Archive by Month - August, 2010

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States Receive Grants To Implement Healthcare Reform

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010
affordable health insurance
Image: Aaron Esterling under CC 3.0

Affordable health insurance reform requires states to take the lead in regulating insurers. Many of them do not have the infrastructure or legal authority to do so. That is where $46 million in federal grants come in.

All but a handful of states, as well as the District of Columbia, will receive $1 million each for actions such as hiring actuaries to investigate rate increases and developing data systems for health insurance rate filings.

Which states are the holdouts? The following didn’t apply for the Department of Health and Human Services’ grant:

  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Alaska
  • Wyoming
  • Minnesota
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Will States Be Able To Implement Health Insurance Plan Reform?

Monday, August 16th, 2010

health insurance plan reform

Image: tomcensani under CC 3.0

Although healthcare reform will result in more federal involvement in regulations, the majority of the responsibility for regulating health coverage will still rest with the states.

However, it seems that many state insurance commissioners don’t have the power to do some of the things the Obama administration wants them to. Almost half of the states claim that they don’t have the legal authority to review health insurance plan rate increases, for example.

What are they doing to make sure that they can effectively enforce some of the consumer protection provisions that begin next month? States such as Florida and Texas have little recourse, except for gently encouraging health insurers to modify their contracts in order to comply with federal law. Regulators are planning on new state laws being passed in the next year, or using general laws against deceptive trade practices. It remains to be seen if these tactics will be successful. If they are unable to take the lead, the national government will step in–an unpalatable alternative to many.

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Yet Another Affordable Health Insurance Reform Lawsuit

Saturday, August 14th, 2010
affordable health insurance lawsuit
Image: Wikipedia

This time, a conservative group from Arizona is suing the Obama administration over healthcare reform. The Goldwater Institute, which filed the lawsuit, believes that while the issue of increasing access to affordable health insurance is important, the federal law is too heavy-handed.

They are representing a variety of interests, including Republican politicians on both state and local levels, as well as a small business owner. In addition to the belief that they will be forced to purchase a health insurance plan they don’t want (when, in their view, the Constitution delegates health care policy decisions to the states), the plaintiffs also fear that the legislation violates privacy rights.

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Massachusetts Man Doesn’t Buy Health Insurance Plan, Sues Govt.

Thursday, August 12th, 2010
health insurance plan mandate
Image: under CC 3.0

This may be a sign of things to come: a man who defied Massachusetts’ individual mandate by not buying a health insurance plan is contesting his $2,000 fine in court. He already tried the formal appeals process to get the fine reversed, but to no avail.

Michael Merlina claims that the $800 monthly premium for him and his wife under the Massachusetts Health Insurance Connector’s most affordable option was too expensive. Meanwhile, the couple’s combined income wasn’t low enough to qualify for heavily discounted state health care for the poor.

National healthcare reform will phase in a similar requirement in 2014. It includes elements of–but differs from–the Massachusetts model. It remains to be seen if it will have a similar impact for those caught between the cracks.

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Health Insurance Scammers Prey on Healthcare Reform Confusion

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010
health insurance scam warning
Image: B Rosen under CC 3.0

Over the past several months, the American public has been wrestling with the advent of healthcare reform and what it will mean for them. For many, it will require them to purchase a health insurance plan.

Unfortunately, scammers in 24 states are taking advantage of this uncertainty. They are advertising medical discount plans as full-fledged health insurance, which they are not. Unlike standard insurance, these limited plans aren’t accepted by doctors and hospitals to cover most or all of a person’s medical bills.

The Federal Trade Commission has joined in the fight to crack down on these misleading marketing tactics. They hope to eliminate them before the mandate provision of the law goes into effect in 2014.

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