Welcome to Insurance Talk. This is Cheri Martinen from Bancorp Insurance. Bancorp Insurance is an independently owned insurance agency located in beautiful La Pine, Oregon. I am here today with a very special guest, Bob Sirovatka. He is the Senior Individual Sales Executive for Oregon and Clark County with Regence.
It is now open enrollment period for individuals that are between the ages of 18 to 65. But a little qualifier on that because not everyone needs to do anything. If you’re on employer group plans, there will be an open enrollment generally around this time as well. If you’re on a large group employer plan. It may be around this time, it may not. But when we’re talking about our individual open enrollment, that is just folks who have individual and family plans that they either pay for on their own or with some assistance through our governmental marketplace.
Why Choose a Regence Individual Health Plan for 2023?
The reason why, if I were a consumer, why I would choose Regence over some of our competitors would be a couple of things. First, being on the inside, I’m well aware of how good our customer service levels are. For many, many years in a row, we’ve been rated right at the top of all the best plans in the country and we have a great local group of people in a number of our markets around Oregon as well as the Pacific Northwest that answer our phones, who know our networks, who know our physicians and medical groups. So, when members call with questions, it’s not as if you’re talking to someone who is located elsewhere in the country and doesn’t know the local area. That to me as a member and a client is really important to talk to somebody who’s local and to get the right answers the first time.
So that’s probably the biggest reason. One of the other reasons many of our folks join is because of our affiliation with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and in Oregon we hold both of those licenses, which gives people a real feeling of peace of mind, of just knowing that they’re with a trusted name in the insurance business and that when they have an emergency or care needed when they’re traveling, that there are providers all across the country and even many, many, many parts of the world for emergencies that they can go to and get the kind of care they need and know that they’ll be taken care of.
What is the Regence Blue Card?
There’s something that is embedded in all of our Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans that we sell locally and it’s something that is at least internally and, in the market, referred to as the Blue Card. And maybe for some of your listeners who may not be as familiar with the inside baseball, sort of thoughts on that is Blue Cross and Blue Shield are brands, if you will, or licenses that the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association divvies up to different insurance companies across the country. There are 34 different Blue Cross and or Blue Shield insurance plans across the country. There are some who are in many, many, many states and there are some that are only in one state or there are regions where we are in four states. We have a Blue Shield plan in Washington, we have a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan in Oregon and Utah, and then again, a Blue Shield plan in Idaho.
There are competitors in those in the states where we only have the shield. There is a cross company in Washington and Idaho, but in Utah and Oregon for instance, we own the license to both the Cross and the Shield. Again, it’s a little bit in the weeds inside the industry kind of talk, but I think it’s important that members recognize that if you moved, let’s say from Florida or California for instance, up to Oregon and you have the idea, you just want to transfer your coverage from let’s say Blue Shield of California up to regions. It’s not the same company. We’re two completely different companies. It’s a little like Target versus Walmart. They do a lot of similar things, and they may even do them in similar ways, but they are two different companies. In our case, it’s closer to what you might think of in a franchise or maybe a car brand where you bought a car at a dealership that holds the, let’s just use the Toyota brand in California.
You come up to Oregon and you can still have your Toyota serviced at a Toyota dealer in Oregon. But those dealerships are owned by different people. And I think that’s a little bit of a closer analogy, but we all have standards that we have to abide by being a member of the association. As far as how our plans are administered, the billing procedures, quality metrics, how quickly we answer our phones, lots of internal things that are standardized between all the companies across the country that carry a shield or a cross. That means to members is that if you find yourself with a region’s policy and you are traveling, whether for pleasure or business to let’s just say New York City and you have an urgent need for medical care, something has happened that requires care right away, whether it’s an what we call urgent care or an emergency, you have in network coverage when you go to a Blue Cross and or Blue Shield Hospital or Urgent Care Center, that’s part of what we call the Blue Card Network.
And it’s if you’re in network or you’re seeing an in-network provider in the state where you are like New York, then it will be covered as in-network for us and your member back home. For individual plans, that only applies for emergency and urgent care, where on many large employers plans it applies to discretionary care or elective care as well because they may be an employee who happens to reside in New York even though the company may be located in Oregon. With large, large companies that are based in Oregon, they have employees across the country or in a couple different areas. That’s where that blue car really, really comes in. Some things have evolved over the years since the Affordable Care Act has come into play and that’s why it’s only limited now to emergency and urgent care when you’re traveling. And then we have something else called Global Core, which is similar, but when one travels overseas, so if you’re in Western Europe or Asia or different parts of the world, if you were to need emergency care, there are many, many providers and hospitals across those parts of the world where you can go and get in network care there.
Sometimes even not having to pay for that care up front or on a credit card, they will just bill us. So there’s some real benefits of being with the Blues as we’d like to say.
I think it creates a lot of brand loyalty too, like when people maybe had it does Regence with a group employer when they are looking on the marketplace or they’re looking, looking to go direct maybe they just got off of employer for the first time, they’ll look at regions.
We had a little saying internally for a long time about members for Life, which I’m sure we’re not unique in because most insurance companies have different lines of business, whether it’s large employer groups or individual or Medicare. We all would love to keep our members with us for the long haul. All of us do a lot of things to do that and the best way to do it is to provide great service and a good value for the money. And if you treat people well on the front end, chances are it will pay off in the long term. Everybody can recognize that in whatever business they’re in.
Benefits of Regence Individual Health Plans in 2023
It’s just a nice little added bonus of what you can do to keep yourself healthy and mind your wellness journey if you will. And you know, when you’re incentivized to do something and you take advantage of it, it tends to make people feel a little more engaged with their health and if they’re more engaged, they’re more likely to correct bad behaviors and or continue doing things that are good for their health. And that helps not only them, but it may also help us as well. So that’s one of the bigger things that we’ve increased numbers on this year. But you know, along with being a member on our plans, there are a few things that we include. We call them Regence advantages, things like active and fit memberships that come as a discount for being part of a Regence plan. So, you know, know many thousands of fitness places, gyms across the country where they can get a discount for being a member and even if they’re traveling they can go to one across the country, savings on Fitbits and even the subscriptions that are sold alongside of those or discounts on hearing aids or LASIK surgery, all kinds of different things where people find benefits that are included at no extra cost just for being a member with us.
There are a number of things that I would think of, of reasons why someone would want to enroll with Regence or things that we offer that perhaps our competitors don’t. One of them is an increase in our wellness program and that gives people a good reason, tangible reason to do the things that they might otherwise want to do. Things like getting your annual wellness exam will pay $25 per person, per adult I should say, to get a cancer screening or a vision or a dental exam to connect an electronic app like a Fitbit, something like that, so that you can track what your health is doing on a regular basis, which generally means you’re going to pay more attention to what your health is or a health assessment will pay different dollar amounts for each of those things, but totaling up to a hundred dollars per adult and 25 per dependence.
We’re trying really hard to offer things that members want and would benefit from. But the main reason why people would come with us is because we’re a trusted brand name and they know will be there when they have something go wrong with their health or if they just want to stay healthy.
And I know for our local area we do have a couple Silver and Fit gyms and so it’s really easy to use. Yes, that is correct, I mean I’ve used it myself. It’s a little bit of paperwork. Yeah. But pretty fast. And then of course Regence works with St. Charles, so anything you got going on, you’re going to St. Charles Regence, is there? Yep. And Bend Memorial Clinic as well. There are all the providers that I can possibly think of. I have not ever found a provider that wasn’t in our individual and family network when I’ve had the opportunity to look them up and bend.
My guess would be not to be overselling the issue. There probably are a few independent providers that aren’t in a network at all, but our network that we use for our individual and family plans is the exact same one that we use for all of our group plans throughout Oregon, with the exception of a couple places in Portland. It’s a really, really broad network with all the physicians and obviously St. Charles that people are going to want with that assurance that if something does happen to them or their loved one, that they’ll be able to get the coverage they need and not be hit with surprises after the fact. And that’s really why you buy insurance.
How Does Regence Support the Local Community?
Up in the area where I live in the Portland area, we’re heavily involved with Boys and Girls clubs, but in other parts of the state we’ve got something we call the Four Corners Project where we try to identify areas that are really, really racked with poverty and do things that make a real tangible difference, whether it’s in food or housing. And one of those areas in Oregon is down in Medford in central Oregon. We are looking for ways to be even more involved than we are with just really, really local kind of sponsorship things.
Part of that means the people that work for Regence who live in the local areas we’re all encouraged to get out into the community and do things. We’re provided volunteer hours to go and volunteer at different places. I know a lot of us feel very connected to doing that at the local food banks just to try and give back a little bit. We’re blessed to have good jobs with a great company, and we recognize not everybody is that fortunate. And as a company we take that really seriously as well.
We do Meals on Wheels Weekly here at Bancorp as well and then give at other locations when needed. So, it’s definitely something that’s close to our heart as well. To learn more about our community involvement in La Pine, click here.
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What is the OHP Unwinding?
The OHP Unwinding is a result of being post-pandemic. If you’re on Oregon Health Plan, there were some different kinds of determinations done during the public health emergency at the beginning of covid that allowed a lot more people eligibility than may have had it earlier, but obviously a lot more people were disadvantaged for their jobs being taken away and their incomes going away and so forth at the beginning of the shutdown. OHP was a wonderful safety net. However, at some point we need to get back on track from a larger perspective and really take another hard look and an accounting of who’s really eligible and who’s not. Make sure that those who are stay on OHP and for those whose incomes have increased a bit to get them into the marketplace and get a private insurance plan with a subsidy or an advanced premium tax credit.
When that happens, there’ll be a bit of surprise to some people because you get used to the way things are and having coverage provided for no cost is a, a really nice benefit. If you get a letter in the mail telling you that you need to do a couple of steps to maintain coverage that may get forgotten, that may get put off. And fortunately, one of those notices will likely include the extra message, contact the local agent and probably will have a couple of links and resources to find people like Cheri and other great insurance agents around so that you can get somebody to, to help figure out what your options are.
I know we don’t want anyone freaking out during open enrollment. You I know, right? So right now the individual open enrollment, we haven’t said it yet, but it starts November 1st and ends this year on January 15th. If you are still on o p and have not got notice of cancellation continue on o p until at some point you get a notice of cancellation. If that notice of cancellation comes, then you can come speak to us at Bancorp Insurance. So we will be helping individuals that get those notice of cancellation letters from o p all year long. There is not a special time that you have to come in. It is when you get the letter, come and see us right away and that letter’s pretty clear. They tell you, they’re like, you are canceling on this date.
So as soon as you get it, make the appointment, come on in, we’ll do a quick quote with you, we’ll show you Regence plans. That’s right. And we’ll get you enrolled. And like Bob said, those subsidies are advanced premium tax credits really can make it so that this coverage is affordable. We have people come in and their coverage is below $10 or maybe, depending on your income, under a hundred is normal. Like really, really normal. And I know you’re thinking, gosh, I went from zero to 50, but you’re getting a great plan. Right. We just talked about all the benefits that come with choosing a company like Regence.
Generally, the networks that the private insurance companies offer tend to be much broader than the OHP provider panel. So, you’re also getting access to oftentimes many more physicians as well.
Yep. So if you have that specialist or that one doctor you couldn’t see on ohp, chances are you could go back to them when you’re on an individual or family plan.
You know? And one of the other things that’s important because of where you’re located, Shere, you guys, particularly in La Pine, you’re a little bit out away from a whole lot of civilization. And even when you’re in Bend, you have a limited number of providers and specialists because of what a destination Bend, Oregon has become in Deschutes County in a broader sense. There are a lot of providers who want to live there as well. So, you’re actually a beneficiary of having such a beautiful location and draws a lot more high-end specialists than many other smaller areas around the state. But there are times when specialists that your clients may need are not accessible locally. You may need to go to Portland, you may need to go to Boise or Salt Lake or Seattle or somewhere else. All of those areas are within our network.
We’ve got some of the best physicians in the country up at OHSU in Portland and or at University of Washington in Seattle. And we recognize that there are times when people’s medical needs are really, really serious and we make sure that our provider panel has the physicians that are needed to take care of anything that may happen, whether it’s cancer or a transplant or anything slightly less than that. Let’s hope you don’t need something more serious than that, but we’re here.
Insurance for Peace of Mind for What May Happen!
That’s really what insurance does is, it’s peace of mind for what may happen. I always recall when I was being licensed many years ago, insurance is there to keep a medical catastrophe from becoming a financial catastrophe. That’s the whole point of having the insurance before you need it so that you’re covered when you actually do have a healthcare need. And hopefully none of your listeners have major things that come upon them during the holidays. But having insurance when you actually need to use it is really, really important.
It’s true. It’s one of the reasons why we continue to offer health insurance at our agency. We’re the only agency in South Deschutes County to do so, and we service all of Northern Klamath and Northern Lake as well because we realize how important it is. All right. Bob, you got a few more minutes. Is there anything else you wanna add?
You know, I would just, if I were putting on my sales guy hat, I would just say, you know, do your due diligence. Talk to somebody at Bancorp and make sure that you go through what your needs are. They have standard kind of questions that they will ask to make sure that they’re getting you on the type of plan that’s best for you. And it’s not always about costs only, that’s, that’s certainly the main piece that a lot of clients look at because that’s what comes out of their checking account. However, there are some other things to make sure that you keep in mind when you’re looking at different health insurance plans. If you see a doctor regularly, if you hardly ever see one or something in between, there’s a plan that may have just the right coverage. We’ve got some plans that have a limited number of copay visits per year.
I kind of refer to it almost as a hybrid plan because if you have a plan that gives you unlimited number of copays at a physician, realize part of what goes into the premium is that unlimited number of copays that costs us some money on predicting. And if you have a plan that gives you a limited number, let’s say four per year, because you want that piece of mind for just in case, that plan will cost you less than unlimited. So keep in mind what it is you actually use healthcare for and how often and agents will be able to kind of guide you to the right plan at the right price. And it, it really helps in knowing that you’ve done your due diligence, not, it’s not a one size fits all. We’ve got a number of different plans with different benefits in them.
To enroll in a Regence Individual Health Plan for 2023, simply request an appointment with one of our insurance agents via phone at (800) 452-6826 or on our online calendar.
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Disclaimer: This content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with our agents.