Archive for November, 2010

Democrats vs. Republicans: What Changes Will UPMC Health Insurance & Others Have to Make?

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

In light of this month’s elections that increased the Republican strength in the Senate and saw them take over the House, there may be some tweaking of the health care bill.  In “Sen. Reid says willing to tweak healthcare law” from numerous  contributors on Reuters, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stresses that the tweaking will not ‘denigrate’ the health care law and that he intends to extend tax cuts to the middle class that were put in place by President George W. Bush.  He will not push to extend the tax cuts to the wealthy, however.  Due to strong opposition from Republicans, Reid and other Democrats will compare health insurance changes enacted by the reform and update the bill with Democrats and Republicans working together.

Reid stressed that they do not plan to undo the changes made that will help protect Americans from the insurance industry that he and others believe was bankrupting them.  While Republicans in the House want the entire bill to be repealed, Reid hopes that they instead will work in a partisan way to satisfy both sides.  He also stressed that he had hoped Republicans would work with the Democrats while drafting the bill instead of fighting against it.  Insurers like UPMC health insurance await the results of these talks to see what health care reform changes they will ultimately be making.

Tax cuts from President Bush will expire on January 1 of next year, so Democrats also have to figure out who will get an extension on those tax cuts.  The majority of Democrats want to extend the cuts to families with an income below $250,000 and individuals with an income below $200,000, but Republicans and a small segment of Democrats want to maintain tax cuts for everyone.  While working together seems to be the ideal solution to any problem, that is easier said than done for Democrats and Republicans.

New High-Tech Health Forum From Harvard

Friday, November 26th, 2010

voteEarlier this month, a new Harvard Institution discussed the impact that the recent elections will have on health care reform in the U.S.  According to “Elections Effects On Health Care Reform: New Harvard Public Health Forum Webcast” by Carey Goldberg of Boston’s NPR, the webcast was a soft launch for Harvard’s new exchange called “The Forum at Harvard School of Public Health.”  Director Robin Herman says that the Forum plans to use its high-tech broadcast center to discuss the popular goings on in public health.  Through webcasts and video conferences in their main building and some on-demand video conferences live around the area, the Forum plans to discuss the  most compelling health issues today.

You can access the webcast related to the 2010 election’s effect on President Obama’s health care reform as well as any future broadcasts online if you missed them.  The next broadcast is scheduled December 9 and will be their official launch.  They will discuss the global health goals of the UN and how to develop and implement a plan to achieve those goals.  Philanthropist Ted Turner and Dean Julio Frank will maintain the discussion.  Future forums may talk about anything from issues affecting health insurers like Assurant Health to global reform measures.  Any pertinent issue calling for decision making and discussion is fair game.

Costco Sells Aetna Health Insurance

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Retail giant Costco sells health insurance through their Costco Insurance Agency, Inc.  They are now working with Aetna health insurance to offer five different plans to Costco members looking for individual health insurance.  They are offered through Aetna Life Insurance Company and are specially priced for Costco members.  Those who sign up for the health insurance plans will have access to all of Aetna’s doctors and hospitals as well as preventative care coverage with the deductible waived.

There are many different features when you compare health insurance through Costco.  The premium prices have received special treatment solely for Costco members and co-pays are lower when members use Costco’s retail pharmacies.  There is no deductible for preventative care and the nationwide network of Aetna doctors and hospitals is available to Costco insurance members.  A free, round the clock nurse line is available, as well as online access to health records and other information.  For an added cost, members can even get dental care benefits.

Costco is currently offering their health insurance plans in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Texas with plans to eventually be nationwide.  Executive members of Costco receive added assistance with Health Advocate, a service that helps members understand different coverage options and answers member questions.  For more information, Costco members can call a toll free number or use an online service available through the company website.

Compare Health Insurance: McDonald’s Denies WSJ Report

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Recently I blogged about a Wall Street Journal article stating that McDonald’s was worried it would have to discontinue offering its hourly employees “mini-med” plans because of President Obama’s health care reform bill.  According to ABC News’ Daniel Arnall and Huma Khan, McDonald’s denies any truth to that story in “McDonald’s Fights Back Against Report it Will Drop Health Care Plan.”  The so-called “mini-med” plans allow McDonald’s employees to receive limited medical coverage at a very low cost.  While McDonald’s did ask the government to compare health insurance and determine if they could have an exemption to the new MLR (medical loss ratio) requirements, a denial of that request does that mean that McDonald’s will stop offering the plans.

The MLR requirements mandate that 80-85% of the premium amount collected go to pay for medical care, rather than administrative or business costs.  Due to higher employee turnover for hourly workers and low medical costs associated with mini-med plans, that number will be difficult for McDonald’s to work with.  But McDonald’s and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius are adamant that McDonald’s has no intentions of dropping the health insurance coverage options.  Many large retailers offer similar plans through health insurers like Mercy Health Plans where employees pay from $14 to $32 per week for basic yearly coverage up to $10,000.  While the NAIC says that no exemptions will be offered for MLR requirements, the government points out that requirements haven’t yet been set in stone and everyone will have access to affordable health coverage.