Posts Tagged ‘health insurance quotes’

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.

Many Target Employees Now Searching for Health Insurance

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Part-time employees working at Target stores are searching for new health insurance policies right now.  As of April 1, Target’s part-timers are no longer eligible for the company’s health insurance plan.  This information comes from Bloomberg’s Alex Wayne in the article “Target to Drop Health Insurance for Part-Time Workers.”  They are following in the footsteps of Trader Joe’s, Home Depot, and other large retailers in the U.S.  Last year, the company had more than 361,000 workers.  They would not specify how many of those workers are part-time, which means that they work fewer than 30 hours a week.  But Target did say that only 10% of their part-time employees actually opted to take the health insurance offered to them.  This could be because they are students on their parents’ plans, have a spouse with health insurance, or forgo having insurance altogether.

Target is making these changes because of President Obama’s U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Companies with more than 50 employees must offer health insurance plans to their full-time workers or they will be penalized.  Most Americans will also be penalized if they are not insured.  But Target insists that their part-time workers will be better off searching for their own health insurance plans.  If they qualify for a government subsidy, they can buy a plan from a health insurance exchange and pay less than they would with Target’s plan, according to the company.  This allows both the employee and the company to save money.  It’s not apparent how many of these Target workers will qualify for a subsidy though.  Those who don’t qualify might end up paying more for their health insurance than they did with Target.  If you are looking for a cheap health insurance plan, you can receive affordable quotes here.

Employees shopping in the health insurance exchanges have until the end of March to meet the open enrollment deadline.  This lines up with the end date of Target’s insurance plan for their part-time workers.  Target insists that people will not have their hours cut just so that the company no longer has to offer them health insurance plans.  They say that this will only apply to those who are already part-time, but only the employees will know if this holds true.  If it’s true that only 10% of their part-timers opted for company health insurance anyways, this change may not make a large impact overall.  But with the company withholding figures on the number of part-time workers and those close to the cusp of 30 hours, I’m not sure how many people truly will be affected by this health insurance change.

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.

 

Buying Health Insurance From a Storefront

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

I must say that I’m really intrigued by the concept of store fronts where they sell health insurance.  According to The San Francisco Chronicle’s “Health care coverage sold in stores,” Alex Nussbaum says that UnitedHealth Group is one of the driving forces behind this change in the industry.  As the largest medical insurer in the United States, UnitedHealth Group is trying out this retail plan in anticipation of the health care changes taking place in 2014.  When the individual health insurance mandate goes into effect, there could be 85 million people comparing plans as they shop in public and private health insurance exchanges.  Those Americans account for nearly $600 billion in spending power.

UnitedHealth has already opened 8 retail health insurance stores in the U.S., mostly for helping current customers now, but hopefully to bring new business in as well.  Their storefront locations are located from New York to Los Angeles.  The company has also made 16 mall locations throughout the central U.S. permanent retail shops.  Opening retail storefronts is a way for health insurance companies to get their name out there and let potential customers know how much help they can offer when they can walk in just as they do to their bank.

Highmark, Inc. of Pennsylvania has already opened 9 storefronts, while Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida has 11 places for customers to get health insurance information.  Experts point out that these retail stores have to provide valuable services to their customers and potential customers in order to gain any significant business from the storefronts.  They can’t just be a marketing tool; they have to add value and really help consumers.  Answer questions that no one else can, give discounts not available elsewhere, and really help consumers figure out how the new health care laws affect them and their health insurance.  But many people appreciate all of the extras offered in addition to information.  Some storefronts offer blood pressure and other health checks or are attached to medical care facilities.  Others have translators for many languages and toys to keep children occupied while parents get information on anything from healthy eating to health insurance quotes.  Next time you are walking down the street and see a health insurance storefront, you may want to stop in and check it out.

Health Insurance Denials As High As 70%

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Maybe some companies are trying to get their denials in before health care reform takes effect in 2014, but many are issuing health insurance denials at an all-time high level.  According to a USA Today article by Phil Galewitz of Kaiser Health News, “Health insurance denial rates (are) routinely 20%, data show.”  Companies like Aultcare health insurance work hard to keep their denials for health insurance coverage low, but it can be hard when more and more applicants have pre-existing conditions related to obesity and other seemingly manageable conditions.

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) found data in 2009 suggesting that 87% of Americans who apply for individual health insurance are accepted.  That figure does include those who are denied their original request and are given an alternate plan or charged more for insurance than they thought.  Current information shows that more than 20% of applicants are denied coverage for a wide range of reasons.  Different health insurance companies have different denial rates state by state and each state has a large variation in the denial rates of different companies.  Aetna denies 15% of applicants in Georgia, while Kaiser Permanente denies 47% of applicants in the same state.

The highest denial rate of 70% went to John Alden health insurance, a branch of Assurant Health.  Assurant points out that these statistics can be a bit misleading, however.  The denial rate includes applicants who are offered a plan in which they qualify for an additional cost and those who apply, but are out of the company’s coverage area.  Regardless of the reason for the denial, many Americans are having a hard time finding individual health insurance and have high hopes that the 2014 ban of denying coverage for pre-existing conditions will really help them.  Click here to see if you qualify for the individual health insurance of your choice.