July 2010

In This Issue

 

New Health Promotion Coordinator Adds Value to NCMS Plan

In North Carolina, the annual cost of unhealthy nutrition, obesity, physical inactivity and tobacco use is approximately $4,768 per employee. The impact of unhealthy lifestyles is reflected in the NCMS Plan's cost of providing benefits and these costs continue to escalate.

The time to begin to control these expenses, through health promotion, is now! As research has shown, effective health promotion programs lead to better lifestyle choices, which in turn lead to a healthier population. In fact, a recent survey of 255 large employers in the U.S. found that employers with highly effective health and productivity management programs have cost increases that are:

5 times lower for sick leave;
4 times lower for long-term disability;
4 times lower for short-term disability; and,
3 times lower for general health care coverage.

The NCMS Plan is committed to health promotion and to helping you realize the benefits of an effective health promotion program.

We are pleased to announce that Jason Horay, MS, ATC, LAT, CHES, will serve as the NCMS Plan's Health Promotion Coordinator. Jason holds a B.S. in Sports Medicine, M.S. in Health Promotion and has over 10 years of experience in worksite wellness, most recently in a program management role at Duke University.

Jason states, "I look forward to partnering with practices to assess their worksite health promotion needs, to review and interpret NCMS Plan utilization data to target the most cost-productive areas, and to create a program action plan that will empower employees to maintain, improve and manage their health."

The NCMS Plan is excited to offer this consultative approach which partners with practices to identify specific short-term actions they can take to impact claim costs and put in place an effective program to help control claim costs over the long-term. This service is a value-added offering to your practice at no additional charge.

Together, we can start to create a healthier future. The sooner you begin a workplace wellness initiative, the faster you can realize both the financial and health rewards. If your practice is interested in promoting health among your employees and creating a culture of health, please contact Jason at mailto:Jason.Horay@mmicnc.com?subject=Health Promotion or 919-878-7530.

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Health Reform Creates Small Business Tax Credit

Many small businesses that provide health insurance coverage to their employees now qualify for a special tax credit (up to 35 percent), due to recent health care reform legislation. The credit, provided under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and available for the 2010 tax year, is designed to encourage small employers with fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees to offer health insurance coverage for the first time or maintain coverage they already have.

NCMS Plan participating practices can go to www.bcbsnc.com/taxcredit for more information. On the website is a tax credit calculator that you can use to determine if your practice is eligible for the tax credit and what the tax credit might be. More information and details can be found on the IRS website (http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=223666,00.html). If you have questions regarding the small business tax credit and whether you qualify, contact your tax advisor.

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Health Benefit Booklets Available Online

In order to reduce administrative costs and paper consumption, health benefit booklets will no longer be printed and mailed to members beginning August 1, 2010. Benefit booklets will be available to members online through Member Services, www.bcbsnc.com/members/ncms. Members are strongly encouraged to register for Member Services so they can access the health benefit booklet, as well as other online plan features and wellness programs like BluePoints and Member Health Partnerships. If you would like an electronic copy of a health benefit booklet for your practice, call us at 800-662-7917.

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Ask George

Question: George, our NCMS Plan health plan renews in August and two of our employees are considering enrolling on their spouse's employer's group health plan. We have six eligible employees total and currently all six are enrolled. Will their change jeopardize our ability to continue to participate in the NCMS Plan?

Answer: The NCMS Plan's requirement is that at least 75% of eligible employees be enrolled. In the count of eligible employees in your group there can be employees that are "eligible waivers" and therefore do not count against your practice for the participation calculation. The Plan considers an eligible waiver as being an eligible employee who elects coverage under a spouse's group health plan or an eligible employee who is covered by a government-sponsored health plan such as Tricare or Medicare.

Based on the information you have presented regarding the two employees electing their spouse's group coverage, they are eligible waivers and your group remains compliant with NCMS eligibility.

To further illustrate:

You have 6 eligible employees. Subtract the 2 employees with eligible waivers (i.e. other group health coverage) and you are left with 4 employees, all of which are enrolled in the NCMS Plan. This is 100% participation.

If you have questions about your practice's compliance with NCMS Plan participation requirements, please contact me at 919-878-7561 or george.fanelli@mmicnc.com.

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NCMS Plan Dental: Eligible Dependent Coverage to Age 26

Effective August 1, 2010, eligible dependents can remain on NCMS Plan Dental (underwritten by MetLife) until age 26 regardless of student status. This amendment to our dental policy will now match the NCMS Plan Health eligibility provision. NCMS Plan Dental policies renew August 1st for all practices, regardless of group health effective dates. Rates will not change August 1, 2010 as the NCMS Plan enters the second year of a two-year rate guarantee.

If your practice is interested in NCMS Plan Dental, please contact us at 800-662-7917 or mailto:elizabeth.fetherolf@mmicnc.com?subject=NCMS Plan Dental.

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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/.