Archive for August, 2010

Highmark’s New iPhone App

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

phoneHighmark health insurance and A.D.A.M. have come out with a new iPhone application called Health@Hand.  A.D.A.M. provides health information and innovative solutions for benefits technology in the health industry.  They partnered with Highmark to launch this application which will be available to all members of Highmark through the online iTunes store.  Health plan members can now get a wealth of information right from their iPhones including articles, information on first aid, discounts on services, and local provider and facility information.

The Pennsylvania-based health insurance company’s Health@Hand was based off of their member’s specific plan and provider information.  It is possible that other Pennsylvania-based health insurers like UPMC health insurance could come out with similar plans through A.D.A.M. in the future.  Current Highmark plan members can use the GPS in their phone to locate specific doctors, specialties and facilities near them.  They can even get a map of the location and connect directly to the office via their phone.  Another unique option members have is the availability of information by simply touching a specific body part.  Members can even change the gender or age for specific information.  The product can also be downloaded by non-Highmark members through A.D.A.M. and iTunes.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI Insures the Uninsured

Friday, August 27th, 2010

According to “RI Blue Cross opens plan for the sick, uninsured,” Felice Freyer of The Providence Journal says that this new program could be just what many Rhode Islanders were hoping for.  The money for the program comes from federal health care reform money.  Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island was selected by the state to run this plan for uninsured residents who have pre-existing chronic illnesses.  The plan is called the Pre-existing Condition Plan for Rhode Island and Blue Cross Blue Shield has already started the application process.

There are 34 pre-existing conditions covered by the plan including diabetes, cancer, asthma, high blood pressure, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, kidney disease, and pulmonary disease.  Blue Cross is using $13 million of federal money to run this program for the uninsured.  Individuals must not only have one of the included pre-existing conditions, but must also have been uninsured for 6 months or more.  It’s possible that other states will come out with similar plans for companies like Humana to run with federal health care funds.

While the program will be limited to the $13 million one time fund, this is meant to bridge the gap until 2014 when federal law changes to require insurance companies to cover the uninsured.  Rhode Island actually already requires companies to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions, but the steep cost of coverage makes it impossible for some people to pay for it.  Receiving subsidies from this new Blue Cross program should help many Rhode Islanders obtain insurance coverage for their chronic conditions.

Golden Rule Health Insurance Watches Battle

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

courtroomTwenty states are fighting mad over President Obama’s health care reform.  With Florida being the largest and the most likely to bring its fight to the U.S. Supreme Court, all political eyes are on the southern state.  This information comes from the NPR story and article “States Lay Out Battle Lines In Health Care Suits” by Carrie Johnson.  Insurance Companies like Golden Rule Health Insurance will watch these battles unfold to see if the outcome will effect the changes they expected in the federal health policies.  In 2014 all Americans will be required to carry some form of health insurance.  While this could be a good thing for health insurers, they also have a lot of new rules to follow from the government and are getting a hard time over their rising insurance rates.

The states who have filed lawsuits seem to run right along political lines.  Democrats tend to agree with the President’s health care reform while Republicans tend to argue against it.  Those in opposition believe that the government it overreaching its boundaries into people’s lives and the health care industry.  They think that it is against the constitution to force these requirements and policies on American citizens and insurers like Cigna Health Insurance.  Opponents don’t think the government has the right to regulate people’s inactivity, so they are most angered about the individual mandate requiring the purchase of health insurance.  Obama’s administration argues that states don’t have to follow the new rules if they opt out of federal money for programs like Medicare, but state governments say that is hardly a good solution.  We’ll be following this political health care battle.

Compare Health Insurance with New Medicare Option

Friday, August 20th, 2010

You have a new choice for Medicare plans in Alabama as of a few months ago.  According to a press release from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, “Alabamians Have Access to a New Medicare Select Plan.”  The Medicare C Plus plan has been available to eligible residents of Alabama ever since Medicare came about in 1966.  The new plan option, C Plus Plan F, covers even more than the original C Plus plan.

The added coverage with C Plus Plan F includes the Part B deductible of $155 and any emergency care outside of the United States that is deemed medically necessary.  It will also cover the $137.50 per day copayment in a skilled nursing facility for days 21-100.  Plan F does require all plan holders to pay their premiums for Medicare Part B.

The rising costs when you compare health insurance can be helped by these Medicare options.  Combining the C Plus Plan F with a prescription drug program from Medicare like Blue Rx will help protect consumers from unexpected medical costs.  You can also budget for your annual medical expenses better with a combination Plan F and Medicare Part D plan.  Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is there to answer any consumer questions about this new Medicare option.

Pet Insurance From Aultcare?

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

dogMore and more Americans are looking for health insurance to cover their pets, according to an article highlighted in USA Today.  Megan Neighbors’ “Popularity rises for pet health insurance,” from The Arizona Republic, says that vet bills have increased along with all medical costs and pets become more humanized each year.  Companies like Aultcare could stand to gain a lot by adding the millions of pets in the United States to insurance plans.  Even as we spend less on ourselves, we seem to be spending more on our pets including health insurance and discount plans from vets.  Only 3% of dogs and 1% of cats were insured in 2008, but that number is expected to rise as owners increase the limits they are willing to go to save or help their pets.

While inflation for most services has increased 28.1% since 2000, veterinary expenses have inflated by 80.4% in the same time frame.  Vets say that their costs have increased, as has the amount they need to spend to advance technologically.  With such increasing costs to care for your pets, looking for pet insurance from a specific pet insurer is becoming a wise way to spend your money.  While most traditional insurance companies do not yet offer pet insurance, it is quite possible that they soon will.  Pet specific insurance plans can vary just as much as human plans, and can range in price from $10 to $100 a month with varying deductibles and lifetime maximums.  There are also discount plans available to help cover preventative care like vaccinations.

UPMC Covers High Risk Pools

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

obama2In the past month approximately 2,400 Americans have signed up for President Obama’s high risk health insurance pools.  This information comes from Gene Rickman’s “2,400 Apply for High Risk Health Insurance Pool,” in Top News. The exact state by state data is not yet available, but this number includes members in both states that are running their own high risk pools and states like South Carolina that are letting the government run the high risk pools for them.  Beginning in 2014, health insurance companies like UPMC will not be able to deny insurance coverage because of any preexisting conditions.  To bridge the gap between now and then, the U.S. federal government has required these high risk health insurance pools.

The Affordable Care Act passed earlier this year calls for the mandatory stop to preexisting condition denials by health insurers in less than four years.  Preexisting conditions can include cancer, asthma, diabetes, HIV or AIDS, and even pregnancy.  It is currently almost impossible to get health insurance coverage from companies like Fallon Health Insurance if you have one of these or another preexisting condition.  Within the last month, Americans have been able to sign up for individual state high risk health insurance pools where they will be able to obtain some type of health insurance coverage.  The federal government offers the states subsidies for this program, but states do have to utilize their own government funds as well.

Illinois to Compare Health Insurance Rate Hikes

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Regulators in the state of Illinois have asked for a $1 million federal grant and permission from lawmakers to help police health insurance companies.  They hope to receive permission to make the final decision on any rate increases requested by insurers.  With so many Illinois residents fighting to pay the bills when they compare health insurance costs, regulators believe that this step will help control the skyrocketing premiums charged by many companies.

In the past two years, Illinois has received 186 complaints about health insurance increases, some of which have been up to a 100% increase.  The insurance department hopes that receiving the federal grant will help the lawmakers agree to allow their oversight of insurers like Golden Rule Insurance.  Because of medical inflation and the recession, individual health insurance rates have just skyrocketed.  Insurers defend their rate increases and say that they really should be raising rates even higher.

At least 25 other states have the power to approve or deny rate increases by health insurers.  All health insurers in Illinois, such as Assurant Health, work for profit.  The state currently does not require them to give consumers notice of rate increases or restrict the premiums charged to individuals or large businesses.  Small businesses do have limited protection.  In their request for the government grant, Illinois regulators said that their current system just isn’t effective and they need the government’s money to improve their rate review system.

Mercy Health Plans for Aging Teeth

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

teethAccording to The Vancouver Sun, “Baby boomers have unique dental problems.”  The article, by Julie Beun of Canwest News Service, highlights the increased problems with exposed gums, tooth root cavities, and tooth sensitivity as we age.  It’s important to look to Mercy Health Plans or another health insurer to ensure that you have dental insurance as you age.  While taking care of your teeth at a young age may be the best defense, having dental insurance so that you can see the dentist regularly and fix any problems is crucial.

As the life expectancy increases in most countries, so too do the amount of health and dental problems that people haven’t had to worry much about.  The longer you have your teeth and use them, the more susceptible you are to dry mouth, exposed gums, tooth root cavities, and sensitivity.  Through improved home and office dental care and orthodontics people are able to maintain great teeth.  It is the gums, however, that are not aging as well.

Many problems are caused by vigorous brushing that pushes the gums up, exposing the tooth root.  Improper diet and grinding lead to tooth and gum problems as well.  The best way to prevent a lot of these problems is by using a soft or extra-soft toothbrush at home.  Dentists can use coatings, bonding, desensitizers, root canals and other procedures to help with more advanced problems.  The use of flouride through water, toothpastes, and mouthwashes is very helpful as well.  Listerine Total Care for Sensitive Teeth was developed specifically for aging teeth.