Dan Dombrowski, manager of individual product sales at HealthPlus of Michigan, spoke with DBusiness Daily News about open enrollment underway at health insurance companies and what’s new about the enrollment process and what has changed from a year ago.
1. DDN: How does coverage from HealthPlus differ from the U.S. Health Care Marketplace?
DD: We sell all of our individual plans off of the government exchange. (It allows us) to offer more competitive pricing, because we don’t have to charge a 3.5 percent marketplace fee. Our enrollment is also significantly simpler and easier, because there are no subsidy questions. There are no income questions. The online application can be done in as little as five minutes.
2. DDN: How does today’s enrollment process compare to past coverage standards?
DD: As far as HealthPlus is concerned, one of the key differences is that we no longer have underwriting on our products. There are no medical questions involved. It’s a bit simpler than it used to be.
3. DDN: What trends are you seeing?
DD: We’ve had a lot of small businesses (usually with under 25 employees) move their employees from group plans to individual. Historically, small group plans were guaranteed, there were no pre-existing condition exclusions, and maternity was a covered benefit. But with the Affordable Care Act, individual insurance is a guaranteed issue, there are no pre-existing condition exclusions, and maternity is one of the essential benefits.
From a benefits standpoint, there’s really no difference between group and individual plans, so it puts more of an emphasis on the premium. But every situation is different, so I can’t say it’s going to be an advantage for a small group to move to individual (plans) in every case. It’s not one size fits all.
4. DDN: Has HealthPlus launched any new programs or benefits for 2015?
DD: We launched Virtuwell, which is a 24/7 online clinic where members can speak with a nurse practitioner who can provide (a diagnosis, treatment plan, or prescription). This can save our clients a lot of money from an out-of-pocket-cost standpoint. It’s also good for after hours. If you have a sick child at 3 o’clock in the morning, who maybe has pinkeye, you can order a prescription right there and have it sent to your local pharmacy.
5. DDN: It sounds like your company is putting a lot of emphasis on technology.
DD: Absolutely. We have an all-new redesigned website, which is much more user friendly and easer to navigate. By entering your ZIP code and date of birth, you can get a quote within 60 seconds, if not 30 seconds. We’ve also implemented a new feature, where potential applicants can text “QUOTE” to “HPLUS,” and they can receive a price quote for their insurance premium via text.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated at 4:28 p.m. on Jan. 22.