Millions at Risk of Losing Health Insurance & Other Benefits This January

It’s been almost 3 years since the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) first declared the Covid-19 pandemic a public health emergency. And now, the Biden Administration is indicating that the emergency declaration will not be renewed this winter. And is telling healthcare providers to begin preparing for the end of the public health emergency.

 

When the public health emergency does end, HHS estimates that up to 15 million people will be disenrolled from Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). With all of these people losing their insurance, the question becomes how will they get coverage?

“The Pandemic Is Over”

illustration of a medical face mask laying discarded on the ground
In September, President Joe Biden declared that the pandemic was over.

In September, President Joe Biden declared that the pandemic was over, even though Covid still presents a risk to Americans. His declaration means that HHS is unlikely to renew the emergency declaration that is set to expire on January 11.

 

HHS will give the public 60 days’ notice before lifting the public health emergency. Which not only allowed Americans to receive health insurance, but also to receive increased food benefits through government nutrition programs.

 

Nutrition experts fear that millions of families will face hunger. While hospitals are concerned that there will be a healthcare worker shortage. And pharmacies are concerned that it might be more difficult for people to access vaccines without a public health emergency. 

“We’re in the third year of the pandemic. We’ve gone through hell. We’ve sacrificed. We’ve used all kinds of emergency powers,” said Lawrence Gostin, an expert on health law at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

“So if you’re going to end all that, you have to end it in a transparent way honestly with the American public about what they gain and what they lose,” Gostin said.

Millions Will Lose Coverage

More people became eligible for Medicaid and CHIP during the public health emergency. So, enrollment increased 26% during the pandemic to a record of more than 89 million people. But with the public health emergency ending, 15 million people will no longer have Medicaid and CHIP. While some of these people might be eligible for subsidized coverage through the ACA, there is a fear that many will end up uninsured.

According to HHS, in 12 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid, as many as 383,000 people are expected to fall into a gap in which their incomes are too high to meet their state’s eligibility for Medicaid, which guarantees coverage for the poor. But too low to qualify for discounted insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Finding An Affordable Plan When the Health Emergency Endshand putting coins into a black piggy bank with coins surrounding the piggy bank

If you’re unsure if you can afford a healthcare plan, it’s worth looking into what is available in your area. There are currently provisions in place that could help you save a lot of money on insurance, like:

  • If you earn under 400% of the federal poverty level, you can receive subsidies to purchase health insurance through the ACA Marketplace.
  • The American Rescue Plan Act requires that Americans pay no more than 8.5% of their income on health insurance premiums. And provides a larger tax credit to people who already receive financial assistance.

Speak to an EZ.Insure agent about what programs are available to help you save and get the coverage you need. 

We get that trying to find a great plan while saving as much money as possible is not easy; it can be time-consuming and downright frustrating. But EZ is here to help. Our agents work with the top-rated insurance companies in the nation, making it easier and faster to compare plans in your area. In fact, we can compare plans in your area for you and your family in minutes! We will provide you with an agent who will find a plan that covers your medical needs. And will allow you to stay within your budget. 

 

And unlike other companies who just want to make a dime off you, we want to help you stay healthy by finding a great plan that won’t break the bank. That’s why all of our services are free! To get free instant quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above. Or to speak to a licensed local agent, call 888-350-1890.

Over 8 Million Americans May Soon Get Checks From Their Health Insurers: Find Out How Much You Could Get

We have been going through a tough time in this country, with the rising cost of gas, groceries, and so much more due to inflation. Keeping up with these increasing prices can feel incredibly frustrating, but there might be at least one light at the end of the tunnel that will help. Health insurance companies will be sending out rebate checks to millions of Americans. Find out why, and how much you can expect to see from your health insurance company.

Medical Loss Ratiocalculator and graphs behind it

The medical loss ratio provision requires insurance companies that cover individuals and small businesses to spend at least 80% of their premium income on healthcare claims and quality improvement. That means only 20% can be spent on administration and marketing expenses, or kept for profit. When private insurance companies don’t meet this standard, they are required to issue refunds to policyholders. 

The rebates are calculated based on a three-year average, meaning this year’s rebates will be calculated based on the figures from the years 2019, 2020, and 2021. This year, insurance companies will be distributing an aggregate total of $1 billion to customers, down from the $2 billion issued in 2021, and a record $2.5 billion in 2020. 

“In the last couple of years we’ve seen some really large rebates — twice the size of this year’s amount,” said Cynthia Cox, a vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation and director of its Affordable Care Act program. “But I’d say $1 billion is still significant.”

How Much Can You Expect To See?money rolled up

Of the $1 billion in rebates going out, the majority (an estimated $603 million), will generally go to people with a health plan through the public exchange. The refunds are expected to average $141 per participant in plans through the marketplace, $155 for those in plans through small employers, and $78 for enrollees in large-group plans. However, the rebate amount can vary widely, depending on your location and insurer.

If you’re wondering when you will see your check, get ready, because over eight million Americans can expect a rebate in the coming weeks.

When Is Open Enrollment for 2023?

When it comes to your health insurance, Open Enrollment is the most important time of the year. This is the time that you’ll be able to change your plan, or enroll in a new one that better suits your needs and saves you money. So you have to know when the Open Enrollment Period, or OEP, starts and how long it lasts so that you don’t miss out! 

The 2023 OEP begins November 1st, 2022 in most states, and since changes to the OEP last year, it generally runs through January 15th in most states. Some states, though, have extended their OEP a little longer. Take a look at the following so you know when your state’s OEP begins and when it ends.

States With January 15th Deadlines

  • Alabama

    map of the US
    There are currently 33 states that have a January 15 deadline for the health insurance OEP.
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas 
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

States with Different OEP Dates

Some states with their own ACA exchanges have different date ranges for the 2023 Open Enrollment Period. The chart below shows the State Enrollment Period (SEP) and OEP dates for these states; other states have not yet announced their dates (these are also listed below).

StateState Open Enrollment Period for 2023 Plans
CaliforniaNovember 1, 2022 – January 31, 2023
ColoradoNovember 1, 2022 – January 15, 2023
ConnecticutNovember 1, 2022 – January 15, 2023
IdahoOctober 15, 2022 – December 15, 2022
KentuckyNovember 1, 2022 – January 15, 2023
MaineNovember 1, 2022 – January 15, 2023
MarylandNovember 1, 2022 – January 15, 2023
MassachusettsNovember 1, 2022 – January 23, 2023
MinnesotaNovember 1, 2022 – January 15, 2023
NevadaNovember 1, 2022 – January 15, 2023
New JerseyNovember 1, 2022 – January 31, 2023
New MexicoNovember 1, 2022 – January 15, 2023
New YorkNovember 16, 2022 – January 31, 2023
PennsylvaniaNovember 1, 2022 – January 15, 2023
Rhode IslandNovember 1, 2022 – January 31, 2023
VermontNovember 1, 2022 – January 15, 2023
Washington DC November 1, 2022 – January 31, 2023
WashingtonNovember 1, 2022 – January 15, 2023

Looking For Affordable Health Insurance?magnifying glass in a blue circle

The health insurance Open Enrollment Period is open from November 1 until January 15 (depending on your state), so now is the perfect time to reconsider getting a health insurance plan, or looking into your current one and making sure it’s got you covered. And if your plan doesn’t cover everything you need it to, it’s time to find a plan that does, so you can save as much money as possible. 

If you’re shopping for a plan, your best bet is to speak to a licensed EZ agent. Our agents work with the top-rated insurance companies in the nation, so we can compare plans in minutes. We will not only find a plan that has all the benefits you’re looking for, but we will also make sure the plan meets your financial needs. To get free instant quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to a local agent, call 888-350-1890. No obligation.

7 Steps to Help Prevent SIDS

Sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, is every parent’s worst nightmare. This occurrence, defined as the unexpected death of a healthy baby under a year old (usually in their sleep) is responsible for around 3,400 deaths each year. For many new parents, this terrifying possibility often means staying up all night checking on their babies. But while there is no sure way to prevent SIDS, there are some tips new parents can follow to lower their baby’s risk. 

Causes of SIDS

While experts aren’t 100% sure what causes SIDS, there could be a combination of physical and sleep environmental factors that make a baby more vulnerable to it. These factors include:

Physical:side of a head with gears in the brain section

  • Brain defectsSome infants might be born with brain defects that make them more likely to die of SIDS.
  • Low birth weight- Premature birth increases the probability that a baby’s brain hasn’t matured completely, so they have less control over automatic processes such as breathing.
  • Respiratory infection

Environmental:

  • Sleep position – Sleeping on their stomach or side can make it more difficult for babies to breathe.
  • Sleep surface – Sleeping on a soft surface such as a fluffy comforter or mattress can block a baby’s airway.
  • Overheating 

Prevention

As mentioned, there is no guaranteed way to prevent SIDS, but there are things that you can do to help your baby sleep more safely. For example:

    1. Put a sleeping baby on their back. Instead of placing your baby on their stomach or side, make sure to put them on their back for the first year of their life.
    2. Keep the crib as bare as possible. Use a firm mattress and try not to put any fluffy padding or quilts in the crib. Also avoid pillows, fluffy toys, or stuffed animals because they can block a baby’s airway.
    3. Don’t overheat your baby. Use light clothing or a sleep sack if you want to keep your baby warm. Never cover a baby’s head while they are sleeping.
    4. Have your baby sleep in your room. For the first 6 months of your baby’s life, it’s best to have them sleep in your room with you in a bassinet or crib. baby with a pacifier in their mouth
    5. Use a pacifier. Sucking on a pacifier might reduce the risk of SIDS.
    6. Breastfeed your baby, if possible.  Breastfeeding for at least 6 months lowers the risk of SIDS.
    7. Try swaddling your child. Swaddling helps to keep babies in a safe position at night.

SIDS can occur anytime during a baby’s first year of life, but the risk decreases after 6 months, and it’s extremely rare after one year of age. And there’s no doubt that it’s a very scary thought, but following the above tips will help keep your baby as safe as possible. Make sure your baby is checked regularly by a pediatrician and if you have concerns, reach out and speak to them. 

In order to be able to do this, it’s important to be insured, so you can get the medical care that you and your baby need. If you’re not sure what plan is right for you, speak to an EZ agent! EZ agents are highly trained and knowledgeable and will sort through all available plans to make sure that you’re completely covered from babyhood and beyond.

We offer a wide range of health insurance plans from top-rated insurance companies in every state. And because we work with so many companies, and can offer all of the plans available in your area, we can find you a plan that saves you a lot of money – even hundreds of dollars – even if you don’t qualify for a subsidy. There is no obligation, or hassle, just free quotes on all available plans in your area. To get free instant quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to a local agent, call 888-350-1890.

4 Things You Should Be Doing to Plan for the Open Enrollment Period

The Health Insurance Open Enrollment Period is coming up: starting November 1st, you’ll have around 6 weeks to find a plan that meets your needs. That means a lot of information about all the different health insurance plans available, and information about any changes to your current plan will soon be coming your way. You’ll have to sort through all of this while trying to figure out how much coverage you need, and what you can afford, which can feel like a lot. And this time is going to come and go quickly! That means it’s important to begin planning now, so you are ready and don’t feel rushed during the process.

woman smiling with a headpiece on
EZ’s agents independent, but they are also always up-to-date on newer healthcare plans.

1. Choose an Unbiased Agent

Who you choose to work with when looking for a health insurance plan is a very important decision, and plays a big part in finding a comprehensive, affordable plan. It’s important to work with a licensed, knowledgeable agent who is not connected to a certain type of health insurance plan or insurance company, so you can get an unbiased look at all available options in your area. 

EZ’s agents work with the top-rated health insurance companies in the nation, and we guarantee that we will compare all plans in your area so that you can find the perfect plan. And not only are our agents independent, but they are also always up-to-date on newer healthcare plans, so they can provide you with all the information that you need before you make your decision.

2. Consider ALL of Your Options

After choosing to work with an EZ agent, you can simply ask them to research every option that you have, as well as help you weigh all the pros and cons of each plan. There are many different types of healthcare plans available, including PPO plans, HMO plans, or metal tier plans; if you’re not sure what’s best for you, an EZ agent will go over all of these different plan types, and will not try to limit you to a certain plan. We will lay all of your options on the table and review the coverage and cost of each one.

3. Ask the Right Questions

When it’s time to start searching for plans, think ahead of time about what you want to ask your agent, and what is important to you in a plan. In addition to asking about prices and coverage options, have a list of questions you want to ask, like:  woman looking up with question marks all around her

  • Is advanced primary care included in the plan?  
  • Can you keep your current doctor? 
  • Do you qualify for subsidies for any of the plans? 
  • Can you see doctors outside of your network?
  • Is mental health care (or anything else you’re interested in having covered) covered?
  • Is a higher deductible or lower premium plan better for you?

4. Find the Plan That Has the Most Value

People often choose the cheapest plan available, but this cheapest plan might not have the best benefits available for the price. A good health insurance plan will come from a quality carrier, provide comprehensive benefits, allow you to see the doctors you want to see, and have affordable co-pays. And remember, if you go for the cheapest plan available, you might end up paying more out-of-pocket when you use medical services. Our agent will review your medical needs and budget, and search for a plan that will check all the boxes for you.

Need Help? EZ’s Got You Covered

The health insurance Open Enrollment Period will be open from November 1st through January 15 (depending on your state), so now is the perfect time to reconsider getting a health insurance plan, or to look closely at your current one to make sure it will cover all of the above-mentioned costs. And if your plan doesn’t cover everything you need it to, it’s time to find a plan that does, so you can save as much money as possible. 

If you’re shopping for a plan, your best bet is to speak to a licensed EZ agent. Our agents work with the top-rated insurance companies in the nation, so we can compare plans in minutes. We will not only find a plan that has all the benefits you’re looking for, but we will also make sure the plan meets your financial needs. To get free instant quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to a local agent, call 888-350-1890. No obligation.

Stretch For Success

When it comes to physical health, exercise is rightfully one of the first things people think of.  But most people think “getting in shape” just means vigorous activities like running or weightlifting. After all, “gentler” forms of exercise like stretching won’t give you a smaller waistline or bigger biceps, and if you’re putting in the work, it’s only natural that you’ll want to see  tangible results. 

But just because you won’t see any visible results from stretching doesn’t mean it won’t benefit you, or that you shouldn’t do it! In fact, stretching is more important than you think, and should be part of everyone’s exercise routine. And because there’s no equipment required to stretch, it’s easy to do anywhere, anytime. Your body will tell you what feels good and what doesn’t, so take it slow and enjoy the benefits. Get some tips on why and how you should stretch today!

Why Should You Be Stretching?

If you think that only gym rats and athletes should be stretching, you’re wrong. Even if you wouldn’t classify yourself as an athlete, stretching is something that you should do everyday regardless of age, fitness level, or abilities. Here’s why:

woman showing off her bicep muscle

  • Stretching keeps your muscles strong, healthy, and flexible. After a stretch session you’ll see your range of motion increase, and you’ll feel less tight and restricted in your movements. 
  • Stretching helps improve your posture. Tight muscles that don’t get stretched can cause poor posture. A good stretch routine paired with some core exercises can help set you back on the straight and narrow.  
  • Stretching improves circulation by increasing blood flow through your tissue and muscles. This is particularly beneficial for those with diabetes and/or high blood pressure. Add on some cardio, such as walking or cycling, to really set your circulatory system in motion.

Types Of Stretching

Now you know what stretching can do for your body, but what kind of stretches should you be doing? See if the following types feel right for your body:

  • Static Stretching. This type of stretching involves moving into an end range of motion and then holding that position. Some examples would be crossing your arm across your body and holding your elbow to stretch your shoulder, or grabbing your heel and pulling it to your bottom for a nice quad stretch. These types of stretches are great to try after a workout, to help cool you down and prevent soreness.
  • Dynamic Stretching. When you engage in dynamic stretching, you’ll be performing active, controlled movements with larger ranges of motion. Arm circles, walking lunges, and squatting all fall into this category and are usually done before working out to prepare your muscles for exercise.
  • Ballistic Stretching. A ballistic stretch involves bouncing or repeatedly pushing your body past its natural range of motion using momentum, force, or gravity. Remember those gym class days bouncing your knees up and down doing the butterfly stretch? That’s a ballistic stretch. These types of stretches have generally been phased out of everyday routines, because they have been known to cause injury. So, unless you’re a trained athlete, these more aggressive stretches are not necessarily recommended, and  you should definitely consult with your doctor before doing any sort of ballistic stretching. 

Simple Stretches To Incorporate Into Your Daily Routine

If you find yourself feeling tight when you wake up, why not start your day with a morning stretch?  Adding stretching to your morning routine will really energize and invigorate you, and put you in a positive mindset to tackle the day. Try one of the following easy stretches to loosen up and get your blood flowing:woman stretching her neck to the side

  • Neck rolls. Slowly roll your neck clockwise 5 times, then roll it counterclockwise 5 times. Try to touch your ears to your shoulders to extend your range of motion.
  • Shoulder shrugs. In a sitting position, shrug your shoulders to your ears 10 times. 
  • Shoulder stretches. Lace your fingers together and reach up to the ceiling with your palms upward. You’ll feel a stretch in your shoulders and rib cage. Try holding for 10 seconds.
  • Prone press up. Lay on your stomach with your palms on the ground just above your shoulders. Slowly push up and straighten your arms so you will feel a stretch in your back. Many people have chronic tightness in their lower backs, and this stretch will help to extend and strengthen your back muscles. Trust us, give it a try and you’ll  be hooked!

It’s easy to let stretching take a back seat to your workout or everyday routine, but don’t let that happen. If you don’t feel comfortable beginning a stretching routine or don’t know where to start, your best bet is to see a physical therapist for guidance. Physical therapy is usually covered under most health insurance plans – and if you’re looking to find a plan that covers physical therapy, EZ can help! Contact EZ today for a free, no obligation, no hassle quote. We work with the top insurance companies in your area and can help find a plan that’s right for you  – and save you money in the process. Enter your zip code in the bar above or call 888-350-1890 to speak with an agent.