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Frequently Asked Questions


The following are the most frequently asked questions we receive. Call us at 708-597-2800 if we can answer any additional questions.

Employer-Sponsored Benefit Plans

How can thorntonpowell assist my company and my employees?

Our benefits team is committed to your 100% satisfaction. We know that many of you that administer benefits programs have to wear many hats at your company. We believe that we can help to lighten that load. Our approach consists of comprehensive annual plan evaluation that allows you to be confident in the plan you are providing your employees. We conduct ongoing employee enrollment and education to ensure that employees understand and appreciate the benefits your company offers. Each client is assigned a specific account manager at thorntonpowell who employees can meet face to face, that will assist you and them should any problems arise in the future with billing, claims or even finding a provider. Finally we are well educated in all ends of the benefit spectrum, and you can depend on accurate, quick answers to any complications you run into.

I want to offer my employees a quality benefit program, but insurance is so expensive, What can I do?

thorntonpowell's benefit team is well versed in a number of cost-saving solutions. We help create a number of options to help you find a plan that matches your budget. In addition, we can advise you on many strategies - such as offering multiple plans, employee contributions, consumer driven products, and deductible funding arrangements that can greatly impact your bottom line. Finally our annual market assessment ensures that each and every client we work with maintains a competitively priced program.

I own a small company, can I even qualify for group health insurance?

As long as you have an inforce payroll, and a minimum of two employees you can qualify for group coverage. We assist employers in setting up new plans, and helping you navigate through the insurance company's, state and federal regulations required for sponsoring an employee benefit program.

What are the benefits to having group health insurance?

For small businesses (less than 50 employees), group health insurance is guaranteed issue. This is not the case with individual health insurance. Any employee regardless of pre-existing health conditions can be covered under the plan. In addition there are a number of tax benefits - both for you as the employer as well as the employee to paying for health insurance through a group program.

What is the difference between COBRA and State Continuation of Benefits?

All companies that offer a group health program must have a way to allow ex-employees to remain on the plan for a period of time after they leave your employment. For larger companies - federal COBRA law dictates how this is handled. For smaller companies, the Illinois State Continuation of Benefits law guides employers. We have partnered with a company called Cobrasource ( so that all of our employers have a resource that they can turn to when employees leave.

What benefits, other than group health insurance, do employers typically offer employees?

Benefit programs can vary greatly from one employer to the next. Typical offerings might include group life, dental or disability - all of which could be either partially or fully paid by the employer. An employer might also offer his or her employees access to a number of "voluntary" benefits - that the employee pays for on his own… such as additional life, dental, long or short term disability, critical illness, vision.



Individual and Family Health Plans

Why use thorntonpowell as your Individual and Family Health Insurance Expert?

At thorntonpowell, our goal is to make sure that each client we work with, feels comfortable with the health insurance plan they are choosing. There are many options to look at, and the the policy details can be complex. We work with you to decipher which plan will best meet your medical needs. Just as medical costs continue to increase, health insurance premiums will too. We are committed to working with you on an annual basis, to make sure your budget needs are being met as well. As an independent agent, we are able to provide cost effective flexibility and a broad range of benefits from several carriers.

Who should look at Individual and Family Plans?

  • People whose employers do not offer group health insurance plans
  • The self-employed
  • Those looking into less expensive and broader options than what are provided by their employer
  • 1099'd workers and independent contractors
  • People that are between jobs, and need alternatives to COBRA

Is there a solution for a "short term or temporary" need for health insurance?

At thorntonpowell we have multiple plans, that can provide instantaneous coverage for individuals and families who may have lost their insurance coverage abruptly. Short term health insurance plans are designed to:

  • Cover gaps between employment
  • Act as a less expensive alternative to COBRA
  • Ease recent college graduates into the real world by providing inexpensive health coverage during their job search or aid those waiting for employer-sponsored coverage to begin
  • Cover international travelers during short periods out of the country.



Senior Programs

Why do I need additional coverage - when I have medicare?

Medicare was designed to only cover a portion of your medical costs… there are still a number of gaps In the benefits, that most seniors find are easier to manage financially through a supplemental insurance program.

The choices are confusing – can you explain?

Medicare through the government offers Part A (Hospital) and Part B (Outpatient). Medicare supplements through private insurance companies can be the following plans:

  • A, B,C,D, E,F, High Deductible F, G, H, I, J, high Deductible J, K, L
  • thorntonpowell offers supplements through the following insurers: Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Unicare, Humana, Aetna.

What services does thorntonpowell offer for seniors?

  • We will aid clients in choosing the plan that's right for them.
  • Our team can clear up confusion by providing a clear cut understanding of the plan structure
  • We assist clients in the application process from start to finish
  • We'll handle ongoing customer service and claims issues.

What can you tell me about Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Part D)?

  • The government created a program, that is sold through private insurance companies, but partially sponsored through government funds.
  • It provides prescription coverage for those receiving Medicare benefits
  • There are many plans offered in the state of Illinois from several carriers
  • Standard deductible and co-payment plans are among the options.
  • Can literally cut an individual's prescription costs by 50%



Health Savings Accounts (H.S.A.)

I've heard of H.S.A.'s but am unsure of how they work – can you explain?

Health savings accounts combine a high deductible qualified health insurance program… with a tax-efficient way to pay the deductible. Employees can either put "pre-tax" dollars into a separate bank account to pay the deductible out of… or individuals can make a lump sum contribution on their own into such an account… and take an "above the line" tax deduction on your yearly income taxes.

What are the benefits of an H.S.A. compared to a traditional insurance program?

Health Savings accounts can offer significant savings in premium dollars, lower annual renewal increases, more control over your healthcare dollars, flexibility in the use of the finances, and positive benefits for those employees who have a "healthy year" as well as those who need the coverage for medical claims.

How much money can be put into a Health Savings Account?

An individual can put up to the IRS annual maximum. In 2010, individuals can contribute $3050 and $6150 for families. Individuals over the age of 55 can put additional "catch up" funds aside as well.

Can an employer contribute to an employee's Health Savings Account?

Yes, but together then, the employee's and the employer's contributions, can still not exceed the yearly IRS maximums.

What happens to money left in the Health Savings Account at the end of the year

All money can roll forward from year to year… and continue earning interest on positive balances. Funds over and above the yearly deductible in the savings account, can be used for other qualified health expenses not covered by your insurance program (vision, dental, retiree health, etc.)

What happens to money left in the Health Savings Account if I leave my employer?

All funds in a H.S.A. are property of the employee. You can continue to withdraw the money for health expenses without penalty… but you can not contribute any further dollars into the account, unless you become covered under another high deductible qualified health insurance program. You can withdraw the money completely for non-health expenses, subject to payroll taxes and penalties.