Wednesday, 29 January 2020

China's new mutual aid platforms fill hole in health care coverage - Nikkei Asian Review



China's new mutual aid platforms fill hole in health care coverage - Nikkei Asian Review

Online health care mutual aid programs have attracted more than 150 million participants in China in less than two years, but lack of clear regulation of the 5.4 billion yuan ($760 million) medical insurance-like industry may reveal participants to operational, financial and legal risks, industry experts say.
The emerging market is dominated by Xiang Hu Bao, an online mutual aid platform with more than 100 million members that was introduced in October 2018 by Ant Financial Services Group's online payment platform Alipay. About a dozen second- and third-tier players, including internet giants Baidu Inc., ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing Technology Co. and a startup backed by Tencent, have jumped on the bandwagon.
Xiang Hu Bao, which means "mutual protection," provides participants with a basic health plan covering 100 types of critical illnesses, including cancer, critical brain injury and acute myocardial infarction, or melancholy attack. Recently the program added COVID-19 as a covered illness.
Under the online mutual aid programs, participants share the risk of becoming critically ill and collectively bear related medical expenses. On the Xiang Hu Bao platform, for example, participants with an eligible claim can receive a one-time payout of as much as 300,000 yuan. In 2019, each member paid 29 yuan. This year, Ant Financial capped member payments at 188 yuan -- about the cost of two KFC bucket meals. Xiang Hu Bao sets an age limit of 59 for eligible members to exclude high-risk populations and ensure that the claims and payout amounts are controllable.
The new mutual aid systems fill a hole in China's national health care coverage. Although the government-backed medical program covers 95% of the nation's 1.4 billion people, out-of-pocket costs can vary dramatically depending on region and employer. Basic plans may reimburse only up to 85% of inpatient costs, and people may have to wait months or even years to get repaid as some municipalities, mostly in less-developed regions, run deficits in their public health care plans.
Urban employees of state-owned and private enterprises have mandatory basic coverage funded by employers and by contributions from their salaries. For seniors, unemployed people or those on social assistance, coverage is subsidized by the state. Rural populations can voluntarily join cooperative medical insurance plans that are similar to the mutual aid programs but are government-subsidized.
Residents under rural plans are reimbursed far less than those with urban plans. This often leaves individuals saddled with significant out-of-pocket expenses.

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Unemployed, uninsured overlap is sobering COVID-19 reality in North Carolina | Local News | greensboro.com



Unemployed, uninsured overlap is sobering COVID-19 reality in North Carolina | Local News


Having more than 1 million North Carolinians — and counting — applying for unemployment insurance benefits has been perhaps the most sobering economic statistic from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Running on a parallel track is the projection that 723,000 North Carolinians — and counting — have lost health insurance coverage as a result of job cuts, layoffs and furloughs, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report.
The loss of health insurance affects those who were employed, as well as their dependents.
A significant number of unemployment insurance, or UI, applicants have seldom, if ever, been without employer-provided health insurance coverage in their work careers.
The Economic Policy Institute reported in May that at least 476,000 North Carolinians were in jobs that likely had employer-provided health insurance attached.
“Since the health insurance of many Americans is tied to their employment, the United States is likely to experience large decreases in private insurance coverage,” according to a June 8 report by the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Other employees, particularly in the leisure, hospitality and retail sectors, worked for employers who didn’t offer health insurance or only high-deductible plans.
Suzy Khachaturyan, a policy analyst with the liberal-leaning N.C. Budget & Tax Center, said that “several hundred thousand people lost employment, but had no employer-sponsored health insurance to begin with.”

Monday, 27 January 2020

Health funds race to boost value for young people post-pandemic



Health funds race to boost value for young people post-pandemic

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Mr Fitzgibbon said macro-economic factors always presented a challenge for the private health insurance sector. It was key that funds delivered more holistic value to young members to ensure they stay relevant longer-term, he said.
"We’re going to have to start thinking beyond, 'how do we just look after them when they’re sick?' How do we actively play a role in keeping them healthy?"
This approach would mean a greater focus on digital connectivity and preventative health care measures, such as skin checks, he said.

Sunday, 26 January 2020

Valley News - Column: Time for Vt. to act on health care



Valley News - Column: Time for Vt. to act on health care

Thanks for reading our article Valley News - Column: Time for Vt. to act on health care . Please share it with kind.
Sincery One Health Club
SRC: https://www.vnews.com/Column-Creating-a-health-care-system-as-a-public-good-34622486

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Saturday, 25 January 2020

Health Insurance Premiums Likely to Rise - Business Journal Daily



Health Insurance Premiums Likely to Rise

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Thanks to provisions in the coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress, all testing for COVID-19 is required to be covered by comprehensive private health insurance plans. Many carriers have gone an extra step and are covering treatments as well.
Anthem and Medical Mutual of Ohio, for example, are covering all medically necessary screenings and tests for the virus while also waiving out-of-pocket costs for patients through the end of May.
“There’s no dilemma with coverage. With Medicare plans, the same thing is happening,” says Amy Romano, vice president of individual and Medicare sales at R. Kashmiry & Associates, Boardman. “Most Medicare Advantage plans are waiving doctor and specialist copays through September to back people to get back to their doctor if they can, including telehealth visits.”
For businesses, among Gov. Mike DeWine’s gracious steps in reaction to the coronavirus was allowing the deferral of insurance premiums for up to 60 days. 
“Most of them are not automatically giving that grace period. You do have to reach out and tell them you’re going to take advantage of that,” says Dee McFarland, owner of Reliable Consulting Group, Youngstown. “The caveat to that is they’re extending the grace period, but they’re not giving relief. At the end of that grace period, you do have to pay all that premium. It’s really just putting off the inevitable.”
Insurance providers are also required to continue coverage for workers under group plans even if they don’t meet the standards in at-work clauses in their insurance contracts. Insurers are not permitted to increase premiums for employers who’ve had a decline in enrollment.
With insurance carriers all on the same page for whom and what is covered during the coronavirus pandemic, the big question is what happens down the road, especially regarding premiums. In general, explains Bob Gearhart Jr., partner at DCW Group in Boardman, there are two trains of thought. One is that the unexpected costs of COVID-19 treatments will drive up premiums. The other is that because nonessential procedures and medical visits were suspended at the onset of the pandemic, the reduced costs there will offset those brought by the virus.

Friday, 24 January 2020

Some living in U.S. eye Canada for health care, but not everybody can get in | CBC News



Some living in U.S. eye Canada for health care, but not everybody can get in

Deborah Millar-Jervis and husband Robert Jervis were faced with a choice.
They could continue paying roughly $1,600 US a month for health insurance or leave the United States and move to Canada.


The staggering, and rising, cost of their insurance did not include doctors visits, dental care, prescriptions or the deductible amount they had to meet before accessing coverage.
So, four years ago, the couple packed up their home in Blaine, Wash., and moved four hours north to Penticton, B.C.
"We loved living there [in the U.S.], we had a enormous place," Millar-Jervis said. "But we just decided that the cost of medical [insurance] in the United States was just prohibitive."
The couple holds dual Canadian and American citizenship, so it was fairly easy for them to move to B.C., where Millar-Jervis is from.
Immigration lawyers on both sides of the border say it's becoming more common for older couples who have lived for years in the U.S. to return to Canada during retirement because of the cost of health insurance. 

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Health Care Advocates Push Back Against Trump’s Erasure of Transgender Rights - The New York Times



Health Care Advocates Push Back Against Trump’s Erasure of Transgender Rights

He said: “They wonderful, ‘What is going to happen when I go to the doctor? Am I going to be mis-gendered? Am I going to be mocked or ridiculed? Is my doctor going to actually listen and respect my knowledge about my own body and my health?’”
When the Department of Health and Human Services proposed the rule last year, nearly 160,000 people weighed in with written comments. Many of the writers were affiliated with the Family Research Council, the American Civil Liberties Union, or other organizations. Others were individuals whose affiliations were not noted.
One doctor, Terry McDole, typified the view of physicians who supported the proposal.
“The issue is not providing patient care, but whether or not the government can coerce me into abandoning my ethical commitments and medical judgment and force me to participate in certain controversial procedures and prescriptions,” Dr. McDole wrote. “Many health professionals like me who adhere to moral and ethical principles, which often reflect deeply held faith values, already face principal pressure and discrimination. The pressure to conform to abortion and transgender ideology can be particularly intense.”

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Affordable Care Act repeal would be a disaster as COVID-19 persists



Affordable Care Act repeal would be a disaster as COVID-19 persists

Opinion: A lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act would upend the lives of millions of people who depend upon its health-insurance protections.


Even as cases of the novel coronavirus continue to rise, our hospitals haven’t been overrun – at least not yet.
But unlike our battles with other nasty viruses, including polio, measles and smallpox, this pandemic has been needlessly politicized. Tribal nations, including our Navajo Nation neighbors, have been hit harder than most places in America. They desperately need more befriend from the federal government as they continue to confront this crisis.
As we all are hopeful to get through this, there is another major threat to our health looming on the horizon. It’s a lawsuit that would repeal existing health-care law, upending the lives of millions of people who sincere upon it.
In fact, the situation for the Navajo Nation would have been worse without the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The ACA includes a provision that strengthens funding for the Indian Health Service that provides care to Native American communities, especially in rural areas. The Indian Health Clinics in Winslow and Tuba City wouldn’t be there without the ACA.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Lost health insurance: Affordable medication options exist :: WRAL.com



Affordable medication options exist :: WRAL.com

It's not only lost jobs, it's also health insurance and the domino Do of not being able to afford critical medications.
5 On Your Side's Monica Laliberte says many don't realize there are ways to get a prescription filled for an affordable Mark, even free.
Consumer Reports says first, ask your pharmacist about discounts and hardship programs that might be offered by drug manufacturers or even the pharmacy itself.

Monday, 20 January 2020

Health insurance options for the newly jobless | Honolulu Star-Advertiser



Health insurance options for the newly jobless

Dear Savvy Senior: Because of the coronavirus pandemic, I just got laid off from my job of 22 years and need to find health insurance until I can get another job or enroll in Medicare at age 65. What are my options? — frightened to Death
Dear Scared: I’m very sorry about your job loss. It’s estimated that as many as 45 million Americans could lose their health insurance as businesses continue to lay off workers due to repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s where you can find health insurance coverage while you’re looking for new employment or waiting for Medicare.
Affordable Care Act marketplace
Your best option for getting affordable health insurance is through Affordable Care Act marketplaces, also known as Obamacare. Or, if your income is very low, you could qualify for Medicaid.
Normally, enrollment in an ACA marketplace is limited to the short window for open enrollment, which is between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15 each year. But there’s an exception for people who’ve lost their jobs, known as the special enrollment period, which allows you to apply because your layoff meant a loss of health insurance. To do so, you must enroll within 60 days of when your coverage stopped and prove that you lost your health insurance.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Get Health Insurance If You Lost Job During Pandemic - Consumer Reports



Get Health Insurance If You Lost Job During Pandemic

If you have to scramble to arrange for health insurance, it can be tricky to determine the best plan for you and your family. Here’s what you need to know about your options.
Find out whether you’re eligible to join a family member’s plan. The simplest and likely least costly option is, if you can, to get coverage under your spouse’s, partner’s, or, if you’re under age 26, parents’ plan.
Last year, 94 percent of organizations offering health insurance to workers also offered coverage to spouses and dependents and about half offered benefits to domestic partners, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Typically, you have to request enrollment within 30 days of losing your health insurance, but the federal government is allowing employers to extend that time period because of the COVID-19 emergency. So check with the employer to see whether you’re eligible. Be aware that you may be charged higher premiums or more cost-sharing than an employee.
See whether you qualify for Medicaid. People may think they’re not eligible for Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income people. But after the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, 36 states and the District of Columbia also expanded their Medicaid programs and raised the qualifying income level.

Saturday, 18 January 2020

Finding Affordable Health Care Now



Finding Affordable Health Care Now

The pandemic has caused millions of people to lose their jobs — and their health coverage. Here’s a guide to finding affordable insurance.
By Lisa Gerstner, Contributing Editor 
June 4, 2020
From Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

As the effects of the coronavirus pandemic took hold this spring, more than 38 million Americans lost their jobs, and an estimated 27 million workers and their families deceptive themselves without health insurance, too. Nearly half of Americans got their coverage through an employer-sponsored plan in 2018, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
But as the coronavirus continues to affect communities across the U.S., it’s more important than ever to have health insurance. And if your income has improper a blow, you may have greater access to affordable coverage than you did while you were working. Kaiser estimates that 79% of those losing employer coverage are likely eligible for subsidized coverage through Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act marketplace.
As you compare your options, consider factors including the premium, deductible, co-payments, out-of-pocket maximum and level of prescription-drug coverage. You may also have choices among plan types. High-deductible plans typically have relatively low premiums, but in 2020 the deductible starts at $1,400 for an individual and $2,800 for a family. With a high-deductible plan, you may also have access to a health savings account, which allows you to set achieve pretax money for deductibles and other out-of-pocket medical costs. A preferred provider organization (PPO) plan may be a good choice if you require regular visits with a health-care provider for a medical condition. Compared with a health maintenance organization (HMO), which typically provides little to no coverage for out-of-network visits, a PPO may have a higher premium but offer greater coverage for out-of-network care. Because of their higher cost to insurers, however, PPOs are hard to come by in the individual marketplace.
One way to ease the pain of switching plans is to ask your medical providers what insurance plans they accept, says Adam Hyers, an insurance broker in Columbus, Ohio. You may be able to find a policy that allows you to finish to see many of your doctors without going out of network.
Keep in mind that if you’re 65 or older and have delayed Medicare coverage because you have employer-based insurance, you are eligible for a special enrollment period for Medicare when you leave your job.
If you are working, you may be able to make changes to your employer-sponsored plan outside of open en­rollment. The IRS is temporarily permitting employees to join or drop an employer plan or make certain changes to their existing coverage, including adding family members or choosing a different type of plan. Employees may also open a flexible spending account or alter their con­tribution amount midyear and get more time to claim unused funds. However, employers are not required to provide these options to workers.
Comprehensive insurance plans are required to fully shroud the cost of coronavirus testing. (If you’re not insured, you should be able to get tested free at certain locations, but you’ll likely need an order from a doctor.) Plus, many insurers are offering breaks for treatment of COVID-19 or for those facing hardships because of the crisis. Nearly 60% of insurers said they were waiving at least some out-of-pocket charges for treatment, and 60% said they were offering programs to defer premiums for people affected by the coronavirus crisis, according to a survey conducted in late March and early April by eHealth, an online insurance marketplace.

Consider COBRA

If you work for a company that has at least 20 employees and you lose health insurance because it reduces your hours or terminates your job for a reason other than gross misconduct, it must offer continuation health care coverage for you, your spouse and your dependent children under COBRA. The law generally lets you extend coverage that you already had through your employer’s group plan for up to 18 months. Some states require microscopic employers to provide continuation coverage (known as “mini-COBRA”), too, but term lengths and events that qualify you for it vary.
If coverage under COBRA is available to you, your former employer should provide interrogate about enrolling. When you enjoyable COBRA, you continue the same type of policy you had. But when your employer’s annual open-enrollment period begins, you may switch to a new type of plan — say, one with a lower premium and higher deductible.
While COBRA is convenient, it’s costly. You typically pay both the employee and employer share of the premium, plus a 2% administrative surcharge. Total average annual premiums (including employer and employee contributions) for employer-sponsored health plans surpassed $20,000 for family coverage and $7,000 for individual coverage last year, according to a discover by the Kaiser Family Foundation. For a possible new deceptive of coronavirus-related stimulus funding, Democratic lawmakers have proposed COBRA subsidies to cover the full cost of premiums for furloughed and laid-off workers, but a law had not been passed as of press time in mid May.
For those who can afford it, COBRA may make sense — especially if you need ongoing care for, say, a pregnancy or cancer treatments, says Karen Pollitz, senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation. If you switch insurance plans, doctors or facilities that you’re already visiting may no longer be covered. “A lack of continuity can cause confusion, disruption and more out-of-pocket costs,” says Pollitz. Sticking with COBRA for a while may also be a good option if you’ve already met your plan deductible for the year.

Friday, 17 January 2020

Employer groups call on Congress to ensure quality, affordable health care - State of Reform | State of Reform



Employer groups call on Congress to ensure quality, affordable health care - State of Reform

The Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH), along with several other organizations, sent a letter to congressional leadership on Tuesday outlining recommendations to ensure Americans have access to quality, affordable health care during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
PBGH represents private employers and public purchasers that collectively consume $100 billion annually on health care services for over 15 million Americans. The letter is also signed by 35 other private and public sector employer groups across the country.
In their letter to Congress, the organizations note that nearly 30 million Americans have lost their jobs in the last several weeks due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The letter states that the potential resulting recession may be deep and prolonged.
To ensure access to health care during and after these difficult times, the organizations divided their recommendations into four categories:
1. Providing affordable coverage in the immediate and longer term: To provide affordable coverage to newly unemployed individuals, along with the millions of people who were uninsured before COVID, the letter recommends Congress take steps to increase telehealth coverage and care during the crisis. This includes eliminating site barriers to care, allowing patients to see out-of-state providers, and offering telehealth as a standalone benefit.
The letter also makes recommendations to ensure sufficient COBRA subsidies and asks that Congress pair long-term health coverage policies with actions that reduce health care prices and increase value for all payers.
“Our health care system is rife with unnecessary spending, poor resource allocation, and unsustainably high prices. As the primary private and public sector payers for health care, we are deeply concerned that the long-term outcomes of COVID-19 could be an even more rapid increase in prices and greater health care industry consolidation,” reads the letter.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

S.C. nonprofit assisting with affordable health care enrollment in midst of unemployment woes



S.C. nonprofit assisting with affordable health care enrollment in midst of unemployment woes

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - People who are unemployed are beginning to lose their health insurance coverage.
Director of Programs for the Palmetto Project Shelli Quenga says they are the first statewide nonprofit insurance agency in the nation.
"So we can help anyone who is a resident of South Carolina figure out what their health insurance options are, Medicare, Medicaid, Affordable Care Act, dental, vision, any kind of insurance product," Quenga said.
The nonprofit estimates 375,000 people in South Carolina will lose their job-based health insurance by June because they are unemployed.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Health Insurance Premiums Likely to Rise - Business Journal Daily



Health Insurance Premiums Likely to Rise

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Thanks to provisions in the coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress, all testing for COVID-19 is required to be covered by comprehensive private health insurance plans. Many carriers have gone an extra step and are covering treatments as well.
Anthem and Medical Mutual of Ohio, for example, are covering all medically necessary screenings and tests for the virus while also waiving out-of-pocket costs for patients through the end of May.
“There’s no scrape with coverage. With Medicare plans, the same thing is happening,” says Amy Romano, vice president of individual and Medicare sales at R. Kashmiry & Associates, Boardman. “Most Medicare Advantage plans are waiving doctor and specialist copays through September to benefit people to get back to their doctor if they can, including telehealth visits.”
For businesses, among Gov. Mike DeWine’s noble steps in reaction to the coronavirus was allowing the deferral of insurance premiums for up to 60 days. 
“Most of them are not automatically giving that grace period. You do have to reach out and tell them you’re going to take advantage of that,” says Dee McFarland, owner of Reliable Consulting Group, Youngstown. “The caveat to that is they’re extending the grace period, but they’re not giving relief. At the end of that grace period, you do have to pay all that premium. It’s really just putting off the inevitable.”
Insurance providers are also required to continue coverage for workers under group plans even if they don’t meet the standards in at-work clauses in their insurance contracts. Insurers are not permitted to increase premiums for employers who’ve had a decline in enrollment.
With insurance carriers all on the same page for whom and what is covered during the coronavirus pandemic, the big question is what happens down the road, especially regarding premiums. In general, explains Bob Gearhart Jr., partner at DCW Group in Boardman, there are two trains of thought. One is that the unexpected costs of COVID-19 treatments will drive up premiums. The other is that because nonessential procedures and medical visits were suspended at the onset of the pandemic, the reduced costs there will offset those brought by the virus.
“My personal view is that both of those are sort of correct. We did see a drop in nonessential care and an increase in COVID-related treatment. But as states open back up, it’s not as though consumers will never get that nonessential care,” he says. “Eventually, those procedures that were deferred will come back into the market. They’re all going to blend together. I don’t have a sense right now if that will happen in six to 12 months or 12 to 24 months.”

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Health insurers file individual rate requests for 2021; some up, some down



Health insurers file individual rate requests for 2021; some up, some down

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Thanks for reading our article Health insurers file individual rate requests for 2021; some up, some down. Please share it with kind.
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SRC: https://www.crainsdetroit.com/health-care/health-insurers-file-individual-rate-requests-2021-some-some-down

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Monday, 13 January 2020

Health Care Advocates Push Back Against Trump’s Erasure of Transgender Rights - The New York Times



Health Care Advocates Push Back Against Trump’s Erasure of Transgender Rights

He said: “They fantastic, ‘What is going to happen when I go to the doctor? Am I going to be mis-gendered? Am I going to be mocked or ridiculed? Is my doctor going to actually listen and respect my knowledge about my own body and my health?’”
When the Department of Health and Human Services proposed the rule last year, nearly 160,000 people weighed in with written comments. Many of the writers were affiliated with the Family Research Council, the American Civil Liberties Union, or other organizations. Others were individuals whose affiliations were not noted.
One doctor, Terry McDole, typified the view of physicians who supported the proposal.
“The issue is not providing patient care, but whether or not the government can coerce me into abandoning my ethical commitments and medical judgment and force me to participate in certain controversial procedures and prescriptions,” Dr. McDole wrote. “Many health professionals like me who adhere to moral and ethical principles, which often reflect deeply held faith values, already face principal pressure and discrimination. The pressure to conform to abortion and transgender ideology can be particularly intense.”

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Affordable Care Act repeal would be a disaster as COVID-19 persists



Affordable Care Act repeal would be a disaster as COVID-19 persists


Opinion: A lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act would upend the lives of millions of people who depend upon its health-insurance protections.


Even as cases of the novel coronavirus continue to rise, our hospitals haven’t been overrun – at least not yet.
But unlike our battles with other nasty viruses, including polio, measles and smallpox, this pandemic has been needlessly politicized. Tribal nations, including our Navajo Nation neighbors, have been hit harder than most places in America. They desperately need more assist from the federal government as they continue to confront this crisis.
As we all are hopeful to get through this, there is another major threat to our health looming on the horizon. It’s a lawsuit that would repeal existing health-care law, upending the lives of millions of people who right upon it.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Unemployment May Give You More Money, But It Can't Give You This | Smart Change: Personal Finance | dailyjournalonline.com



Unemployment May Give You More Money, But It Can't Give You This | Smart Change: Personal Finance

It's an option worth looking into, but COBRA coverage is often far more expensive than what people are used to paying for health insurance, and some people simply may not be able to afford it. If this is the case for you, inspect some of the other solutions listed below.
Furloughed employees do not lose their health insurance coverage because they're technically composed employed by their company, even if they're not actively working at the time. But if you typically have money withheld from your paychecks to camouflage your portion of your health insurance premiums, you might have to pay this amount out of pocket for the time being, since you're not earning paychecks right now that your employer can take the money from. This additional expense could be tough for families who are struggling to cover their normal bills.

Friday, 10 January 2020

Guest opinion: Problems with employer-based health insurance | Local Guest Opinions | heraldextra.com



Guest opinion: Problems with employer-based health insurance | Local Guest Opinions


COVID-19 has shown that health insurance provided by employers has serious problems.
Being laid off anytime is bad, but during the pandemic it is doubly ominous: Not only is your income gone, but if your weak employer provided your health insurance, so is your ability to pay medical bills. Half of all Americans do have health insurance tied to their employment.
Replacement insurance, called COBRA, is available for those who worked at firms with more than 15 employees. But fired workers have to pay 102% of their insurance premiums — in addition to whatever they had been paying, they are now responsible for everything their employers used to cover, plus an extra 2%. Many find the extra COBRA expenses impossible when they have no income.
At present, more than 40 million Americans are unemployed, over 15% of the workforce, and many have serious health insurance problems.
Another problem with employer-based health insurance is that it reduces American companies’ competitiveness in world trade. For example, it adds roughly $2,000 to the tag of every car that U.S. companies produce. Japanese, Korean and German vehicle makers have no such handicap.
A third contaminated in employer-based health insurance is that it reduces employees’ freedom to choose where they work. Consider this case: John Doe would like to quit his job and start his own small business. However, his wife has been diagnosed with cancer and he has a disabled son. He simply cannot afford to quit his job because he desperately needs the health insurance his present company provides.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Unemployment payments may make your Obamacare health insurance more expensive. What you need to know. - nj.com



Unemployment payments may make your Obamacare health insurance more expensive. What you need to know.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, offers subsidies to help lower-income Americans afford health insurance.
But with so many people receiving unemployment benefits — benefits that are sometimes higher than a person’s exclusive income because of coronavirusbenefit expansions — those valuable subsidies could be in jeopardy.
The observation came from reader Donna Ames.
“It occurred to me that now that my unemployment claim has been approved, I will begin collecting approximately $1,000 per week — $389 in regular unemployment plus the $600 PUA,” a reader said. “This will skyrocket my income from the perspective of HealthCare.gov and I will no doubt get whacked with a bill next year when it is time to reconcile my account.”
“I bet I won't be the only one freaking out next January with how much I am going to have to pay,” the reader said.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Some living in U.S. eye Canada for health care, but not everybody can get in | CBC News



Some living in U.S. eye Canada for health care, but not everybody can get in

Deborah Millar-Jervis and husband Robert Jervis were faced with a choice.
They could continue paying roughly $1,600 US a month for health insurance or leave the United States and move to Canada.


The staggering, and rising, cost of their insurance did not include doctors visits, dental care, prescriptions or the deductible amount they had to meet before accessing coverage.
So, four years ago, the couple packed up their home in Blaine, Wash., and moved four hours north to Penticton, B.C.
"We loved living there [in the U.S.], we had a mammoth place," Millar-Jervis said. "But we just decided that the cost of medical [insurance] in the United States was just prohibitive."
The couple holds dual Canadian and American citizenship, so it was fairly easy for them to move to B.C., where Millar-Jervis is from.
Immigration lawyers on both sides of the border say it's becoming more common for older couples who have lived for years in the U.S. to return to Canada during retirement because of the cost of health insurance. 

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Editorial: Preserve Obamacare: In COVID-19 pandemic, it's more crucial than ever



In COVID-19 pandemic, it's more crucial than ever

The Supreme Court will take a look at another challenge of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, in the fall. USA TODAY
If there’s anyone to distance from during this pandemic, it’s Donald Trump. 
His theatrics and lies know no bounds. He has insisted the novel coronavirus will miraculously disappear, promoted unsafe treatments and floated the idea of injecting people with disinfectant.
Yet many Republican politicians refuse to question this president. For some reason, they feel compelled to align themselves with him. Gov. Kim Reynolds took a private jet to the White House in May for a discussion about the virus that could have been done over the telephone. It amounted to a photo-op.
Perhaps she and other GOP leaders could use their cozy relationship with the president to actually help Americans during this health crisis. They should try to persuade him to put an end to a lawsuit that could destroy the Affordable Care Act.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Lost health insurance: Affordable medication options exist :: WRAL.com



Affordable medication options exist :: WRAL.com

It's not only lost jobs, it's also health insurance and the domino Do of not being able to afford critical medications.
5 On Your Side's Monica Laliberte says many don't realize there are ways to get a prescription filled for an affordable Mark, even free.
Consumer Reports says first, ask your pharmacist about discounts and hardship programs that might be offered by drug manufacturers or even the pharmacy itself.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Get Health Insurance If You Lost Job During Pandemic - Consumer Reports



Get Health Insurance If You Lost Job During Pandemic

If you have to scramble to arrange for health insurance, it can be tricky to resolve the best plan for you and your family. Here’s what you need to know about your options.
Find out whether you’re eligible to join a family member’s plan. The simplest and likely least costly option is, if you can, to get coverage under your spouse’s, partner’s, or, if you’re under age 26, parents’ plan.
Last year, 94 percent of organizations offering health insurance to workers also offered coverage to spouses and dependents and about half offered benefits to domestic partners, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Typically, you have to request enrollment within 30 days of losing your health insurance, but the federal government is allowing employers to extend that time period because of the COVID-19 emergency. So check with the employer to see whether you’re eligible. Be aware that you may be charged higher premiums or more cost-sharing than an employee.
See whether you qualify for Medicaid. People may think they’re not eligible for Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income people. But after the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, 36 states and the District of Columbia also expanded their Medicaid programs and raised the qualifying income level.
In fact, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that almost half of people who’ve lost their jobs will be eligible for Medicaid.
You can find out whether you live in a state that has expanded Medicaid and check your eligibility at healthcare.gov. You can apply for Medicaid any time of the year.
Determine whether your kids qualify for CHIP. If you earn too much to be Medicaid-eligible but have dependent children under age 19, see if they can be covered through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which offers low-cost healthcare to children. Compared with buying private insurance for yourself that also covers the whole family, this could save you money.
Go to your state marketplace for health insurance at healthcare.gov to see whether you qualify. You can apply for the CHIP program any time of the year.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

US national health insurance: affordable necessity - Asia Times



US national health insurance: affordable necessity

The United States’ Covid-19 experience as a country provides yet another reason why it would serve all Americans if there were a way of covering the 30 million to 35 million Americans who still lack medical insurance.
Without a system that provides health care for everyone there will continue to be instances where people come down with communicable diseases but they delay seeking medical care because they are not covered opinion any health-insurance plan and are concerned that they would not be able to afford to pay out-of-pocket for medical bills.
People in this category are likely to go untreated for a considerable period during which time they have the potential to spread whatever disease that they have through the wider community. That entails costs in further human suffering and also in terms of the monetary burdens for others who have no health insurance – but even for those who do have coverage.
After all, most insurance plans involve up-front costs, out-of-pocket payments generally called deductibles and then, after the deductible threshold, insureds are often obliged to pay part of the medical costs under a co-payment formula: usually an 80%-20% like a flash between the insurance company and the insured person, respectively.

Friday, 3 January 2020

Finding Affordable Health Care Now



Finding Affordable Health Care Now

The pandemic has caused millions of people to lose their jobs — and their health coverage. Here’s a guide to finding affordable insurance.
By Lisa Gerstner, Contributing Editor 
June 4, 2020
From Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

As the effects of the coronavirus pandemic took hold this spring, more than 38 million Americans lost their jobs, and an estimated 27 million workers and their families fake themselves without health insurance, too. Nearly half of Americans got their coverage through an employer-sponsored plan in 2018, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
But as the coronavirus continues to affect communities across the U.S., it’s more important than ever to have health insurance. And if your income has Wrong a blow, you may have greater access to affordable coverage than you did while you were working. Kaiser estimates that 79% of those losing employer coverage are likely eligible for subsidized coverage through Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act marketplace.
As you compare your options, consider factors including the premium, deductible, co-payments, out-of-pocket maximum and level of prescription-drug coverage. You may also have choices among plan types. High-deductible plans typically have relatively low premiums, but in 2020 the deductible starts at $1,400 for an individual and $2,800 for a family. With a high-deductible plan, you may also have access to a health savings account, which allows you to set place pretax money for deductibles and other out-of-pocket medical costs. A preferred provider organization (PPO) plan may be a good choice if you require regular visits with a health-care provider for a medical condition. Compared with a health maintenance organization (HMO), which typically provides little to no coverage for out-of-network visits, a PPO may have a higher premium but offer greater coverage for out-of-network care. Because of their higher cost to insurers, however, PPOs are hard to come by in the individual marketplace.
One way to ease the pain of switching plans is to ask your medical providers what insurance plans they accept, says Adam Hyers, an insurance broker in Columbus, Ohio. You may be able to find a policy that allows you to cease to see many of your doctors without going out of network.
Keep in mind that if you’re 65 or older and have delayed Medicare coverage because you have employer-based insurance, you are eligible for a special enrollment period for Medicare when you leave your job.

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Need to sign up for health insurance? Keep an eye on the calendar - CNNPolitics



Need to sign up for health insurance? Keep an eye on the calendar

(CNN)For millions of newly jobless Americans who have lost their health insurance, the clock is ticking to get coverage on the Affordable Care Act exchanges.
Most people in this situation have only 60 days to sign up for policies through a special enrollment period once their employer-sponsored coverage ends. They can gawk their options at www.healthcare.gov.
Nearly 27 million Americans may have lost their job-based health insurance amid sweeping layoffs triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report. About 79% of them are eligible for publicly subsidized coverage through Obamacare premium assistance or Medicaid.
Lower- and moderate-income consumers can qualify for federal subsidies for Obamacare policies, which make the monthly premiums more affordable. Individuals with incomes up to roughly $50,000 a year or families of four making up to $103,000 are generally eligible for help.
Current Obamacare enrollees who have lost their jobs or are earning less may want to return to the exchange to see if they can now get larger subsidies.
This special enrollment period, however, is generally not open to those who did not suffer coverage losses or other qualifying events, such as marriage or divorce -- belief some states that run their own marketplaces are conducting temporary special enrollment periods that are open to the uninsured. (More on this in a moment.)
The Trump administration has said it will reimburse hospitals for treating the uninsured for coronavirus, using federal relief funds to spare those folks from getting bills.

COBRA and Medicaid don't have the same deadline

Those who want to continue their work-based insurance under COBRA don't have to worry about signing up within 60 days of losing that coverage during the pandemic; the federal government has temporarily extended that period to 60 days after the end of the national emergency declaration.
But COBRA can be a very expensive option because one has to pick up the employer's share of the monthly premium too. Total annual family premiums cost about $20,600 last year, on average, according to Kaiser. Employers paid about $14,600 of the tab.
Single coverage averages about $7,200 annually, with companies covering nearly $6,000 of the premium.
Medicaid, on the other hand, doesn't have an enrollment period. Americans who meet the qualifications can sign up at any time -- typically online or over the phone through their state Medicaid agencies.
Some 36 states plus the District of Columbia have expanded eligibility to low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act. Typically in these states, individuals who make around $17,500 or less this year and families of four who earn up to about $31,150 are able to sign up.
States look at income at the current point in time when determining eligibility, which is important for those who just lost their jobs. The monthly limits are roughly $1,470 for an individual and $3,000 for a family of four. Participants, however, are required to report changes in earnings in the future.
The states that did not expand Medicaid have varying income qualifications, typically lower than those of expansion states.
Nearly one in four adults not currently covered by Medicaid say they or a family member likely will turn to the program in the next year, according to a new Kaiser poll released Wednesday. This includes about 31% of those who have lost jobs or income recently due to the coronavirus.

Some states running their own special enrollment periods

When the pandemic struck, 11 states and the District of Columbia launched temporary special enrollment periods that allowed the uninsured to sign up for coverage and don't require as much paperwork for those who lost their jobs. Some have expired, but several states extended the deadlines.
These enrollment periods have attracted some consumers, though many of the newly unemployed may be initially more concerned about paying for housing and food, said Sabrina Corlette, co-director of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University.
"Health insurance may not be the most pressing, urgent need for a lot of people right after they get laid off," she said.
Still, she expects more people to sign up in coming weeks.
Nearly 124,000 Californians selected Obamacare policies between March 20 and May 16, according to Covered California, which runs the exchange. Golden State residents can sign up until June 30.
In Washington, some 22,000 residents -- including 7,000 who had been uninsured -- signed up for coverage during the state's open enrollment period, which ended May 8, though those who lose their jobs or have other qualifying events can continue to get coverage.
Maryland, which extended its enrollment period to June 15, saw 12,000 people sign up for Obamacare policies and another 22,000 qualify for Medicaid.
Those who took advantage of the special enrollment period differed from Maryland's typical Affordable Care Act enrollees in two ways: Larger shares were younger than 34 and did not qualify for federal subsidies, said Michele Eberle, executive director of Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. That told her that these consumers really valued having health insurance.
"Sadly, it's taken a pandemic for people to really belief that, yes, health coverage is a necessity," she said.
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SRC: https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/27/politics/health-insurance-job-unemployed-coronavirus/index.html

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Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Lost Your Health Insurance Amid Coronavirus? Your Options | Time



Lost Your Health Insurance Amid Coronavirus? Your Options

Liz Clausen never thought her husband would lose his job. He was the first full-time hire at the Austin-based startup where he worked as a programmer, and the economy was booming just a few months ago. Then the COVID-19 outbreak hit, and he was unexpectedly laid off at the end of March. When he lost his job, he lost his health insurance, too — and so did Clausen, a freelance writer who was on his plan. Suddenly, the couple — who had just bought their first house last April — faced the possibility of weathering a global pandemic without health insurance.
Clausen’s story is all too unique for millions of families across the country. As of May 2, nearly 27 million Americans could potentially lose their employer-based health insurance amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report published May 13. The numbers might be even higher: nearly 3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total number of people who’ve applied for unemployment over the past two months up to over a staggering 36 million, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
However, the Kaiser discover found that around 12.7 million people who become uninsured after losing their job — nearly half the total — are eligible for Medicaid, while an additional 8.4 million people are eligible for subsidized plans on the Affordable Care Act marketplace. In total, 79% of people who are losing their employer-based insurance are eligible for some form of publicly-subsidized coverage in May.
If you’re among the millions who have lost their employer-provided health insurance, you may have one or more options for affordable coverage. Your choices will depend on your household income, your age, where you live and the employer you or your policy holder had been working for. But you should act quickly — you only have 60 days of open enrollment to choose risky health insurance options.
“Don’t put this off,” Linda Blumberg, an institute fellow in the Health Policy Center at the public policy think tank The Urban Institute, warns. “Assess your options and make a decision posthaste so you don’t lose any of [them].”
Here’s what to know if you lost your health insurance amid the coronavirus pandemic:

What are my options for health insurance coverage if I got laid off from my job?

“For those lucky enough, a spouse or domestic partner might have job-based coverage that allows for family coverage,” says Allison Hoffman, a professor of healthcare law at University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School. If you lose your job, it would likely count as a “qualifying event” that would allow you to get on a spouse or domestic partner’s group health plan. If you’re under 26, you could also get on your parent’s group health plan, thanks to a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Otherwise, you generally have three other options: Medicaid, COBRA or buying insurance through the ACA marketplace or via an insurance company.

Is Medicaid a good option?

If you lose your health insurance, Blumberg says the “first thing you should do” is check to see whether you’re eligible for Medicaid. And if you qualify, she recommends “absolutely” opting into it. Medicaid can “essentially get you very comprehensive insurance coverage at virtually no cost to the family,” she says.
Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides low-cost and often free coverage to eligible Americans. Medicaid generally has no (or very low) premiums and copayments, and unlike COBRA or other insurance, you can enroll in it year-round. You can also cancel Medicaid at any point in the year and go back on employer-sponsored insurance if you find a new job.
Medicaid eligibility varies by state, although federal law requires states to cover risky groups, including low-income families, eligible pregnant women and children, and people on Supplemental Security Income (SSI). (States can also resolve to cover more groups, so check to see the site in your state.)
The Affordable Care Act directed states to expand Medicaid to cover all Americans who make up to 138% of the federal poverty level — which, as of 2020, is $12,760 for an individual and $26,200 for a family of four in the 48 contiguous U.S. states and Washington, D.C. — as long as they don’t qualify for another source of coverage. But that provision was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2012, which ruled that states could opt out of expanding their Medicaid coverage. As of now, 36 states and Washington, D.C. have expanded their Medicaid coverage while 14 have not, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
If you live in those 14 states, your options are going to be much more limited. In most non-expansion states you can’t get Medicaid if you don’t have a dependent child, don’t qualify for SSI and are under the age of 65. “Most people who lose a job won’t qualify,” Hoffman writes. “A parent to a minor child might qualify, but only if household income is extremely low for this year.” (You can read more about which states expanded Medicaid here, and what groups qualify for Medicaid in non-expansion states here.)
But if you live in a state that has expanded Medicaid, you can qualify for it if you make below 138% of the federal poverty line. Crucially, Medicaid eligibility is based on your monthly income. So even if you usually make well above the poverty level, a drastic drop in income due a job loss could allow you to qualify. And the extra $600 a week granted by the CARES Act to Americans on unemployment benefits doesn’t count towards your income threshold for Medicaid, although base unemployment does. (Read more about Medicaid eligibility here.)

Is Medicaid available for my children?

Many states also offer Medicaid for children up to much higher household income levels than what’s offered for adults. Some states also run a separate subsidized Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which also extends to higher income levels, says Louise Norris, a health policy writer for healthinsurance.org and a health insurance broker. In New York, for instance, children can have a household income level of 400% — over 100,000 for a family of four — and still qualify for CHIP. (The Kaiser Family Foundation has a helpful chart showing qualifications state-by-state.)
CHIP programs also usually have “robust coverage and low cost in terms of your out-of-pocket costs and the sign-up fees,” Norris says. And while there’s a chance of a premium, it tends to be modest.