Archive for August, 2011

Founding Fathers Mandated Health Insurance

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Earlier this year, Rick Ungar of Forbes pointed out a little known fact that mandated health care insurance was put in place by our founding fathers and dates back to 1798.  In his article, “Congress Passes Socialized Medicine and Mandates Health Insurance – in 1798,” he says that the lawsuit filed by the state of Florida claiming that government mandated health care is unconstitutional is quite false.  An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen was passed in July 1798 by Congress, many of whom were founding fathers, and signed by President John Adams.  It basically mandated that all seamen who were employed privately must carry health insurance.  It also created a marine hospital service which was operated by the government and treated the sick and injured seamen.

The merchant marine was crucial to the economy because of their importance importing and exporting goods, but seamen were getting hurt on the job and getting illnesses from the countries to which they traveled.  A Marine Hospital Service was created to treat the sick and injured seamen and it was paid for by a mandatory tax equal to just over 1% of the seamen’s pay.  This was the first time that privately employed Americans were required to carry health insurance; ships could not go in and out of the ports before paying their mandatory taxes.  The Marine Hospital Service evolved into the Public Health Service, which is operated by the Surgeon General.  While what was good for the nation in 1798 doesn’t necessarily transfer to 2011, the argument regarding the founding fathers and the constitution being against the most recent health care reform doesn’t appear to hold true.

Easy to Compare Health Insurance Quotes

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

It’s about to get much easier to compare health insurance quotes and determine exactly how much money you’ll have to pay out of pocket.  The Washington Post article, “New health insurance rules would let consumers compare plans in ‘plain English’,” says that consumers should get this benefit by next March.  Author N.C. Aizenman says that the government plans to require all health insurers to to give a short and easy to understand summary of their policy’s benefits and costs.  This will be available to current customers as well as those looking to compare different health insurance plans.  In addition, each plan will have to include a breakdown of your out of pocket expenses for having a baby, receiving treatment for breast cancer, and treating diabetes.

The Department of Health and Human Services compared the health insurance summaries to ‘Nutrition Facts’ food labels.  Summaries have to be less than four two-sided pages and cannot be in font smaller than 12-point.  Consumers can request a summary at any point in the application process.  Insurers like Aultcare have to provide summaries before enrollment in a plan, 30 days before a health plan is up for renewal, and 60 before any important changes are to occur in someone’s health plan.  Right now the regulation is in a 60-day comment period.  It is expected that many health insurers will express concern over the added administrative costs they will have with these summaries.  Employer-sponsored plans have so many different options that insurers might have to make thousands of different summaries.  Consumers, however, will much more easily be able to compare health insurance quotes and plans to see what option is best for them.

Top Cities in US Compare Health Insurance & Much More

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

CNN Money reporters researched “America’s Best Places to Live 2011″ and compiled a desirable list.  They looked at jobs, financial strength, schools, safety, healthcare, activities, and weather to find their list of the best cities.  The following summary is of the top 20 best small towns, taking into account only cities with populations under 50,000.  Louisville, CO is the top-ranked city because of its safety, gorgeous weather and outdoor activities, abundance of jobs, and affordable housing market.  In Milton, MA, home prices have been stable since 2005 and the beautiful country scenery is still close to all the amenities Boston has to offer.  Compare health insurance in Solon, OH and its tough to beat the Cleveland Clinic health system.  They also boast the number one school system in the state of Ohio and major employers like Nestle and L’Oreal.

Number four Leesburg, VA is close enough to Washington D.C. to maintain a low unemployment rate and is filled with historic homes and buildings.  In Papillion, NE, jobs in everything from agriculture to energy are available and they have a strong housing market that is the envy of many large cities.  Sixth ranked Hanover, NH has Dartmouth College and the White Mountains to thank for its economic and cultural prowess.  Liberty, MO; Middleton, WI; Mukilteo, WA; and Chanhassen, MN round out the top ten.  Sharon, MA is a popular summer vacation spot because of Lake Massapoag.  Farmington, UT has a century old amusement park in the center of town and low taxes, but still very strong finances.  In number 13 Johnston, IA; agriculture has helped double this town’s population in the last decade.

Arden Hills, MN is ranked 14th because of its excellent schools, trails connecting the city, and tree preservation laws.  In Sammamish, WA; outdoor activities are plentiful and high-tech employers are prevalent.  Number 16 is Acton Hills, MA; the third city in Massachusetts on the list.  Montville, NJ has more than 50 Fortune 500 companies headquartered there and an hour commute to NYC.  Newcastle, WA is close to Seattle and filled with outdoor activities.  The final two cities in the top 20 are both in Colorado.  Castle Rock and Superior are both old coal mining towns with a lot of charm and western activities to offer.  The top 20 best places to live this year were determined by combining a mix of factors and allowing readers to learn about the schools, weather, and compare health insurance coverage and availability.

 

Debt Ceiling Deal Hurts Medicare Health Insurance Rates

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

Doctors and hospitals are terrified that the government’s debt ceiling deal will negatively effect their ability to care for Medicare patients.  While the cuts won’t directly hurt the Medicare recipients, Medicare cuts will mean hospitals, doctors, nursing homes, and other Medicare providers will be paid less for the services they provide Medicare patients.  The CNN Money article “Health providers: Debt deal puts seniors at risk,” by Parija Kavilanz, explains how health insurance rates and payments will be effected by the debt ceiling deal reached this week.

Since the government will be cutting $2.1 trillion out of their budget over the next ten years, Medicare will be hit hard as one of the biggest government expenses.  The American Hospital Association represents 5,000 hospitals and facilities.  They think that Medicare should be exempt from these government cuts since more Americans rely on government healthcare when they get older and the cuts could make for crowded ERs and less access to the latest medical advances.  The president of the American Academy of Family Physicians worries that doctors would be forced to eliminate care to Medicare patients if their reimbursements were cut even further.  It remains to be seen how large the Medicare cuts will be.