Posts Tagged - ‘health insurance plan’

Post border

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.

Post border
Post border

59 Million Americans Without Health Insurance Last Year

Monday, November 15th, 2010

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a survey that found that 59.1 million people in the United States were uninsured for at least some part of 2010. In contrast, just 56.8 million were uninsured in 2008.

One in three middle-income adults (considered to have annual incomes between $43,000 and $65,000) under the age of 65 lacked a health insurance plan some time during the past twelve months, according to the CDC survey.

Many blame the recession for this turn of events, since millions have become unemployed and therefore lost their employer-sponsored health benefits.

Post border
Post border

First Legal Challenge of Healthcare Reform Fails

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Image: Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

A rare bright spot for the Obama administration this past week: a legal review of the healthcare reform law was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Granted, it wasn’t necessarily a referendum on the merits (or lack thereof) of the changes to the health insurance plan market in America. Instead, the challenge–filed by a conservative legal group in California–was denied because similar legal challenges are already winding their way through the lower courts. Moreover, the individual mandate provision at the centerpiece of the lawsuit is not scheduled to take effect until 2014.

Interestingly, both Justices Elena Kagan (a former Department of Justice lawyer for the current administration, although she didn’t participate in healthcare reform-related litigation) and Clarence Thomas (whose wife, Virginia, is a high-profile activist seeking repeal of the law) did not exclude themselves from the decision.

Post border
Post border

Oklahoma Passes Ban On Health Insurance Plan Mandate

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Image: KB35 under CC 3.0

The big story involving last week’s elections is the resurgence of Republicans; they took over the House, and made up lost ground in the Senate. That will surely impact several policy priorities, including healthcare reform repeal.

Voters in Oklahoma also spoke out by passing an amendment to their state constitution that prohibits the federal government from forcing residents to purchase a health insurance plan, in response to the unpopular mandate provision.

Two thirds of voters in the state sent a message that the Obama administration should not become involved in Oklahoma health insurance matters. However, the amendment will probably have little actual impact on the federal government’s actions.

Post border
Post border

Athletes Struggle To Find a Health Insurance Plan

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Image: Studio Finch under CC 3.0

Intuitively, most marathon runners and other serious athletes would be a good bet for health insurance plan providers. They are extremely fit, making them less likely to develop chronic health conditions like diabetes. On the other hand, they are actively working towards better health.

However, there’s a catch in that model of an ideal investment: injuries. So far, health insurers have reserved the right to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and a severe injury or accident could qualify. Either the policy will cover everything except treatment related to the injury, or they will be denied a policy altogether. (The healthcare reform law looks to end this in 2014.) In addition, even minor sprains or other injuries require doctor’s and hospital visits, driving up health insurance costs.

On the bright side, many distance runners buying individual health plans tend to be on the young side, making their coverage cost less.

Post border
Post border

Do Health Insurance Stocks’ Profits Hurt Patients?

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Image: kevinzhengli under CC 3.0

According to financial analyst Sarah James, the health insurance industry is a great investment. Profits are estimated to be higher in the third quarter of 2010, so firms like Aetna, Coventry, UnitedHealth, WellPoint, and Humana have had their price targets increased.

Unfortunately, what is positive for stockholders may not be as good for health insurance plan customers. One of the reasons for lower costs is a milder flu season than expected, which is obviously good for everyone. Increased enrollment is another explanation, which is generally neutral. Another, more worrying, factor is price increases.

Lower usage rates of costly inpatient hospital services could go either way: if the decline is because patients are truly becoming healthier and don’t need them, that’s great. However, if it is a result of insurers forcing patients into outpatient care before they are ready to cut their costs, it is not a good sign for consumers.

Post border
Post border

Individual Health Insurance Coverage Denials Rose Since 2007

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Image: Oldmaison under CC 3.0

Over the past two years (ending in 2009), four major health insurers’ rates of denying coverage to individual health insurance plan applicants rose by 50%.

A report from the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee claims that WellPoint, Aetna, UnitedHealth, and Humana purposely refused to sell coverage to over 600,000 people with pre-existing conditions. Up to 425 health conditions could disqualify a person from coverage under one insurer, and some would not conduct further internal review before denying coverage.

On the one hand, the insurers may have seen the writing on the wall when President Obama was elected, and wanted to maximize their profits as much as possible before regulations would limit their ability to discriminate based on pre-existing conditions.

Post border
Post border

Underinsured Families Less Likely To Follow Doctor’s Orders

Monday, 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.

Post border
Post border

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

Friday, 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.

Post border
Post border

Is Your Health Insurance Plan Being Dropped?

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Image: TheAlias under CC 3.0

If you’re insured through Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield or MVP Health Care, you may be caught in the middle of their shrinking their product lines. Like any business, they want to eliminate unpopular products–but is this an end run around a new New York health insurance law that forbids insurers from dropping entire products as a sneaky way of canceling the coverage of people with serious pre-existing conditions and high medical claims?

The insurers defend their actions as normal business practice, adding that a relatively small percentage of customers use the plans slated to be eliminated. Just 605 policyholders will be affected, most of them either group health insurance plans based on a company’s claim history or community-rated individual health insurance priced with a large pool. Those whose health insurance plan will be discontinued will be offered an alternative, though it remains to be seen if the terms are as appealing.

Excellus plans slated to be canceled will expire on January 1st, while MVP plans (which have rolling enrollment schedules) will be discontinued on October 1st or November 1st, depending on the product. The state’s Ian’s Law will take effect early next year.

Post border