BOUNTIFUL—All the talk of “Obamacare” and health insurance coverage can be daunting. Sometimes it’s helpful to have someone in your corner.
“It’s nice to have an advocate to go to bat for people,” said Blake Izatt president of RBI Benefits in Bountiful. “It’s a valuable service that we provide.”
RBI works with small to medium sized businesses and individuals on health insurance needs. “We help get the right plan for them,” said Izatt. “We represent all the major insurance carriers.”
Izatt said RBI handles all the insurance benefits for the company’s employees. “We take a census of their employees then go to the market like Select Health or Blue Cross and put together a spreadsheet for them to compare,” he said. “We’re a ‘one-stop shop’ for small businesses. A lot of them don’t have a dedicated HR department so they outsource to us. That’s kind of the niche of what we do.”
Group rates are generally better than individual rates, he said. “We set them up with a good value to help recruit and retain good employees through benefits.”
Company health benefits started back during World War II, he said. “Women were entering the workforce because of the war and there was a wage freeze. The government offered a tax break if companies gave health benefits. That started the tradition in our country for businesses to offer health coverage. It’s not so common in other countries.”
The Affordable Care Act has brought about some good things and some not so good things, Izatt said.
“It hasn’t done much to curb the increase in the cost of health insurance,” he said. “Preventative care is good to catch something before it becomes a problem and insurance coverage up to age 26 is a good idea. But there needs to be some reform to address things that are driving up costs. They’ve really just put a Band-Aid on it. It seems better because people are getting big subsidies but those are being paid for by the tax payers.”
Rates have gone up for 2017 by 30 to 50 percent for individuals, Izatt said. Open enrollment ends Dec. 15, 2016 for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2017 so now is the time to consider making a change if needed.
“During this time of the year people can add or make changes to their policies,” he said. “The rest of the year you can only switch if you have a life-changing event, such as you had coverage through your work but lost your job.”
Many customers have gone to a higher deductible plan such as a Health Savings Account (HSA), he said.
“There are no co-pays you just have to meet your deductible. It’s a tax-free savings account to offset your medical expenses,” Izatt said. “It’s not ‘use it or lose it’ though. You can build it up over time. If you don’t use it by the time you’re 65 you can draw it out for income but then it will be taxed. It’s kind of like a medical IRA. A lot of people are going that way.”
Another route some individuals are considering is health share, he said.
“It’s kind of an outside the box solution. It was started in the early 80s by Christian groups who didn’t want to pay for certain things in regular health insurance so they pooled their money together,” Izatt said. “Now it’s going more mainstream and you don’t have to be Christian but you do have to agree to a healthy lifestyle. The cost is 40 to 60 percent less than traditional plans. However, they won’t cost share if you have a serious preexisting condition.”
Contributions are not considered health insurance with this option, he said. But it does qualify under the Affordable Care Act because those groups were allowed to continue so participants won’t get penalized for not having insurance.
RBI is tied to a group of brokers so that helps them to be able to offer good service to their clients. “They have a dedicated account manager who can get things done,” Izatt said. “Everyone needs to look at their insurance coverage once a year because new providers come in and they could be losing a lot of money or paying more than they should. There is potential to save but people don’t want to change doctors, etc. But it’s good to look at the options. Ultimately, it’s more than just the money – with health care it’s also the relationships with their doctor” or other providers.
RBI Benefits is located at 655 Medical Dr. #102 in Bountiful.