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.
October 13, 2013 |
Everyone was asking about premiums in the months before the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. But many people are mistaken if they think the premium represents the bottom-line cost of health insurance. It doesn't. Yes, the premium price is key. But it shouldn't necessarily be the decisive factor when shopping in the new marketplace. To find the real annual cost, add up the out-of-pocket costs, drug selection, and other parts of the drug benefit. "People should not be making decisions to buy a plan based on premiums alone," said Larry Levitt, senior vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health-policy research and communication group.
September 26, 2013 |
Federal officials on Tuesday shared the most detailed information yet on rates consumers can expect to see when the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges go live next week. The average monthly premium for the lowest-cost "bronze" individual plans will be $229 in Pennsylvania (among the lowest in the nation) and $333 in New Jersey (among the highest), according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Tax credits that are expected to apply to most purchasers would substantially lower rates in both states.
September 2, 2013 |
Will low-income Pennsylvanians be tempted to overstate their income to the IRS in order to afford health insurance? The state's rejection of Medicaid expansion for its poorest citizens creates this perverse incentive. The Affordable Care Act was set up to provide free Medicaid to more poor Americans. It also offers premium subsidies on a sliding scale for the uninsured with incomes between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. These subsidies are tax credits the IRS will pay in advance to health insurers for qualifying individuals.
August 22, 2013 |
Costs for employer-based health insurance continued their gradual ascent this year, with the average annual price of family coverage rising 4 percent to $16,351 and single coverage ticking up 5 percent to just under $6,000, according to a new report released Tuesday. The slower growth is "good news" for workers and employers, though far from perfect, said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which published the report along with the Health Research and Educational Trust.
May 10, 2013
D EAR HARRY: A number of years ago, it was recommended that we attend a seminar given by an insurance company regarding long-term-care insurance. The speaker was convincing. He placed less emphasis on the need than on the low premiums we would have if we got the insurance at a young age. I bought the insurance. Over the years, the premiums increased several times. I understood that this was a result of a declining value of the dollar and the increases in life expectancy. I recently received a notice that my next premium would show an increase of 30 percent.
March 28, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - A new study finds insurance companies will have to pay out an average of 32 percent more for medical claims on individual health policies under President Obama's health-care overhaul. That could mean higher premiums for at least some Americans - those who are uninsured or who buy policies directly from an insurance company. But for those with an employer plan, like most workers and their families, odds are they won't have much to worry about. The administration is questioning the Society of Actuaries' study, saying that it doesn't give a full picture - and that costs will go down.
February 28, 2013
Company description: "It's hard to resist our Premium Cod Fillet. That's because we use only 100 percent cod straight from the North Pacific. Battered in light, crispy panko breading and topped with tartar sauce and fresh lettuce - all on a warm, toasted bun. " Chain: Wendy's. Location: 1101 Walnut St. Calories : 510, with 26 grams of fat and 970 milligrams of salt. Order time: About two minutes. Price : $5.79 for combo with small fries and a drink.
February 4, 2013
D EAR HARRY: I'm in a terrible dilemma over insurance. I am 35 and have recently become a first-time father to a beautiful baby girl. Naturally, the question of life insurance came up. We got seven calls from agents selling life insurance in the month following her birth. We contacted the guy who takes care of our car and homeowner's, and he came back with the statement that long-term disability insurance is more important. He said that death is more traumatic for the other family members, but disability is far more likely.