by Chris Huckins Google+ Email 


Health Insurance 101

07 May 2013

What is CHIP? What is Healthy Families?

Posted in Health Insurance 101

What is CHIP? What is Healthy Families?

    Mother's Day is just around the corner and what would a mother be without her kids? A plain woman, I guess. Now that we cleared that up, let's clarify an insurance plan all mothers should know about: Children's Health Insurance Program. Never heard of it? It could  be because different states use different names for their unique insurance program. California's is called Healthy Families, for example. Created in 1997 from the minds of Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy and First Lady Hillary Clinton, CHIP became the first major overhaul of healthcare since Medicaid in the 1960s.

    Speaking of which, if you're wondering,  "I qualify for Medicaid, so should I stop reading?" Sure why not. But for parent(s) whose income is too high for Medicaid but too low for private children's insurance, please continue. Think tobacco companies save children's lives? Well in a way they do. Since CHIP was adopted by the states, its funding comes at the expense of  chewing tobacco and cigarette companies. Since Barack Obama was elected, cigarette and chewing tobacco taxes jumped 62 cents and 50 cents a pound, respectively in order to fund CHIP's expansion to cover 4 million more children. Put that fact in your pipe and smoke it. But really, please don't. Los Angeles has enough poisonous gas problems.   

    For the breakdown on CHIP (Healthy Families for those in Los Angeles), the program covers children from 0 to 19 and as an added bonus there's no waiting period for the first visit. You can thank President Obama for passing that regulation. Not only children benefit, but some expectant mothers too. Just call us at 855-BUY HEALTH and we'll let you know if you qualify for assistance in lab test, labor, and delivery costs. 

    CHIP covers routine checkups, dental and vision visits, lab and X-ray services (I remember the first time I broke my arm as a kid and always used handle bars afterwards.), immunizations, and other services. Lollipops are not guaranteed. While certain services may require copays, CHIP requires no one pays more than 5% of the family's monthly income. Now that's something every Mom should love.   

    Happy Mother's Day!

    Call 818.251.5000 for more information on private insurance, healthcare reform (Obamacare), and CHIP or click below for a free quote!

05 April 2013

Leaving Los Angeles? What is Travel Insurance?

Posted in Health Insurance 101

Leaving Los Angeles? What is Travel Insurance?

    For every vacation I've spent with the family, someone always gets hurt. No joke. They travel to Los Angeles to visit, Dad twists his ankle on Runyon Canyon. My brother saves some cash by staying on the family insurance plan (Obamacare allows children under 26 to stay on their parents' insurance plan, lowering costs), he travels to Vegas, gets hit by a cab. Travel insurance may have been created with us in mind, since nomadism and clumsiness runs in our blood.

    Travel insurance is as useful to prepare before a trip as your suitcase. You just won't have to do much preparation other than call your insurance broker (of course I mean Haronian Insurance) and let us do the hard work for you. What is travel insurance? I thought we'd never get there.

    Say you're chased by a flock of geese on the beach (true story) and you stub your foot on a rock, then a hurricane strikes (also a true story) and a fallen tree crushes your only habitat, a camper. Who pays for all the damage? The head goose? The Ents who are guardians of the forest? El Nino? As long as you purchased health insurance before your trip, the insurance company covers it. In this case, we paid out of pocket because my family, even in our chronic misfortune, never considered a hurricane to strike eastern Canada. Lesson learned the hard way. But don't we all learn from others' mistakes?

    That happened when I was a kid. And now my parents are retired. They do nothing but travel (and injure themselves), so travel insurance has been a worthy investment. It doesn't cost much to prepare for the unexpected: a snowstorm that cancels your flight, an illness in Aruba (true story) that keeps you hospitalized all vacation, or the worst: lost luggage. Travel insurance covers all these monkey wrenches in our trips.

    It's easy to sign up for travel insurance. We can help you estimate how valuable your luggage is, what activities to find coverage for (like zip-lining in the rainforest of Mexico or skiing in the Rockies), and how many trips you're taking at once. Are you backpacking Europe or using multiple modes of transportation (planes, trains, and automobiles)? Single trip insurance and multi-trip insurance covers these factors and makes your life a whole lot easier.

    Call today before you travel outside Los Angeles. Reach us at 818.251.5000 to cover the details of your trip! And don't forget we love souvenirs!

26 March 2013

What is Obamacare?

Posted in Health Insurance 101

What is Obamacare?

    It's been a while since I've sat in on a class, but taking notes made me feel like a kid again! Today I provide you with highlights on a Kaiser Family Foundation Obamacare seminar so you know the bare necessities of healthcare reform in a simple, bullet-pointed format. The goal: to explain Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) so a 12-year-old can understand. Call it Obamacare 101!

Problems: (Healthcare Prior to Obamacare)

1.    Cost

  • Health insurance is expensive.
  • The average family premium cost $14,000/year. Premiums have doubled over the past few years.
  • More people are aging, meaning more people have health problems.
  • Healthcare costs are the fastest growing part of the federal budget.

2.    The system is full of holes.

  • People can be turned down for health insurance if they’re sick.
  • Some small companies are charged extra if some workers are sick.
  • Some insurance plans have a lifetime limit on benefits.
  • Some least likely to have coverage need it the most.

Solutions: Obamacare

  1. Insurers will be limited on how they spend on premium dollars. If they use too much for administrative costs for profits, they must give back money in rebates to customers.
  2. Preventive healthcare services will be free: screenings, vaccinations, etc.
  3. Seniors will get more rebates to pay for their drugs.
  4. Young people can stay on parents’ policy until age 26.
  5. Small businesses will get tax breaks to help pay for health insurance for workers.
  6. Lifetime limit will be gone.
  7. It's illegal to turn down children with preexisting conditions.
  8. There will be a High Risk Pool to cover those with preexisting conditions between now and January 1st 2014. It’s risky for health insurers to cover these people so the government will pitch in to keep costs low. 

Janurary 1st, 2014

(When Obamacare's Biggest Changes Kick In)

  1. Medicaid will be expanded to cover all low income families and individuals in every state.
  2. If you lose your job/employer doesn’t provide decent coverage, you may get a health insurance tax credit.
  3. If you don’t have health insurance offered to you by an employer, you can shop in the Exchange.*
  4. Insurers can’t charge more or deny you coverage if you’re sick. (Why not wait until I’m sick?) Individuals will be mandated to buy coverage or pay a fine. Larger businesses will also pay a fine if they don’t cover workers.
  5. By 2019, 32 million Americans will have health insurance who didn’t before. 23 million people will still be uninsured: those are undocumented immigrants who aren’t eligible for coverage.

Exchanges: Virtual Shopping Malls For Health Insurance

    Based on where you live, you get a menu of options to shop for health insurance.The idea is to provide good information, level the playing field, and provide lots of choices to keep rates competitive amongst insurance companies who want your business.

How To Pay For This: Health Care Reform will cost $938 billion over next 10 years.

  1. That $928 billion in healthcare reform costs will be 2% of federal budget and 3% of what will be spent on healthcare overall.
  2. Fees government pays to hospitals under Medicare won’t be allowed to rise as fast as they have been.
  3. Insurance companies who provide services for people on Medicare will be paid less.
  4. Federal advisory board will deal with increase on healthcare costs.
  5. Experiments to test different ways to pay doctors and hospitals to increase quality of care will take place.
  6. People with high earnings will pay higher Medicare taxes.
  7. Taxes to insurers who provide high-end benefit plans.
  8. Taxes on companies who make medical devices and drugs.
  9. Taxes on people who go to tanning salons.
  10. Savings will reduce federal deficit. (Savings estimated to be $124 billion over the next 10 years.)

 Have more questions on healthcare reform? Call us at (818) 251-5000 or click below for a free, fast quote!

19 March 2013

8 Best Celebrity Health Insurance Policies in Hollywood

Posted in Health Insurance 101

8 Best Celebrity Health Insurance Policies in Hollywood

                Flipping the bird is hardly comparable to waving a million dollars in someone’s face, unless you’re Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones guitarist who insured that pertinent digit for $1.6 million dollars.  If you’re a resident of Los Angeles, you’re no stranger to seeing public displays of inaffection, especially road rage. But if you’re ever in a bar fight with a celebrity incognito, be careful where you strike. Some body parts out there cost more than the average house, car, and family combined.

                Insurance coverage for most Americans means protecting one’s body, wheels, shelter, and loved ones. When it comes to celebrities, the definition of “loved ones” may mean butt cheeks for Jennifer Lopez, who insures hers for $27 million or vocal chords for Bruce Springsteen, the beloved American icon who British Insurance marketers, Lloyds of London covers at $6 million.

                 But not everyone in Los Angeles takes out insurance policies for his or her benefit alone. America Ferrera, who you may recognize from her toothy, metal-mouthed grin as Ugly Betty, insured her teeth for $10 million not for her own sake, but for a charity partnership with Smiles for Success. On a more capitalistic, less humanitarian note, Heidi Klum insured her legs at $2.2 million as part of her campaign with Braun’s electronic hair removal product, the SoftPerfection Epilator.

                The breakdown isn’t $1.1 million per leg, however. Due to a small scar on one of her legs, the other gets insured for $200,000 more. All because of a little glass she fell on, Klum said. Her exact words when someone inspected her legs for the policy were, “They would look at them and I had one scar here from when I fell on a glass, so this [left leg] isn’t as pricey and this [right] one.” With no disrespect, she may as well have chicken legs when compared to Mariah Carey’s. When chosen as the spokesmodel for Gillete’s “Legs of a Goddess” campaign, the diva unsurprisingly insured her legs at $6 billion!

                These policies may be justified and backed by powerful corporations, but who can speak on behalf of Shirley MacLaine, who holds a $25 million policy in case she gets abducted by aliens. At least David Beckham expects something may happen to his body on Earth. His insurance policy covers his entire athletic self at $151 million, in case an injury on the field means he’s put out to pasture.

                It’s fun to make fun of celebrities, but the important lesson to learn from their frivolous insurance plans, is that they know what’s worth protecting in case of a freak leg dismemberment or UFO invasion. Every Americans should expect the unexpected and get an insurance plan today. By 2014, Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) will mandate it. Call us at 818.251.5000 or click here for a free online quote!

22 February 2013

Obamacare, Donut Hole, and Medicare 101

Posted in Health Insurance 101

Obamacare, Donut Hole, and Medicare 101

If you’re over 65, you’re automatically awesome. If you’ve worked and paid social security taxes for the past 10 years, you’re even more awesome. What makes you awesome? Turning 65 for many seniors means easing into retirement, which usually comes with impromptu vacations to Vegas, Europe, or for some, the moon! At this age, you’re also automatically eligible for Medicare.

What is Medicare? Starting in 1965, the US government launched an insurance program for people over 65 and in 1972, expanded it to included young people with permanent disabilities and end stage renal disease.  The program is composed of 4 parts: A, B, C, and D.

Medicare Part A is for hospital insurance, which includes: in-patient hospital care, nursing, hospice, and at-home care. Generally if you’ve already paid your social security taxes for the past decade, Part A is free.

Medicare Part B includes medical services, like doctor visits and usually charges a monthly premium. The average monthly premium in 2013 is $104.90.

Medicare Part C (aka Medicare Advantage) is what you get if you add Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. A private insurer must enroll you in Part C and the advantage for many plans is the inclusion of prescription drugs, vision, hearing, and even gym and health club memberships. To enroll in Part C, you have to be eligible for Part A and pay your Part B premium. Part C includes an annual deductible, which means your monthly premium is lower. Lastly, you only pay co-insurance or co-payments for the aforementioned services you use. 

Medicare Part D includes prescription drug coverage and is also run through private insurers. It usually includes a monthly premium of $30 and a deductible, depending on the plan. The “D” could either stand for “Drug” or “Donut Hole”, the latter of which is an infamous trait to this plan. The donut hole is a gap in coverage for Plan D enrollees.

Typically, one pays the deductible for Medicare Part D and then only pays 25% of prescription drug costs until the $2800 cap. Afterwards, that senior has to pay 100% of prescription drug costs until the yearly limit of $4,550. Thank lobbyists in 2003 for this error.

Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) aims to close the donut hole by 2020. Until then, seniors can get a 50% discount on brand name prescription drugs and 14% off generic counterparts. Additionally, seniors who paid out of pocket for prescription drugs in 2010 received a $250 discount.

Since Obamacare rolled out these discounts and included free preventive care for Medicare members, more seniors enroll in Medicare every day and pay for required prescription drugs, which lowers premium costs and eventually will close the donut hole.

In 2011 alone, 2.65 million seniors saved over $1.5 billion dollars on prescription drugs by enrolling in Part D Medicare. That’s an individual savings of $569 per capita and for seniors with higher drug costs, up to $1,800. Sounds like vacation money to me; or presents for grandkids.

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