January 2008

In This Issue


You Now Have CHOICES!

Welcome to the inaugural issue of CHOICES, the quarterly e-newsletter for North Carolina Medical Society Employee Benefit Plan (NCMS Plan) practice managers. You make choices everyday, some are easier to make than others. Choosing employee benefits and a carrier is probably not one of the easy ones. With so many alternatives, we thank you for your business and for your decision to take advantage of the features and flexibility offered by the NCMS Plan. We strive to improve our service to you and our communication with you. CHOICES is one more way that we will stay in touch.

CHOICES will feature articles and information for you, and perhaps, by you. Our goal is to keep you informed about your NCMS Plan and to answer your questions about plan administration. CHOICES will include certain feature articles in every issue:

Ask George: George Fanelli, Account Service Representative for the NCMS Plan, will answer your frequently asked questions. We encourage you to submit questions to George at [email protected].

Copy/Paste: An article that you can “copy/paste” into your own employee newsletter, intranet, or bulletin board. Information that you can share with your employees encouraging them to use NCMS Plan benefits like wellness programs and online member services.

Practice Manager’s Forum: The opportunity for you to share information with other practice managers...information directly related to employee benefits or not. This is your forum and we encourage you to participate (and perhaps win!).

We hope that you find CHOICES to be a useful resource. If you have comments or feedback you want to share, e-mail Gary Bossert, Director of Operations, at [email protected]. Thank you again for choosing the NCMS Plan, where choice is your greatest benefit.

Customer Satisfaction Survey Results

In 2007, the NCMS Plan conducted a Customer Satisfaction Survey. Thank you to everyone who participated. We received a response rate of 33%, a very high return for a satisfaction survey and an indication of your interest in and commitment to the NCMS Plan.

Here are a few key statistics pulled from the survey results:

  • 98% felt that NCMS sponsorship was important.
  • 95% would recommend the NCMS Plan to others.
  • 84% felt that the frequency of communication from the NCMS Plan was good or excellent.
  • 94% of respondents felt that customer service provided by MMIC Agency, Inc. was good or excellent.

We are pleased with the results of the survey. Your feedback tells us we are on the right track, but there is always room for improvement. CHOICES is one way that we will increase our communication with you and keep you informed of NCMS Plan news and events.

Thank you again for your feedback and support. We look forward to soliciting your feedback again this year. Watch your mail for the 2008 NCMS Plan Customer Satisfaction Survey.

Copayment for Chronic Health Condition Drugs Reduced

The NCMS Plan has partnered with its administrator, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (“BCBSNC”), on a new medication adherence program targeting four specific chronic health conditions.

The program, called Medication Dedication, reduces the copayment for brand name drugs that treat the chronic health conditions of congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. These brand name drugs are being moved into a lower drug classification tier which will lower the amount of the copayment. By reducing the copayment for these prescription medications, it is hoped that your employees with these chronic health conditions will take their medications as prescribed. Members enrolled in a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), which have no prescription drug copayment, will continue to pay the contracted price for these brand name drugs.

This change is effective January 1, 2008, and is expected to continue through 2009. To take advantage of this change, simply take the prescription for a brand-name drug that has been moved to a lower drug tier to a network pharmacy and the lower copayment will automatically be applied at the pharmacy. For a complete list of the prescription drugs involved, go to https://www.bcbsnc.com/pdfs/medication_dedication_brand_drug_list.pdf.

The Medication Dedication program has a second component that the NCMS Plan is not participating in. This part of the program would waive the copayment for generic drugs used in the treatment of these four specific chronic health conditions. Given the already high adherence rate of the NCMS Plan’s members, and the costs associated with the copayment waiver, the NCMS Plan has chosen not to participate in this part of the program at this time.

Please share this information with your employees that are enrolled in the NCMS Plan. If you have any questions, please contact Gary Bossert or George Fanelli at 800-662-7917.

Ask George

Question: When our practice hires a new employee, I sometimes get confused about the probationary period that applies and when benefits are effective. Can you explain the different probationary periods and effective dates of coverage?

Answer: When pondering probationary periods for new hires, it’s important to remember that practices are given four probationary period options at their initial enrollment in the NCMS Plan.

The four options are as follows:

  • 0 True: Coverage is effective on date of hire.
  • 30 Days: Coverage is effective on the next first of the month following 30 days of employment.
  • 60 Days: Coverage is effective on the next first of the month following 60 days of employment.
  • 90 True: Coverage is effective on date following 90 days of employment.

A practice may choose a probationary period for all employees, or one probationary period for physicians and another for non-physician employees.

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].


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.

According to North Carolina Prevention Partners, the estimated annual cost per employee of unhealthy nutrition, inactivity and tobacco use in NC is, on average, $5,000. At least a quarter of medical costs are for conditions that are largely preventable. The North Carolina Medical Society Employee Benefit Plan (NCMS Plan), the practice’s health insurance provider, believes that active participation in wellness programs is one way we can all help keep health care costs down.

The NCMS Plan, with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, offers a program called Member Health Partnerships to help you better manage your health and your unique health conditions. The program offers educational materials and support services customized to your specific health concerns and needs. Enrolling in Member Health Partnerships is easy -- all you need to do is complete a health survey. Participation in the program is confidential and free.

By joining the Member Health Partnerships program, you’ll get: one-on-one answers to your health questions, nutrition counseling, free or discounted health management supplies and drugs, a personalized health report, a health organizer, support to quit tobacco, and access to specific health management programs for conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and migraines to name a few. In fact, members with diabetes can receive deductible waivers for diabetic testing supplies and free blood glucose meters with testing strip orders.

Enroll today by calling 1-800-218-5295 or visit https://www.bcbsnc.com/memberservices/
to register as a member and download the enrollment survey.

Practice Manager's Forum

Do you have tips, ideas, or suggestions that you want to share with practice managers who get this newsletter? Do you have questions you want to ask of other practice managers? We want this article to be a resource to you...a resource that extends beyond employee benefits to the other areas that you wrestle with every day.

If you would like to submit something for publication in a future issue, 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.