April 2010

In This Issue


Customer Feedback Continues to Be Positive

The NCMS Plan recently conducted its annual Customer Survey. We appreciate the feedback from nearly one-third of participating practices and we are happy to report that respondents continue to have a positive overall feeling towards the NCMS Plan and the service provided.

In fact, here are a few key statistics pulled from the survey results demonstrating our commitment to providing the best service and Plan possible:

  • 96% of respondents would recommend the NCMS Plan to others.
  • 95% indicated the customer service provided by MMIC Agency, LLC, was good or excellent.
  • 93% were satisfied with the accessibility and responsiveness of their NCMS Plan agent.

We are pleased with the results of the survey, but acknowledge there is always room for improvement. We will continue to work towards maintaining our medical practice focus, designing benefits and providing excellent service tailored to meet your needs. We will also focus on controlling costs at every opportunity and communicating with practices in an assertive way about efforts all members can make in living healthier lives and sharing responsibility for healthcare expenditures.

In a crowded marketplace, the NCMS Plan continues to offer a unique choice to practices for employee benefits. We appreciate your loyalty to the NCMS Plan...still the right choice for your practice.

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How To Create a "Smoke Free" Workplace

Smoking-related diseases claim an estimated 430,700 American lives each year, and cost the United States approximately $97.2 billion each year in health-care costs and lost productivity (Source: American Lung Association).

Smoke-free workplace policies and other initiatives to help employees give up smoking communicate that the employer cares about the health and safety of its employees and community. The work environment can provide an ideal support system for employees to quit smoking, as many employees spend more of their waking hours in their work environment than they do with their family members. With an approach that combines several key initiatives, workplace smoking cessation programs can be successful for both the employer and employees.

  • Set a "quit date" for the workplace to be "smoke free". Communicate this date as soon as possible to employees to provide them with time to make this significant lifestyle change.
  • Invite your NCMS Plan representative to speak to your employees about free support programs, as well as tobacco cessation prescription drug coverage, that are available through the NCMS Plan.
  • Create incentives for participating in smoking cessation programs - discounts on insurance premiums for non-smokers, additional HRA/FSA contributions, entries into raffle drawings every quarter, etc.
  • Invite third-party vendors to speak to your employees, through "lunch and learns" on wellness issues, tobacco cessation support groups, or group weight-loss strategies. The Tobacco Use Quitline is a North Carolina-specific resource for employees, (800) QUIT-NOW.

There are many resources available for employers who wish to help their employees quit smoking. The North Carolina Prevention Partners, American Lung Association, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention each have online smoking cessation counseling and information and can provide more information to employers. If you would like more information about providing smoking cessation programs to your employees, please contact your NCMS Plan agent or call (800) 662-7917.

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Therapeutic Resource Center To Improve Adherence; Reduce Cost

The NCMS Plan in conjunction with our adminsitrative service provider, BCBSNC, is implementing the Therapeutic Resource Center, a new outbound call program for NCMS Plan members. The call center includes a group of pharmacists and benefit specialists, employed by Medco (BCBSNC's pharmacy benefit manager), who will call members who meet certain criteria, and provide expertise and advice on prescription drugs. The goals of this program are to improve medical adherence and reduce Plan costs by encouraging generic and mail order utilization. The criteria for phone calls are members who take more than three maintence medications, and who are diagnosed with Cardiovascular Disease, Pulmonary Disease, Neuro-Psych Disorder or Diabetes or are taking a specialty drug. Specialty drugs are those that have unique uses, require special doses typically prescribed by a specialist provider and are significantly more expensive than alternate drugs or therapies.

Calls began March 31st. Pharmacists or benefit specialists will identify themselves as “Medco Calling on behalf of BCBSNC” even though members are enrolled in the NCMS Plan. They will work with the member to answer any questions or concerns they have regarding their medications.
Members have the option of speaking to a pharmacist if a benefit specialist calls initially. Pharmacists can address side effect and safety concerns, as well as any other question the member may have about their medication. They will also remind the member of the advantages of purchasing a 90 day supply through mail order.

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Ask George

Question: We recently hired a new employee and downloaded an enrollment form from BCBSNC to enroll her. After we submitted the form, it was returned to us for being the incorrect form for NCMS Plan enrollment. We were then sent an NCMS Plan enrollment form which we completed and the enrollment processed sucessfully. Since it appears that we are covered by BCBSNC, why are we required to use an NCMS Plan enrollment form rather than one from BCBSNC, what is the difference?

Answer: First, let me apologize for the inconvenience, but I hope this answer will clarify things for you. The NCMS Plan is an employee benefit plan separate and distinct from BCBSNC. The NCMS Plan has contracted with BCBSNC to provide it with certain administrative services, such as billing, claims processing, and provider networks. But your contractual relationship is with the NCMS Plan, not with BCBSNC.

Because the NCMS Plan offers a number of benefit plans, eligibility classes, and other features that are unique to it and not offered by BCBSNC, it is important that you use NCMS Plan forms to ensure timely enrollment.

If you have questions or would like a copy of the NCMS Plan enrollment form sent to you, please contact me at 919-878-7561 or [email protected].

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NCMS Seeks Support for Permanent Medicare Fix

All fifty states and more than 12 specialty societies are now taking part in the Medicare Meltdown Petition Drive, led by the Texas Medical Association. The goal is to gather as many signatures as possible on a petition that calls for a permanent fix to the formula used to derive Medicare physician reimbursement fees. President Obama recently signed the Continuing Extension Act of 2010 into law reinstating Medicare physician payments to where they were on March 31 and again postponing the 21.3 percent cut that was supposed to take effect in 2010.

Physicians are urged to download the flyer to tell their patients about why their signatures are so important. Where possible, you may want to set up a computer in your practice that allows patients to sign the petition online.

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About the North Carolina Medical Society

As the largest physician organization in the state, the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) is devoted to representing the interests of physicians and protecting the quality of patient care. The NCMS Plan, sponsored by the NCMS, is the only statewide employee benefits plan designed specifically for North Carolina physicians.

For more information about many other benefits of NCMS membership, visit www.ncmedsoc.org.

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