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Shop health care options at Heavin, Otto & Leavitt

Will Heavin, co-owner of Heavin, Otto & Leavitt Insurance Services in Corpus Christi, is dedicated to finding the best insurance solutions for small- to medium-size businesses and self-employed individuals. Photo by Jane Kathleen Gregorio

Finding health care coverage for a small business doesn’t have to give you a heart attack, said Will Heavin. After 34 years in the health care insurance business, Heavin definitely has his finger on the pulse of the industry.

His main advice for business owners looking to provide health care to their family and employees is to find an independent agent or broker who works with all the major insurance companies.

“Everyone should use an agent to shop for the best prices on a yearly basis,” Heavin said.

He advises businesses owners and self-employed contractors such as plumbers, electricians, and store owners to consult an agent about affordable group health solutions as compared to insurance offered on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange.

“Now that HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations) have gone up in price, small businesses can get a comparable group plan for about the same price,” Heavin continued. “And with PPO (Preferred Provider Organization), they can have access to thousands of doctors nationwide. Most business owners aren’t aware of this.”

Group health insurance plans are designed not just to treat the sick but also to keep people healthy. Most plans now cover preventive care services at 100 percent, including child and adult immunizations, mammograms, well-woman exams, chest X-rays, lab work, and even routine colonoscopies.

Wellness plans, which have been shown to reduce absenteeism and on-the-job injuries, can even help reduce costs based on the level of activity from employees. Some insurance companies even reward employers with premium discounts based on the employees’ engagement in their wellness plan. An agent should assist in helping to implement these programs.

Small-business owners and even self-employed individuals can qualify to receive group health plans that are about the same price, if not slightly cheaper and with better benefits, as those on the ACA exchange, according to Heavin.

“When a former physician client I knew branched off and started his own practice, his wife came into our office to get ACA coverage for their family,” Heavin said. “They had only four employees. Her husband, the physician, thought to get a group plan. He had to have at least 10 employees.”

Heavin explained that the physician’s business qualified for a group health plan. Heavin said even small businesses can qualify for a group plan as long as the business has at least one employee to whom they pay W-2 wages.

“She was thrilled because she was able to get a group plan for less than the ACA coverage,” Heavin said. “And, it’s better because it is a Preferred Provider Organization, which allows members to visit whatever in-network physician or health care provider they wish without a physician referral.”

Changes in the Affordable Care Act, since the election of President Donald Trump, could cause increased premiums in the health care exchange. For example: Individuals will no longer be required to buy health care, which is expected to raise premiums in 2019 when it takes effect.

For individuals still choosing to purchase coverage through the ACA, Heavin advises them to be alert for open enrollment dates, which are usually Nov. 1 through Dec. 15. Dates and enrollment instructions can be found by checking online at healthcare.gov. Individuals who don't have the option of coverage at work can also apply for marketplace coverage if they have a qualifying event such as loss of coverage, getting married, or having a baby. However, you have to act quickly since most of these "qualifying events" require you to apply for marketplace coverage within 30 days of the event.

Heavin and Associates Insurance Agency Inc. opened its doors to individuals in 2014 when Obamacare went into full effect. The ACA was approved in 2010 and phased in over the next four years. Heavin made himself and his staff available to answer individual’s questions about insurance.

“We want people to feel comfortable walking in and approaching us with any concerns or issues they may have,” Heavin said. “Our company, and bilingual staff, is here to help individuals, families, and businesses make the best decisions when it comes to health care coverage and insurance needs and much more. And, if we can help businesses and their employees find better plans for lower premiums then we have done a great service.”

In 2017, Will Heavin, John Otto, owner of the Arvak Agency, and the Leavitt Group combined to form Heavin, Otto & Leavitt Insurance Services Inc., and are now part of the Leavitt Group, offering health solutions to employers of all sizes. It is currently one of the largest, privately held insurance brokerages in the country.

Leavitt Group provides clients with greater insurance market access and a wide range of value-added services and resources. Clients receive employee benefits solutions, risk management, opportunities to look at partial and even fully self-funded plan options, and other services.

Heavin, Otto & Leavitt Insurance Services Inc is located at 4717 Gollihar Road, Corpus Christi, TX 78411. For more information, call (361) 852-8005 or visit leavitt.com/coastalbend.

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