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The Long and Short of it: Short-Term Health Insurance

by Geilt on October 11th, 2010

What is it?

Although you might think a couple months without health insurance is nothing to worry about, there is always a possibility of an accident or illness that could be financially devastating. Accidents happen, and taking measures against their detrimental effects is critical; this is why health insurance is a necessary safeguard. Short-term health insurance typically has the same benefits as a major medical plan, but is designed to specifically protect you against unforeseen illness or injury. Thus, preventative care is usually not included. Read the rest of this entry »

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Michigan Judge Says Health Insurance Reform is Constitutional

by Yamileth on October 11th, 2010

Image: Seattle Municipal Archive under CC 3.0

Opponents of healthcare reform are pinning their hopes of overturning the law on the legal system. Specifically, they contend that the individual mandate provision that requires people to purchase a health insurance plan violates states’ rights.

That argument was recently rejected by one federal judge. In Michigan, U.S. District Judge George Sheeh accepted the Obama administration’s contention that the refusal to buy health coverage materially affects interstate commerce; therefore, Congress has the right to create the mandate.

Of course, the plaintiffs will appeal. Also, two other similar lawsuits are pending in Florida and Virginia–which may be in more conservative districts.

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Should Pro Wrestlers Be Given Health Insurance Plans?

by Yamileth on October 6th, 2010

Image: David Seto under CC 3.0

Although the story lines of professional wrestling are fake, the health risks are as real as can be. During the course of their job, wrestlers are often injured.

Strangely, in an industry that puts its workers at risk, they are not provided with health insurance plans. That is because pro wrestlers are generally considered independent contractors (although they cannot work for competing companies–this is especially the case under World Wrestling Entertainment). The biggest stars can afford to pay for their health care outright, but mid-card wrestlers will find it very difficult to find health coverage–due to their myriad pre-existing conditions and high-risk occupation. Former WWE executive Linda McMahon is currently running for the Senate in Connecticut; as a Republican, this status of her workers has been criticized.

Former WWE wrestler Mick Foley claims that being reclassified as an employee–and therefore having employer-sponsored health insurance–isn’t all positive. Currently, wrestlers receive potentially lucrative royalties for every usage of their image; WWE, especially, regularly releases DVDs and paid Internet and On Demand TV screening. As employees, they would lose that income stream. In other words, the grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence.

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Underinsured Families Less Likely To Follow Doctor’s Orders

by Yamileth on October 4th, 2010

Image: edenpictures under CC 3.0

According to a survey from the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, 13 percent of parents admitted to not following at least one recommendation from their pediatrician in the past year. They are not purposely rebelling; on the contrary, they blame high costs. For example, medications and exams can be particularly expensive if the out-of-pocket cost is not covered by their insurer.

Working class and lower-middle-class parents are most likely to be underinsured. That is because families earning under $15,000 have public health insurance, while those with annual incomes over $34,999 were able to afford a better private health insurance plan.

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Should Obama Use Executive Orders To Ban Health Insurance Plans From Increasing Rates?

by Yamileth on September 30th, 2010

Image: The U.S. Army under CC 3.0

In preparation for healthcare reform regulations that will end up cutting into their profits, insurers are sharply increasing rates while they still can. While Department of Health and Human Services head Kathleen Sebelius has criticized their opportunism–which allegedly goes beyond the actual rise of health care costs–right now, her words have no teeth.

The increases are lowering already shaky public support for the law. What can the Obama administration do? A consumer watchdog group is recommending that the President issue an executive order to freeze health insurance plans‘ premiums until the rate review provisions go into effect in the next plan year.

According to the Supreme Court, presidents are allowed to do so. However, taking that course of action would be politically risky–many already believe that his administration is taking too much control over the health insurance industry.

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Arizona Proposition Would Ban Affordable Health Insurance Mandate

by Yamileth on September 29th, 2010

The issue of healthcare reform is very controversial. Proponents admit that while the bill isn’t perfect, one of the most unpopular elements is necessary. Basically, in order to provide affordable health insurance without a public option or a national health service, private health insurers must be induced to accept the more popular regulations (such as accepting people with pre-existing conditions) by guaranteeing them a larger supply of healthy consumers, which is where the individual mandate comes in.

In November, Arizona voters will try to launch a challenge to that provision. Proposition 106 would write a ban against forcing residents to buy health coverage into the state constitution. Tea party groups believe that the Healthcare Freedom Act will inspire conservative voters to head to the polls, voting for Republican candidates at the same time. A similar proposition narrowly failed in 2008.

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Health Insurance Plans’ Autism Coverage Under Fire

by Yamileth on September 28th, 2010

Image: Bob Bobster under CC 3.0

Republicans running for Congress this year are touting their anti-Obamacare credentials. Nevada’s Sharron Angle is no different. Boosted by the tea party past a more moderate candidate in the GOP primary, she is going up against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in November. As one of the key architects behind the controversial healthcare reform law, Reid is in danger of losing his seat.

Angle is obviously against the individual coverage mandate, as well as health insurance plans being forced to cover certain conditions. She blames the latter for raising costs. Video from a speech last year on that issue has recently been released to controversy. In that speech, Angle railed against a state law that requires health insurers to cover early treatment for autism spectrum disorders. When she mentioned the word “autism”, she used air quotes, which some have interpreted as meaning that she doesn’t believe that autism is a legitimate condition that children’s health insurance should treat.

Not done offending people, Angle went on to say that maternity coverage should not be mandated, since she herself is done having children.

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Impact of Affordable Health Insurance Reform on Farming Families

by Yamileth on September 27th, 2010

Image: AJay Tallam under CC 3.0

Although agriculture currently employs under 2% of American workers, farmers play a significant role in feeding the nation. How will affordable health insurance reform affect them?

For farming families, the impact is mixed.

On the positive side:

  • Health insurance exchanges will be created in 2014, which are meant to make prices more competitive for farmers and others.
  • A family of four that earns up to $88,000 will be eligible for subsidies to help them purchase health insurance. Most small farmers fall under this threshold.

Unfortunately, there is also bad news. Most significant is the individual mandate, which will require everyone to buy an individual health insurance plan. However, the annual penalty for not purchasing it is fairly minor.

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Can Healthcare Reform “Repeal and Replace” Promises Be Trusted?

by Yamileth on September 24th, 2010

Image: Keven Law under CC 3.0

The Republican party is staunchly against the Obama administration’s healthcare reform law. So much so, that its politicians promise that if they regain the majority in Congress, one of their first tasks will be to repeal “Obamacare”. Then, they promise that they will replace it with a more moderate, business-friendly solution.

What they promote sounds like a good idea–retaining the popular measures, such as making it easier for people with pre-existing conditions to buy a health insurance plan; while dropping the potentially troublesome elements like the individual mandate.

However, history may make some skeptical of the GOP’s pledge. After helping to torpedo President Bill Clinton’s health insurance reform proposal in the early 1990s, they basically ignored the issue for over a decade of controlling the House of Representatives and the Senate. In the meantime, the issue became more pressing–and may need more drastic solutions than it did back then.

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Are Child-Only Health Insurance Plans Falling By The Wayside?

by Yamileth on September 23rd, 2010

Image: Pink Sherbet Photography under CC 3.0

Several health insurers, including Aetna and Anthem Blue Cross, will soon stop selling dedicated health insurance plans to children. These plans often appeal to parents who believe they cannot afford health insurance for the entire family, but decide to sacrifice for the sake of their kids. Still, children’s health insurance is a relatively small market by itself.

They blame newly effective provisions of the healthcare reform law that prevent them from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, which means that those plans will no longer be cost-effective for them to offer.

Which states will lose this option? So far, they are:

  • California
  • Florida
  • Connecticut
  • Illinois
  • Virginia
  • Pennsylvania
  • Texas
  • Tennessee
  • Colorado
  • Arizona

Although there is a legitimate argument for the moral hazard of allowing adults with pre-existing conditions to forgo paying into the system when they are healthy and joining when they are sick, children have no choice in the matter. (The individual mandates that discourage this practice won’t go into effect until 2014–and may not survive a Supreme Court challenge.) Furthermore, unlike adults, children never contribute to their own health status by choice.

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