Posts Tagged - ‘mcdonalds’

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Mini-Med Health Care Policies Under Senate Investigation

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Mini-medical plans are controversial. On the one hand, they provide some coverage for emergency care, and in many cases are better than nothing. On the other hand, they often come with extremely low annual benefit payout limits that make them nearly useless if a person needs major medical treatment.

Mini-meds are typically offered by low-wage companies, and administered by major health insurance plan providers like Cigna and Aetna. A Senate committee is currently investigating the issue; the probe has been expanded from McDonald’s to other employers. The issue is that although policyholders are usually saddled with high medical bills, the plans are sometimes promoted as full-fledged comprehensive health care.

Although the healthcare reform law bans annual and lifetime limits, dozens of mini-med providers have been granted exceptions from that provision. Mini-meds are also subject to a lower medical loss ratio, which determines the percentage of premiums that must be spent on medical care.

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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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Are Health Insurance Companies Hypocrites?

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Image: Valerie Everett under CC 3.0

Most health insurance companies are ramping up their promotion of wellness campaigns. Their strategy involves reducing the cost of claims–and therefore the price of premiums–by improving the health of policyholders. Many of these programs involve weight loss and improvements in diet.

Strangely, it has been found that many insurers are major stockholders in fast food corporations! In total, they own about $2 billion worth of stock in McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, and Taco Bell; as well as other similar restaurants. These companies have been blamed for their role in America’s obesity epidemic. Insurers may also profit twice, because they have been able to charge higher rates to those who have overindulged in fast food and harmed their health–although healthcare reform will minimize that incentive, beginning in 2014.

Researchers at the Harvard Medical School believe that providers of individual, group, and family health insurance should use their clout as significant shareholders to push those chains to provide a wider selection of healthier products and offer smaller portion sizes.

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