The Washington Post (7/31, Kliff) reports in its “Wonk blog” blog on a study by the Congressional Budget Office finding that the Administration’s delaying of the employer healthcare coverage mandate under the Affordable Care Act has added $12 billion to the overall cost of the legislation, mostly due to reduced fines that would have been levied against employers for failing to comply
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- Travel Health Insurance Basics - Part 1
- Travel Health Insurance Basics - Part 2
GeoBlue® announced the launch of the Spanish-language version of geobluetravelinsurance.com. This site serves the tens of millions of U.S. citizens and residents who speak Spanish as their first language and who are shopping for the right international health plan and services for their short or long-term trip overseas.
GeoBlue® customers now have Spanish-language access to product information, online purchasing and customer service. Director of Individual Product Sales for GeoBlue®, Brendan Sharkey said, "We see a log of interest in our international health insurance products in markets such as Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami where Spanish speakers represent a large segment of the population. With this new service, we are enabling a broader audience to better manage their healthcare overseas."
GeoBlue® health plans provide an array of international medical assistance services that traditional domestic health insurance plans do not.
For more information about
Medical Travel Insurance call our office!
The president’s health care law provided for thousands of new IRS agents...but it failed to deal with the shortage of nurses and doctors to actually take care of people.
SACRAMENTO (May 9, 2013)- Helping put an end to the practice of denying health care coverage to Californians with pre-existing conditions, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. yesterday signed legislation to protect consumers and reform California's private health insurance market as required by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).
McClatchy (4/26, Gibson) reports that the President's budget would expand the number of Americans who are required to pay more for Medicare due to their higher income levels. Healthcare analysts say the plan, if approved, "would gradually squeeze more and more middle-class households as their incomes rise." McClatchy notes that the President has proposed other charges, including $100 co-pays for every 60 days of service for patients receiving home healthcare and an additional $25-per-year deductible for Part B for new Medicare enrollees. The proposals are part of an effort by Obama and Congress to "rein in spending on 'entitlement' programs.
Group Plans Will Offer HSAs With Higher Deductibles
From: Real Health Care Reform
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) states that health insurance deductibles will be lowered to $2,000 per person, or $4,000 per family, in group plans. But a deductible that low would change the structure of an HSA plan you already have, making it less favorable as an investment tool and a security against health emergencies.
Employers Will Run from ACA Regulations
Actually, employers are likely to switch to HSA-qualified plans with even higher deductibles… That’s because there’s a loophole in the law.
The fact is the ACA cannot lower the deductible on Health Savings Accounts that far and still allow a plan to meet other conditions of the law. It’s true that the law states in one area that a group plan should have a maximum deductible of only $2,000 for an individual. But the law also says the following in another section:
“Section 1302(c)(2)(C) of the Affordable Care Act directs that the limit on deductibles described in section 1302(c)(2)(A) for a health plan offered in the small group market be applied so as to not affect the actuarial value of any health plan…we propose that a plan may exceed the annual deductible limit if it cannot reasonably reach a given level of coverage (metal tier) without doing so.” (The emphasis is mine.)
In other words, the law waffles, stating that the deductible can be raised above $2,000 if the actuarial value of the plan won’t meet the minimums for a bronze plan, for example.
The Simple Meaning of “Actuarial Value”
You’re going to hear the term “actuarial value” more in the news in coming months, so here’s what it really means. It means that the government figures the amount of money that a typical policyholder will receive in medical services in an average year—that’s the actuarial amount.
Then, the metal tiers in the ACA pay different percentages toward meeting that value; for example, the bronze tier pays for 60 percent of the actuarial value—60 percent of the yearly amount that the average policyholder spends. And the policyholder pays the other 40 percent.
Group Plans Will Offer HSAs With Higher Deductibles
But the math simply doesn’t work to create the actuarial value if the deductible is set at the low $2,000 level on an individual bronze plan. So people will be allowed to purchase a policy with a higher deductible, such as an HSA plan.
This is good news, because HSA plans typically cost at least 30 percent less in premiums than traditional copay plans. And having been in the HSA business since they first became available in 2004, we know that people with Health Savings Accounts spend their money carefully, because it is their own money. With an HSA you also have a tax-advantaged savings account to pay for services when you need them most—and to grow into an additional retirement account if you stay healthy.
What’s interesting to me is that our high-deductible HSA plans will meet the guidelines of the ACA better than the typical plans that the law proposes. The wisdom of saving money for yourself and building it tax-free is clearer and clearer, and real reform is still possible if more people do this.
A Lot of Talk About Rate Increases
From: Real Health Care Reform
I’ve been talking for a long time about how rates are going to be going up as the “Affordable” Care Act gets further implemented. And gradually, the truth is coming into clearer focus for more and more people.
Last week the Society of Actuaries released a study that predicts a 32% increase in claims cost under the new healthcare reform law. They believe that the large number of sicker people entering the market will drive this increase in claims.
Unfortunately for everyone in the individual market, this is going to further drive up premiums. To the shock of many, Kathleen Sebelius actually admitted the same. She told reporters “there may be a higher cost associated with getting into that market”.
She also noted that people will receive government subsidies to help pay for their health insurance: “But we feel pretty strongly that with subsidies available to a lot of that population that they are really going to see much better benefit for the money that they’re spending.”
She didn’t seem to even consider the millions of hard-working middle-class citizens who are buying their own health insurance, without having someone else pay for it. These are of course the same citizens who are paying the taxes that fund these subsidies.
And lastly, she admitted that young people will pay even higher premiums in order to subsidize older policyholders; and that men would pay more in order to subsidize women’s premiums.
The big question related to this issue, is whether the young, the males, the healthy – are going to be willing and able to pay these higher premiums. Those who don’t will have to pay a tax-fine in 2014 ($95, or 1% of income).
If large numbers opt out, those still in are paying even more.
The administration is hoping that competition among insurance companies will bring down premiums. But all signs are that competition will actually decrease, as it becomes more difficult for smaller insurance companies to manage the more highly regulated business climate.
The very best option at this point remains going with a high deductible HSA plan, fully funding it, and paying for it (if you qualify) through your Health Reimbursement Arrangement. If you currently have a grandfathered plan, consider keeping it.
HHS Delays Small Business Exchanges For A Year.
The New York Times (4/2, A12, Pear, Subscription Publication) reports that the Obama Administration, "unable to meet tight deadlines in the new health care law," is "delaying parts of a program intended to provide affordable health insurance to small businesses and their employees - a major selling point for the health care legislation." The Affordable Care Act "calls for a new insurance marketplace specifically for small businesses, starting next year." However, "in most states, employers will not be able to get what Congress intended: the option to provide workers with a choice of health plans," settling instead for a single plan.
Premium Hikes In California May Be Offset By ACA Subsidies.
The Wall Street Journal (3/29, Mathews, Subscription Publication) reports that a new report written by the actuarial consulting firm Milliman for Covered California, the agency charged with creating California's new health-insurance marketplace, says premiums for Californians who purchase their own insurance could be significantly higher next year due to the Affordable Care Act, but government subsidies will compensate for the difference for lower-income people. According to the report, currently insured people who do not qualify for subsidies could see a premium increase of 30% on average.
Wyden Warns Families Will Be Hurt By "Glitch" In ACA.
The Hill (3/28, Cox) "Floor Action" blog reports that Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) warned Tuesday "that millions of workers' dependents would still be left without options for affordable family health insurance under the Affordable Care Act." He said, "Without action, millions of hard working Americans are going to be squeezed by the family glitch. Many people will be left with a false choice of taking family coverage through work they can't afford or struggling to find a better plan in the exchange without a subsidy." He explained that the "family glitch" exists "because workers will be ineligible for federal tax credits to help them buy into the health insurance exchanges starting in 2014, unless the cost of their individual employer-based health coverage premium exceeds 9.5 percent of a worker's household income."