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

August 26th, 2010

Take A Hike!

Please… sit up straight and pay attention class, elbows off the desks.   If you currently have an individual (not group) California health insurance plan with either Anthem Blue Cross OR Blue Shield, prepare for rate hikes heading our way October 1, 2010.

The rate hikes range from 14% to 20% with Anthem Blue Cross, and 19% to 29% for Blue Shield customers.  Most of you will be affected by the hikes.   However, if you bought your individual policy recently, you’ll still have your 12-month rate guarantee.

Watch your mail boxes within the next 3 weeks for announcements from your health insurance company.    Be sure to read the information, it’s important for you and your budget!   Of course,  you’re welcome to be in touch with The Insurance Mom if you have any questions or kvetches.

NOW is the time to be sure that you’re in a plan you can afford to pay for every month.  Remember, the monthly premiums are mandatory.   Medical expenses (the deductible) can be paid off over time, based on what your budget can handle.   The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.   So, even if you have to downgrade your plan to one with a higher deductible, you’ll still have affordable protection against catastrophic medical expenses.

The Insurance Mom strongly urges you to have a medical plan with a high deductible… as high as you can stomach.    Don’t give all of your premium money to the insurance companies, they have enough, don’t you think?

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August 24th, 2010

Change Is The Only Constant

ObamaCare — aka Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — aka PPACA — aka PeePeeCaCa — is about to launch the first round of big changes in health insurance plans in every state, every insurance company, every plan, every one.

No later than 9/23/10, there can be no lifetime limits on health plan coverage.  This will apply to new policies you buy which go into effect 9/23/10 or later.  For existing policies — the ones you bought before 9/23/10 — you probably won’t see any changes until 1/1/11.

No later than 9/23/10, all plans must include preventive care benefits at no cost to you, no co-pays, no deductibles.  Again, for existing policies, you probably won’t see this new benefit until 1/1/11.

No later than 9/23/10, dependents can stay on their parent’s plans until age 26.

No later than 9/23/10, insurance companies better have a damn good, provable, reason to cancel (rescind) your individual policy.

No later than 9/23/10, the government had to create a high risk pool for people who cannot get individual insurance due to pre-existing conditions.   The government did launch its website a couple of months ago.  Twenty-nine states are not participating on the federal level, including CA.  But these states must have their own high risk pool launched no later than 9/23/10.  So far we have absolutely no idea what the insurance plans will cover or what they will cost.   It’s all still a mystery.

No later than 9/23/10, insurance companies must cover pre-existing conditions for children through age 18.  Interestingly, the PPACA does not say that an insurance company must insure a child with pre-ex conditions.  The law only states that, if approved, a child’s pre-ex conditions must be covered.  But, the insurance companies are complying with the intent of the law which was to …

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August 23rd, 2010

How To Add $$$$ To Your Paycheck

Want more take-home money in your paycheck?  Of course you do!   If you’re an employee (not an independent contractor) and are looking for ways to have more $$$$ in your checking account, then this article is for you.

Eva Rosenberg, aka TaxMama, has some great advice… it’s even easy to follow!   The Insurance Mom wants you to fight for your money in all areas of your life, not just when it comes to arguing with your health insurance company and doctors.    And, if you have a free moment, go ahead and subscribe to TaxMama’s free newsletter.

The Insurance Mom says “free” is good!!  Free time, free newsletter, free advice.   TaxMama is like having a money therapist right at your fingertips!

Remember that ObamaCare (aka PPACA, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka PeePeeCaCa) will do nothing to reduce the cost of medical care, lab work or prescriptions.  So the more $$$ you have in your paycheck (and hopefully your HSA or FSA), the more you’ll have available to pay those medical bills.

The Insurance Mom wants to you to be a good little money manager!

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August 2nd, 2010

It Never Hurts To Ask!

The Insurance Mom says that everything is negotiable… including the cost of your medical care.   You wouldn’t think twice about negotiating with an car dealer or a CraigsList vendor, right?  Well, you can — and should — do the same with your doctors, labs and hospitals.  Saving money is a good thing!  The Insurance Mom wants you to fight for your money!

As the accompanying article from the Los Angeles Times suggests, “do your homework and negotiate upfront… ”  The article, authored by Lisa Zamosky, offers some great tips, including:

1.  Understand treatments.  The best way to save money is to avoid care you don’t need.   If a doctor wants to order tests you’ve already had done by a different doctor, be sure to have the results forwarded and don’t let the second doctor duplicate the tests (and the costs!).     The Insurance Mom wants you to always have a copy of your current medical chart and tests results in your own files!  Yes, of course the doctor’s office will give you a copy of your chart (but sometimes for a small fee.)

2.  Find the best price.  Ask your provider up front how much a service will cost.   Did you know that prices vary greatly from one provider to another?  Yes they do!   When you can, plan and shop around.   Did you also know that the government’s “stealth” care reform law will do absolutely nothing to reduce the cost of medical care?   And it will not force doctors, labs or hospitals to reveal their costs to you.  So ask!   And then negotiate.   And get it in writing!

3.  Cash is king.   Many providers will give huge discounts for paying cash — sometimes the discounts are even better than what your insurance company has negotiated.

4.  Location, location, location.   The …

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