Volume 2, Issue 2 From the President I hope you are enjoying the summer and keeping cool. It’s already been hot and is expected to continue through the season. As you know, our agency specializes in many group & individual insurance plans, such as health, life, dental, disability, vision, & voluntary plans. We are excited to bring another benefit option to you and your employees – Pre-Paid Legal Plan. I have been a member for more than nine years and use it several times a year – usually just for contract review or have an attorney send a letter on my behalf. A letter from an attorney tends to get more attention. For a small monthly fee, you have access to attorneys 24/7. The home office is in Oklahoma, but the local law firm is O’Koon Hintermeister in Indianapolis. I have found them to be professional, courteous and quick to respond to my needs. There are so many legal issues that the average person has no idea how to handle. Most people will sign contracts without having them reviewed by a lawyer. You also get a free will each year. I will be calling you to schedule a time to meet (perhaps for lunch?), and let me share some of my Pre-Paid Legal stories with you. With two teenagers, a home, cars, a small business and nine years of membership with the Pre-Paid Legal Plan, I’ve used them for so many things – and have never paid them more than my monthly membership fee! Thanks again for your business, and I look forward to meeting with you soon! Summer, 2005 L . S . H O W E & A S S O C I AT E S , I N C . Who, What, When, Where, Why and Howe Lori Howe PacifiCare Health Systems has signed an agreement to purchase Pacific Life’s group health operations. The Pacific Life group health operations are now part of the PacifiCare family. As one of the nation’s leading health and consumer services organizations, PacifiCare provides health care products for employer groups, individuals and Medicare beneficiaries. As part of their total solution approach, they deliver medical insurance, life insurance, behavioral health services, dental and vision services, pharmacy benefit management and Medicare programs. ( Source: PacifiCare, 5/05) Terminations If you have an employee that you need to terminate from or add to your insurance policies, please do it in a timely manner. When you have a new hire employee, please submit that application directly to our office for processing. Keep in mind that new employees need to be added before the end of the waiting period. If they are sent in later than that they run the risk of having a pre-existing condition clause, which will prevent certain claims from being paid for either 9 or 15 months...or worse, not being covered at all until the next open enrollment date. If you need to terminate someone from an insurance policy, you may send us an email and we will handle it. This creates a ‘paper trail’ and a check and balance system, so that we know it is handled timely & correctly. Most insurance carriers will only go back 30 days to terminate someone retroactively, so it’s important to submit terminations immediately Facts About L. S. Howe & Associates, Inc. We work with groups that have up to 500+ employees. For groups over 50 employees, there are more funding options available and more simplified underwriting. Some examples are partially self-funded, traditional funding, retrospective premium call and refund arrangements. With retrospective premium call arrangement, the premiums are lowered each month, but then the employer may pay additional premium at the end of the policy year, subject to a maximum, only if claims exceed specified amounts. If the claims are below the specified amount that is predetermined, then the employer does not have to pay the difference. Under the refund arrangement, the employer may share in any profits as outlined in the proposal at the end of the contract year. Call our office for more information. 745-7341 Clarinex® and Previcid® To Be Excluded From Pharmacy Benefit Coverage Effective May 1, 2005, the UnitedHealthcare pharmacy benefit will exclude Clarinex (all strengths and dosage forms) and Prevacid (15 mg and 30 mg capsules only). Prevacid oral suspension packets and fast dissolving tablets will remain covered at the Tier 3 level on UnitedHealthcare's Prescription Drug List. For both medications, over-the-counter or prescription alternatives that treat the same medical condition and may be at a lower cost, are available to your employees. OrthoIndy Terminates Contract with Anthem After just over a year of negotiations, Anthem has received notice that OrthoIndy has chosen to resign from Anthem's Blue Traditional™, Blue Access (PPO), and Blue Preferred® (POS and HMO) networks effective July 31, 2005. Anthem hopes to negotiate with OrthoIndy to one day return them to their networks. OrthoIndy makes up only 20 percent of the orthopedic doctors in the Central Indiana area. Our network will continue to provide access to quality orthopedic services for our members. Members can access an updated directory of network providers at anthem.com, or by calling the customer service number found on the back of their member ID card. (Source: Anthem Broker rapid Update, 6-07-05) Anthem Launches eCertificates for Members All new Individual members can now access their certificates from Anthem’s website. Anthem will include a letter and postcard with the ID cards sent to members to inform them how to obtain their certificates online. If a member prefers to obtain a hardcopy of his/her certificate from Anthem, the letter will instruct them to complete and return the enPage 2 closed postcard. * Please note that eCertificates will not be available for policyholders under the age of 18 or over the age of 65. (Source: Anthem Individual Times, 4-05) Anthem Members… All Anthem members should check out the site SpecialOffers@Anthem for great savings offers exclusively for you! W H O , W H A T, W H E N , W H ER E , W H Y A N D HO W E Canadian RX Benefits Impact Tax No exclusions for “illegal” drugs. According to the IRS, health benefit plans cannot pay for or reimburse health plan participants, on a tax-free basis, for the costs of improperly imported prescription drugs. Note the following United States government edicts: ■ Employer-provided health benefit coverage, including flexible spending accounts (FSA’s) and other health expense reimbursement benefits, are excluded from an employee’s taxable income, when the coverage is for “medical care”, as defined in Section 213(d) of the Internal Revenue Code. ■ U.S. Treasury regulations require drugs to be “legally procured” in order to be considered “medical care”. ■ The 2004 version of IRS Publication 502 states “In general, you cannot include in your medical expenses the cost of a prescribed drug brought in (or ordered shipped) from another country, because you can only include the cost of a drug that was imported legally.” ■ Obtaining drugs in foreign countries and importing them into the U.S. is illegal under federal law. If you offer an employee health plan or FSA that allows reimbursement for the purchase of illegallyimported drugs, be sure that the drug costs are included in the employee’s taxable income and that taxes are withheld for these costs. But, be aware that if reimbursement is for a Section 125 FSA plan, taxable reimbursements may violate benefit election rules for choosing between cash and qualified medical benefits. This could result in all medical reimbursements, including normally tax exempt medical expenses not associated with imported drugs, being considered taxable. In the context of the Canadian drug importation controversy, these official statements add another dimension to federal government warnings, against bringing cheaper, non-USDA controlled drugs into the country. It continues to appear that the Bush administration will not legalize imported medicines. A recent report by a Health and Human Services Department task force also determined that the cost of establishing a system to assure the safety of imported pharmaceuticals outweighs the public benefits. In addition, drug importation by U.S. consumers is still ill-favored by Canadian officials, who have been discussing various actions to reduce or ban Internet drug sales from Canada. (Source: Midwest Security Benefits Review, Spring, 2005) United Health Group Earns Honors UnitedHealth Group, UnitedHealthcare's parent company, was recently named the country's most admired health care company by Fortune magazine. It was also ranked the fifth best performing company for 2005 by Business Week magazine. UnitedHealth Group also ranked number 99 in The Wall Street Journal's ranking of The World's 100 Largest Public Companies. (Source: ‘InSite’ UHC newsletter 4/28/05) Prescription Drug Expenditure for 2004 The total U.S. prescription drug expenditure for 2004 was estimated at over $204 billion. (For comparison, 2001 expenditures were $140.6 billion.) U.S. prescription drug expenditures are expected to more than double the 2004 figure in 8 years, with over $445 billion in drug spending by the year 2012. (Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) ChamberCare® We’re passing the savings on to you! Chamber of Commerce members can score a discount on health and life insurance rates with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. ChamberCare is available for groups with two to 99 VOLUME 2, ISSUE 2 employees. ChamberCare gives members: • The largest network of doctors and hospitals in Indiana. • Access to in-network coverage across the country or around the • Access to a wide variety of products, including health, prescription, dental, vision life and disability coverage. Call 745-7341 for more details. Page 3 Medical Mutual Announces Their Name Change In Indiana To millions of its members, Medical Mutual means comprehensive health insurance coverage and superior customer service. Expect the same from Consumers Life Insurance Company. On 6/1/05 Medical Mutual of Ohio changed its name in Indiana to Consumers Life. Consumers Life is licensed in 27 states, and currently sells group and individual health insurance in four of these states, including Indiana. This will be a transparent change that will not impact existing Medical Mutual business. • All existing Medical Mutual contacts and telephone numbers will remain the same. This includes Customer Service and Membership. • All existing group benefit plans will remain the same, with the exception of our ENHANCED 2580 plans. (Source: BDS, April, 2005) Eye Didn’t Know That! ● 72% of U.S. employees require vision correction. ● Two-thirds of all employees would trade a vacation day for eyecare benefits. ● Thorough eye exams help detect serious illness. Quality vision care is a highly desirable benefit and VSP’s new voluntary plan designs make it very affordable. Simply choose a plan frequency and copayment option that fits your needs. Call our office for more details. 317-745-7341. Overweight Americans On average, Americans spend nearly three hours a day watching TV and movies. They spend over one-and-onehalf hours driving their cars. Americans spend about 18 minutes a day exercising. FDA Asks Pfizer To Voluntarily Withdraw Bextra From The Market On April 7, 2005, The Food and Drug Administration announced several regulatory actions regarding the COX-2 selective and non-selective NonSteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): ● Pfizer was asked to voluntarily withPage 4 draw Bextra from the market. ● Pfizer was asked to make revisions to the Celebrex label. ● FDA requested revised labeling of all prescription products containing nonselective NSAIDs. ● FDA requested revised labeling of all non-prescription (over-the-counter) products containing ibuprofen, naproxen and ketoprofen. W H O , W H A T, W H E N , W H ER E , W H Y A N D HO W E How Do I Decide Which Kinds of Insurance I Should Buy? Insurance 101 (This is the second-in-a-series of informative articles about insurance) You probably should consider five basic lines to see if they apply to your situation: ● Auto Insurance - If you own or lease a car or are planning to in the near future, you will want to protect that investment with auto insurance. This coverage helps you cope with the expense of accidents, vandalism or theft. In addition, if you are financing the vehicle, the lending institution probably will require that you carry auto insurance. Another area that needs protection is your liability. If you are sued because of damage your vehicle caused, auto insurance will help with legal expenses and any damages you have to pay. ● Health Insurance - To cope with today’s high medical costs, virtually everyone needs health insurance. Following graduation, you could no longer be covered by your policy, so they may need their own policy. ● Homeowners or Renters Insurance Whether you own a home or rent an apartment, you want to make sure your possessions are protected. Both homeowners and renters insurance offer comprehensive coverage at home and when you travel. They also offer liability protection should you be sued. ● Life Insurance - If you have dependents or are interested in purchasing life insurance that builds value as you pay the premiums, talk with us about the many plans available. In the next newsletter, look for the continuation of this series, titled: “What should I look for in an agent?” ● Disability Insurance - this is designed to provide required income should you be injured or disabled. The extent of coverage should be enough so that, when combined with your other assets, you would have enough to live on. Grandma’s Cures Keep this on the Fridge Did you know that drinking two glasses of Gatorade can relieve headache pain almost immediately – without the unpleasant side effects caused by traditional ‘pain relievers’. Colgate toothpaste makes an excellent salve for burns. Those curiously strong Altoids will clear up your stuffed nose. Achy muscles from a bout of the flu? Mix 1 tablespoon horseradish in 1 cup of olive oil. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes, then apply it as a massage oil for instant relief for aching muscles. Dissolve two Alka-Seltzer tablets in a glass of water and drink it at the onset of urinary tract infection symptoms. It will help almost instantly – even though it was never advertised for this use. Honey remedy for skin blemishes. Cover the blemish with a dab of honey and place a bandaid over it. Honey kills the bacteria, keeps the skin sterile and speeds healing. Works overnight. Listerine therapy for toenail fungus. Get rid of unsightly toenail fungus by soaking your toes in Listerine mouthwash. The powerful antiseptic leaves your toenails looking healthy again. To prevent the screws in eyeglasses from loosening, apply a small drop of crystal clear nail polish to the threads of the screws before tightening them. Saturate an abrasive sponge with Coca Cola and scrub rust stains. The phosphoric acid in the coke is what gets the job done. Put a drop of Elmer’s glue over a splinter, let dry and peel the dried glue off the skin. The splinter sticks to the dried glue. To disinfect a broken blister, dab on a few drops of Listerine…a powerful antiseptic. Heinz Vinegar to heal bruises. Soak a cotton ball in white vinegar and apply it to the bruise for one hour. The vinegar reduces the blueness and speeds up the healing process. Add a few drops of Dawn dishwashing liquid to your dogs bath and shampoo the animal thoroughly to kill fleas instantly. Rinse well to avoid skin irritations. Rainy day cure for dog odor. Next time your dog comes in from the rain, simply wipe her down with Bounce, or any dryer sheet, instantly making your dog smell springtime fresh. Mix 1 cup of Quaker Oats and 1 cup water in a bowl and warm in the microwave. Cool slightly and apply to your hands for relief from arthritis pain. Sore Throat? Just mix ¼ cup of vinegar with ¼ cup honey and take 1 tablespoon six times a day. The vinegar kills the bacteria. If menacing bees, wasps, hornets or yellow jackets get in your home and you cannot find the insecticide, try a spray of Formula 409. Insects drop to the ground instantly. VOLUME 2, ISSUE 2 Page 5 L. S. Howe & Associates, Inc. Group Insurance Broker PO Box 39 Plainfield, IN 46168-0039 Phone: 317-745-7341 Toll Free: 888-449-7341 Fax: 317-718-0292 Email: Lori@LSHowe.com Jackie@LSHowe.com Client Corner Be sure to check out the Hendricks County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website, www.TourHendricksCounty.com for up-to-the-minute information on local attractions, places to stay, dining options, shopping and the most popular feature – the Special Events and Festivals Calendar. The Events Calendar has information on over 250 events happening in Hendricks County! You can also find information on upcoming “Hendricks County Nights” including the Hendricks County Night with the Indians on Tuesday, June 21st. Buy-One-Get-One Free vouchers are now available at the HCCVB office in Danville, as well as all four local Chambers of Commerce. Other special events coming in the near future include the 2nd Annual Taste of Hendricks County in Plainfield on July 14th, and the 3rd Annual United Way Wings of Golf Outing on August 16th in Danville. For more information on any of these events, or about the Hendricks County Convention and Visitors Bureau, contact the office at 317-718-8750 or visit www.TourHendricksCounty.com. Let Lori Howe Show You How To Get the Best Benefits! Visit our website for quick links to various insurance companies www.LSHowe.com L. S. Howe & Associates, Inc. Group Insurance Broker PO Box 39 Plainfield, IN 46168-0039 Look inside for: The informative L. S. Howe & Associates Group Insurance Broker Newsletter!