Archive for July, 2012

Night Shift Can Increase Health Insurance Quotes & Heart Problems

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

A large study reported by BBC News says that night shift workers have a greater risk for heart problems than people who work day shift.  The British Medical Journal analyzed studies involving over 2 million workers and found that there is a serious disruption in your body’s clock that negatively effects your lifestyle.  In “Shift work link to ‘increased risk of heart problems,” it says that you can lessen your problems by reducing night shift work.  That is much easier said than done for many workers, so how damaging is working night shift and what can be done to combat its harmful effects?

This study analyzed information from 34 different studies around the world.  They found that shift workers were 23% more likely to have a heart attack, 24% more likely to have a coronary event, and 5% more likely to have a stroke than non-shift workers.  Interestingly, they did not find an increase in mortality rates related to heart problems for these workers.  The additional factors taken into account for the studies were diet, socioeconomic status and overall health.  People working night shift have interrupted sleep patterns and typically have worse eating habits than those on regular day shifts.  The fact that their nervous system is constantly activated with no regular sleep patterns also leads to increased obesity and higher cholesterol.

I wonder if health insurance companies compare this factor when they give their insurance quotes.  If those working night shift have a higher rate of heart problems, obesity, and high cholesterol; insurers may have a legitimate reason to increase rates for night shift workers.  To combat higher health insurance rates and heart problems, there are some things night shift workers can do.  They should be educated in the possible symptoms that can occur from working night shift.  Many workers turn to sleep aids, have problems with their appetites and digestion, and may even have social or family problems.  If workers know what to look for ahead of time, they can combat the issues that are leading to heart attacks and other coronary events.  Try not work a permanent night shift and make sure to have two full nights of sleep when going between day and night shift.  Also, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising, and avoiding smoking can help combat these heart problems.

Montana’s Health Insurance Co-op Hopes to Blaze a Trail

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

In anticipation of the Affordable Care Act being enacted fully next year, Montana’s Health Cooperative looks forward to offering low cost health insurance plans to its state’s residents.  In the Insurance News Net article “Health Insurance Co-op CEO Say Streamlined Model Will Keep Costs Low,” Mike Dennison of the Independent Record spoke about Montana’s Co-op and their future plans.  Currently, CEO Jerry Dworak and a chief internal officer are the only employees running the Montana Health Cooperative.  They are working to get the affordable health insurance program running, so that they can start offering policies in 2014.  That will run right in line with the start of the low cost health insurance exchanges and potential overhaul of the health insurance system in the United States.

Montana’s Co-op is currently running on $58 million that it received in a loan from the federal government.  It is one of 17 state co-ops that will be non-profit, member-owned health insurers.  By keeping their staff low and other streamlining measures, CEO Dworak says that their goal is to have one of the lowest administrative costs in the state and possibly in the industry as a whole.  By making smart decisions in the best interest of the consumer, they plan to offer health insurance that is both affordable and unique.

There is a pool of 330,000 Montana residents that either don’t have health insurance currently, maintain individual health insurance plans, or are employed by a small business that plans to drop health insurance coverage once the low cost exchanges open up.  Dworak says that if just 10% of those people come to Montana’s co-op for health insurance, they will have far exceeded their goals.  They hope to have 10,000 members by their first year and 30,000 members by their third year.  Some Congress members are against the idea of health insurance co-ops and are fighting to get them excluded from federal funding.  One concern is that they will go under and that money will have been “wasted”.  But Montana’s co-op is exempt if any federal funding changes are made because they are already up and running.  I’d like to see something work to lower health insurance costs in America; let’s see if Montana’s co-op can help change the face of health care.

Health Insurance Reform Debate Surges On

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

As was expected by Democrats and the Supreme Court, Republicans are still fighting against the Affordable Care Act, even after it was upheld as being constitutional.  According to Fox News’ “House GOP poised to hold vote on repeal of ObamaCare after Supreme Court ruling,” Cristina Marcos says that there should be a vote today about repealing the Affordable Care Act.  This is the 31st time that Republicans have held a vote hoping to repeal all or some portion of President Obama’s health care reform.  This is the 2nd time Republicans have tried to repeal the entire law; the other 29 votes since 2011 have been against specific parts of the reform.  Since the Senate is controlled by Democrats and President Obama certainly won’t sign any repeal of his health insurance, is this a good use of government time?

While Democrats are accusing Republicans of wasting time fighting this same fight over and over, Republicans argue that just because the Supreme Court said the Affordable Care Act was constitutional doesn’t mean that it is good for Americans.  Republicans say they will continue to fight against health care reform with which they disagree.  Five hours of floor debate was allotted for this discussion by the House Rules Committee on Monday.  The lawmakers used four and a half hours of their discussion on Tuesday and finished the rest today.  Republicans say that they will continue fighting against what is sometimes known as ObamaCare until they have the majority.  Democrats think that the time allotted for arguing over this same debate would be better spent talking about jobs or other important issues working right now because they are happy with the Affordable Care Act.

UPDATE: Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Individual Mandate

Monday, July 9th, 2012

UPDATE to 6/27/2012 Blog:

After a long wait, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.  The votes were close at 5-4, according to ABC News article “Supreme Court Health Care Ruling: The Mandate Can Stay.”  Matt Negrin and Ariane De Vogue explained that while the Supreme Court deemed the individual mandate unconstitutional under the commerce clause, they ruled that it is allowed under the taxing clause.  Essentially, the government can “tax” you for not carrying health insurance.  President Obama is happy with the victory because he believes that this reform is in the best interest of Americans.  The political battle will rage on though, especially with this being an election year.

Most Americans must compare health insurance quotes and purchase a policy, or else they will be fined.  These fines could total thousands of dollars each year.  The most popular facets of the health care law will also remain in effect, including the fact that those under 26 may stay on their parents’ health insurance plans, Medicare members get free mammograms, and health insurance companies cannot deny you coverage because of pre-existing conditions or a mistake on your application.  A Supreme Court expert said that while this is a win for the President, it was actually the administration’s third choice of an argument, not the first.  They first argued that the individual mandate fell under the Commerce Clause, then the Necessary and Proper Clause, and finally the Tax Clause.

Regardless, the debate will rage on through this election year.  Republicans show survey results that only 36% of Americans agree with the Affordable Care Act.  But when asked about specific items in the Act, surveys have also shown much support of the age 26 provision and the pre-existing condition provision.  Of course there is going to be opposition because everyone does not believe in the same path for America, but I hope that decisions are informed when it comes to the Affordable Care Act.  I think some polling results show that many Americans are against the Act in a blanket way without knowing the details.  Since only 39% of Americans think the health care system is in a good place right now, it’s clear that something needs to be done.  Whether or not the Affordable Care Act is the right solution remains to be seen.