Archive by Month - May, 2010

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Military Families Can’t Put Adult Children On Health Insurance

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Image: The U.S. Army under CC 3.0

The good news for families in the military who are insured through Tricare: their health insurance has remained unchanged post-reform. The bad news: they can’t participate in one of the highly-publicized benefits of it.

Unlike civilians with normal health insurance plans, families with Tricare won’t be able to keep their adult, non-dependent children on their coverage until the age of 26.

Defense funding authorization bills currently pending in the House of Representatives and the Senate seeks to remedy this disparity.

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Will Jobs Bill Give States More Healthcare Reform Funding?

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Image: joshuaoffmanphoto under CC 3.0

Many states are hoping that the jobs bill currently pending in Congress will include increased funding for implementing healthcare reform.

The legislation requires them to expand eligibility for Medicaid among one of its strategies for expanding access to affordable health insurance. However, the recession has made states cash-strapped and unable to afford it.

As a result, they are seeking to extend the increased federal subsidies provided to them in last year’s stimulus package. They have already budgeted for the six-month extension during the next fiscal year, although its passage certainly isn’t guaranteed.

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Obama Administration Wants VA Healthcare Reform Lawsuit Dismissed

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Image: BAR Photography under CC 3.0

Yesterday, Department of Justice Lawyers requested that a federal judge dismiss the state of Virginia’s lawsuit against healthcare reform.

Shortly before the federal legislation passed, Virginia passed a state law that forbids any entity from mandating that its residents purchase a health insurance plan. Its attorney general then filed a lawsuit on the grounds that the individual mandate that is at the center of the Obama administration’s reform efforts is an unconstitutional overreach on the part of the federal government, therefore violating the 10th Amendment. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said in the government’s motion that the Commerce Clause allowed them the power to regulate this issue, and that striking down the provision would virtually cancel out the law’s attempt to control costs while simultaneously expanding coverage.

The judge is still mulling over both sides’ arguments. Whether or not this particular Virginia health insurance mandate lawsuit continues, there is still the one from 20 other states to deal with.

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When Student Health Insurance Isn’t Enough

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Image: Art Pets Photography under CC 3.0

Student health insurance is generally helpful to the majority of college and university populations, who are young and healthy. However, sometimes it’s not sufficient.

It may not cover everything you need. For example, insurance might only cover the partial cost of treating accident-related or athletic injuries. With the high-deductible health insurance plans often targeted towards this demographic, they may have to chip in with thousands of dollars they are unlikely to have.

When it comes to health insurance, the options marketed towards students are far more likely to have annual and lifetime benefit limits. Healthcare reform will ban this practice, but that will take time to fully implement.

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Connecticut Health Insurance Reform Continues

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Image: State Symbols USA

It may not receive the publicity of other early reform adopters like Massachusetts, but Connecticut health insurance companies–as well as the government–have been ahead of the nation in enacting strategies to increase access while cutting costs.

Recently, they created the Connecticut Clearinghouse as an online health insurance market that allows consumers to better compare their options. The state also enacted healthcare reform (similar to the federal bill) that forces insurers to offer more transparency to consumers when buying. Small businesses are also now allowed to buy prescription drugs for their employees through the discounted plan for public employees.

In addition, Connecticut now requires coverage parity for cancer medications: oral medications will be covered as fully as those administered through IVs. The former are more convenient, but often more expensive. If coverage is denied, patients have access to health care advocates to help them through the appeals process.

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Food Poisoning Makes Health Insurance More Expensive

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Image: bengal*foam under CC 3.0

According to a recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, there’s a new reason to fully wash and/or cook your meals. Food-borne illnesses, such as E. coli and salmonella, add about $152 billion to annual health care expenses.

That figure is for the United States alone! Obviously, health insurance plans pass the cost of treating those illnesses onto you. Minor changes to the way we eat and prepare our food and drink could cut significant costs out of our health bills.

Healthcare reform, eat your heart out!

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States Need More Time To Develop Health Insurance Spending

Monday, May 24th, 2010

As part of its healthcare reformlegislation, the Obama administration has asked states to come up with recommended medical loss ratios.

These ratios are the percentage of health insurance plan
premiums that actually go towards providing health care to policyholders. The law mandates a certain minimum level.

However, the states (represented by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners) claim that they need at least one more month past the late May deadline to finalize their report.

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Not Mmm-Mmm Good: Healthcare Reform Hurts Campbell’s Soup Profits

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Image: Dennis Goedegebuure under CC 3.0

Yet another corporation has modified their financial statements to account for the negative impact of healthcare reform. This time it’s Campbell’s Soup.

Although sales of its products actually rose in the fiscal third quarter, the charges related to the health insurance plan legislation are one of the factors leading to a 3.4% decrease in profit.

Accounting principles require companies to predict future losses. Many firms are preparing for the increased burden of employees’ insurance, as well as the possibility of higher taxes.

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NJ Public Sector Employees To Chip In For Health Insurance Premiums

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Image: Hugo90 under CC 3.0

Public sector unions in New Jersey, including the police and firefighters, have grudgingly agreed to pay for part of their health insurance premiums.

Starting June 1st, the state employees will have to contribute at least 1.5% of the cost of their New Jersey health insurance policies. Compared to private sector employees, that’s nothing. Many of the latter have to cover most or all of their own premiums!

For an employee with an annual salary of $50,000, they will have to pay just $750 per year in premiums: a very affordable health insurance option. Despite some previous concessions, these plans are typically comprehensive.

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More Restaurant Employees To Get Health Insurance

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Image: pixeljones under CC 3.0

When it comes to low-wage service jobs, the restaurant industry is at the forefront. Many employees earn minimum wage or less, due to expected tips. Many employers do not offer health insurance. Other times, the insurance is just too expensive for employees with variable hours. That is why up to 10% of the currently uninsured are those working in the food service industry.

A breakthrough agreement looks to change the status quo. United HealthCare (one of America’s largest health insurers) and the National Restaurant Association (a leading trade group) are working together to increase health insurance plan access to employees.

Four to six million people will be affected. So far, the program will only be available in several states, but they are looking towards expansion nationwide.

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