April 2008

In This Issue

·                       NCMS Plan's 10th Anniversary

·                       New Plan Year (2008-2009) Begins August 1st

·                       2008 Survey: Satisfaction Remains High

·                       Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit

·                       Ask George

·                       Copy/Paste

·                       Form 5500 Not Required

·                       Wellness in the Workplace

·                       Practice Manager's Forum



NCMS Plan's 10th Anniversary

On August 1st, 2008, the North Carolina Medical Society Employee Benefit Plan (NCMS Plan) completes its 10th year of partnering with physician practices to provide employee benefits. The NCMS Plan, sponsored by the North Carolina Medical Society, continues to be a unique choice in the benefits marketplace, offering competitive health, dental, and life products and pricing with a focus on meeting the needs of the physician community. As always, we thank you for your commitment and loyalty to the NCMS Plan, and we look forward to serving you and your employees for another decade and beyond.

New Plan Year (2008-2009) Begins August 1st

With the beginning of the 2008-2009 plan year approaching, here is important information you need to know:

The NCMS Plan implements benefit changes on August 1st, 2008. These changes are effective at your practice's renewal on or after August 1st.

Administrator Workshops focused on changes to be implemented August 1st are scheduled. Please mark your calendars.

Wednesday, June 11th, Wilmington, Hampton Inn Medical Park, 12-2pm
Thursday, June 12th, Greensboro, Sheraton Hotel at Four Seasons, 12-2pm
Friday, June 13th, Charlotte, Marriott Executive Park, 12-2pm
Monday, June 16th, Raleigh, Hilton North Raleigh, 12-2pm

RSVP Contact: Crystal Taylor, 919-878-7569 or [email protected].

We look forward to seeing you at an Administrator Workshop and thank you for your continued support of the NCMS Plan.

2008 Survey: Satisfaction Remains High

The NCMS Plan conducted its annual Customer Survey in February. Again this year, the response rate was excellent with over one-third of all surveys returned. We appreciate the feedback and we are happy to report that NCMS Plan practices 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:

·                       95% would recommend the NCMS Plan to others. Same as last year.

·                       96% of respondents felt that customer service provided by MMIC Agency, Inc. was good or excellent. Up from 94% last year.

·                       88% of respondents felt that the NCMS Plan was a good value for the money. Up from 84% last year.

·                       91% of respondents were satisifed with the accessibility and responsiveness of their agent. Up from 87% last year.

We are pleased with the results of the survey, but acknowledge there are areas where we can improve. As an example, we will work closely with MetLife, the NCMS Plan dental carrier, to monitor and improve their service to you. MetLife received an 83% satisfaction rating, not bad by most standards, but a rating that we believe can be improved.

Thank you again for your feedback and support. The next Customer Satisfaction Survey will be conducted in February 2009.

Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit

Effective for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2007, small businesses in North Carolina that provide qualifying health insurance for all of its eligible employees during the taxable year may be able to claim a tax credit. A taxpayer that employs no more than twenty-five (25) eligible employees at any one time during the taxable year is considered a small business.

The NCMS Plan offers several health care plans that are qualifying health insurance:

PPO 500-80 (PPO 01, 8/07)
PPO 750-80 (PPO 02, 8/07)
PPO 1000-80 (PPO 03, 8/07)
PPO 1500-80 (PPO 04, 8/07)
HDHP 2700-100 (HDHP 03, 8/07)
HRA 2700-100 (HRA 01, 8/07)

To learn more about this tax credit, contact the North Carolina Department of Revenue or your tax professional.

Ask George

Question: My son is attending a university in another state and may need to have medical services. Can he receive our benefits out-of-state?

Answer: Certainly! The NCMS Plan provides members and their dependents with access to health benefits anywhere in the world. Specifically, dependents attending a university in another state and needing to be seen by a physician can simply call the physician-access line at 1-800-810-BLUE to find a participating doctor in their area. When they arrive at the office or facility, they just present their NCMS Plan identification card to receive in-network benefits. In the event of an emergency, they should go to the nearest hospital. There should not be any claim forms to be completed, nor any charges to pay up front for medical services - other than for plan-specific expenses such as copayments, deductible and coinsurance.

George Fanelli is an Account Service Representative with the NCMS Plan. If you have a question you would like answered in a future issue of CHOICES, e-mail George at [email protected].


Member Services

Feel free to customize and share this article with your employees in your newsletter, on your intranet, by e-mail, or on a bulletin board.

How do I request an ID card? How do I change my contact information? Where can I go to check my benefits and view my claims?

These are common questions employees ask, but what many do not know is that the NCMS Plan, with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, provides access to a website with all of this information and more.

Member Services is easy to access and easy to use. Here is a list of just a few resources and services available to you through the website:

·                       Enroll in health programs to help you get started on the road to better health.

·                       Get advice from a specially trained nurse.

·                       Earn prizes for health activities.

·                       View your claims history.

Visit www.bcbsnc.com/memberservices/public/demo to take a tour of Member Services. To register go to http://bcbsnc.com/memberservices.

Form 5500 Not Required

Employers participating in a self-funded multi-employer welfare association (the health benefits of the NCMS Plan) do not have to file a Form 5500 on that benefit plan as long as the NCMS Plan is making a filing. The NCMS Plan files a Form 5500 so participating employers do not have to.

Fully insured products do require Form 5500 and information is available from the applicable carrier(s).

Form 5500 is an annual report to the IRS and the U.S. Department of Labor which provides information about an employer's benefit plan(s).

Wellness in the Workplace

According to estimates by Be Active North Carolina, Inc., physical inactivity and poor nutrition cost North Carolina $24 billion per year in health care expenses, lost productivity and workers' compensation. Workplace wellness programs are demonstrated to reduce these costs, yet few employers implement such programs. Many believe that wellness programs are too expensive, or take too much time. The fact is that many programs and policies cost nothing and can take little to no time to implement, such as:

·                       Make your workplace entirely smoke-free

·                       Allow employees to use sick time for preventive care physician visits

·                       Provide healthy snack options in break rooms

·                       Encourage and remind employees to get routine physical exams and screenings

·                       Consider offering on-site health screenings

Free and low-cost resources are available online at http://www.fittogethernc.org/, http://www.beactivenc.org/, and http://www.welcoa.org/.

Practice Manager's Forum

New Network Delivers Urgent Drug and Product Recalls by E-Mail

Have you ever wished that you knew about drug recalls and medical product safety issues sooner? A nationwide initiative that began in March of 2008 will soon make that possible. The Health Care Notification Network will alert physicians and practice administrators by e-mail of urgent drug and product recalls and FDA warnings.

Over the past two years, medical societies, liability carriers and other groups have formed a not-for-profit corporation (the iHealth Alliance) whose goals include improving patient safety through electronic means. The iHealth Alliance has worked with the FDA, manufacturers, medical societies, and others to create an electronic network that will deliver patient safety notifications to providers online. Key aspects of this network (the Health Care Notification Network or “HCNN”) include the following:

1) Notification is free for physicians and their e-mail addresses will be used only for patient safety notifications (no spam, no marketing or selling of lists, and no use by third parties).
2) Physicians will receive the warnings days to weeks ahead of current paper/U.S. mail-based notifications.
3) Physicians can identify additional e-mail recipients (such as office staff) who should also receive these warnings.
4) Funding for the HCNN comes from user fees paid by manufacturers.
5) Providers can opt out of the HCNN at any time.

HCNN’s rapid online communication with physicians for FDA-mandated product recalls and warnings will replace the widely criticized and decades-old system based on paper and U.S. mail. Physicians who are not enrolled in the HCNN, or who are enrolled but do not open their e-mail notification, will be notified via standard mail.

For specific enrollment instructions and for more information about HCNN alerts, call 1.866.925.5155 or visit http://www.hcnn.net/.

If you would like to submit an item for publication in the Practice Manager's Forum, e-mail [email protected]. If your article is selected for inclusion, you will receive a token of our appreciation for participating in this forum.

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 http://www.ncmedsoc.org/legacy/pages/news_highlights/news_detail.jsp?id=199.

This message was sent to [email protected]. If you no longer wish to receive email from us, please click here.