by Chris Huckins Google+ Email 

 

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22 May 2013

Covered California Announces Health Plans Thursday

Posted in Latest News

Covered California Announces Health Plans Thursday

    Hot off the press! Don't burn yourself! This Thursday morning, Covered California will announce which plans residents of the Golden State may purchase in the Exchange beginning October 1st, 2013. Until then, let's catch up on what Covered California is and why this announcement should be watched as closely as the traffic report in Los Angeles. 

    Covered California is the country's first organized Exchange since President Obama signed Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) into law on March 23, 2010. There was only one Exchange before then, and that was Massachusetts Health Connector, otherwise known as "Romneycare", which was enacted by then governor, Mitt Romney. What's an Exchange you ask?

    Exchanges are marketplaces mandated by Obamacare to open in each state beginning, you guessed it, October 1st, 2013. The marketplaces will offer multiple types of healthcare plans, each ranging in quality and cost, for consumers to purchase. Who can purchase these healthcare plans? Individuals, families, small businesses, even ones insured already. Just check out the plans offered through the Exchange and compare them to the one you currently have. Need help comparing? Call an insurance broker, like us!

    There's a bonus! Consumers with incomes between 100% and 400% Federal Poverty Level (FPL) will qualify for subsidies (tax credits) to go toward their healthcare expenses, lowering the prices for plans offered by the Exchange.

    How does one get subsidies? Just go on Covered California's website this October, enter the information of whomever is applying for healthcare (entering required info is comparable to filing taxes online), and wait. The site will instantly deduct a fraction of the cost for health insurance, making it even more affordable! There's no waiting for a check, direct deposit, or H&R Block agent on the phone. It's that simple!

    From 9am to 10:30 am, granted they don't go overboard answering questions, Covered California will announce these plans this Thursday from Sacramento. Set your DVRs to fun!

    Want a free health insurance quote? Please click below or call 818.251.5000!

21 May 2013

10 Essential Health Benefits to Obamacare

Posted in Latest News

10 Essential Health Benefits to Obamacare

When buying a car, some benefits are essential:

  1. Steering wheel to control.
  2. Horn to honk.
  3. Auto Insurance to protect.
  4. You get the idea....

    Unfortunately, not everything we buy, like health insurance, comes with the essential coverage. That changes with Obamacare (Affordable Care Act), the landmark law that improves healthcare in America by requiring its plan have 10 essential benefits at the minimum. These plans will be offered by each state through Exchanges (marketplaces), where consumers can find affordable, quality healthcare and subsidies (tax credits) to help lower costs.


Healthcare reform plans will be available on October 1st, 2013. Read all about them here.


    This Thursday Covered California, our state's Exchange, will finally unveil these plans to the public. Until then, we have a sneak peak at what 10 Essential Health Benefits (EHBs) they'll require to have:

  1. Ambulatory patient services (Remember the woman in Michael Moore's Sicko whose insurance didn't cover her ambulance ride because she was unconscious and couldn't sign off the paperwork? No more of that.)
  2. Emergency Healthcare Services
  3. Hospitalization (Sadly, lawmakers had to point out this requirement isn't offered by health insurance plans already.)
  4. Maternity/Newborn Care.
  5. Mental Health/Substance Abuse Services/Behavioral Health Treatment
  6. Prescription Drugs.
  7. Rehabilitative/Habilitative (California recently passed a law that requires habilitative services be covered under the same terms and conditions as rehabilitative).
  8. Laboratory Services.
  9. Preventive/Wellness Services/Chronic Disease Management
  10. Pediatric Services/Oral/Vision Care.

    Everyone in California, especially Los Angeles, Fresno, and Riverside - where Covered California has already begun outreach and town hall meetings, should be on the look out for new details of Covered California's health insurance plans. If the opening of Covered California and all other Exchanges on October 1st, 2013 is the Superbowl of health insurance, this week's EHBs announcement is the start of draft season.

    For more information on Obamacare or to see if you quality for subsidies, call 818.251.5000! Click below for a free health insurance quote!

14 May 2013

Married Rate For Same Sex Couples at Esurance

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Married Rate For Same Sex Couples at Esurance

    Esurance, a self-proclaimed (or John Krasinski-proclaimed) modern company for the modern world, announced that they are with the times by offering discounted married rates for same sex partners. When couples share the same policy for auto insurance, married rate discounts may be 15%, savings which will come in handy next year when Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) mandates every American: gay, straight, uninsured get health insurance or pay an annual tax.

    For LGBT partners to enjoy this married rate discount is another victory for the marriage equality movement. Just yesterday, Minnesota became the 12th state to legalize gay marriage. While rural states progress, major cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles continue pushing marriage equality's return to California. Unfortunately, the same progression can't be said for all states.

    Departments of Insurance in Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, and Florida haven't approved married rates to domestic partnerships, however all same-sex couples in other states may enroll immediately.

    Since 2010, under Commissioner of Insurance, Dave Jones' declaration, Californians may write in "spouse" where before only "husband" or "wife" could be on insurance forms. This permits domestic partners or, during the brief window California permitted it, gay married couples to rightfully claim their marriage status and receive deep discounts on their insurance.

    When it comes to car insurance, two of Esurance's rivals, State Farm and Allstate, offer the same equivalent discount to domestic partners or same-sex married couples as to their hetero counterparts.

    What sets Esurance apart from its rivals is the chance they're giving voters to select which LGBT charities Esurance will donate $100,000.

    The charities are: the Trevor Project, which aims to prevent gay youth suicide, GLAAD, which promotes the rights of America's LGBT society through mass media,  and PFLAG, which promotes education and advocacy through the voices of friends, family, and parents of gays and lesbians. To participate in this vote, please visit Esurance's facebook page.

    While you're at it, please "LIKE US" on Facebook for all your informative news about healthcare and call 818.251.5000 for all questions about Obamacare (Affordable Care Act). Please click below for a free quote!

 

09 May 2013

Los Angeles Hospitals Charge Varied Prices for Same Treatment

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Los Angeles Hospitals Charge Varied Prices for Same Treatment

    The CAT scan is out of the bag and it'll cost you approximately $22,000 if you visit Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles without health insurance. Today Medicare took a page out of the transparency book, which is written entirely on plastic wrap, by releasing pricing data for the top 100 procedures at over 3300 hospitals for the public's knowledge. Just how big of a difference are these costs? See the pink dots on the below chart? They represent the average prices for each procedure in California compared to the lowest, average, and highest national prices. It's as clear as Gladware that Californians pay much more than most Americans.

     Click to view how much hospitals charge in California

     So why are procedures so expensive in California compared to other states? Hospitals blame older, sicker patients who require longer, more expensive care. For anyone who's lived in California, it's more believable that hospital care - much like taxes, gas, property, auto insurance, or everything - is more expensive simply because it's in California.

    While quality does affect cost, the range between some providers in the same area is still unjust. When you visit Ceders-Sinai in Los Angeles, for example, a hip replacement may cost an average of $110,123. Go down the street to USC's Keck Hospital and pay a little more at $123,885. Still think your doctor deserves more money? Pay him premium dollars at Prime Healthcare's Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood and you'll get your money's worth at over $220,880. The whole point of Medicare releasing data today is to empower consumers to shop around before admittance, if possible, and cease excess expenses from the healthcare industry.

    While Californian law has mandated healthcare providers release procedural cost data since 2006, consumers across the US should take notice since Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) is the law of the land in 2013. By October 1st, each state must open an Exchange for health insurance. Those who don't buy insurance will pay a tax annually. If one wants to avoid the dreaded pink dot as seen on the above chart, enrolling in the Exchange is the way to keep costs for treatment down.

    If you have more questions about health insurance, the Exchange, or Obamacare, call 818.251.5000 or click below for a free quote!

  
   

03 May 2013

Health Insurance Rates Spike: But There's Hope for California

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Health Insurance Rates Spike: But There's Hope for California

   As temperatures rise like insurance costs in Los Angeles, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (no relation to Marcia Brady's prom date, Davy Jones) turned up the heat on insurance companies by appointing Consumer Watchdog to review unjust rate hikes.

   California's Department of Insurance (CDI) regulates over 1,800 insurance companies and over 333,000 insurance broker agencies, but to tackle rising healthcare costs, CDI can't act alone.

   To supplement CDI's workers who already review rates, California's Commissioner Jones awarded Consumer Watchdog, the nationally-recognized, Santa Monica-based, non-partisan, non-profit (more hyphens coming up) company with a 1-year contract of $88,000 in federal grants. 

   Consumer Watchdog (formerly Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights) is the brainchild of Boston attorney Harvey Rosenfield, who was making $20,000 a year in 1981 and paying over $2800 to insure his crummy Toyota. And boy was he livid about it.

   He moved to California to start up the organization with one goal: roll back all types of insurance by 20%. Rosenfield authored Proposition 103, a measure which would slash rates by 20% for auto, property, casualty, and other types of insurance, and permit insurance companies, who he called "Outlaws", to set rates only by: driving experience, miles traveled annually, and safety record.

   It was an election year in 1985 when Rosenfield began his outlandish grassroots campaign in his Toyota against the insurance companies' marketing war chest of $63 million. His hopes were high, but expectations from others: low.

   When delivering the 500,000 signatures required for Prop 103’s place on the ballot, he memorably surrounded himself with armed guards, not for fear of his life, but for the attention it grabbed. To raise awareness for his cause, he even attempted to deliver a truckload of cow manure to Farmers Insurance Headquarters in Los Angeles. If only they named themselves Marshmallow Insurance.

   His guerrilla marketing, 18-hour days, and threats of dung delivery worked and Prop 103 passed. Independent non-profit, Consumer Federation of America estimates Proposition 103 has saved consumers over $102 billion since 1988. Sadly, it doesn’t prevent health insurance companies from raising premiums unjustly. That’s where Dave Jones steps in.

   In the same week Jones appointed Consumer Watchdog, the country's largest health insurer, United Health Group Inc. seemed to flip off the decision by raising premiums by 8%. Jones condemned this practice, calling it “excessive and unreasonable”, but he’s all bark and no bite.

   While Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) aims to lower healthcare costs, California laws give no power to stop health insurance rate hikes; only review them. Jones hopes to have the power in 2014, when his ballot Prop 45 would grant state officials the power to reject unjust rate increases for health insurance.

   While CDI lacks bite, Consumer Watchdog isn't a neutered animal. As one of the country's most influential advocate groups, it successfully defeated Mercury Insurance's attempt to repeal Proposition 103 in 2010. Will a similar planetary threat war with Prop 45 in 2014? I'm watching you, Uranus Insurance.