Posts Tagged - ‘employer sponsored health insurance’

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Should Republicans Drop Their Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance?

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

The GOP believes that the federal government should stay out of health care. Some liberal union groups are calling their bluff, and challenging Republican politicians to opt out of the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Plan.

While the strategy is appealing, there are significant pitfalls. Most strikingly, the FEHBP is at its core an employer-sponsored health insurance plan–the employer just happens to be in the public sector. The GOP has never expressed opposition for that type of coverage.

A handful of representatives and senators may take up the challenge, however, to score political points. Some are independently wealthy and can easily afford individual coverage.

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Congress’ Health Insurance Coverage Takes Time to Kick In

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Image: SourceWatch

Elected officials tend to enjoy generous health insurance benefits, fully paid for by the government. Members of Congress are no different. However, in one way they aren’t different from you and me: their employer-sponsored health coverage doesn’t kick in immediately.

Newly hired (or elected) representatives and senators must wait 28 days before they can take advantage of the federal health insurance plan. Rep.-elect Andy Harris of Maryland is currently protesting this waiting period, and expressed his problem during freshman orientation earlier this week. It may raise the eyebrows of some that Harris is a Republican who largely ran (and won) on his opposition to healthcare reform and the Obama administration’s increased involvement. He has vowed that he will seek to repeal the law as a member of the House of Representatives.

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McDonalds, Other Businesses Exempt from Healthcare Reform Law

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Image: DRB62 under CC 3.0

There has been much concern surrounding healthcare reform’s impact on businesses. Many are worried that employers will drop their health insurance plans altogether, rather than complying with new requirements that increase the standard of care.

However, 30 companies and unions–McDonalds is the most popular–have received an exemption from that provision. The waiver must be renewed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius each year until 2014. HHS made the judgment that rather than risking companies discontinuing seasonal and temporary workers’ health coverage entirely, it makes more sense to allow them to retain the inferior mini-med plans with extremely low annual limits of coverage. This will be the case for several years, until the health insurance exchanges are fully operational to give such employees more options.

Other firms are protesting this move, because small businesses will suffer while the big names with lobbying influence can get around the unfavorable provision.

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Census: Percentage of Americans With Health Insurance Plan Dropped

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Image: Michigan Municipal League (MML) under CC 3.0

Since the Census Bureau began tracking the percentage of Americans who are insured in 1987, last year showed the lowest rate on record. 253.6 million reported having a health insurance plan in 2009, which doesn’t seem so bad until you find out that 255.1 million were insured last year.

The recession is largely to blame, because it caused hundreds of thousands of employees to lose jobs with health benefits. Supporters of healthcare reform will likely use this statistic as an argument for the necessity of the Obama administration’s legislation.

At the same time, Medicaid enrollment rose, along with the poverty rate.

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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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COBRA Subsidy Extension Fails; Get Short Term Health Insurance

Monday, June 14th, 2010

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A divided Congress failed to pass a bill that would have extended the COBRA health insurance subsidy for jobless workers. COBRA allows ex-employees to continue on their old employer’s health coverage, but it forces them to cover the entire premium–which they are often unable to afford. As part of the 2009 stimulus package, President Obama included a subsidy of up to 65% of the cost of COBRA coverage for those laid off during the recession.

Unfortunately, millions are still unemployed. The subsidies are steadily expiring, but budget concerns have made moderate Democrats (with an eye on winning re-election in November) leery of passing yet another big spending bill. President Obama has begged them to renew the subsidy, but to no avail. As a result, many will let their coverage expire and become uninsured.

However, there is a solution. Short term health insurance coverage can be kept only as long as you need it, until you find another job with health benefits. Most options are typically less generous than a previous employer’s insurance may have been, but that means that it will be more affordable. Such coverage protects you against essential emergencies.

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Sebelius Urges Employers to Implement Group Health Insurance Earlier

Friday, May 28th, 2010

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The deadline for large group health insurance plans to expand coverage to the adult children of employees until the age of 26 is September 23rd. However, the actual date depends on when the new plan year begins, which can be as late as January 1st of next year for many companies.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is encouraging employers to enact this element of healthcare reform earlier than required. Doing so will be especially helpful to recent college graduates, who would otherwise be uninsured.

Will businesses comply? On the one hand, the demographic in question is generally healthy, so total costs shouldn’t rise all that much. On the other hand, premiums may increase. One study found that 16% are planning to expand their health benefits to this group.

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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

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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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