October 31, 2014
THIS YEAR, I'm celebrating 23 years of marriage. In addition to the joy of being wed to my best friend, our relationship has economically lifted my life and that of my nuclear and extended family. Being married has netted results that neither of us could have dreamed of coming from low-income households. And so I readily embrace the findings of a new report that makes the case that the retreat from marriage - especially among lower-income Americans, and the resulting change in family structures - is a major factor contributing to the economic inequality in the U.S. It may seem old-fashioned, but marriage matters.
October 19, 2014 |
Deborah Fasoline quit smoking. The 57-year-old Bensalem truck driver had tried twice before to stop but failed. This time was different. This time she squashed her lifelong habit like a spent cigarette butt under foot. Fasoline says she has gone seven straight months without lighting up. That's one month more than the Affordable Care Act demands to expunge the up-to-50 percent tobacco surcharge on smokers' monthly premiums. So you can understand why Fasoline can't wait for the marketplace to reopen next month.
October 12, 2014 |
In June, Anthony Capone said he liked his AmeriHealth Medicare Advantage plan so much he persuaded his 89-year-old mother and aunt to make the switch. Things were going along fine until recently, when the Mount Laurel businessman's renewal notice arrived in the mail. He opened the package and was taken aback. His monthly premium had spiked to $62 a month, a $23 rise. Other fees - in-hospital co-pay (up to $175), Part D deductible ($25), and ambulance ($100) - have also risen.
July 25, 2014
YOU SAY you'd love premium seats for "The Book of Mormon," the Broadway smasheroo musical comedy that Tuesday begins a seven-week run at the Forrest Theater, but you simply can't swing (or justify) paying hundreds of dollars for a perch near the stage? Well, how does $27 sound? That's right, $27. Total. Heck, that's usually what you fork over for the laughably larcenous "fees" that are usually extorted from live entertainment consumers by ticketing agencies. And, no, they aren't counterfeit.
June 25, 2014 |
The Obama administration has given employers a reprieve from the mandate that they offer their workers insurance at low employee premiums or pay a penalty. The enforcement is postponed until 2016. But should the mandate ever come back? Even strong supporters of the Affordable Care Act are divided. David Blumenthal, of the Commonwealth Fund, says the mandate on employers is needed to compel them to honor their "shared responsibility" to pay their workers' premiums. Tim Jost, a professor at Washington and Lee University and a leading backer and interpreter of the complex ACA rules, says the mandate has too many adverse side effects and should be "repealed and replaced" by something else.
June 9, 2014 |
When it comes to health insurance, Anthony Capone considers himself "on top of this stuff. " So in 2013 when the Mount Laurel businessman turned 65, he pored over Medicare Advantage plans, even visiting a Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield store to talk details. He eventually bought a Horizon no-premium Medicare Advantage plan. He liked the policy so much he persuaded his then-89-year-old mother to ditch her plan and go with Horizon. So in the fall, Capone was primed to renew during open enrollment until he saw that his no-premium insurance had removed the "no. " The 2014 version of the plan came with a monthly premium of $153.70.
January 26, 2014 |
Janice Churchill went to Bright Hope Baptist Church on Martin Luther King Day to proclaim the word. Not the one preached on Sunday. The word about the Affordable Care Act. "I am one of those people who didn't have insurance," said Churchill, 54, a home health aide who had been uninsured for three years until she bought a plan on the ACA marketplace. "It's great, just great that I have insurance. " Churchill was at Bright Hope on Monday to help launch a four-state initiative - in Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan, and Texas - aimed at increasing ACA awareness in the African American, Latino, and gay, bisexual, and transgender [LGBT]
December 20, 2013 |
Tens of thousands of low-income Pennsylvanians would pay higher premiums in 2015 under Gov. Corbett's proposed Medicaid expansion than they would in 2014 for similar policies on the Affordable Care Act exchange. Some health-policy experts are concerned about the disparity, although coverage through Corbett's private-market alternative in most cases would still be cheaper, because there are virtually no out-of-pocket costs. The far bigger issue, they say, is adding any premiums at all, even starting at the proposed $13 for individuals earning as little as $479 a month.
November 24, 2013 |
Almost two months after its inglorious rollout, the healthcare.gov website appears to be slowly recuperating. But even if it is 80 percent healed by November's end, as some public statements suggest, it likely won't be the promised seamless shopping experience where consumers can compare plans and prices and see if they qualify for premium and cost-sharing subsidies. Several websites have stepped into the breach and are helping consumers unravel the differences among the various health insurance policies.
November 10, 2013 |
Some people - likely those close to the federal poverty level - will be able to find insurance plans on the Affordable Care Act marketplace that are free. That's because subsidies help cover the costs, and they rise for poorer applicants. As many as 715,000 Pennsylvanians - or more than half of commonwealth residents shopping for insurance on the marketplace - are eligible for subsidies, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report. But navigators, insurers, and industry analysts are urging people to consider their overall needs carefully before choosing a plan and not to be seduced by the idea of no or very low monthly premiums.