Archive for the ‘compare health insurance quotes’ Category

Consumers Would Like to Know Premium Increases In Advance

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Increasing healthcare costs have been a bone of contention for years.  This was long before the Affordable Care Act became law and it’s continuing after the ACA went into effect.  One of the biggest problems that many consumers have is that it’s just not clear where the extra money they have to pay is going.  The cost of health insurance premiums is rising much faster than our incomes, so healthcare is really taking a hit on consumer budgets.  Consumer Reports’ David Butler wrote an article for Fox Business titled “Make the pricing of health insurance more transparent.”  If consumers know why they are paying more money and exactly where their money is going, people might not be so angry about paying higher premiums.  Or it might make the health insurance industry function in a better way so that money is used wisely. Health insurance companies are already getting ready to set their premium prices for next year.

The open enrollment period for signing up for health insurance in the government exchanges is less than five months from now.  It would make sense that consumers get a taste of what premium costs are going to be before searching for health insurance plans.  Health insurance increases before the Affordable Care Act were often extreme and there weren’t any safeguards in place to prevent astronomical premium increases.  This is why millions of Americans chose to avoid purchasing health insurance and take the risk that they wouldn’t get sick.  President Obama’s goal in creating the Affordable Care Act was to get more Americans insured.  One safeguard that the law put into place was an oversight of premium rates at both the state and federal level.  The Department of Health & Human Services has the ability to review premium costs and increases that they deem unreasonably high.

The government is trying to make health insurance premiums more transparent, so that consumers can see potential increases before they are hit with them.  Unfortunately the timing has not been quite right.  2013 information was recently released, although we are already paying for those premium increases.  Now would be a good time to see the potential increases for next year, before open enrollment and before health insurance decisions have to be made.  Making the information public before increases go into effect allows consumers and states to determine if the increases are justified.  Another problem is that some insurance companies say that their information is confidential, so we aren’t able to have access to any transparency.  It’s frustrating for consumers to feel in the dark and out of control when it comes to health insurance premium increases.  Consumer Reports hopes to change the system by requiring full transparency of health insurance premium increases before they come into effect.  If you are having a hard time finding affordable health insurance, search for quotes here.

Did the President Know 15 Million Would Have Health Insurance Cancelled?

Friday, November 8th, 2013

President Obama has been under a lot of scrutiny for 3.5 million Americans losing their health insurance coverage because of the Affordable Care Act.  He made a lot of promises about his health care reform that have not held true.  It’s unclear whether he knew that he was lying or he really believed what he was saying to be true at the time.  According to the Associated Press’ Julie Pace, President “Obama says he’s sorry Americans (are) losing insurance.”  He assures Americans that his administration is working hard to fix the problems caused by the Affordable Care Act.  There have been many technical problems with the website Americans are using to sign up for new health insurance plans through the exchanges.  President Obama admits that it is his job to make the plan better and to do something about all of the health insurance plan cancellations that have come since the reform went into law.  He is confident that all Americans who want health insurance coverage will be able to find it by the government deadline of March 31.

Republicans are frustrated with the President and are using the fact that Americans are losing health insurance to renew their fight against the Affordable Care Act.  But the White House says that the basic premise of the Affordable Care Act invalidates around 5% of current health insurance plans.  Without being grandfathered in, those plans who do not meet the mandatory coverage requirements can no longer be offered.  This means that 15 million Americans, or 5% of the 300 million, won’t be able to keep their health insurance plans.  But just because your current plan is being cancelled, it does not mean that your health insurance company won’t have other options for you.  Those plans with very limited coverage will no longer be available, so you can expect to pay more for your health insurance if you are getting better coverage.  If your current insurer is not offering you another plan, you can shop for coverage through the health insurance exchanges or find an individual health insurance quote through Compare Health Rates.

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.

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.

 

Fewer Employers Offering Health Insurance in Florida

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

Consider yourself lucky if you still have health insurance covered by your employer.  The number of Americans with that luxury is declining fast, especially for those who work for small companies.  Florida’s Sun Sentinel just published an article about how their state compares to the national average based on a report from the State Health Access Data Assistance Center.  Maria Mallory White’s “Study: Company-paid health insurance more rare” says that Florida is below the national average when it comes to the number of people with employer-sponsored health insurance.  Compared to the national average where 52.4% of Americans have this employer coverage, only 44.1% of Florida’s companies are offering health insurance plans.  That ranks them at 45th in the nation.

This accounts for a 10% decline in both the coverage offered in Florida as well as the nation as a whole.  Losing health insurance benefits has been a steady process over a long period of time throughout the United States.  Those people losing the most ground were lower-wage workers and workers’ dependents.  The ten year study was done on workers under the age of 65 because those over 65 are eligible for Medicare insurance.  While the number of Florida residents under 65 decreased by almost 10%, the coverage for their dependents decreased by a whopping 25%.  The only state with a larger decline in dependent coverage was Mississippi.

Floridians with income below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines saw a 10.4% decline in their employer-sponsored health insurance coverage.  Those with income between 200% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines saw a 6.1% decline in their coverage option.  One of the largest factors in this decrease in employer health care coverage is the size of companies.  Small companies are less likely to offer health insurance coverage to their employees.  Some larger companies are downsizing and becoming small, while small companies that were offering health insurance no longer are because of increasing costs.  Florida companies with 50 or fewer employees offer health insurance 29% of the time.  This is lower than the national average for small companies, who offer health insurance 37% of the time.  If you have lost your employer-sponsored health insurance, you can find an affordable quote from Compare Health Rates.

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.

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.

 

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.

CIGNA Health Insurance Rates Increasing 44% in Arizona

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Federal regulators have taken over some of Arizona’s health insurance rate increase reviews.  Any health insurance company requesting a rate increase of 10% or more will be subject to a review from the federal government now.  This information comes from Ken Alltucker of The Republic’s article, “Arizona health-insurance companies targeted.”  “Unreasonable” was the term used by the federal government for Trustmark Life Insurance Co.’s requested health insurance rate increase of 13%.  If you compare health insurance quotes in Arizona, many companies are increasing them without following the federal requirements that 80-85% of collected money be spent on medical costs.

Thirty-two other health insurance companies in Arizona will be reviewed by federal regulators as well, with requested increases between 14-44%.  CIGNA health insurance of Arizona has a proposed rate increase of 44% for its small business plan.  Their individual health insurance plan has a proposed rate increase of 21%.  A company spokesperson says that these plans have been losing money for multiple years.  Insurance companies in Arizona are pushing the state’s Department of Insurance to increase their regulations so that the federal government backs off.

Trustmark’s review has already been completed and they have been told by the Department of Health and Human Services to refund consumers or give a reason for not doing so.  Their proposed 13% increase for a small group insurance plan is actually an 18.1% increase once you account for another increase Trustmark had within the last year.  DHHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius points out that the company is using too much money for administrative expenses and not enough on paying for medical care.  The Affordable Care Act stresses the importance of this expense ratio.  The government regulators plan to review the remaining Arizona plans soon.

Unexpected Health Benefits of Coffee

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Most of us love our morning, or afternoon, or evening cup of coffee.  Lucky for us, Woman’s Day has given us “7 Surprising Health Facts About Coffee.”  Amanda Greene Kelly writes that these benefits and facts are sometimes unexpected and always interesting.  Women who drink coffee have 20% fewer cases of depression than those who do not.  And the more coffee consumed, the less likely those studied were to suffer from depression.  Coffee can also help you keep your weight in check.  Sipping on caffeine after a meal causes your body to process the food more slowly and could be a small help in keeping a healthy weight.

Regardless of the amount taken in, caffeine has also been shown to increase fertility in males because it helps with sperm motility.  The least deadly form of skin cancer was reduced by drinking caffeine.  Basal cell carcinoma risk was 20% less for women and 9% less for men who drank caffeine.  While coffee can increase the pain you feel from heartburn, it is unlikely to cause other stomach problems like ulcers and increased pains.  You might have some fatigue or irritability without your daily coffee, but that will go away within a few days because coffee is not truly addictive like drugs.

A random coffee fact is that your coffee maker is one of the germiest places in your house.  Practically no one cleans it, so make sure to follow your instructions and clean your coffee maker once a month or so.

While the article is not suggesting that you only drink coffee to protect against skin cancer or keep your weight in check, it’s kind of nice to know some positive side effects from your morning cup of joe.  If you have taken on any healthier living habits, compare health insurance quotes and see if you can lower your premiums.