“A great number of people in the United States have grown accustomed to having their employer pay for, or at least subsidize their healthcare costs. That usually takes the form of employer-provided health insurance plans, which have become a staple of most compensation packages for full-time employees that are working in positions that require even menial amounts of skill — and shutting out, for the most part, unskilled or low-wage workers. On the surface, it is a bit odd that we rely on our employers to pay for our health insurance. Yet, it’s become the norm, and one of the many reasons the U.S. healthcare system, as a whole, is so complicated and for lack of a better term, screwed up.
Posts Tagged ‘Costs’
“Anita Maina was working on an arts and crafts project she found on Pinterest — creating a table out of wood and cork — when she ripped off a fingernail while removing staples from a piece of wood.
“It is one of those things that really hurt, and I thought I should go to urgent care,” said Ms. Maina, 27.
But she ultimately skipped the visit since she had not met the $6,000 deductible on her health plan, and she knew she probably did not have much left in her health savings account, a type of tax-advantaged savings vehicle that is often used with high-deductible plans to help defray out-of-pocket costs.
Ms. Maina, an associate in a health and human services consulting agency, said her employer added the high-deductible plan earlier this year; though her monthly premiums are only $34, these plans require employees to pay for a greater share of their medical expenses upfront, before the plan starts making payments.
“I’m leaving my job in a few months and moving to New York. Can I get new health insurance even though open enrollment is over? Yes. Even though open enrollment for individual health insurance is closed until November 15, 2014, you can buy a new policy now (either on a state exchange or directly from an insurer or agent) if you move or experience certain other “life changes,” including getting married or divorced, having or adopting a baby, and losing other health insurance. You generally have 60 days from the date of the event to buy a new policy. (more…)
“Illinois plans to delay by at least a year a key feature of its Obamacare health insurance exchange that potentially would give employees of small businesses more choices when shopping for coverage.
“Employee choice” would allow employees to select from a range of plans from multiple carriers on the Small Business Health Options Program, also known as the Shop exchange, rather than being limited to a single plan chosen by their employer. The three dozen states on the federally administered marketplace, Illinois included, operated under the latter model, called “employer choice,” in 2014.
“Illinois’ only co-op health insurance program lost more than $4 million and enrolled fewer than 2,500 people in its first quarter of operation as it struggled to enter a market dominated by one massive competitor.
Land of Lincoln Health Inc. Co-op had just 2,451 members by March 31, 97 percent of whom bought individual plans. The carrier was established under President Barack Obama’s health care reform law and aimed to increase competition in Illinois’ individual and group insurance markets.
“The White House is increasing its reliance on insurers by accepting their technical help in efforts to repair the problem-ridden online health insurance marketplace and prioritizing consumers’ ability to buy plans directly from the carriers.
The Obama administration’s broader cooperation with insurers is a tacit acknowledgment that the federal insurance exchange — fraught with software and hardware flaws that have frustrated many Americans trying to buy coverage — might not be working smoothly by the target date of Nov. 30, according to several health experts familiar with the administration’s thinking.
“Americans who use flexible spending accounts (FSAs) for healthcare costs may now be able to carry up to $500 of expiring money into the next year, the U.S. Treasury said on Thursday.
For nearly 30 years, about 14 million families with FSAs faced a “use it or lose it” deadline of December 31 when the money in the account would expire.
Accountholders flush with cash at the end of the year would often scramble to spend their fund balance frivolously.
“If you light up, prepare to get burned with higher premiums when buying insurance in the new health insurance marketplaces.
Under rules of the Affordable Care Act, in Illinois and most other states, insurers can charge smokers and other tobacco users as much as 50 percent more on their premiums due to the higher health risks they face compared to non-tobacco users.
In some cases, the surcharge wipes out the subsidy for which some smoking health plan enrollees would qualify in the marketplaces, said Karen Pollitz. She is senior fellow at Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit focused on health-care issues.
“The GOP this week unveiled an alternative plan to President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law amid a threat from a minority of Republicans to defund the law before the Oct. 1 implementation date and shutdown the government.
The bill–Republican Study Committee’s American Health Care Reform Act–which calls for a full repeal of the healthcare reform law “dramatically opens up options for families, and dramatically lowers costs” compared to Obama’s law, committee chairman Louisiana Rep. Steven Scalise told The Daily Caller.