Archive for March, 2012

California Gov. Jerry Brown Wants Health Care Changes Regardless of Supreme Court Decision

March 30th, 2012

The Supreme Court met this week to make a decision, or at least hear both sides, to whether or not the health reform law should be thrown out.  The main issue at bar is whether or not the government can force all Americans to get health insurance against their will.  Many consumers can not afford health insurance because the monthly premiums are simply to high.  Also, many of those same people can not qualify for public programs to obtain health insurance.  Another big issue the Supreme Court will be ruling on is the expansion of Medicaid.  The federal government is expanding its qualifications of getting Medicaid and is forcing each state to follow their new guidelines.

The judges that will be deciding on the ruling consists of nine judges, 4 democratic and 5 republican.  If all the republican judges decide against the health reform, then the law will not stand.  There has to be a majority ruling.  The decision, however, will not be known until late June.  Many state officials are waiting very anxiously on their decision.  California states that they will move forward regardless of the ruling.  The state government wants to make health insurance affordable for all Californians.  They will try to proceed with the state exchange and to try to provide insurance to the currently 2 million uninsured.

Does Anthem Blue Cross Provide Coverage Outside California?

March 29th, 2012

Anthem Blue Cross is the largest health insurance carrier in California.  Especially in the individual health insurance market, Anthem Blue Cross does more volume then any other carrier.  In fact, even when it comes to providing health insurance for small businesses, Anthem Blue Cross is the largest.  Other large health insurance carriers such as Blue Shield and Aetna do a ton of volume, but still fall short of Anthem Blue Cross.  Outside of California, many states combine two carriers to provide health insurance, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.  When you are in an another state and want to get individual health insurance, you will most likely see options under the Blue Cross Blue Shield network.

Blue Cross Blue Shield is the largest provider of insurance outside of California.  United Healthcare is also one of the largest health insurance providers when it comes to volume.  Network size is important when you are considering which plan to choose.  Also, you must consider the plan benefits for each policy because everyone will have their own unique needs.

Do All Individual Health Insurance Plans Have Maternity Coverage?

March 28th, 2012

The fast answer is no.  In fact, most individual health insurance plans do not have maternity coverage.  The reason is simply, it is very expensive for both the carrier and unfortunately the patient.  When looking at the health insurance plans, make sure you research the benefit details to see whether maternity is offered with that particular plan.  All the health insurance carriers do offer plans that have maternity coverage, the issue is that it can be very expensive from a monthly premium standpoint.

Also, health insurance carriers know that most people get the health insurance right before they are giving birth and will probably cancel the health insurance afterwards.  In these cases, most will be denied.  The best thing to do is to get the health insurance before you start planning the pregnancy.  As a consumer, the best thing to do is plan ahead and make sure you look at the fine print.

Emergency Room And Hospital Coverage

March 27th, 2012

When trying to decide on which individual health insurance plan to choose, make sure you look closely at all the plan benefits.  One of the most expensive parts of health care is emergency room and hospital services.  The average overnight stay in the hospital can reach over $10,000.  Also, even visiting the emergency room for a few hours can cost you thousands.  Although you can’t plan when these unfortunate events might occur, it is important to pick an individual health insurance plan that has the right benefits in place in case you need them.

Some health insurance plans have great office copay benefits and while having weak prescription benefits.  Other plans are strong with ER and inpatient benefits but weaker when it comes to visiting your doctor.  It is very important to look at the benefit details page for each health insurance plan you are interesting in.  This is where it will give you details on what it will truly cost you when catastrophic events occur.

I Just Got Denied Health Insurance: What Should I Do?

March 23rd, 2012

Individual health insurance is unlike group health insurance where their is no individual underwriting.  When you apply for individual health insurance, you may get denied for a number of reasons.  For one, a health insurance carrier will typically look back three years and get your claims history to see how much has gone through the system.  If they see that you have a lot of complications, they may instantly deny you right on the spot.  People with recurring health issues have a tougher time getting approved for individual health insurance.  Also, carriers may request a new physical to be done to see whether or not your currently healthy.  If you do get denied, there are still some other options. 

Each carrier has different underwriting standards, so you can always try to apply for a similar plan with another carrier.  When they deny you, they will typically give a reason, so you can better guage if it makes sense to apply with another carrier.  Another option is to get insurance through your states high risk pool.  Each state usually has a program for higher risk applicants to get health insurance.

Guide For Buying Health Insurance

March 21st, 2012

Their are many ways you can approach buying health insurance.  Many look at health insurance plans and make a decision based on cost only.  Sometimes this works, and many times it does not.  Also, some consumers may or may not look at carrier, network, plan benefits, type of plan, etc.  When trying to look for affordable health insurance, it is important to do your full research.  Health Insurance Outlet has a guide to buying health insurance that helps consumers filter down the health insurance quotes into a couple of choices that fits their needs.

It is important to comparison shop and see which carriers are providing the best rates, while keeping the benefits desired the same.  Also, making sure the deductible and out of pocket maximum are appropriate for your health history.  If your a healthier person, then it might be ok to pick a health insurance plan with a higher deductible.  You will end up paying less for the coverage per month, and since you are healthy, you probably visit the doctor less and won’t eat into your deductible.  Another important factor is the hospital and ER coverage.  Visiting the hospital is very expensive, so picking the right health insurance plan that has good hospital coverage is key.

Is PPO The Best Option For Me?

March 20th, 2012

Most individual health insurance plans in the marketplace are PPO plans.  Their are some HMO and HSA options, but the most affordable options are PPO.  Under PPO health insurance plans, you can self-refer your medical services and do not have to wait for referrals which could take a long time.  The networks under PPO health insurance plans are usually really large so you have a wide variety of doctors and medical groups to choose from. 

Health insurance carriers such as Aetna and Anthem Blue Cross have very large networks in California, and their hospital networks are large as well.  If you really want a HMO or HSA health insurance plan, then you do still have some choices.  The plans might be a bit more expensive though because the benefits tend to be a little richer under HMO health insurance plans.

Study Says More Sleep May Lead To Losing Weight

March 16th, 2012

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic suggest that sleeping more may lead to losing weight.  Many people have a hard time dieting or spending hours at the gym.  This study actually suggests that people that are sleep-deprived consume over 500 more calories than those who get a good nights rest.  This study goes against most conventional thinking that promotes people being active to lose weight and not just staying in bed.

The researchers do not know exactly what causes the extra eating when people get less sleep.  They do point out that getting a good sleep also has other positives effects for your health.  The study looked at 17 participants over a one week period.

Small Business Owners Worry About Health Care Costs

March 13th, 2012

Many small business owners are worried that they may not be able to afford to provide health insurance to their workers in the future.  Currently, about 43 percent of small business owners provide group health insurance to their employees.  Providing health insurance is a valuable benefit because business owners know that it will attract talent and also promote loyalty their company.  The survey showed that 83 percent of small business owners think that health care costs and how much it is rising should be a top concern for government officials.

More surprisingly, it how little business owners knew about the health reform and all the features of the new legislation.  First, 75 percent of the owners surveyed did not know about the health insurance exchanges set to be launched by each state in 2014.  Another 77 percent said that they were unaware of the tax credits that they could receive by offering health insurance to their employees.  These are important benefits that many owners still are not aware of.

Health Insurance – How Do I Get Approved?

March 12th, 2012

When applying for health insurance their is no easy answer on how to best get approved.  All individual health insurance applications go under review and underwriting.  Many applicants can get denied if the health insurance carrier thinks its a risky applicant.  Starting in 2014 because of the health care reform, no one will be denied health insurance.  However, until then there are some strategies on how to get coverage and up your chances of not getting denied.  One, if your healthy with no complications, do not worry – chances are you will get approved and get health insurance.  If you do have some issues, then picking a plan with a higher deductible may increase your chance of getting health insurance. 

Health insurance carriers like to see that the applicants with some health concerns have some skin in the game.  If you pick a plan where you pay more up front for the medical expenses, then they will consider that heavily.  Also, some carriers have different underwriting standards.  Just because you get denied with one health insurance carrier, does not mean that another will not approve you.  It is important to shop around when buying individual health insurance.

Fears About Health Care Plan Easing

March 9th, 2012

The main problem that Obama still faces with the health reform is selling its benefits to the public.  Many still do not understand the details of the legislation.  The health reform laws are very detailed and the main benefits were not communicated to the public well.  Although less people are worried about their own health care than when the health reform first passed, many still say that they thing health insurance prices will still rise in the future. 

Another concern that has been ongoing is the requirement imposed by the federal government for everyone to have health insurance by 2014.  Many are still not going to obtain health insurance against their will.  They would rather pay the fine or try to avoid it all together.  Obama and the health reform face a big obstacle in June when the Supreme Court will meet to rule on the health reform.

Health Insurance In Texas

March 7th, 2012

Many states are waiting to see what happens in June with the Supreme Court and the health care reform.  Texas is one of those states that have been stalling on building their respective health insurance exchange.  The cost of building a health insurance exchange cost millions of dollars and the resources as far as man power is even worse.  Many are skeptical on the realistic benefit of the health insurance exchanges.

Texas health insurance is been a big issue for the state.  Currently, about 1 in 4 Texas residents are without health insurance.  For those that are above 19, the numbers are even worse.  Many Texas residents can not afford the health insurance currently offered in the state.  The premiums are way too hgh and they are worried that the health reform will just make it go higher.  Many are predicting that only the sick will migrate towards the exchange and that in turn will raise the cost of health insurance.

GOP Governors Stall Health Insurance Exhange Plans

March 5th, 2012

Many state heads are for the health reform and its intentions.  The reform was enacted to provide better health care to Americans and also to provide health insurance at a lower cost.  However, many state governors are opposed to the fact that the law requires everyone to have health insurance as they think that is unconstitutional.  The supreme court will be ruling in June on whether or not the health reform is unconstitutional.  That is why many states are waiting to build their own health insurance exchange

State governors who are holding off because they do not want to waste resources to build a full health insurance exchange if the law might be thrown out.  The health insurance exchange that each state has to have up and running by 2014 will be very hard to implement and manage.  Some states that have had them for a long time have failed to make them work.  State governors know this and that is why they are being careful.

Will The Health Care Reform Help Me?

March 2nd, 2012

We have heard this question many times and our answer is always the same, it may or may not.  Seems frustrating, right?  The health reform which was passed over two years ago has an ultimate goal of providing affordable health insurance and health care to all Americans.  Already implemented, are such benefits as no lifetime maximums and increased student age requirements.  Those changes have been welcomed and many are benefiting from it.  What has not changed in two years are the costs associated with health care.  Unfortunately, the cost of using health care is still really high and only those who can afford it, have it.  That is why California has over 5 million uninsured and why Texas has over 25% of their population without health insurance.

Starting in 2014, health insurance exchanges will be available and that should hopefully increase competition and drive down the cost of health insurance.  Not all will qualify for the subsidies to get the really good discounts on health insurance.  We will have to wait a couple of years to see how this all pans out.