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Wednesday
November 20th, 2019

ROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times

 

Rural Kansans switching from high-priced health insurance to Kansas Farm Bureau Health Plans (KFBHP) are realizing significant  savings while reducing their risk with better coverage.

KFB Health Plans offer members another option to battle ever-increasing costs for health care.

KFBHP Manager Erin Petersilie was in Liberal Monday at Seward County Farm Bureau to provide more information about those options, and one of the first points she made is that those who want to take advantage of the health plans offered have to members of Farm Bureau.

“Anybody can go on to the Web site and get an idea of what it’s going to cost them, but you have to pay the membership for you to go into the application process,” she said. “That is a big piece when we start talking about it.”

Petersilie said individuals can purchase insurance now, and coverage for individual and family plans, dental and vision and Medicare supplement plans will take effect Jan. 1, 2020.

The KFBHP manager said unlike the marketplace, which has an open enrollment period, Farm Bureau’s does not have such a period. 

“The open enrollment period for the marketplace is Nov. 1 through Dec. 15, and we don’t want people to get locked out of that should that be the place they need to be,” she said. “Our open enrollment period, there isn’t one. We are continually open. You don’t have to have a life event to be able to come over to us.”

Petersilie then distinguished the difference between health insurance and a health plan.

“Health insurance means I have to take you as you are,” she said. “I can ask how old you are and whether or not you’re male or female and how do you want to pay that bill. It means I have to take her. Health insurance says you can no longer discriminate. You have to take them as they are, and we can’t base the rate on what they have.”

Rather, Petersilie said, KFBHP has differs somewhat from traditional health insurance.

“We are not health insurance,” she said. “We are a health plan, which means we are going to be able to ask those questions, and we can turn people down.”

Those questions, Petersilie said, are part of an underwriting process, and people can be denied. Rates could also changed, but she said there is some good news with the plan.

“The great thing is we are only doing the underwriting process once,” she said. “Once you are in, you are never going to go through the underwriting process again. As long as you continue to pay your membership and your monthly bill, you’re not going to be kicked off the plan either.”

Part of the questions include a health history, which Petersilie said looks back at the seven most recent years, and she talked about some of what could disqualify someone from getting a plan.

“One of the big ones is if you are a diabetic,” she said. “That’s pretty much an automatic out. If you’ve had cancer within the last seven years, that is an automatic out. If you’ve had a major organ transplant in the last seven years, that’s an out as well.”

Those over the age of 40 will have to provide some blood work and a record of height.

“That blood work is going to include things like your triglycerides, your cholesterol, a fasting glucose,” Petersilie said.

The process can be done online at www.kfbhealthplans.com, and Petersilie emphasized those applying need to make sure they are on that site and not another.

“If you leave off ‘kfb,’ you end up not on our Web site,” she said. “You will have telemarketers calling you instantaneously if you fill any of that out.”

Applications can also be done via phone by calling 833-282-5928.

“It is a call center in Tennessee because that is who we are partnering with to make this all happen, and they are great to get to talk to,” Petersilie said. “They’ve been doing this for more than 70 years, so they are not strangers to this. They know how to make this work. They know how to work with people, and this is a very big deal in Tennessee, when we start talking about more than 180,000 covered lives in the state of Tennessee through the Tennessee Farm Bureau. The network we will be using is United Health Care Choice Plus.”

While those applying for KFBHP need to have a Kansas address, Petersilie said once they have a plan, those plans can be transferred to another state.

“If you move to Oklahoma or you choose to doctor in Oklahoma, that is perfectly fine,” she said. “They’re a nationwide network.”

Dental plans will be through Delta Dental, and vision plans will be through VSP, both nationwide networks, and Petersilie said those with coverage through their workplace who simply want a dental and vision plan can get one through KFBHP.

Petersilie added the health plans Kansas Farm Bureau offers are not for everybody.

“There are going to be times when this is not the best plan, especially when we come in with some of those pre-existing conditions,” she said.

Petersilie said KFBHP offers significant savings and robust benefits because every member goes through an underwriting process.

“This really could be very affordable for people,” she said. “You can go out of state. You have access to a lot more doctors and hospitals than what we do with some of the options in the marketplace.”

In addition to the savings offered by KFBHP, members can sign up or change their policies at any time and know they are covered for life.

“You’re not canceled if you get sick, and that’s definitely that’s been something that’s been out there we have had to battle quite a bit,” she said. “Rest assured, as long as you pay your premiums and annual membership dues, you will never lose coverage.”

For those applying online and over the phone, Petersilie said the first payment will be through a check, and future payments will be done via electronic fund transfer.

“It’s going to be electronically withdrawn from the bank account, and it will be electronically withdrawn on the first day of the month,” she said.

KFBHP also offers four Medicare supplement plans, and Petersilie said this is regular coverage just like anything else.

“Medicare supplements are highly regulated and standardized,” she said. “If you are going with our Plan G, it is the same exact coverage as Blue Cross Blue Shield. It’s the same exact coverage as Cigna. It’s the same exact coverage as Gerber Life Insurance Company. Plan G is Plan G is Plan G all the way across in terms of what they do cover. We are only offering the supplement side of things. We are not offering a drug plan to go with these. You would still pick up a different company for a drug plan.”

Petersilie said if someone does not pay their membership, they cannot be kicked off their plan, but their rate can be changed. She added, though, rates will not be increased simply because of usage, but they will for other issues.

“You are going to be charged higher rates because you had a birthday,” she said. “Every year, you get a little bit older, and you get a little more risky. Or because we said, ‘We’ve got to raise everybody’s rates,’ and everybody is going to see an increase. You will always get a 30-day notice.”

Petersilie likewise said these plans are all by the family.

“They’re individual, or they’re family,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a husband and wife on the family plan or a husband, wife and 10 kids. You’re going to pay the same exact price.”

Petersilie said as far as Medicare is concerned, if a doctor accepts Medicare, they must also accept a supplement plan. She said for those currently with coverage through the health care exchange, now is the perfect time to compare cost and coverage.

“Members aren’t out anything by applying to see what coverage looks like and how much it costs,” she said. “Doing it now will ensure they still have time to purchase through the exchange if needed.”

Visit www.kfbhealthplans.com for more information, or visit a Kansas Farm Bureau agent.

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