Archive by Month - June, 2010

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Obama Warns Insurers Against Circumventing Healthcare Reform

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Image: cliff1066™ under CC 3.0

Health insurance companies are preparing for the impact reform will have on them. Some of this preparation is gaining negative attention from President Obama–namely, increasing their rates severely before healthcare reform takes effect and significantly limits their ability to do so. Since the law will keep them from increasing rates solely for profit-maximizing purposes, they ideally want to have the highest floor before it becomes effective.

Today, he is holding a meeting at the White House to drive this point home further. Although the federal government doesn’t gain direct control over regulating health insurance plans, it gains more oversight responsibility. Their worst-case scenario is that insurers increase their rates before provisions begin taking effect this summer, while blaming the legislation for forcing them to make those moves.

The president of industry lobbying group America’s Health Insurance Plans, as well as executives from 13 health insurers and several state insurance commissioners, will attend the meeting. It is unclear whether it will have any actual impact on their actions. Some believe the summit is more of a political move, intended to protect Democrats against blowback in the midterm elections.

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Did Group or Individual Health Insurance Premiums Rise More In ’09?

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Image: TheTruthAbout under CC 3.0

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, those buying individual health insurance have experienced far greater increases in their premiums recently.

Their findings:

  • 77% of those buying health insurance on their own were presented with a price hike
  • On average, those proposed hikes were 20%
  • 16% of those presented with proposed rate increases switched to less generous–and less expensive–health plans, either through the same or a different insurer. Many of the others didn’t switch due to pre-existing conditions that would make finding a different plan difficult.
  • Altogether, the average rate increase (including those who changed plans) was 13%.
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More People Without Health Insurance Plans Last Year

Monday, June 21st, 2010

The number of uninsured Americans increased in 2009, according to a recent survey. Three million more lost their health insurance plans as a result of the recession. Private employers dropped their coverage as they laid off workers.

Some proponents believe that healthcare reform will alleviate this problem by decoupling insurance from employment.

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Do New York Courts Have A Medical Malpractice Soultion?

Monday, June 21st, 2010

The medical malpractice system has been heavily criticized for its contribution to soaring health insurance premiums. Many doctors practice defensive medicine–performing far too many expensive tests and procedures that are unnecessary, in order to avoid lawsuits.

A judge in New York thinks he has a soultion: treating all parties involved like people. Many families want vindication and justice, instead of extremely large sums of money. By having doctors and nurses apologize for any mistake, he has convinced victims to take smaller settlements as opposed to choosing a jury trial.

The affordable health insurance reform law sets $3 million aside for studying these methods to see if they can work nationally.

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Is The American Public Now Behind Healthcare Reform?

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Image: RLHyde under CC 3.0

Many found the promises of the Obama administration–that the nation would take more favorable views of healthcare reform once its immediate benefits kicked in and were better understood–far-fetched fantasies of Democrats. However, a recent poll indicates that the optimists may have had a point.

According to the poll, which was taken in early June by the Associated Press and GfK, 45% support the legislation as a way of bringing about more affordable health insurance. Even some registered Republicans are changing their tune: 17% are now in favor–still a tiny minority, but a nine-point jump from May.

Not everyone is warming up to the plan: 42% are still opposed, and the poll has over four percentage points of error. Nevertheless, it’s an improvement from last month, when only 39% of those polled liked the law.

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Administration Fee

Friday, June 18th, 2010

In the health insurance industry, an administrative fee is what its name implies: an additional charge intended to cover administrative costs. It can be charged separately on a monthly basis, or as a one-time fee. However, it is often bundled into your health insurance plan premium.

Administration fees vary among health insurers, as well as depending on the type of plan you choose.

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Premium

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

A premium is the monthly charge associated with any health insurance policy. In the vast majority of cases, it does not cover every single medical expense. If it did, the premium would be unacceptably high for most people.

The cost of your monthly premium currently depends on several factors:

  • Your age
  • Your health status
  • Your gender
  • The desired level of coverage
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Deductible

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Deductible:

In the health insurance industry, a deductible is the out-of-pocket amount that you must pay before your coverage kicks in. For example, with a $1,000 deductible for hospital visits, you’d be fully responsible for that amount, while your policy would pay a portion of any remaining cost.

Most deductibles are annual, meaning that the cap for out-of-pocket spending is per year. Health insurance plans with higher deductibles tend to have lower monthly premiums.

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Mini Medical Health Insurance

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Mini medical health insurance plans (also known as mini-meds) are limited benefit plans. Similar to indemnity plans, they offer only bare-bones coverage levels.

The difference is that mini medicals pay health care providers a fixed amount specified in your contract. You will be responsible for paying the remainder to doctors, hospitals, etc.

These plans have very low premiums, and can be helpful if you can find low cost providers that accept them. On the other hand, mini-meds have been criticized for misleading advertising that implies that they offer full-fledged health insurance, which they do not.

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