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Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange Update

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We’d like to thank all members that have requested information about the Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange. We are pleased that we are still on target to open for enrollment beginning November 1, 2013. Members will have access to plan offerings, decision support tools, and benefits like never before. All backed up by benefits counselors available to help members find the most suitable health insurance coverage for their needs.

New insurance plans are being added daily from leading providers as they release their approved 2014 PPACA approved plan information. We hope everyone is eager to learn more about what will be available as we have more details coming your way over the next couple of weeks.

Below is the first of several weekly email updates and Frequently Asked Questions segments to acquaint you to the offering prior to launch. If the private exchange is able to open prior to November 1st, we will be sure to notify you by email as well as through State Bar of Texas communications.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What is the Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange?

A. The exchange is an online marketplace where members, and their employees, can compare and purchase products and services from insurance providers that compete for business within the exchange.

Q2. What products are available in the private exchange?

A. Medical insurance is the main attraction on the private exchange, however other products will be available at specially negotiated pricing, such as dental, vision, disability, accident, telemedicine, identity theft protection, and medical expense plans that do not meet the criteria of minimum essential coverage. Insurance plans are provided by leading providers.

Q3. When will I be able to create an account and begin getting information and pricing on plans in the private exchange?

A. Scheduled for November 1, 2013, you will be able to create an account on the private exchange and begin viewing plan information and rates. Benefits counselors will be available to assist you at that time as well. The earliest plans in the private exchange can be made effective is January 1, 2014; therefore you have plenty of time to review your options and enroll for coverage.

Q4. When can I get a quote?

A. The planned exchange open date is November 1, 2013, which is when you can create an account and get a quote. If we are able to open earlier than November 1st, we will notify you immediately via email.

Q5. What is different about the insurance plans in the private exchange versus the public exchange (aka Federally Facilitated Exchange or Health Insurance Marketplace)?

A. Most health insurance plans available on the public exchange (known as Qualified Health Plans) will also be available, at the same rates, through the private exchange. The private exchange has additional plans that will not be available through the public exchange. This is because some insurance providers have chosen to limit the number of plans they offer on the public exchange or have chosen not to participate in the public exchange. Both the public and private exchange will have dental plans available. Plans available on the private exchange that will not be available on the public exchange include vision, term life, disability, AD&D, wellness, and medical expense health plans that do not meet the criteria of minimum essential coverage.

Q6. Can I be turned down for health insurance coverage due to a pre-existing health condition?

A. Beginning with new coverage effective dates of January 1, 2014, most health insurance plans can’t refuse to cover you or charge you a higher premium because of a pre-existing health condition. This will be the case regardless of whether you purchase your plan on the public or private exchange.

Q7. What about the subsidies I keep hearing about to help me pay for my health insurance?

A. As part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), beginning in October 2013, lower and middle-income people under age 65, who are not eligible for coverage through their employer, Medicaid, or Medicare, can apply for tax credit subsidies available through the public exchange. Our online calculator can help you estimate if you potentially qualify for a tax credit. If you do, our enrollment counselors are available to assist and guide you through the tax-credit application and for coverage on the public exchange.

Q8. Is the private exchange available to out-of-state members?

A. No, not at this time. Due to complexities and differences in health insurance providers and the public exchange rules in each state, the health insurance products in the Texas Bar Private Insurance Exchange are only available to residents of Texas at this time.

Q9. Do small employers have to pay a penalty for not offering insurance in 2014?

A. No. Under the Affordable Care Act, businesses with fewer than 50  full-time equivalent employees are not required to provide health insurance to their employees. And, those employers will not face tax penalties if they decide not to offer their employees group health insurance. An alternative concept to offering group insurance is for small employers to offer their employees additional pay to assist them in purchasing coverage on the public or private exchange.

Stay tuned for more FAQS, updates, and information about employer private exchange tools.