign up for health care coverage?

As of January 1, 2014, most U.S. residents will be required to have health care coverage.  The federal government has set the following tax penalties for individuals who do not have coverage:

  • For 2014, $95 or 1% of your gross household income over the federal income tax filing threshold-whichever is greater. (the federal income tax filing threshold is $9,500 for an individual or $19,500 if married filing jointly)
  • For 2015, $325 or 2% of your gross household income over the federal income filing threshold-whichever is greater.
  • For 2016, $695 or 2.5% of your gross household income over the federal income tax filing threshold-whichever is greater.

The law provides exemptions for certain individuals, including those below a certain income and those who cannot afford the coverage that’s available.

If you are a business owner with fewer than full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees, you will not have to pay a penalty if you do not provide insurance to your employees.  If you have more than 50 FTE employees and do not provide insurance to your employees, you may be subject to penalties beginning in 2014.

We understand that all the new regulations may be hard to understand, so always be sure to talk with your health insurance agent for accurate information.

Contact Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance for more information regarding the new Health Insurance laws.  We will direct you to our Health Insurance Agent.


CT Receives $9.7 Million in Grants for Health Centers

Connecticut is getting $9.7 million in federal grants for community health centers as part of a series of capital investments related to federal health care reform. The new Affordable Health Care Act includes $9.5 billion to expand services nationally over a five year period and $1.5 billion to support construction and renovation projects at community centers. Thanks to this grant, the health centers will be able to serve thousands of new patients.

Funding includes two types of grants.

1. Building Capacity

2. Improve Facility’s Program

Recipients include $5 million for the Community Health & Wellness Center of Greater Torrington; $3.5 million for East Hartford Community Healthcare Inc.; $485,850 for Cornell Scott Hill Health Corp. in New Haven; $500,000 for Generations Family Health Center Inc. in Willimantic; and $232,098 for Staywell Health Care, Inc. in Waterbury.

Community health centers, for many Americans, are the major source of care that ranges from prevention to treatment of chronic diseases. This investment will expand U.S. Health and Human Services’ ability to provide high quality care to millions of people while supporting good paying jobs in communities across the country.

For information on the health center program, click here .

Source: Courant

$1.3 Billion Health Insurance Rebates

Rebates totaling $1.3 billion from health insurance companies should go to more than 3 million individual policyholders and thousands of employers this year because of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Here’s how the law works:

– Insurers covering individual consumers and small employers must spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they collect on medical care and quality improvements. The benchmark is 85 percent of premiums for insurers covering large employers.

– Insurance companies must provide rebates if they do not meet those standards.

Who gets refunds:

– Almost one-third of consumers in the individual market will get rebates averaging $127. These are consumers who are not covered by an employer and purchase their policies directly from an insurance company.

– Average amounts will vary significantly by state. The highest will be paid to consumers in Alaska (average of $305), Maryland ($294) and Pennsylvania ($243). On the opposite side of the scale, no individual market insurers in Hawaii, Maine and Washington, D.C., expect to issue rebates.

– Nationwide, rebates to individual consumers will total $426 million.

– In the small employer market, 146 insurance plans covering nearly 5 million workers and dependents will issue $377 million in refunds. Employers do not have to pass those on to workers. They can also opt for a discount on next year’s premiums.

-In the large employer market, 125 plans covering 7.5 million workers and dependents will issue $541 million in rebates.

Source Seattle Times

Affordable Health Care – Is it Really Affordable?

The new Obama Care Law also known as Affordable Health Care Act is the hype nowadays. The bill hasn’t been passed yet, the Supreme Court will make a decision in June, but how this is going to play out in the next two years is going to be great for some or hinder many others with a burden.

There are obviously pros and cons to this act. The pros: preventative care, free wellness visits with doctors, insurance companies can’t deny coverage on pre-existing conditions, putting caps on deductibles, and the lower the income the lower the cap. Sounds good so far. Let’s look at the cons: shortage of doctors, supply doesn’t meet demand, the dreaded fine that everyone is worried about. That’s right. There will be a fine of $695/year if you don’t have health insurance (if the act was to pass).

This new health care law can go both ways. People living in poverty won’t be able to do much if they can’t afford it and it seems a bit unfair for them to pay the fine when they couldn’t do anything about it in the first place. I had mentioned a month before how young adults aged 18-26 were without health care and some are now on their parent’s healthcare because of the law passed in 2008-2009. The ones that aren’t on their parent’s healthcare can’t afford them on their own either and instead of saving the money, the government plans to rob them of it by fining them for failing to maintain insurance. The young adults that are living on their own have other responsibilities to take care of too such as housing, food, gas, etc without having to worry about paying the fine.

Overall, the government isn’t taking into consideration the poor and elderly in this whole Affordable Care Act. The ones that have much to lose with this new act are the ones who are unemployed (currently at 8.2 percent), living in poverty and the elderly. I wonder if Obama is trying to pass this just to get another term. Wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. After all, the government hasn’t thought about the people in a long time. It’s all about “What’s in it for me?”

What are your thoughts about the new Healthcare?

Courtesy of News-Leader

Health Insurance: Where Does the Money Go?

No matter what type of insurance you’re buying, the question of everybody’s mind is “Why is insurance so expensive?” In this topic, I will explain where and who the money goes to in health insurance.

It’s not a surprise that Americans are worried about the rising cost of healthcare. Most young adults aged 18-26 were without health insurance up until the health care act went into place. Yet, it seems every year the costs for the premium keep on rising. Let’s take a look as to why the premiums are on the rise.

When it comes to insurance, almost everybody thinks that insurance companies make big profits from these premiums but the truth is, only 3 cents of every dollar goes towards the insurance company profit. The rest? It’s divided into hospital, doctors and other medical services. To get a better understanding, see picture below.

According to government data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the country’s two largest healthcare expenditures last year were hospital care (31% of all expenditures) and physician care (20% of all expenditures).

What does all that have to do with the rising cost of health premiums? Well, when there is an increased utilization of such services as hospital care and physician care, the price tend to increase as well and that causes the premiums to rise.

Here’s a breakdown of what caused the prices to increase since 2008. One quarter of the reason for the rising health insurance was increased use of medical services (because of population increase). Thirty percent of the rise in premiums was due to increase in the price of healthcare services as well as the use of new technology and those prices increased because the competition decreased between medical service providers. The remaining 45 percent increase was due to inflation.

Here’s a short video to explain it better.

All we can do now is hope that in the future the price would come down but knowing the new mandates and taxes are going to be included in the healthcare law, I doubt the prices will be going down anytime soon.

CT Disability Insurance

When it comes to insurance, some people look the other way and think to themselves “What’s the worse that could happen? or, “That wouldn’t happen to me.” The truth is, life is unpredictable. Accidents happen and even though you can prevent most of them from happening, the best thing to do is to be prepared. That’s where insurance comes in. Insurance is a form of risk management that protects you and your interests in times of uncertain loss. Some people live their whole lives without using insurance (except life insurance if they have it) while others use insurance many times throughout their lives. Either way, it is best to have insurance so you don’t end up paying for the losses out of your pocket.

In this topic, we are going to talk about Disability Insurance. This type of insurance covers the beneficiary’s earned income against the risk that a disability will make work uncomfortable, painful or impossible. In other words, if you get injured and are unable to go to work, your insurance policy will pay you for the loss that incurred because of that.

There are many types of disability insurance but the most common one is ‘Workers Compensation’. It is offered through the employer and pays for employees who are unable to work because of a job related injury. If your employer doesn’t provide workers’ comp, then you should consider buying the Individual Disability Insurance since you don’t know when you’ll be injured and as mentioned before, it’s always better to be prepared than sorry.

If you’re considering buying disability insurance (DI), you should also consider health insurance. Health insurance pays for your hospital bills while the DI pays for your time off work. Here’s an example of how crucial disability insurance can be. A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with Lymphoma. It’s a type of cancer and luckily it was caught early in the stage. He has health insurance which paid for his hospital bills but he failed to get the disability insurance. He had to request absence of leave from work because of chemo therapy and the loss of income was not covered. He now relies solely on help from his family and friends and that could be a difficult process to go through. To top it all off, it was unexpected too. Who’d have thought a 23 year old to have cancer? He certainly didn’t think it would happen to him but everything in life in unpredictable which is why we encourage you to have disability insurance. It could help you out in your greatest time of need.

If you would like to get a quote, don’t hesitate to call us at 860 684 2721 or visit our website for more information.

Health Care Tax Deductions

Did you know 81 percent of respondents had out-of-pocket health care expenses in 2011 but only 34 percent plan on deducting those costs from their taxes? The following infographic will help consumers understand that they can deduct out-of-pocket health costs and provide steps to file those health care expenses.

Deducting Health Care Costs
Courtesy of