By Gemma Long
The team at Health Alliance treats you like a person, not a policy. The goal is to deliver top-notch insurance that fits with your individual needs and budget. Health Alliance has tens of thousands of doctors in its network, hundreds of network hospitals, more than 400,000 members, and 600-plus Health Alliance employees, all here to serve you.
Health Alliance provides health insurance to all kinds of people, whether you’re getting insurance through an employer, or purchasing your own, because you’re 65 and older and on Medicare, or younger and self-employed.
Sue Lange and Carolyn Williams are longtime employees of Health Alliance. Sue has been with the company for eight years, and worked in the insurance industry for 20; and Carolyn, who has worked in insurance for almost two decades, has spent 14 of those years with Health Alliance.
Carolyn says this is a very busy time of year for Health Alliance. “The Annual Election Period (AEP) for Medicare is set for this time every year; between October 15 and December 7, when people can make a change to their existing plan, or enroll in a new plan. We are getting a lot of calls. Every year, we can start talking to customers about Medicare from October 1, but we cannot accept applications until October 15, as per Medicare guidelines,” says Carolyn. New Medicare plans are effective January 1, 2016.
For non-Medicare 2016 coverage, the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) is November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016. People may qualify for Special Enrollment Periods, allowing them to enroll outside of OEP, if they have certain life events, like getting married, having a baby, or losing other coverage. This kind of coverage is for people without Medicare who don’t get their coverage through an employer.
Health Alliance prides itself on being based locally, in Champaign-Urbana, with fully-trained staff on hand to take calls or meet with members and potential members in person. “When we talk to a customer on the phone and go over the benefits of an appropriate plan, we always give our extension number so that person is able to call us back and speak to the employee who knows their situation. All of our conversations are documented, so if the person who has taken the call is not available, whomever the customer speaks to will be able to quickly grasp the details of the situation and help them,” says Carolyn.
Health Alliance staff have the time and know-how to walk customers through the application process as required. Sue says the customer service is second to none. “We are here to help. We listen carefully to each and every person as they’re talking, so that we know the questions to ask them in order to give them the coverage they need.”
What is most impressive about Health Alliance is its high members retention, says Sue. “We have a 98 percent rate of membership retention with our Medicare Advantage members.”
Both agreed there is now a greater need to educate customers on the ins and outs of health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. “It’s the law. They must have insurance. We can help them choose a plan that is good for them, and with subsidies, it’s not going to cost them as much as they first think. A lot of people think they don’t need health insurance, so really much of what we are doing now is about changing people’s attitude toward insurance in general,” says Sue.
Those seeking health insurance are able to find the advice they need, thanks to Health Alliance, because its staff takes the time to walk customers through the plans, and put them at ease about these important decisions.
Carolyn says anyone is welcome to call for information. “We do not ask for any personal information upfront, other than the county in which they live, how old they are, and whether or not they are a tobacco user.” This applies to non-Medicare customers.
Sue added those calling for information about a plan may be asked their estimated income for the following year to see if they are eligible for help paying for their plan. “You might be surprised to learn that we don’t ask any health-related questions on the applications, and there are no issues with insuring those who are pregnant,” said Sue.
The team at Health Alliance is so flexible, they’ll not only correspond with you over the phone or in person, but also on email. Ordinarily, the phones are manned Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but during Medicare enrollment, between October and mid-February, there will be someone available to take your call between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., seven days a week. Outside of these times, customers are invited to leave a message, and a member of the team will respond the next business day.
You can rest assured you will be speaking to someone who understands clearly the plan they are presenting to you. Health Alliance staff are from all walks of life, all ages, and backgrounds. “We pride ourselves on the fact that when you call us, you will get to speak to a real person. We often hear from people who have called other health plans, and they have had to punch in many numbers to speak to someone on the phone, having to then leave a message,” said Sue.
In fact, Health Alliance believes so strongly in the importance of education that it puts on Medicare seminars throughout central and southern Illinois, so customers can go over plans details and ask questions.
In Illinois, Health Alliance offers employer group plans, individual and family plans, Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare group plans, Medicare Supplement plans, Dual-Eligible Special Needs Plans, Medicaid-only plans, State of Illinois Employee plans, and State of Illinois Retiree plans through Total Retiree Advantage Illinois. Health Alliance is located at 206 W. Anthony Drive in Champaign; just off Interstate 74 and Neil Street, near Alexander’s Steakhouse. Members can log on to YourHealthAlliance.org and have instant access to tools and info to help them better manage their coverage. For individual plans, call 1-877-686-1168, group plans 1-800-851-3379, ext. 8024 and Medicare 1-888-382-9771 (711 TTY/TDD).
Health Alliance Medicare is an HMO and PPO plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Health Alliance Medicare depends on contract renewal. H1417_H1463_16_38915
Photo credits: Squaredpixels/PeopleImages/STEEX/iStock
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