June 2018

In This Issue
•Manage Health Care Costs Using Cost Estimator
•Handling Employee Complaints: Minimizing Legal Risk
•IRS Revises 2018 HSA Limit (Again) and Announces 2019 HSA Limits
•Ask Rachel
•Looking for Ways to Financially Support Your Wellness Efforts?
•Practice Wellness Personal. Sign up for an Upcoming Webinar.

Manage Health Care Costs Using Cost Estimator

Being an informed healthcare consumer can help you and your employees save money. The costs for deductibles and coinsurance can add up significantly, especially for the 30% of our participating employees enrolled on a high-deductible health plan. In addition to choosing an in-network provider whenever possible, it also pays to compare costs. Prices can vary significantly depending on where you go. One place to start comparing costs is on BCBSNC's member portal, BlueConnectNC.com.

Members can log in to BlueConnectNC.com and click on "Find a Doctor or Facility." From the tool, just click on "Find Medical Costs." From the next screen you can use Explore or search by specialists or procedures. For example, you can find out how much an MRI costs by choosing Explore>Medical Procedures>MRIs & CAT Scans. Then drill down to MRI-Head, Neck & Spine. Then go one more level after that to choose MRI, Lower Spine. In this search using Greensboro as the location, there are 14 results with a range of cost from $571-$2,740 for the same procedure. A member may consider having their Lower Spine MRI at a location that costs less. A member logged into BlueConnect will also get an estimated cost to them based on their account information including how much of their deductible has been met. The Health Care Cost estimator is intended to be a reference tool only. Actual charges to the NCMS Plan or to you can vary and the cost data is updated regularly.

BlueConnect is available to all NCMS Plan members and accessible from laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. Try the search tool yourself and share it with your employees!


Handling Employee Complaints: Minimizing Legal Risk

Please join us for our next NCMS Plan Employment Law Webinar on Thursday, July 26 from 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Handling Employee Complaints: Minimizing Legal Risk

Register Here!

In this one-hour webinar, attorneys at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP, will discuss how to respond to employee complaints about sexual harassment, discrimination, and other common workplace problems. With workplace issues in the headlines, it is important for every employer to know how to properly document a complaint, how to conduct a workplace investigation, and the best approaches to reach a favorable resolution. This topic applies to all employers, regardless of whether you are big or small. Topics will include:

• Where do you start?
• Who should conduct the investigation?
• Who should be interviewed?
• What if the complaint involves social media?
• How should the process be documented?

Presented by: Ann Murray and Mark Keenan, Partners, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

~ Register for this event by Thursday, July 19 ~

Register Here!


IRS Revises 2018 HSA Limit (Again) and Announces 2019 HSA Limits

The IRS modified the 2018 annual limitation on the deduction for contributions to a Health Savings Account (HSA) to $6,900 for an individual with family coverage under a high-deductible health plan. This change restores the maximum contribution to the same amount that was originally announced as the 2018 annual limitation back on May 4, 2017. Earlier this year, however, as a result of changes in inflation adjusted calculations under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the IRS reduced the 2018 HSA contribution limit for an individual with family coverage by $50, to $6,850. This reduction caused numerous unanticipated administrative and financial burdens, especially for individuals with family coverage that had made the maximum HSA contribution before the reduction was announced in March. This latest guidance restoring the original contribution limit is intended to alleviate these administrative hardships.

In related news, the IRS also released inflation-adjusted figures for 2019 HSA contributions. For 2019, the annual HSA contribution limit for an individual with self-only coverage will be $3,500. The 2019 HSA contribution limit for an individual with family coverage under a high-deductible plan will be $7,000.


Ask Rachel

Rachel Eaton is an Account Service Representative for the NCMS Plan. Rachel works with practice administrators daily to address questions regarding benefits, enrollment, and billing. In this recurring segment, Rachel answers common questions from our practices. You can submit your questions to Rachel at rachel.eaton@mmicnc.com.

Question: Rachel, we have a physician who is traveling out of the country on vacation. Will she and her family have coverage with their NCMS Plan benefits?

Answer: Yes, the NCMS Plan does provide coverage out of state and out of country as well. When traveling out of state you should carry your current member ID card. You can access a National doctor and hospital finder at BCBS.com, use the BCBS Global Core app or call Blue Card Access 1.800.810.BLUE (2583). After you receive care, you should not have to complete any claim forms or pay up front for medical expenses except for out-of-pocket expenses like copayments, deductibles, and coinsurance, and you will receive an Explanation of Benefits (EOB) from BCBS.

If you are traveling outside of the US, you should still carry your current member ID card. Before you travel, contact BCBS for coverage information, as coverage outside of the United States may be different. If you require medical assistance, call the Service Center for BCBS Global Core, 1.800.810.BLUE (2583). You can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. More information can be found by visiting www.bcbsglobalcore.com.

If you have questions about out-of-state or international coverage, please email me at rachel.eaton@mmicnc.com.


Looking for Ways to Financially Support Your Wellness Efforts?

The Practice Wellness Grant Program, with the mission of financially rewarding practices for launching a sustainable health promotion program or expanding an existing one, is a platform for you to get started or continue building upon your successes. Act now! Practices have the opportunity to earn up to $100 per enrolled employee ($20,000 max) for implementing the CORE components.

Hospice & Palliative Care of Iredell County, a community-based nonprofit organization, provides physical, social, emotional, and spiritual support for those with life-limiting illnesses, as well as assistance with pain and symptom management for those with chronic conditions. They are currently working on implementing the CORE components of the Practice Wellness Grant Program.

Charles Ashe, Chief Operating Officer, is leading the charge and transforming the culture of their hospice organization. He shares, “We are so pleased to watch this program develop and to be recognized with a grant for our hard work in educating and promoting wellness and healthier living among our staff.” We had the opportunity to connect with Charles, and he shared how his organization upholds a commitment to excellence, operates in accordance with the highest standards of quality and compassion, and keeps their employees at the center of everything they do. This is central to how he builds leadership support and continues to position wellness as a priority.

Hospice & Palliative Care of Iredell County has had a wellness program since 2011, but it was consistently the same people participating in the wellness challenges year after year. The organization wanted to take their wellness initiative to the next level and sought the assistance of their advisors, including the NCMS Plan. The program continues to evolve, and his employees are getting excited about the changes. He also attributes this level of excitement to the shift in conversation from “We are doing this to save on health care expenditures" to "We are doing this because our employees’ well-being is extremely important to our organization.”

The Practice Wellness Grant program will support the efforts at Hospice & Palliative Care of Iredell County by encouraging their employees to participate in the annual wellness challenges, provide incentives for employees, and help with the expansion of their program.

Join your fellow NCMS Plan practices that are launching sustainable health promotion programs or that are expanding an existing program. Contact Jason Horay at (919) 878-7530 or jason.horay@mmicnc.com if you are interested in applying for a Practice Wellness Grant or if you have questions about the program.


Practice Wellness Personal. Sign up for an Upcoming Webinar.

Well-being is the full integration of social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical health – all elements that contribute to your overall quality of life.

Practice Wellness Personal (PWP) is an Employee Assistance Program available to NCMS Plan members to address how to live life well. The NCMS Plan provides this resource at no additional cost to help address issues related to Life, Family, Money, Work and Health.

Click on one of the dates below to register to join a webinar and participate in a live demonstration of how the program can help you and your employees gain the support and resources to live life well! The 30-minute webinars will take place from 11:30am-12:00pm on:

Monday, July 16

Thursday, July 19

For additional information, contact Jason Horay at (919) 878-7530 or jason.horay@mmicnc.com.


About the North Carolina Medical Society

Established in 1849, the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) is devoted to representing the interests of physicians and protecting the quality of patient care as the largest physician organization in the state. 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 www.ncmedsoc.org.