Here are all the articles I wrote during March, 2010. I hope they're useful to you.

March 30th, 2010

Health Care Reform Q & A

From the Los Angeles Times, a short Q & A.   Can you spot the fatal flaw in the legislation?   Tell me what you see.…

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March 29th, 2010

More on Health Care Reform

Here’s another easy-to-read article about “stealth” care reform from CNN.  If you have employer-based health insurance, this could effect you and your employer.   And, for some, not in a good way.   Remember, that if your employer’s costs are going up, those cost increases are going to be passed along to you.   I especially like one of the comments following the article:

“This is why there should be no employer-sponsored plans. Coverage should be maintained by the individual. Companies should reimburse the individual, but the individual carrying coverage creates ultimate portability. For those of us that do pay our own premiums, there should be a tax credit, dollar for dollar for those costs, after, say, $2000, per person. If one doesn’t carry insurance, then the fine should be the equivalent of what it would cost for a comparable catastrophic coverage plan in the free market, not some minimal fine. The annual fines that are being proposed are less than I pay for one month of premiums.”

Many people will choose to just pay the fine instead of buying into the health insurance pool.   They’ll wait until they get sick or injured, buy into the insurance pool, get lots of medical services (which the rest of us will wind up paying for), then drop out of the insurance pool and go back to paying the low-cost fine.  The result?  The cost of buying into the insurance pool will skyrocket.   It’s just simple arithmetic.

And don’t go thinking that the proposed “exchanges” are going to fix the problem.  They will be the problem.  Sad to say, but historically this concept has not worked in any state, ever.

Yes, I know… everyone is aching for ObamaCare to work, and I hope it makes a difference in everyone’s lives.   I just don’t think it’s …

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March 26th, 2010

How Health Care Reform Affects You

If you didn’t read the entire 12-page synopsis of the new Health Care Reform legislation which I posted a couple of days ago (because you found it just too exciting!), here is a year-by-year breakdown of what you can expect (the big stuff doesn’t happen until 2014).   Can you spot the fatal flaws?

2010

  • Subsidies begin for small businesses to provide coverage to employees
  • Insurance companies barred from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions
  • Children permitted to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until their 26th birthday

2011

  • Set up long term care program under which people pay premiums into system for at least 5 years and become eligible for support payments if they need assistance in daily living
  • Drug makers face annual fees of $2.5 billion

2013

  • New Medicare tax on individuals earning more than $200,000 a year and couples filing jointly earning more than $250,000 a year
  • Tax on wages rises to 2.35% up from 1.45%
  • New 3.8% tax on unearned income such as dividends and interest
  • Excise tax of 2.9% imposed on sale of medical devices
  • Medicare pilot program begins to test bundled payments for care, in a bid to pay for quality rather than quantity of services

2014

  • Create exchanges where people without employer coverage, as well as small businesses, can shop for health coverage.  Insurance companies barred from denying coverage to anyone with pre-existing illness.
  • Requirement begins for most people to have health insurance.  Subsidies begin for lower- and middle-income people.  People at 133% of the federal poverty level pay maximum of 3% of income for coverage.  People at 400% of the poverty level pay up to 9.5% of income.  (Poverty level currently is about $22,000 for a family of four.)
  • Medicaid (in CA, Medi-Cal), expands to all Americans with income up to 133%
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March 24th, 2010

Health Care Reform – A Work in Progress

News From The Insurance Mom about Health Care Reform – An Easy to Read Summary

Well…  here it is folks, a Summary of the recent Health Care Reform bill signed into law on Monday, March 22.    As you’ll read there are very few changes that will have an immediate impact if you already have health insurance.  You might get some help if you don’t have health insurance and don’t qualify because of the dreaded pre-existing conditions.   If you’re a Senior on Medicare, you’ll get a little bit of help with your drug costs.

Have you noticed that the law does absolutely nothing to rein in the costs of medical and drug expenses?   No one is addressing the insane amount of money the doctors/labs/hospitals can continue to charge the insurance companies.   What are the cost drivers behind increasing insurance premiums?   Medical costs!!  Drug costs!!

There won’t be any significant implementation of the law until at least 2014… if it even happens.    I know you’re all hoping for big changes and I hate to disappoint you but they’re just not going to happen for a very long time.    I’m here with a hug and warm milk and cookies if you need them!

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March 19th, 2010

What’s Going on in Washington?

You really want to know what’s up with stealth care reform?   Here’s a handy 12-page summary of the bill to be voted on this weekend in the House of Representatives.    Cuddle up with your favorite snuggle-buddy, pour some coffee (you’ll need it to stay awake!), and get ready for a jaw-dropping read.     Highlights of the House Reconciliation Bill

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March 14th, 2010

Four Simple Rules for Buying Long-Term Care Insurance

First, always consult with a qualified broker, such as The Insurance Mom!

Second, buy only what is affordable.  Do not stretch to buy a policy that covers 100% of anticipated future costs.  It is much smarter to buy the amount of coverage for which you are sure you can keep making the premium payments.  It makes no sense to buy a policy today that you won’t be able to afford in a few years;  you will get no benefits at all if that happens.   Focus on what is achievable.  It’s better to buy a policy that will cover 50% of future costs than no policy at all.

Third, buy a policy with a Compound Inflation Rider.   The cost of care rises each year; you need a policy with benefits that will also increase.   Look for a policy with a built-in 5% Compound Inflation Rider.

Fourth, aim for the shortest possible Elimination Period.  This is the time before your policy kicks in.  For example, if you have a 30-day elimination period, you will pay for the first 30 days out of your own pocket.  The shorter the Elimination Period the more expensive the policy.   If the Elimination Period is 90 days or longer, be sure you have other assets that you could use to pay for your care for that length of time.

Now…. don’t you feel smarter?!

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March 13th, 2010

A Short Course on Long-Term-Care Insurance

According to the Department of HHS, at least 60% to 70% of people over 65 will eventually need long term care, either at home or in a nursing home, and that can be very expensive.  The average stay in a nursing home is almost 4 years, at a cost of about $270,000.  Your health insurance does NOT cover this kind of expense, neither does Medicare!   Oy.   That’s why The Insurance Mom wants you to consider Long Term Care Insurance (LTCi) if you won’t have enough savings or other assets you could use.

If you have LTCi and must go into a nursing home or require at-home care, the total cost of all your premium payments combined will likely be less than the cost of a single year in a nursing home or full-time home care — no matter how many years you’ve been paying premiums.

Think about that for a moment.   No matter how long you pay LTCi premiums, you will get it all back in one year of benefits!   That’s huge.   I think it’s a wise investment in your financial future.

Come back tomorrow for 4 simple rules to follow when buying Long Term Care Insurance.

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March 12th, 2010

It’s Spring, Spring, Spring (forward)!

Remember to set your clocks one hour ahead this weekend!   Ah, Spring… more daylight, more sunshine, everything in the garden is beautifully in bloom.   Oh… I guess that means it’s allergy season.   Be sure you understand your health insurance plan’s prescription benefit, just in case you need to refill your allergy prescription.    Remember that Generic drugs are cheaper, for you and the insurance company, so when you can, go Generic.

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March 9th, 2010

COBRA Subsidy Extention – again

On March 2, 2010, ARRA was amended by the Temporary Extension Act of 2010, which extending federal funding for the ARRA COBRA subsidy and unemployment benefits.

The deadline for eligibility for the 65% health insurance premium subsidy has now been extended through March 31, 2010. Previously, eligibility only extended to those who lost their jobs through Feb. 28.  Those eligible can still receive the subsidy for 15 months.

But watch out, this extension is even more complicated than the original subsidy eligibility rules.  Not everyone will qualify.   Make sure your employer or your insurance company gives you accurate information!

I wonder why they don’t just extend the subsidy through the end of the year.   Why dole it out one month at a time?  Oh, yeah… it’s the politicians at work, again.

Go here to read the full government-speak amendment.

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