Archive for September, 2013

Divorce Brings Up Health Insurance Concerns for Many

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

A large group of people seeking individual health insurance coverage may be able to celebrate lower premiums because of the Affordable Care Act.  If you know anyone who has gotten divorced, you may be well aware of the sting that ex-spouses face when they lose their health insurance coverage because it was tied to their ex.  Each year, 115,000 women lose health insurance coverage because of a divorce.  This information comes from Marketwatch’s Elizabeth O’Brien in the article “Obamacare could ease divorce’s financial sting.”  While the overall divorce rate has slowly declined, people over 50 have seen an increasing divorce rate.  This is like a double whammy for those getting divorced and losing their health insurance because insurance is often more costly overall as you age.  Although ex-spouses are usually able to continue their healthcare through COBRA, the program is very expensive and ends in less than two years.  This leaves a lot of recent divorcees without insurance coverage, often for a long time.

Not only is it more expensive to find individual health insurance for over-50s, pre-existing conditions have excluded many of them from even being able to find an insurance plan.  The fact that they do not yet qualify for Medicare means that divorce is setting many women’s retirement goals even farther back because of health insurance costs.  When the Affordable Care Act takes full effect January 1, 2014, many of these divorcees will have good news when it comes to health insurance.  Those who were disqualified from plans will have choices for health insurance and costs should be more affordable for those who already found plans.  Attorneys have said that many older couples remain married until they are 65 just so the non-working or non-insured spouse with pre-existing medical conditions can remain on the spouse’s plan until they qualify for Medicare.

Health insurance is often a factor in divorce negotiations and was tricky in the past.  Now that health insurance exchanges will help people find affordable coverage and plan tiers will be more standardized to show out-of-pocket costs, estimating health insurance costs will be easier in negotiations.  Federal subsidies will be available to many divorcees looking for individual health insurance plans, especially if they have little to no income.  And these subsidies will be a big factor in alimony calculations since health care costs can contribute to higher alimony payments.  There are other health considerations when it comes to divorce and arranging for the division of policies.  Long term care insurance policies must be divided and those who didn’t have such a policy should consider one since they won’t have a spouse to help care for them if needed.  Many people also get a court order at the start of divorce proceeding to make sure that spouses are maintaining payments on health insurance and other insurance policies while details of a divorce are being worked out.  If you are looking for a health insurance policy because of a divorce, we have many affordable plans from which to choose.

New York Gets a New Health Insurance Company Based on Simplicity

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Well I must admit that I am intrigued by this new health insurance concept in New York.  According to ny1 news in New York, Erin Billups says that a “New health insurance company offers (a) unique approach to coverage for New Yorkers.”  Each state’s health insurance exchange will start offering health insurance plans October 1 and New York has a brand new insurer involved in their exchange.  Three men with tech industry backgrounds have started a new health insurance company called Oscar and their goal is to simplify the process of health insurance and make it more straightforward.  They were motivated to build Oscar after one of the entrepreneurs opened a health insurance bill and was utterly confused.  He said that the benefits and even who his doctors were had been unclear and the men involved in Oscar have vowed to change that confusing process.

There will be 17 health insurance companies in New York’s insurance exchange, one of which is Oscar.  Plans from this insurer range from $0 to $500 per month.  On the company’s website, your health history will be laid out for you in a similar fashion to Facebook’s timeline feature.  Your information can be accessed from your phone and goes back years into your health history.  The overall goal is to translate the health care system and make it easy to understand and very transparent.  Costs will be clear up front, from the cost of a prescription to any necessary services.  One feature that Oscar is particularly proud of is their “tele-doc” service.  You can make a phone call to a doctor at any time and receive a call back within an hour.  This helps eliminate unnecessary emergency room and other doctor visits when a simple question could have been quickly answered.

Oscar definitely has an uphill battle as a new insurer entering the market, but they are hopeful to reach their capacity of 50,000 customers quickly.  They will have to manage finding the right mix of customers and maintaining the simplicity that they are basing their company off of to become successful.  But if Oscar can make this simple concept work, they could change the face of health insurance in America at a time when everything is up in the air.  Contact us with any health insurance questions, including those regarding health insurance exchanges.

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Sole Insurer in WV Exchange

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

Competition breeds lower costs when it comes to insurance plans and most other things.  So will the fact that there will only be one health insurance company in West Virginia’s exchange mean that premium costs will be less competitive?  We don’t know yet, but we will know more about pricing when the exchanges across America start offering plans October 1.  According to the Cumberland Times-News out of West Virginia in the article, “Insurance market in W.Va. will have one company,” two insurers applied and were accepted into the state’s health insurance exchange, but only one is following through with their plans.  Carelink/Coventry withdrew from the individual health insurance exchange marketplace in West Virginia.  Their parent company, Aetna, reevaluated their overall strategy and determined that they would wait to see what happened with the exchanges in 2014 before offering plans in this state.  They decided to focus on markets where they feel they can be the most competitive and offer the most value to consumers.

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield will be the only insurer participating in West Virginia’s exchange when it starts offering plans next month.  They will be offering eleven different individual plans and four small business plans in that particular marketplace.  Each plan will offer different coverage levels with differing costs.  Plan enrollment will start at the beginning of next month, while coverage will start at the beginning of next year.  West Virginians for Affordable Health Care’s executive director believes that premium prices would be better with more competition in the marketplace.  But Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield might offer great pricing, it’s just not yet available for viewing.  He is hopeful that more health insurance companies will join the exchange in the future, making pricing more competitive.  There is always the possibility that Caremark/Coventry will start offering plans in the future, according to a spokesman for Aetna.

Health Insurance Quotes Differ Based on Age & State

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

Many Americans are concerned about the upcoming government mandate to purchase health insurance or receive a penalty.  WebMD says that “Health Insurance Premiums Will be Competitive,” according to their article from HealthDay.  The Kaiser Family Foundation and Avalere Health, a private data firm, both performed independent studies to see how health insurance will change in 2014 when the individual mandate goes into effect.  Government tax credits will be in place to help Americans with lower income better afford their required health insurance, but many are worried about being able to afford the coverage even with the credits.

Kaiser figured the rates for people of different ages and different plan levels.  For a middle tiered (or “silver”) plan, a single person earning around $29,000 a year would pay $190 a month. A lower tiered (or “bronze”) plan would cost a younger person between $100 and $140 a month after their tax credit.  Older Americans could get premiums below $100 a month with their tax credit if they choose a high deductible and higher co-pays.  Avalere conducted their own study on the costs and found similar results.  A 21-year-old who doesn’t get a tax credit would pay around $270 per month for a silver plan.  The same plan without a tax credit would cost a 40-year-old $330 and a 60-year-old $615.  Americans with average to higher income will not get government tax credits.

Online insurance marketplaces will start offering competitive health insurance plans starting at the beginning of next month.  Americans who do not have health insurance from their employer will be able to shop multiple health insurance plans and determine whether or not they are eligible for a government tax credit through these online marketplaces.  According to studies, 4 out of 5 Americans shopping in the insurance exchanges will be eligible for at least some type of a tax credit.  If you purchase a lower end plan, rates are very competitive but they differ widely between age groups and even state to state.  Uninsured Americans are still concerned that any extra monthly expense will be too much for them to manage, not to mention their credit doesn’t come until tax time rather than being up front.  Compare health insurance from many sources if you are looking to follow the new mandate and get yourself covered.