November 2008

In This Issue

 

NCMS Plan Steady in Midst of Financial Upheaval

One day the markets drop more than ever...the next day, the biggest gain ever. Some banks close, others merge. Huge sums of money and global cooperation are discussed as part of the solution to get the financial markets back on track. The latest financial news effects us all, some more than others. The emotional rollercoaster of reading financial headlines is stressful and unnerving...and many have not even seen their quarterly retirement statements yet.

The NCMS Plan maintains a focus on the long-term financial stability of the Plan. Our goal is to preserve the assets that protect our Plan and pay the claims incurred by you and your employees. Because the NCMS Plan's Board of Trustees and investment management team share this singular focus, your Plan is capable of meeting its financial responsibility to you, your employees, and the more than 1,000 participating practices. With a focus on stable short-term securities and a well-diversified conservative portfolio, the Plan remains well capitalized and able to meet our financial requirements.

Thank you for the trust you vest in us to provide your employee benefits and manage the NCMS Plan's assets responsibly and in your best interest.

Mellon HSA Announces Change

Effective October 2008, Mellon HSA Solution will offer a new HSA investment platform. Mellon provides HSA (Health Savings Account) administration to many NCMS Plan practices and their employees. The enhanced investment platform will provide HSA account holders a seamless and affordable way to invest for the long-term. Offering a wider variety of no load, highly-rated mutual funds, the enhanced platform includes a host of features:

  • No Investment Minimums: Once account holders reach $2,000 in their checking account, they can begin investing with no minimum investment required.
  • No Transaction Costs: Provides account holders freedom to move between mutual funds and move dollars back to their checking account.
  • Automatic Investment Service: A way for HSA savings to be automatically transferred into, out of, or within a selection of mutual funds. A great way to take advantage of dollar-cost-averaging.

Mellon will communicate these enhancements to all HSA account holders through their HSA statements. Account holders currently invested in Dreyfus funds (the former investment platform) will be asked to liquidate their investments by January 31, 2009. Step-by-step instructions will be provided to these account holders.

A monthly fee of $2.90 (deducted from individual accounts) will be charged to use the new investment platform.

Copy/Paste

Online Health Assessment

Feel free to customize and share this article with your employees in your newsletter, on your intranet, by e-mail, or on a bulletin board.

Would you like to know more about your own personal health? You can in just 20 minutes. That’s all it takes for you to complete an online health assessment. Where can you find this comprehensive tool? Simply visit the NCMS Plan's Member Services page at http://www.bcbsnc.com/members/ncms/home.stm, click Member Services and sign in with your Userid and Password. Go to Member News and click on “Take the Health Profile Survey.” You will have taken the first step toward providing yourself with a personalized health report. The assessment is specific to you and will address your own risk factors and includes a detailed summary of your health.

Before you get started, it is helpful to have a tape measure handy (or already have measured your waistline approximately 2 inches below your belly button.) If you know the dates of your most recent physical and have test results, have them on hand as well.

Once you have completed the health survey, you will be provided with a numeric score as well as a peer average score so that you can compare the two. You can also see how changing your behavior can change your risk of developing certain conditions. You will also be given the opportunity to sign up for Online Healthy Living Programs.

Take the online health assessment and make the decision today to start down the road to health and wellness!

Ask George

Question: Our practice has an NCMS Plan dental product underwritten by Metlife. I have an employee who asked me if the contract year for her dental benefits matches the calendar year or not. Basically, she wants to know if the contract year maximum starts over and if the deductible resets on January 1st. Does it?

Answer: Actually, it does not. The NCMS Plan's Metlife dental contract year is 8/1 to 7/31 for all practices regardless of the original group effective date. Of the four NCMS Plan dental products, it appears that your group has selected Plan D since it is the only option with a deductible. The initial dollar amount you must incur before Metlife will assume liability for any remaining costs due to dental claims is $50 per covered individual. The deductible is waived for preventive services. This deductible has a per individual family limit of $150 meaning that only three people in a given family must meet the deductible. The contract year maximum under Plan D is $1,500. Both the deductible and the contract year maximum reset every August 1st.

For comparison, the other NCMS Plan dental products, Plans A through C, each have no deductible but do have different contract year maximums. Plan A has a contract year maximum of $1,000, Plan B's contract year maximum is $1,250, and Plan C has a contract year maximum of $1,500. Again - all NCMS Plan dental products will reset any deductible and contract year maximums on each August 1st.

George Fanelli is an Account Service Representative for the NCMS Plan. If you have a question you would like answered in a future issue of CHOICES, e-mail George at george.fanelli@mmicnc.com.

Revised NCMS Plan Enrollment/Change Form

Due to additional disclosures required by ERISA (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act), the NCMS Plan Employee Enrollment Application And Change Form has been revised. Specific changes were the addition of two required notices on the last page: the Women's Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998 (WHCRA) notice and the Special Enrollment Rights notice (noting ability of member to add dependent(s) at some point in future if qualifying event occurs).

The revised form can be accessed online at http://www.medicalmutualgroup.com/mmic/media/pdf/ncmedsoc_plan/APP002C_0708_Employee_Enrollment_Application_Change_Form.pdf. Hard copies are available upon request. Please begin using the new form with your next enrollment or change.

Blue Points Program to Change in 2009

Beginning January 1, 2009, the Blue Points incentive program for physical and wellness activities is changing. There will be more ways to earn rewards while getting in shape and living a healthier life. Your employees will be able to choose from an all-new selection of rewards, including gift cards from popular retailers.

Your employees can keep earning points to redeem any of the current prizes until December 31, 2008. Current points must be redeemed by December 31st and will not carry over on January 1. All participants will start with a zero balance on the first day of the new Blue Points program.

Employees will be notified of these changes when accessing their online Blue Points activity log.

Dedicated NCMS Plan Service Representative

Over the past three years, Brooke Davis has been the NCMS Plan's dedicated service representative for enrollment and billing issues at BCBSNC (the health plan administrator). She has been a primary point of contact for practice administrators. Brooke has provided both the Plan and our participating practices with reliable and responsive service. Sadly for us, Brooke is transferring to another position, but we are pleased to announce that her replacement has been named and is very familiar with the NCMS Plan.

Kimberly Pryor will take over Brooke's role effective immediately. Kimberly has many years of experience, including familiarity with the NCMS Plan as a back up to Brooke. Please make a note of Kimberly's name and her phone number, 919-765-1741. The e-mail address and fax number will not change (ncms@bcbsnc.com and 919-765-3564, respectively).

Kimberly is a contact for practice administrators only, not individual employees or dependents. She can assist you with adding employees or dependents, cancellations, address changes, or other routine maintenance and billing issues.

Of course, George Fanelli (Account Service Representative, MMIC Agency) will continue to assist you with any other concerns you may have.

Practice Manager's Forum

PractEssentials Launches New Practice Management Consulting Services

Declining reimbursement and soaring operating costs are two of the most important challenges facing your practice today. Have you laid the foundation yet for the improvements you need to make? How will you identify the specific areas that need improvement?

To assist your practice with these ever-increasing challenges, PractEssentials, a North Carolina Medical Society Foundation initiative, provides a variety of consulting services designed to help your practice identify potential problem areas, evaluate options, and implement solutions. All consulting services are provided at a discounted fee structure for North Carolina Medical Society members. Call today to learn how PractEssentials' personalized services can help your practice: (800) 722-1350

If you would like to submit an item for publication in the Practice Manager's Forum, e-mail gary.bossert@mmicnc.com. If your article is selected for inclusion, you will receive a token of our appreciation for participating in this forum.

NCMS Membership Invoices

NCMS membership runs on a calendar year, and dues invoices have been distributed for 2009. Your practice's continuing participation in the NCMS Plan requires 100% physician membership in the NCMS. To learn more about the products and services available to NCMS members, visit http://www.ncmedsoc.org/, or contact the NCMS for more information.

Whether the challenge is access to health care, scope of practice, reimbursement, or fighting the obstacles to providing quality health care on a daily basis, your most powerful relationship is with your professional organization, the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS).

About the North Carolina Medical Society

As the largest physician organization in the state, the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) is devoted to representing the interests of physicians and protecting the quality of patient care. The NCMS Plan, sponsored by the NCMS, is the only statewide employee benefits plan designed specifically for North Carolina physicians.

For more information about many other benefits of NCMS membership, visit http://www.ncmedsoc.org/.

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