Health Insurance Roundup, February 19, 2016


Health insurance premiums will rise 60% in this decade, feds predict | Local Business | lancasteronline.com

The feds have new long-term projections on health insurance costs, and they’re not looking pretty.

By 2025, the Congressional Budget Office predicts, premiums for job-based health insurance will rise about 60 percent, to $10,000 for singles and to $24,500 for families.

That’s roughly the same rate they’ve been rising at since 2009, the agency said — and it outstrips income gains by about 2 percent a year.

Bleak as that picture is, the reality that individual businesses will likely face is more volatile.

“They’re just getting whacked,” said Diane Hess, interim executive director of the Lancaster-based Business Group on Health. “There is no slowdown in sight.” 


Is the Health Insurance Industry Growing? – GuruFocus.com

In the past, economies worldwide have been through many trials; they are doing much better now, thanks to solid niches like the health insurance industry. So far, the industry has a community of customers depending on it to help them cut back on how much they spend on their health while trying to stay healthy.

As economies grow larger, the health insurance industry must find more ways to help people who are depending on health care and thus contribute to building stable economies around the world. 


Study links health insurance status and head and neck cancer diagnoses, outcomes

Compared to patients with non-Medicaid insurance, uninsured patients and patients with Medicaid are more likely to present with advanced stages of head and neck cancer and have higher overall and cancer-specific mortality rates, according to research presented at the 2016 Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Symposium. The study of patients in a large, national cancer registry also found less use radiation therapy (RT) for uninsured and Medicaid patients and less use of cancer-related surgery for uninsured patients.

Drawing on the National Cancer Institute’s Survival, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) database, researchers examined clinical, demographic and socioeconomic variables in the records of all 53,848 patients diagnosed with primary squamous cell carcinoma of the oral cavity, pharynx or larynx between 2007 and 2012. Patients were divided into three cohorts based on health insurance status: patients with non-Medicaid insurance (80.1 percent), patients with Medicaid (15 percent), and patients who were uninsured (4.9 percent). 


DeKalb County Health Department offers health insurance enrollment help | Daily Chronicle

The DeKalb County Health Department is offering assistance to those who want to enroll for health insurance.

The program is funded through a partnership with the DeKalb County Community Mental Health Board. A part-time certified application counselor will be available to conduct enrollment assistance and provide community outreach.

Open enrollment in the marketplace is currently limited to those with a qualifying life event such as a marriage, birth or adoption of a child or loss of coverage to work issues. Those eligible for expanded medicaid can continue to enroll at any time. 


Will Health Insurance Mergers Stifle Market Competition?

Health insurance mergers and acquisitions have been a major topic within the payer industry lately. While companies that have pushed through with their mergers cite their potential cut of competition as a way to lower prices for the end consumer, there has been scant evidence that this is the case.

There has been no real impact on lowering premiums among beneficiaries due to health insurance mergers, the Harvard Business Review found. In fact, research shows that greater regional competition within the health insurance industry could improve prescription drug benefits and other health plan options. 


Local health insurance enrollment rates strongest in Texas – KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi

Healthcare enrollment is a huge success in Corpus Christi. The city has been recognized by the federal government as a fast-growing market to sign up for health insurance plans.

In the two weeks leading up to the January 31 deadline, Corpus Christi saw a 17-percent growth in enrollments. That was good enough to be the fastest-growing market in Texas, and the second strongest in the U.S.

“It’s great to see here in South Texas … more people getting access to the care that they need. That’s what we want,” said Steve Alford with the Christus Spohn Health System. 


Individual Health Insurance Reimbursement – The Employer Cost, and How to Do It

Researching small business health benefits often starts with group health insurance quotes, reviewing different carriers, coverage levels, and costs. But if you’re in sticker shock or if a group policy simply is not a good fit, what are your options? Here’s a savvy approach many smaller employers are taking: don’t offer group health insurance coverage. Rather, offer a formal benefit program to reimburse employees for individual health insurance policies.

This approach is a viable solution for smaller companies because employees gain access to quality, customized health insurance coverage and the company controls costs by setting a monthly contribution amount toward qualified premiums. In fact, the average employer could fully fund an individual family policy for less than they could fund a portion of that family’s coverage under a group policy. 


Phony calls about health insurance? Hang up | WRIC

Robocalls can be more annoying than a lingering head cold. Recently, some people got robocalls that seemed to be about health insurance and the Health Insurance Marketplace, but the calls were a con. The callers were phishing for personal information. People who work in the Marketplace don’t make cold calls, and they never ask for personal information. If you get a call like this, hang up.

The phone numbers showed up with a local area code. The recorded message sounded urgent: “You need to buy health insurance or face a fine. To learn more, press 1.” A person who works in the Health Insurance Marketplace got the call and knew it was fishy, so she pressed 1. The operator claimed to ‘work with the law,’ and asked for the person’s full name, date of birth, phone number, income information and Social Security number. The person who got the call knew it was nonsense, so she hung up and contacted the FTC. 


WJCC School Board Reviews Options for Salary Raises, Health Insurance | Williamsburg Yorktown Daily

Members of the Williamsburg-James City County School Board advocated for improving compensation for all teachers while also reducing the burden of an increase to the health insurance rate during Tuesday’s Board meeting.

School division staff presented a proposal to eliminate “step” compression, which has prevented some teachers from receiving salary increases for periods of two to three years since the Great Recession, as part of theFiscal Year 2017 Operating Budget


A Novel Plan for Health Care: Cutting Costs, Not Raising Them – The New York Times

As employees know all too well, health insurance companies have one surefire way to lower costs: Ask their customers to pay more.

Intermountain Healthcare, a nonprofit health system in Salt Lake City, is trying something virtually unheard-of: promising to sharply cut costs rather than pass them on.

Its new health plan, SelectHealth Share, is guaranteeing to hold yearly rate increases to one-third to one-half less than what many employers across the country typically face.

To help keep the rate increases roughly in line with a rise in consumer prices, Intermountain, which operates 22 hospitals and employs 1,400 doctors, says it will produce savings of $2 billion over the next five years. 


SaskatoonHomepage.ca – Make Sure Your Health Insurance is in Place Before Heading to Cuba

Although some may be touting it as new information, the fact that you need proof of health insurance coverage before entering Cuba has actually been happening for a few years now.

Owner of Uniglobe Travel, Jamie Milton, says it may be that they are getting stricter on enforcement, but it isn’t a new requirement.

You need your policy number, contact information for the insurance company and possibly the dates for when it’s valid.

Milton says Uniglobe’s clients are advised to print off the front page of the policy provided by the agency, which includes all the information. 


Group warns ‘rip-off rises like 30% car insurance hike devastating families’ – Independent.ie

Home insurance premiums rose 7% while payments for health insurance plans also jumped 2% over the last 12 months, latest official figures reveal.

At the same time, people renting their home have been forced to endure an average 8% hike while education costs – most notably for third level – have also increased.

Dermott Jewell, of the Consumers Association of Ireland (CAI), said much of the population continues to struggle with rising costs which are “working against families”.

“The cost of living is rising, there is no question,” he said.

“People are not necessarily better off at all.

“I hate to be miserable about it, but these are not good signs from January as to what will happen with the cost of living over the next six months.”

Despite the entire hospitality industry being handed a special VAT cut in recent budgets, restaurant bills and hotel prices also continue to go up. 


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