Health Insurance Roundup, February 26, 2016

Is Your Company Using Health Insurance Premiums To Stigmatize Fat Employees? – Forbes

Many companies spend lots of money providing health insurance coverage to their employees. And the costs of that coverage continue to rise, in part because the girth of the American public is also rising. Overweight and obese employees cost companies money, through increased sick leave, disability claims and, of course, healthcare expenses. As a result, some companies levy additional insurance premiums for overweight and obese employees, both to encourage them to lose weight and also to cover the greater expected costs of their benefits. Are such premium hikes fair? Do they unduly stigmatize obese employees?

Consider two companies. One raises health insurance premiums for obese employees; the second offers a discount on health insurance premiums for employees who are not obese. Is the second company’s policy fairer? 

NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE: Details on NHI expected shortly | Health | BDlive

THE Treasury will “shortly” release further details on its financing proposals for the National Health Insurance (NHI), the government’s ambitious plan to reform healthcare, it announced on Wednesday.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi released a White Paper on NHI in December but the policy contained only the broadest brush strokes on the financing aspects of the plan.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan emphasised the government would not embark on any policy initiatives it could not afford. “There is no intention to delay NHI but we will only do things we can afford to do, whether it is NHI, nuclear or any other projects,” he said ahead of his budget speech. 

Health Beat: Let’s Reconsider That ‘Public Option’ For Health Insurance – Civil Beat News

With the onset of the Affordable Care Act, everyone was mandated to have health care coverage or pay a penalty. As a result, 17.6 million more people have health insurance.

You can’t turn on the television without hearing Republican criticism of Obamacare, and yet no one has a plan that seems to be any better.

Maybe one improvement would be to reconsider the “public option” that was taken out of the ACA before it was passed. It would have created a Medicare-like health insurance policy that most U.S. residents could purchase as an alternative to buying policies from private health insurers. 

Local agents say insurers cutting down health insurance commissions | News – Home

Independent insurance agents in the El Paso region are getting a new notice: They won’t get a commission anymore for selling certain health insurance plans. ABC-7 spoke to one such agent concerned about the impact to his business and customers.

Richard Madrigal has been in the insurance business for more than 40 years.

“The last couple or three years with this Obamacare, the changes have been humongous,” Madrigal said. “You have to be abreast of it. If not, you’re going to miss everything that’s going on.”

Madrigal said he’s kept up with the latest, but a change announced on Tuesday could force him out of the personal health insurance business entirely.

“They emailed us from Blue Cross/Blue Shield at 2:16 p.m., that they were cutting commissions on the agents on any individual under the age of 65 on a medical policy,” Madrigal said. “Whether it was marketplace or off market, effective April 1, no longer were we going to receive commissions.” 

Tax season complicated by new health insurance forms; Deadline March 31 to get forms; April 18 is tax filing deadline

Employers and health insurance companies must supply millions of Oregonians with two new tax forms this year, and — to further complicate the matter — they can wait to send the forms out until about two and a half weeks before the 2016 income tax filing deadline.

“The whole health plan and everything has just been a pain the rear,” said Rickie Joen, a licensed tax consultant with Freedom Tax Services Inc. in Bend. “I would love for it to go away for the tax purposes.”

The new forms are the 1095-B, which health insurance carriers and small businesses will send to people they provided coverage for, and the 1095-C, which businesses with 50 or more employees will send to those who they provided health insurance coverage to in 2015. The IRS announced in December 2015 it would extend the deadline for employers and carriers to get those new forms in the mail, from Feb. 1 to March 31. The tax filing deadline is April 18. 

Are Health Insurance Costs a Tax Write-Off?

Tax season is in full swing. As a business owner, it is smart to evaluate all tax write-importanceofemployeebenefits-1.jpgoffs, deductions, and credits available. So, what about health insurance? Can health insurance costs be a tax write-off? In some cases, yes. In this article, we’ll summarize tax advantages for various small business health insurance scenarios.

Health Insurance Tax Deductions for Businesses

When your business offers a formal health benefit plan, or formal contribution to employees’ healthcare costs, the expense can generally be written off as a business deduction.

Common types of benefit plans and contributions that are tax-deductible to the business: 

Health Insurance in Africa? There Should Be an App for That

Right now health insurance in Africa constitutes a tale of two continents. The very affluent can take advantage of private insurance with top-tier doctors and hospitals. However, many families rely on crowded state-run facilities, with long wait times and not always the best of care or they have to pay out of pocket for medical services. The current situation leaves a huge gap in the middle. In order to make a difference different parties need to unite and start utilizing technological advances that exist in today’s marketplace.

The market for healthcare in Africa is worth some $35 billion, according to McKinsey. About half of Africa’s health expenditure is estimated to come from out-of-pocket payments. With patients paying over the counter, a sudden health crisis can cause severe financial hardship for families. And the cash economy can allow counterfeit medicines and unlicensed dispensaries to flourish. 

Swiss 2016 health insurance refunds. Do you live in one of the lucky cantons?

Last week Switzerland’s federal administration published this year’s health insurance refunds. The largest sums were awarded to the residents of Geneva and Vaud. 

Medicare for all? | The Health Insurance Guys |

Dear Tom and Alan:

I was watching the Democratic debates last night from Wisconsin (Feb. 11).

Bernie Sanders was promoting his idea of “Medicare for all,” while Hillary Clinton was saying “we’re not England or France” and that his idea wouldn’t work here.

Bernie is promising big annual savings for the middle class, Hillary wants to expand Obamacare. Any thoughts?

Citizen X 

Landry pushes report on retiree health insurance – The Andover Townsman: Local News

Two members of the Board of Selectmen lashed out at colleague Bob Landry last week, calling him “rude” for wanting the board to consider a report he wrote on retiree health insurance in advance of the release of a subcommittee’s report on the same subject.
Landry, a health insurance specialist, said he was tired of the delays that have beset the so-called OPEB subcommittee. OPEB stands for Other Post-Employment Benefits and refers primarily to retiree health insurance costs. The subcommittee was appointed last year to come up with recommendations on how to resolve what some have called a pending crisis.
“I’d like to ask that OPEB reform be added to our agenda for the first meeting we have in March,” Landry said at the board’s Feb. 16 meeting, hoping that the board would take up the report he has written on the subject.
But Selectman Paul Salafia took exception to Landry’s request. 


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