Archive for June, 2012

Supreme Court Ruling

June 26th, 2012

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the health reform laws this week.  Meaning, that this is a very important week for both the government and the American people.  There are basically three scenarios – the whole law is thrown out, only part of the law is thrown out or everything is upheld.  Most likely, many think that only part of the law will be thrown out, the individual mandate.  This has been the most controversial part of the health reform laws that says everyone must have health insurance by 2014 or face a fine.

Many Americans believe that the government overreached their boundaries by trying to impose this regulation.  The main issue is that many can not afford health insurance.  And, many feel that they are healthy and do not need to have health insurance.  The ruling will have resistance either way it is ruled.  If the law is thrown out, then the Democrats will push to repeal the decision, and vice versa.  As we wait to see what there decision will be, the election also waits in the balance and the ruling may have significant future implications.

Consumer Driven Health Insurance Plans

June 22nd, 2012

Below are some key health insurance plans that drive results.  Many take advantage of these plans but its first important to understand what they do and how it affects your health care.

High-Deductible Health Plan – As an alternative to traditional self-funded and managed care plans, more companies are considering implementing a high deductible health plan, known as an HDHP, alongside an HSA or HRA. Its purpose is to lower health care premiums by pushing plan members to analyse their health care decisions. An HSA or HRA would be used with the HDHP to help pay for the deductible costs.

Health Reimbursement Arrangement – A HRA is when an employer agrees to provide reimbursement for certain employee medical expenses. This process has always enjoyed a tax favored status as employer payments for reimbursement of IRS qualified medical expenses are deductible to the employer and not considered taxable income to the employee.

Health Savings Account – A Health Savings Account (HSA) is one of the newest and best ways for many to set aside money for inevitable health care expenses. There are many benefits for the employers and the employees when they use HSAs. They create tax-free money for un-reimbursed medical expenses and also earn tax-deferred growth. HSAs are also excellent ways to create supplemental retirement income.

Difference Between A PPO And HMO Plan

June 19th, 2012

HMO stands for Health Maintenance Organization.  These types of plans are one of the most affordable in the marketplace.  This is primarily because of the managed network structure that is in place.  Individuals who have this type of coverage have to designate a primary care physician, which will be the starting point for all medical services that might be needed through out the year.  HMO plans are  starting to become more expensive than PPO plans in the private insurance  market.  If having the flexibility of choosing your own doctor for all types of  medical services is preferred, than maybe a PPO plan is a better option for you.

PPO stands for Preferred Provider Organization.  This is also another affordable individual health insurance plan that gives people access to all health care providers within the network.  Additionally, you can also go out of network and most plans will cover you for care as well.  This type of health insurance is flexible and affordable.  Additionally, PPO plans are becoming the cheaper alternative to HMO plans.  All the major carriers such as Anthem Blue Cross of California, Blue Shield of California, Aetna and Kaiser have many PPO plans to choose from.

How Office Visit Costs Can Alter Your Health Decisions

June 14th, 2012

Some plans in the marketplace do not offer the best health coverage when it comes to visiting the doctor.  In fact, many health insurance plans have limitations when you visit your doctor.  For instance, some health insurance plans give you a limit, for instance 3 visits per year.  Then after those three visits, you will pay usually 100 percent of the negotiated rate.  That is when it can become quite expensive to visit the doctor.  The health carriers primarily did this because many individuals were over utilizing their health insurance, and eventually that would drive up the cost of health insurance.

Another option that carriers offer is a percentage rate for office visits.  This can also be very expensive.  For instance, some plans have a 50 percent charge every time you visit the doctor.  Depending on how much your particular doctor charges, it can become very costly.  It is important to point out thought that these health insurance plans mentioned usually have lower health insurance premiums per month.  So it is a trade-off.  How much do you want to pay to have the coverage versus how much you want to pay when you actually want to use the coverage.

Getting The Most Out Of Your Insurance

June 11th, 2012

Many Americans currently do not have health insurance.  The main reason, of course, is because that it is very expensive to afford the monthly premium.  Additionally, each year these premiums tend to rise making it even more difficult to hold onto.  However, there are some ways to help fight this problem.  For one, know what type of insurance you need.  If are already a healthy person but want the insurance to prevent large financial loss, then a higher deductible plan would be best for you.  If you take on more of the risk as far as the deductible, the monthly premium will be lower and more affordable for you.  Also, if you are not particular about which doctor you want, then choosing a carrier with a smaller network will also lower your premium.

The health reform will also bring more changes as the law progresses.  Meaning, if the health insurance exchanges happen in 2014, that should also make health insurance more affordable for the consumer.  Another idea to lower your insurance premium is to choose plans with medication benefits only if you need them.  Prescription coverage is very expensive for a carrier, so only choose plans with that coverage if you truly need it.

Individual Plans Offer Maternity Coverage

June 8th, 2012

Before July of this year, many individual health insurance plans did not offer maternity coverage.  And if you picked a particular plan that had some type of maternity coverage, the coverage was limited and the plan was very expensive.  Now, the marketplace has changed a little bit.  Whether a direct result of the health reform or not, all carriers are offering plans that cover maternity and it is not at a hefty price.

Many individual health insurance plans have actually become more affordable while offering better benefits.  This is usually not the case in the individual health insurance market.  Usually when carriers offer better benefits for their health insurance plans, they usually charge you more per month.  Many are taking advantage of these great benefits, especially since there is uncertainty because the Supreme Court is scheduled to rule on the health reform any day now.

Supreme Court Decision Drawing Near

June 4th, 2012

The health reform was passed well over two years ago and has not gone without debate.  Many parts of the reform have already been implemented and have had a positive impact.  For instance, the lifetime maximum was lifted so no one can be limited by the amount of medical services they can receive.  This is very important for those patients who are terminally ill and rely of medical services to keep them alive.  Also, the age was increased for dependents to be on their parents’ health insurance to age 26.  As the economy continues to struggle, many are relying on others to pay their health insurance premiums.

However, the most important part of the reform is still being debated, and that is whether or not the individual mandate is constitutional.  Starting in 2014, the reform says that everyone must have health insurance and they will face a penalty from the government.  The Supreme Court is ruling on this and the results will have a huge impact on health care and the economy as a whole.