In this June Issue...
- Message from the President
- Health Insurance Q&A
- Meet Our New Health Insurance Broker
- I ndependent Health Fuel for Thought: Why Does the Same Thing Have Different
- Medicare 101
- Featured Recipe
Message from the President

You can’t pick up a newspaper or turn on the television without hearing a debate about health insurance in the United States.  Everyone recognizes that the health care delivery system is in a total state of chaos and requires systemic changes.  Both sides of the issue have viable concerns.  We need to remove this issue from the political and partisan forum and advocate for professionals in the health care industry and consumers to pound out a plan that meets the needs of the majority of people.

As all of the readers of this newsletter know, the Amherst Chamber of Commerce operates an in-house health insurance agency in an effort to assist our small business members with their employee benefits. This has resulted in our having a front row view on the impact of rising premiums and diluted benefits for our subscriber base.  We recently counseled a member who was bemoaning the fact that he had great insurance that he couldn’t afford to use.  While his benefits were outstanding, he has a $6,000 deductible.  That means he is responsible for the first $6,000 other than the essential benefits.  Sick visits for his three pre-school children were adding up but didn’t yet qualify him and he was paying over $1000 per month premium.  This is not sustainable for a young family.

Of larger concern to many of our subscribers is what is covered and what isn’t.  Many people are under the false impression that if their doctor orders a procedure or a medication, it will be covered by their insurance because it is a medical necessity.  That is not true.  You may require the service or the medicine but there is no guarantee it will be covered by your insurance.  And, it is the patient/subscribers responsibility to determine this prior to receiving the treatment.  There are many, many plan choices by several different providers so a Physician’s Office and Staff cannot possibly be responsible for knowing individual coverages.

The Amherst Chamber does not have the power to alter the opinions of our Federal representatives.

What we can do is help our members navigate upcoming changes.  We know that premiums will be escalating in 2018 and we know benefits will be diluted.  Our staff is working with our clients and enrolling them in November and December in an effort to maintain 2017 rates for the following 12 month period.  We will also sit with our members in an attempt to map them to 2018 coverage that aligns most closely with their current coverage but with a lower cost plan.  In anticipation of the volume we anticipate for Open Enrollment, we have recently had our Director of Operations secure her Brokers License.  Christine Langenfeld has joined Penny LaPlaca and Olivia Dann so we have a full complement of Chamber staff to assist you with your health insurance needs.  Feel free to come in and speak to us and let us assist you with this confusing issue.
Health Insurance Q&A
The ABC's... and D's... of Medicare

Planning in advance for Medicare eligibility at age 65 is important.  There are many choices in how you get Medicare health and prescription drug coverage, and who you get them from.  Understanding how it works is time well spent. 

Medicare has four components.  Parts A & B (Original Medicare) are administered by the federal government, while Parts C & D come from private insurers and supplement Original Medicare.

Medicare Parts A & B combine to offer basic hospital and doctor services.  

Medicare Part C, also known as Medicare Advantage, comes from private insurers who bundle Parts A & B with supplemental services usually including prescription drug benefits.

Medicare Part D is stand-alone prescription coverage available through private insurers.

To assist you in being proactive and prepared to choose a Medicare plan that’s right for you, the Amherst Chamber is offering an introductory Medicare 101 seminar on Tuesday, July 18 at 4 p.m.  Space is available, call 716-632-6905 to let us know you’ll be attending!   
Your Amherst Chamber of Commerce licensed brokers
are here to help!
Call the Chamber offices at 632-6905 to get your questions answered.  
Welcome our New Insurance Broker...
Please join us in congratulating our Director of Operations, Christine Langenfeld, on recently earning her Insurance Brokerage License.

Christine joined our staff back in February of this year.  She heads up all operational aspects of the Chamber, overseeing all human resources activities and day to day finance.  She will now be adding the administration of all aspects of the Chamber’s Health Insurance department to her responsibilities.  Her extensive background in employee relations, operations, and customer services will make her a great addition to our Health Insurance department.

The Amherst Chamber of Commerce is the only chamber in the region with its own in house brokerage firm, which it created about nine years ago, in anticipation of the Affordable Care Act.  We recognized that small businesses and sole proprietors would need assistance as they experience systemic changes in the health care industry.  Substantial resources have been and continue to be devoted in the development of this department which provides our members with the products and services they need to continue to grow their business.  
Fuel for Thought: Why Does the Same Thing Have Different Costs?
About five years ago, the Institute of Medicine issued a report that found approximately 30% of all health care spending is wasteful. The report pointed to unnecessary and inefficient services, excessive administrative costs, and fraud and abuse as the reasons for the wasteful spending. 

At Independent Health, we continuously look for opportunities to make health care more efficient and less costly without sacrificing quality.  One way to improve efficiency and achieve lower costs is by engaging people in their health care decisions through greater health care transparency.

We have seen how transparency of costs could help achieve savings.  Last fall, Independent Health shared valuable cost-saving information with our members about ways they could save money on their out-of-pocket costs.  The overarching idea was to make them aware of the significant cost differences for various services depending on the “site of service,” such as the comparison of certain services obtained at a hospital and free-standing facility.  Not only can people save money by using a freestanding facility, they will receive the same high-quality service and their overall experience is likely to be better and much more convenient.

In addition, through Independent Health’s movement to value-based care, we have been working with our provider partners to establish new, alternative reimbursement models that are designed to achieve the “triple aim.” We have also made them aware of our “transparency” member engagement efforts; all of which are paying dividends.  For example, hospitals in our area are now lowering the cost for colonoscopies – one of the most common preventive and diagnostic services provided to our members – to be more in line with the free-standing facilities.

While there is still more work to be done to help lower the overall cost of care, these incremental changes can add up over time to make a big difference.  That’s why we will remain focused on collaborating with our provider partners and engaging members in an effort to achieve sustainable solutions that improve the quality and lower the cost of care for our customers and our community.

To learn more about the difference in costs based on the site of service, visit our website
John R. Oishei Children's Hospital Surpasses 90 Percent Completion
Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo announced on June 28, 2017 that construction on the new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital is more than 90 percent complete and remains on schedule to open in November 2017.

After breaking ground in October 2014 and completing the entirety of the building’s exterior in late 2016, interior construction of the new facility – including installation and testing of the mechanical and electrical systems – is nearly complete. 

Recent construction milestones include the completion all operating rooms, elevators and floors 8 through 12 where the mother baby unit, pediatric intensive care unit, medical surgical units and hematology/oncology unit reside.  

“Now that the interior is nearly complete, it is exciting to see the countless hours of time and effort poured into creating a one-of-a-kind, child-friendly space finally take shape,” said Allegra Jaros, president of Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. “We are just a few short months away from opening the doors of the John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital and introducing the next generation of comprehensive pediatric care to the women and children of Western New York.” 

Medicare 101 Workshop
Featured Recipe
California Grilled Chicken

This flavorful chicken dish is very simple and even more delicious. It also gives you another excuse to pull the grill out on these warm summer days.  The meal is filling but still light so not to leave a heavy feeling in your stomach afterwards.

Click here for the recipe. 
 Amherst Chamber of Commerce | (P) 716.632.6905 | (F) 716.632.0548 |