As a consequence of the Affordable Care Act, Health Net will have to discontinue offering health plans to California Farm Bureau Federation members in 2014. Current Health Net members in the affected plans will be receiving letters from the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) notifying them of the discontinued health insurance.
California Farm Bureau Federation selects a general agency
Because CFBF is the master policy holder of the CFBF health plans, Health Net doesn’t have the ability to migrate members to new ACA compliant plans. In an unusual twist, the CFBF letter notifying current policy holders of the change throws the CFBF member’s insurance agent under the bus by referring members to a large general insurance agency that seems to have no ties to agricultural communities in California.
Long serving insurance agents ignored
There are many insurance agents, some of whom are CFBF members, who have proudly represented Health Net plans to CFBF members. It would only be common courtesy to give the insurance agents who represented and serviced the Health Net plans to CFBM members a token nod and encourage their members to contact their current agent or broker.
Dental and vision plans lost
Beyond the discontinuance of the health plans, current Farm Bureau members will also lose any indemnity, dental, vision or term life
insurance coverage they may have had through Health Net. The replacement of such ancillary benefits is far better suited to a local agent or broker that understands the specific needs of the CFBF member.
New ACA plans have regional flavor
The new ACA compliant health plans offered through Covered California and “Off Marketplace” through carriers such as Health Net have subtle regional differences that a local agent will be more familiar with. There are differences such as doctor and hospital networks, the new EPO (Exclusive Provider Organizations) and new pediatric dental plans.
Bigger isn’t better
On the Californian Farm Bureau Federation website page that introduces and refers members to the general agency handling health insurance, CFBF states,
“Keenan’s experience, and its $1.17 billion book of business with the major health plans, means Keenan has developed strong relationships to be able to negotiate favorable terms with those plans.”
For the record, the health plan rates have already filed and approved by the California Department of Insurance. No third party administrator or general agency can negotiate any better individual and family plans rates. The rates for health plans offered inside the state health insurance exchange, Covered California, are the same as outside the exchange.
12,000 agents register to help all Californians
The California Farm Bureau Federation in a letter to its members regarding the new health insurance affiliation with the general agency states,
“Because it doesn’t represent a single insurer, Keenan can provide you with unbiased guidance to help you find the coverage and value that best fits your health insurance needs. And, if you are eligible for a federal premium subsidy because of the Affordable Care Act, Keenan can assist you in selecting coverage through the Covered California health insurance exchange that will begin offering plans on October 1.”
Many current agents that have represented Health Net plans to CFBF members are also independent and also represent multiple
carriers. Over 12,000 health insurance agents have registered to become certified to sell Covered California health plans and will be very familiar with assisting clients to determine if they are eligible for premium assistance. In addition, many local insurance agents will have the ability to hold enrollment seminars to help the employees of farm and ranching operations sign up for health insurance through Covered California.
Contact the agent that knows you
I am sure the general agency that CFBF is referring their members to for health insurance is a reputable and honest organization. (Although it would be interesting to know how the general agency compensates CFBF for the referrals). But I encourage current CFBF members to first talk to their current insurance agent to see how he or she might be able to assist them during this time of transition to the new ACA compliant health plans.
If you are a current CFBF member enrolled in a Health Net plan, you can download the Change Notification Form below, indicate the new plan you would like on January 1, 2014 (If it is offered in your region) and mail it into Health Net. Your local health insurance agent can assist you in making a determination on which plan will be best for you and your family.