Archive for April, 2012

Health Scare in the Skies

Friday, April 27th, 2012

Passengers must have been pretty scared when their Delta flight landed in Chicago yesterday and was quarantined on the runway for hours.  According to Fox News article “Airplane quarantine scare reminds us we’re all at risk,” Dr. Manny Alvarez said that health and fire department officials from Chicago responded to the flight after concerns arose over a passenger’s rash.  Local officials said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was handling the potential issue.  Luckily, the situation turned out to be nothing and passengers were able to exit their flight without the risk of a health scare following them.

This really makes us wonder what could happen on a plane flight if someone were carrying some type of contagious disease.  The article says that the issues most worrisome right now are chicken pox, scarlet fever, Parvovirus, Coxsackie viruses, Impitigo, and scabies.  Influenza and SARS are two other problems concerning the CDC.  Those who have any of these diseases should not fly on an airplane, but what can you do as a passenger?  Health insurance companies push vaccines for reasons like this.  Make sure that you and your family are vaccinated against any of the viruses and diseases that you can.  This will greatly reduce the risk that you’ll have to worry about catching something on a plane.  Otherwise, be aware of your surrounding passengers and report any rash or illness that seems highly questionable.

Extreme Discrepancy in Health Care Costs

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

After reading this article by the AP, it’s no wonder that people are so irritated with America’s health care system.  In “Appendix removal: Huge sticker shock in study,” the AP’s Lindsey Tanner says that a recent study done in California found a crazy discrepancy between the cost of an appendix removal at different hospitals.  While some people paid around $1,500 to get their appendix removed, others actually paid $180,000.  Since you don’t have much of a choice in the treatment given to you when you come into the hospital ill, it really is disheartening to see that there are times when you can’t trust that you are being fairly charged.

Even though this study was performed in California, it is said to be an accurate representation of what is happening all over America.  When you are comparing the health insurance quotes from different companies, a basic surgery like the removal of an appendix is usually covered.  But with most health insurance plans, you have to pay something towards the cost of your hospital bills.  My plan requires me to pay 10% of hospital bills after I have met my yearly deductible.  A bill of $1,500 versus one of $180,000 for getting my appendix removed is the difference between my out of pocket costs being $150 or $18,000.  That is hard to even wrap my head around.

The cost differences were based on the length of the hospital stay, the type of procedure used, how many scans were done, and where the patient was treated geographically.  While it was easy to account for 2/3 of the discrepancies, 1/3 of them were not clear through the research.  The governments of other developed countries have stricter regulation on the charges that can be given for health care to keep it uniform.  Based on the health care costs in America, it is questionable whether traditional supply and demand laws really work as related to health care.  While I’m sure there were many legitimate reasons for a wide range in the cost of an appendix removal, it seems that some type of reform is necessary to ensure costs are fair and only necessary testing and work is done.

Health Insurance Exchange Knowledge to Be Shared

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

The Sacramento Association of Health Underwriters, also known as SAHU, holds a luncheon monthly and next week they have a special guest.  According to a CHOICE Administrators’ press release, CHOICE’S CEO will be speaking at SAHU’s April meeting.  CHOICE develops and runs health insurance exchanges throughout the United States and they are the leaders in their industry.  CEO Ron Goldstein will be talking about health insurance exchanges as the country looks to develop more of them to meet government changes.  Goldstein is in high demand for his extensive knowledge of health insurance exchanges and has over 10,000 employers using CHOICE Adminstrators.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act gives states until January 1, 2014 to operate their own health insurance exchange or have the government run a default exchange for them.  These exchanges are meant to help Americans find better health insurance rates, especially when they were previously uninsured.  Over the past nine months, Goldstein has spoken with all but two states and plans to share his discussions at SAHU’s monthly meeting.  His leadership is unparalleled in the health insurance exchange industry and many states will likely use Goldstein’s recommendations when creating their own exchanges.  He also plans to talk about how brokers will work with the California Public Exchange and give tips for brokers regarding the changes to health insurance exchanges.

Florida Blue is New Name of BCBS Florida

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Inc. now has a new name, according to the Jacksonville Daily Record’s “BCBS is now Florida Blue.”  The company is changing their focus from simply being a health insurance company to more of a health solutions company, and they hope that the name Florida Blue will help with that transition.  They will remain a non-profit company owned by its policyholders and paying taxes as a mutual company.  Along with the new moniker Florida Blue, the company will have a new logo and use the tagline “In the pursuit of health.”  Both old customers and new consumers will begin seeing signage, ads, and even sponsorships almost immediately.

They are changing their business model from a focus solely on health insurance to one that is more multi-dimensional.  Many health insurance companies are realizing that a more comprehensive view on healthcare is a great way to eventually lower costs and make consumers healthier by focusing on healthy habits before they need health care for being sick.  Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida has been around for almost 70 years and is known for very personal service and a strong customer focus.  Programs like the affordable Go Blue Florida are likely to remain intact, possibly with some changes to focus even more on preventative health.