Posts Tagged - ‘employer-based health insurance’

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Stay Vigilant With Your Health Insurance Benefits

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Image: Mike Sansone under CC 3.0

If you have generous health insurance benefits provided by your employer, you may not think about it that often. For the most part, you choose the most affordable health insurance option that fits your needs during the open enrollment period and then run on autopilot.

Unfortunately, it seems that sticking your head in the sand isn’t good enough. Teachers in several school districts in New Jersey were recently uninsured for several months. A clerical error meant that although premiums were taken out of their paychecks, premiums were not paid to the insurers for four months.

Teachers in Newark still haven’t had their coverage restored. However, Paterson teachers are luckier–all covered expenses that occurred during that period will be paid for, and their coverage was reinstated.

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Boeing’s Health Insurance Plans Becoming Less Attractive To Employees

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Image: X-Ray Delta One under CC 3.0

In order to combat continually rising health care costs, many companies are changing their benefits packages to transfer more of the expense onto employees. Boeing is no different.

According to human resources senior VP Rick Stephens, co-payments, co-insurance percentages, and deductibles will go up next year. One of their health insurance plans will have its co-insurance percentages soar to 20% from 10% in 2012. About 90,000 employees will be affected.

Union employees are exempt, because they have their own negotiated contract. Many are speculating that the healthcare reform law has something to do with it, which the aircraft manufacturer denies.

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Employer-Based Health Insurance Plans Providing Less Care for More Money

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Image: RangerRick under CC 3.0

When employees look at their health insurance plans today, they see more responsibility (and cost) on their end with fewer benefits. That’s according to a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In a struggling economy, companies look for different methods of saving money. One of them is shifting the cost of health coverage to employees. Unfortunately, workers must pay for those costs with the same or even smaller (for those who have taken pay cuts) incomes! Wages have not grown with the cost of health insurance for several decades now.

The average employee is paying 14% more for health care in 2010.

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Inflation of Health Insurance Plans Continued in 2009

Thursday, August 26th, 2010
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Image: Paolo Camera under CC 3.0

2009 had the American economy in the throes of recession. Inflation was very low, while the Federal Reserve cut the interest rate to almost zero. So why did the cost of health insurance plans continue to rise?

To be exact, United Benefit Advisors found that health insurance rates increased by an average of 7.3% for employers. That’s almost three times the inflation in general consumer prices.

Insurers tend to blame an increase in medical expenses. Meanwhile, companies are using consumer-directed health plans to pass more of the cost of group health insurance coverage onto their employees.

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No Fee on Health Insurance Plans to Pay For Okla. Medicaid

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
health insurance plans
Image: KB35 under CC 3.0

Recently, the Oklahoma state legislature attempted to implement a one percent fee on the sale of health insurance plans. The proceeds were supposed to help pay for the state’s Medicare program.

However, the state’s Supreme Court just ruled that such a fee is unconstitutional, agreeing with Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland’s objections. Six out of nine justices decided that since the law was passed during the final week of the legislative session with less than three quarters of the legislature in favor, it could not stand.

The fee was to be charged to employers that offer health insurance coverage to their employees. It was supposed to raise $78 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1st.

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Co-Payments Vs. Co-Insurance

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Image: db*Photography under CC 3.0

When trying to find affordable health insurance, it can be difficult to find the right policy. One of the most confusing aspects is the out-of-pocket cost you are expected to pay, above and beyond the monthly premium.

Most health coverage options include co-payments, co-insurance, or both. What’s the difference?

  • Co-insurance is a percentage of the fee charged for an item or service. For example, if you have a 30% co-insurance percentage under your policy and a doctor normally charges $100 per visit, you will be responsible for paying $30 upfront. In many cases, this is the more expensive option. However, it is becoming more common among group health insurance plans, due to employers trying to reduce their cost burden.
  • On the other hand, co-payments are a fixed amount. If your insurance company specifies a $15 co-payment for prescription medications, that is the amount you’ll pay the pharmacy each time you fill the prescription–regardless of how much the medicine actually costs. Sometimes, insurers have multiple tiers of co-payments: depending on the type of medication, doctor visit, or hospitalization, the copayment will be higher or lower.
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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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Your Group Health Insurance May Change

Monday, June 14th, 2010

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Contrary to President Obama’s proclamations that healthcare reform wouldn’t force people to give up existing employer-based health insurance they liked, there are indicators that employers may change those policies after all. Republicans are accusing him of lying to get the bill passed.

A leaked draft version of the regulations for group health insurance coverage states that plans that existed before the passage of the law must comply with some of its provisions, such as co-payment-free preventative care doctors’ visits, covering adult dependents until age 26, and an appeals process for disputed medical claims.

Most employees would consider these additional benefits a net positive (making good plans better), but companies are dreading the additional cost that any modifications to their health coverage entails. They may pass that cost onto employees, although the bill aims to discourage that.

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Employers Audit Group Health Insurance Dependents

Friday, June 4th, 2010

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A large percentage of many employers’ costs consist of their benefits packages, including health insurance coverage. Even the partial cost of an individual employee or a family can be significant. Now, recent reforms force companies to further expand their family coverage to all adult dependents under the age of 26, regardless of whether or not they’re enrolled in college.

As a result, firms are looking to save money. Therefore, more of them are conducting audits–meant to find out if the non-employees they are paying for truly are related dependents of their workers. They will be dropped from your policy if you can’t prove that they are. You may even have to pay back the money spent on their health care. The worst part is that if you ignore the audit, legitimate dependents could be dropped, too!

Generally, nephews and nieces and ex-husbands or wives aren’t considered dependents by most companies. Experts believe that a business with 10,000 employees could save up to $1 million per year on its group health insurance expenses through auditing.

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Do Group Health Insurance Wellness Incentives Actually Work?

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

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An increasing number of companies are offering wellness incentives to their employees, in order to inspire them to maintain a healthy weight or quit smoking. Many of these benefits include the opportunity to have a higher portion of their health insurance premiums paid by the employer.

Tobacco use and obesity among the American workforce costs companies billions of dollars in increased health care costs, so it is a worthy goal. However, there are some doubts that the incentives are actually effective.

According to a study from Cornell University, the average weight loss in several of those employer programs was just one pound; too little to make a significant difference in health outcomes or group health insurance rates.

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