Archive for March, 2011

Health Insurance Rates Too High for NFL Players

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

nflThe president of the NFL Players’ Association is worried that some of the NFL players will not be able to afford their own health insurance rates for very long, according to Sports Illustrated’s article “Insurance ‘concern’ for locked-out NFL Players.”  This seems hard to believe since the average player makes over $2 million a year and rookies make a minimum of $320,000, but Kevin Mawae says that it is a real possibility for some of the younger, unprepared players.  Those continuing their health insurance coverage through COBRA will pay $2,400 a month for a family plan.  This can hurt even those making over six figures if they haven’t planned for the expense.  Most people’s expenses are in line with their salary, so a drastic increase in the cost of their health insurance can hurt even those making much more than the average American.

Americans, especially those hurt most by the economic turmoil of the past few years, have a hard time garnering sympathy for NFL players making so much money.  They won’t need to use a limited benefit plan like Go Blue Florida anytime soon, but some NFL players might want to look into individual or family health insurance rates depending on how long this lockout lasts.  Not many of the 1,900 active players will be severely affected, but like anyone paying way more for the same coverage, they are suffering a financial crisis relative to their lifestyle.  Roger Goodell, Commissioner of the NFL, wrote a letter appealing to the players and hoping they can bring their union back into negotiations.  If the 2011 NFL season does not happen, everyone involved with the NFL stands to lose a lot of money, including the players.  They have been warned to save money and spend less for the past two years, so hopefully increased health insurance rates will be easily covered by their savings.

Blue Cross Blue Shield Rate Increase in Rhode Island

Friday, March 18th, 2011

According to The Providence Journal in Rhode Island, insurance rates from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island are going up.  Richard Salit’s article “State approves reduced health insurance rate hike” says that the Health Insurance Commissioner of Rhode Island approved a rate increase of 1.9% for consumers purchasing their health insurance directly from Blue Cross Blue Shield.  Although an increase is still an increase, the percentage could have been much higher.  Blue Cross had requested an increase of 7.9%, which could have financially impacted many in the state.  They are the only health insurance company that residents not eligible for employer or government health coverage can use.

Rhode Island’s Health Commissioner said that he worked hard to find a balance between keeping insurance rates low for consumers while still maintaining solvency for Blue Cross Blue Shield.  He didn’t want to hurt the company while helping consumers or vice versa.  Since Rhode Island residents cannot compare health insurance quotes from different companies, the state feels an obligation to protect their consumers from unnecessary rate hikes.  While they didn’t approve Blue Cross’s initial request, the company was able to process a rate increase that the Commissioner believes is fair to everyone.

Blue Cross is not happy with this outcome however.  A spokesperson for the company said that their 7.9% request was justified by numbers and that the company has been diligent in reducing their expenses.  They have even cut administrative costs by $15 million.  The Direct Pay customers’ rate increases will go into effect on April 1, but there is always the possibility that Blue Cross will appeal the decision made by the Commissioner.  He defends the smaller rate increase, however, by stating that Direct Pay customers are very vulnerable to insurance companies so he must protect them.

Health Insurance Rates for Japan’s Earthquake & Tsunami Victims

Friday, March 11th, 2011

A horrible 8.9 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami have devastated much of Japan, according to the Associated Press article “Hundreds killed in tsunami after 8.9 Japan quake” by Malcolm Foster.  This was the largest earthquake that Japan has ever seen, besting the 8.3 magnitude earthquake in 1923 that killed 143,000 people.  The resulting 23-foot tsunami killed hundreds of people because they were washed away in cars, buses, boats and homes.  Perhaps one of the hardest hit cities was Sendai, on the northeastern coast, where close to 300 bodies were found.  Hundreds of people are still missing as well.

Aftershocks went on for hours, with over 50 recorded at magnitudes over 6.0 much of the time.  There are many out of control fires sparked by the disaster that are still raging.  Effects were felt as far away as Tokyo.  Currently 627 people have been listed as injured, but that number is likely to skyrocket.  Health insurance rates might increase because of this natural disaster and all the money that will have to cover those injured, not that anyone is worried about that just yet.  With hundreds of people still missing and entire cities devastated by damage, much of Japan has a difficult road ahead.

This earthquake was the fifth largest seen in the entire world since data was recorded in 1900.  The energy created by this earthquake is about the same as the energy consumption in the entire United States for a whole month.  There are people stranded all over Tokyo because transportation systems are shut down.  Residents are looking for shelters and medical care wherever they can.  Although Japan is used to earthquakes, the tsunami that followed this 8.9 really caused the most damage to both land and human life.  The tsunami reached Hawaii and the mainland coast of North America as well, but was not as strong as it could have been.  Many relief efforts are underway so if you are looking to help, just search them out.

NFL Players Must Compare Health Insurance

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

nfl logoCurrent NFL players will be losing their life and health insurance coverage today if the players and the league cannot reach a collective bargaining agreement.  According to a notice on the NFL players website entitled “Notice: Important News About NFL Player Insurance Plan,” the players’ group health insurance coverage will be suspended until an agreement is reached.  Players need to compare health insurance from other sources, including COBRA, before they are left in the lurch.

COBRA coverage can be purchased to continue NFL players’ current health insurance at a fairly high cost.  Notices regarding COBRA went out to NFL players this week.  If they don’t follow the guidelines and get the required information and forms in by the deadline though, they will lose the right to their COBRA coverage.  Some players are also looking for individual health insurance from companies like Aultcare, which is quite close to the Football Hall of Fame in Ohio.  It’s possible that they could pay less when they compare health insurance at an individual level to their COBRA costs.

The players’ life insurance policies will also be suspended today if an agreement isn’t reached or the deadline isn’t extended.  MetLife, the insurance carrier, is sending out information to the players so that they can convert their policies into individual life insurance rather than the group coverage they currently have.  The NFL players website recommends players get help from an insurance agent or financial advisor so they don’t miss important deadlines.