Archive for June, 2013

Insurance Rebates Owed in Missouri By August 1

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

The Affordable Care Act stipulates that health insurance companies have to follow what’s known as the 80/20 rule.  This Medical Loss Rule helps to assure that health insurance companies operate more efficiently by spending at least 80 cents of every premium dollar on patient health care or quality improvement.  If they don’t spend according to the rule, insurers have to send rebates to the customers paying those premiums.  According to the Missouri News Tribune’s Olivia Ingle, “Health insurance rebates (are) on the way” for Missouri residents.  The average family in Missouri will get a rebate of $173.  This will affect 600,000 Missouri residents, who will be paid $60.5 million this year.  Last year, $1 billion was owed to U.S. residents through this health insurance program, compared with a total of around $500 million owed this year.  The Department of Health and Human Services says that 8.5 million Americans will get part of that $500 million owed in rebates.

For consumers with individual health insurance, they will be notified by their insurance company if they are owed a rebate.  It can be sent to them as a check, it can be reimbursed through the account used to pay the insurance premium, or it can be applied as a credit for future premium payments.  Companies have until August 1 to issue the rebate regardless of the way it is issued.  For employer health insurance rebates, companies can use one of the three ways mentioned above or offer more generous benefits to their employees in exchange for the rebate amount.  Golden Rule Health Insurance owed the most in Missouri’s individual market with almost $2.5 million owed.  Healthy Alliance Life Insurance Company owes close to $4.2 million, the most in the small group insurance market.  In the large group market, UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company took the top spot for rebates owed with $3.6 million.  Missouri residents owed a rebate look forward to receiving their money this summer, regardless of the amount.

Young Americans Want Health Insurance & Think It’s Important

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Since the Affordable Care Act passed, more and more Americans seem to have become dissenters against it.  When young and healthy people enter into the health insurance system, costs go down for everyone else.  One of the main arguments that we’ve been hearing against the ACA is that young people won’t go get health insurance because they think they are invincible, so costs will just be higher for everyone else.  But according to “Young Adults Want Health Insurance, Don’t Feel ‘Invincible,’ New Obamacare Poll Shows,” young adults desire health insurance and don’t think they are too healthy to need it.  The Huffington Post article by Jeffrey Young discusses recent data found by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation in a phone poll.  These study results could have an important impact on the Affordable Care Act and how it changes the face of American health insurance.

Not only do young people tend to have lower income than older people, they are also uninsured at much higher rates.  Despite skeptics’ thoughts, this survey found that 77% of 18-25 year olds find health insurance to be important to them.  In the same age group, 76% feel that they need health insurance.  Interestingly, 71% of people aged 26-30 believe that health insurance is important to them and 74% think that they need health insurance.  When you look at all ages combined, 87% of people think that health insurance is important and 88% think they need health insurance.  Only 11% of all ages think that they are too healthy to need health insurance, while around 25% of the young age groups think that.  While this survey shows that older people do think health insurance is more important than younger people do, the majority of young people still believe it is important and that they need health insurance.

Once health insurance coverage is mandated, those who don’t get health coverage at work will be looking for cheap health insurance in President Obama’s health insurance exchanges.  Some worry that young Americans will be paying more for that individual coverage than they would if they got health insurance in the individual market now because of all of the other changes being mandated.  As insurers are forced to cover people with pre-existing conditions and have limits on how much they can charge older people for coverage, will young Americans bear the burden of health insurance costs?  Multiple studies show that around 2/3 of young Americans will qualify for a government tax credit to help pay for their health insurance.  Even with the number of people who will be helped by the health care changes and the tax credits offered, only 35% of those surveyed have a favorable opinion of the Affordable Care Act.  The more young people who obtain health insurance, the better it will be for the system as a whole.

Access Health CT to Open Six Storefronts in Connecticut

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Connecticut is the latest state opening brick and mortar health insurance exchange locations to help match the uninsured with health plans.  In The Bristol Press, Scott Whipple detailed the new locations in his article “Health insurance exchange coming soon to match uninsured with health care plan.”  Originally, Access Health CT, the state insurance exchange, thought that they would be opening seven locations.  After working on their plans for two years, it looks like they will open six locations.  New Britain’s storefront will be in addition to the other five locations in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, and Waterbury.  They have yet to finalize the New Britain location, but stress that it will both have plenty of parking and be located very near a CTfastrak terminal.

New Britain’s location was chosen to help match some of the 334,000 uninsured Connecticut residents with affordable health insurance plans for a few reasons.  It is a poorer city, very densely populated, and has a high number of residents who don’t currently have health insurance.  The location should be open on or before October 1 of this year.  Each Access Health location will have brokers on site as well as people there with specific knowledge of the Affordable Care Act and how it will affect uninsured individuals.  They are structuring their storefronts in the way of Apple in order to mimic their way of making it easy to buy a more sophisticated product in a clean, well lit and high-functioning space.

Access Health CT’s chief marketing officer said that the most difficult part of this planning has been that the uninsured have no knowledge of the insurance plans available to them.  One local Connecticut health insurance broker doesn’t think that the state is doing anything different and points out that there are already insurance storefronts where the uninsured could have gone to look for options.  But I do think it will be different for the government run program because of the changes with the Affordable Care Act.  Access Health’s CMO made a career change after the passage of this act to see what will come of the sweeping changes, after working for big insurance names like Aetna and Wellpoint.  While he admits that he doesn’t know it will all work out, he is hopeful that the hundreds of thousands of uninsured residents in Connecticut will be able to find affordable health insurance.

Uninsured Americans Plan to Be Rulebreakers

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Many Americans do not plan to get health insurance if they don’t already have it, even though they could start being penalized next year.  According to Money Talks News’ Brandon Ballenger in the article, “Uninsured Not Sure They’ll Comply with Obamacare, Survey Says,” a recent survey of around 300 uninsured adults found the following information.  The majority, 64%, said that they haven’t made up their minds about whether or not they will search for their own health insurance before the deadline.  Close to 20% do plan to find a health insurance plan from an insurer like Celtic Health Insurance by the deadline.  Ten percent of those surveyed said they plan to pay the penalty fee rather than find health insurance.  I don’t know if that is such a great idea.

Penalty fees are manageable at first, but increase steadily to an amount where you might as well find some cheaper health insurance.  Next year’s penalty is either $95 or 1% of your income, whichever number is larger.  The penalty for kids under 18 is half the amount of the adults’ penalty.  By 2016, the penalty for an adult is either $695 or 2.5% of your income, with the greater number prevailing.  The Kaiser Family Foundation says that a family would owe the larger of $2,085 or the same 2.5% of total income.

When asked, most people cite a lack of finances as the main reason that they don’t carry health insurance.  Households that have income between 100% and 400% of the poverty guidelines are eligible for tax credits from the government, but 58% of the uninsured have no idea if they qualify or not.  Individuals making $45,960 and families of four making $94,200 qualify for the government tax credits on health insurance.  Of those with income under $30,000 per year, 68% don’t know if they are eligible for these credits that would lower their health insurance costs.  Believe it or not, 61% of those surveyed, insured and uninsured, think that Obamacare will actually increase the cost of health care overall.  That certainly is not the goal.

The Kaiser Family Foundation offers a subsidy calculator to help you figure out if you will qualify for a tax credit and if so, how much it will be.  Single people earning $30,000 per year would get a credit of $538, making minimum health insurance coverage cost $1,964 a year.  That comes out to about $165 per month for a health insurance premium, but doesn’t include co-pays or other extras.  Out of pocket costs could easily increase that monthly output.  See if you will qualify for a government credit for health insurance before shopping around for a cheaper health insurance plan to meet the new requirements.