by Chris Huckins Google+ Email 


Individual Health Insurance

02 September 2014

Oops Hobby Lobby! California Requires All Insurance Plans to Cover Abortions

Posted in Individual Health Insurance

Oops Hobby Lobby! California Requires All Insurance Plans to Cover Abortions

The Catholic Church believes God is watching everything, which may include the small print on your insurance plan. If only He had a counterpart at California's Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) there wouldn't be another uproar about abortion.  

After reviewing insurance contracts, DMHC discovered it erroneously approved the request of two Catholic Universities which illegally restricted abortion coverage from their group health insurance plans.

Director of DMHC, Michelle Rouillard, wrote to Anthem Blue Cross and Kaiser Permenente, who covered the problematic Catholic schools, Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara University, to request compliance with California laws within 90 days. 

Just in time for Covered California's next open enrollment, November 15

Despite the Supreme Court's recent Hobby Lobby ruling, which allowed employers to restrict abortion coverage based on religious beliefs, California's own Constitution protects women's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy. So do the California Reproductive Privacy Act, Knox Keene Act, and Women's Contraceptive Equity Act (WCEA).   

In WCEA, the definition of "religious employer" is more specific than SCOTUS' ruling that any "closely-held corporation" with a religious consciousness can block health insurance rights. 

WCEA defines such employer as a non-profit whose purpose is the "inculcation of religious values" and so on, which does not describe either Catholic University affected by this case or most corporations who've challenged women's rights in court in the past. 

Both schools can keep their plan but must include abortion coverage by the fall or will incur a scolding worse than a nun's cane.   

16 June 2014

Proposition 45 Lets California Veto Unfair Health Insurance Rate Hikes

Posted in Individual Health Insurance

A federal study showed Californians spent less on auto insurance in 2010 than they did in 1989. That's compared to the rest of the United States, which actually spent 43% more in 2010 than the Golden State. Why hasn't health insurance in California decreased the same way?

Anthem Blue Cross president Mark Morgan revealed at a Los Angeles town hall that premiums would rise up to 10% in 2015. At least that's a smaller hike than 2012's, when Anthem proposed increasing rates by 20% for individuals with health insurance in California.

But nobody should just take a rate increase like an overdue colonoscopy. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, who's up for reelection this fall, reminded voters that Proposition 45, also on November's ballot, would give the California Department of Insurance vetoing power to put a plug in unjust rate hikes. 

While 35 states can block unjust health insurance rate hikes, California can only dream of it. 70% of Californians already support Proposition 45.

In 2013 the public advocacy group Consumer Watchdog partnered with the California Department of Insurance and Commissioner Jones to review health insurance rate hikes.

Consumer Watchdog's founder, Harvey Rosenfield introduced Proposition 103 to California in 1988, which was the successful auto insurance equivalent to 2014's health Proposition 45. Its passage led to Californians spending less on auto insurance today than in the 80s.

Since 1988 Proposition 103 has required insurance companies to publicly justify rate hikes for auto and home insurance, saving California $102 billion. Health insurance may join the club if Prop 45 in California passes. 

Before announcing rates next year would still go up, in April Anthem proposed raising health insurance premiums by 25%, albeit for over 300,000 Californians. That wasn't all they were up to. 

Earlier this year Anthem and its partner company, Wellpoint, spent $12.9 million on the lobbyist group, Californians Against Higher Health Care Costs, to try and block Commissioner Jones' Proposition 45 on Primary Day. That's on top of Kaiser Permanente's and Blue Shield's $23.5 million contribution. The lobbyist group claimed more regulations would require more taxpayer money and raise insurance prices. 

Which do you think will prevent continuous rate hikes: the Insurance Commissioner regulating rate hikes or the insurance companies blocking rate hike regulation? 

09 June 2014

The Uber of Food: EatWith May See Regulations in Los Angeles

Posted in Individual Health Insurance

The Uber of Food: EatWith May See Regulations in Los Angeles

Next time a friend contaminates your California Roll at a dinner party, you may stagger away with over $1 million in individual health insurance settlements if Los Angeles regulates Eatwith, the food version of Uber., a new online dining service founded in 2012, connects curious foodies around California with a professional chef in their neighborhood by booking a meal at the chef's home for a price, depending on cuisine and experience. 

That unique service, the "Uber of supper", is unchecked by any city ordinances for now, but may be scrutinized as popularity grows. 

Uber, a transportation network company ("TNC") which pays for-hire drivers to use their personal vehicles, went unregulated like Eatwith when it first started in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco. Essentially anyone, from a Mom in a van to that man in a decommissioned short bus could create a profile on Uber to give people a "Lyft".

At least in Eatwith's infancy, hosts can opt to share with guests their online reviews, personal websites, and social media accounts to validate their legitimacy. Some hosts may even be visited by an Eatwith representative, earning them a coveted "EatWith Verified status" on EatWith's website.

When the TNCs like Uber, Lyft, and SideCar first hit the scene, some considered them to be safer than taxi cabs, while others demanded they meet public safety requirements.

After negotiations between the TNCs and auto insurance companies, California became the first state to draft regulations which mandate driver training, background checks, and a minimum $1,000,000 per incident auto insurance coverage.

Eatwith hasn't received the same attention yet, but since their business model is similar to TNCs', it likely won't be long till cities contemplate the same safety measures.

While Los Angeles today covers commuters of Uber and Lyft in case of accidents, it hasn't placed new regulations to protect the public from dining network companies ("DNC"), to the relief of John Stossel's op-ed and his mustache, which craves crumbs from home-cooked meals. 

Eatwith may not need government regulations, just as hosts don't need to look into their own property and casualty insurance. In case guests succumb to food poisoning, choking, or third degree three cheese fondue burns, according to the Safety section of EatWith, the company protects hosts with individual health insurance worth $1 million per incident. 

It does not, however, cover damage to the host or host's property. So keep away from serving gourmet tooth pick hor dourves if don't want your "Kiss the Stranger" apron gouged. 

05 June 2014

10 Most Wanted For Medicare Fraud at Large in Los Angeles

Posted in Individual Health Insurance

10 Most Wanted For Medicare Fraud at Large in Los Angeles

The Affordable Care Act budgeted an additional $350 million over the next decade to crack down on Medicare fraud, saving an estimated $6 billion for the country, especially Los Angeles, where fraud occurs as often as Justin Bieber's apologies. 

Since the extra funding, the first big win for seniors occurred in October, 2010 when FBI agents arrested 73 members of an Armenian-American crime ring from Los Angeles, who duped Medicare over $163 million. 10 of the indited fugitives were from Burbank, Woodland Hills, Studio City, and Glendale, but their crime wave stretched over 25 states. 

By stealing social security numbers from nearly 3,000 Medicare patients and billing Medicare from non-existent "phantom" clinics, the heist thrived from 2008 till the crackdown. 

3 members are still at large and believed to be hiding in Los Angeles. But they aren't the only ones. 

Every year it seems a different guy from Los Angeles steals millions from Medicare. Does the FBI just assume good behavior from the "City of Angels?" 

In 2012, Dr. Juan Tomas Van Putten of Landera Heights, a community in Los Angeles county, was charged for $11 million in Medicare fraud. He recruited shady salesmen to write off expensive wheelchairs to patients who didn't need them and billed Medicare. 

In late 2012, pastor Charles Agbu of Carson, part of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty for conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud because he billed Medicare $11 million for fake perscriptions and expensive medical equipment. 

In 2013, acupuncture clinic owner, Won Suk Lee was arrested for billing Medicare $2.1 million for massages, which Medicare doesn't cover. He got away with it from 2006 until his arrest by writing off the procedures as "physical therapy". 

In 2014, Dr. Robert A Glazer pleaded guillted for billing Medicare for unnecessary high-powered wheelchairs in the amount of $33 million. 

Currently, there are 10 fugitives known for committing Medicare fraud in Los Angeles at large. 3 already mentioned are members of the Armenian-American crime ring.

Report these fugitives, whose pictures and details can be found on the Health and Human Services website: Nuritsa Grigoryan, Anush Sahakyan & Karo Gotti Blkhoyan, Ekaterina Shlykova, Gurgen Tsaturyan, Fentahun Belay Ferede, Gevork Aidinian, and Lilit Galstyan (aka Nina Galstyan), Julieta Ghazaryan, and Marine Movsisyan.



19 May 2014

Allstate Studied Drivers by Zodiac Sign and Apologized

Posted in Individual Health Insurance

Allstate Studied Drivers by Zodiac Sign and Apologized

(Brought to you by an equal opportunity Aquarius and car insurance agent in Canoga Park)

You're in good hands with Allstate. Just don't ask them for a palm reading.

Several moons ago, Allstate compared driving habits by zodiac signs, intending to humor and not scare customers into believing their rates would go up like their rising sign. 

Even a phony Los Angeles fortune teller could predict where this would go: an immediate PR apology.

The study is nonetheless great to read for anyone who takes astrology seriously and needs good auto insurance in Los Angeles, home of incompatible zodiac signs and drivers. 

Virgos beware: Allstate found you most likely to cause accidents, labeling "the Virgin drivers" that caused 200,000 accidents in 2010 as "worried and shy". Apparently "worried" translated to "so scared of getting pulled over for your Virgo decal that you forgot to use turn signals."

(Chart by Allstate)

Interestingly, Allstate was "Progressive" (sorry for the insurance puns) by including the newly-established sign Ophiuchus for those born between November 29 and December 17. These drivers are apparently "lucky, wise", and the second least dangerous drivers in 2010 behind Scorpios.

Labeled as "resourceful", Scorpios might live up to their personality trait if they drive anything like this guy. The water sign only dampened drivers' days with 26,000 accidents in 2010. 

Allstate not only apologized for the misunderstanding, but made up for it with an even better company policy, which is real: allowing gay couples the same discounts as married couples. 

Esurance and State Farm also adapted the same sex couple discount. They're not inflexible like a Leo but gracious like a Libra.