Health Insurance Roundup, March 23, 2016


Private health insurance providers named over ‘junk’ policies | Australia news | The Guardian

Some of Australia’s biggest private health insurance providers have been named and shamed by the consumer advocacy group Choice for offering useless “junk” products.

Medibank, HCF and NIB were among those named by Choice on Tuesday for offering policies it said were a waste of money, with little benefit above what is provided through Medicare.

A Choice spokesman, Tom Godfrey, said: “Our analysis shows that, in many cases, junk policies cover less than 1% of the services available in hospital and exclude treatment for the most common serious illnesses such as cancer, stroke and heart disease. 


Health insurance gains due to Obama’s law, not economy – The Boston Globe

There’s growing evidence that most of the dramatic gain in the number of Americans with health care coverage is due to President Obama’s law, and not the gradual recovery of the nation’s economy.

That could pose a political risk for Republicans running against ‘‘Obamacare’’ in the GOP primaries as they shift to the general election later this year. 


How to beat health insurance price hikes

People with private health insurance will be hit from April 1 with another round of big premium rises, but Rochelle Franks and her husband Gavin are not going to sit back and take it.

“It’s difficult when there is such an increase in fees when you are not getting a comparable increase in your pay,” Rochelle says.

They switched their health fund a few years ago and are looking at switching again, this time to another policy by the same insurer. 


Christian Sharing Ministries Provide Alternative To Health Insurance, But Not Without Risks | Here & Now

Under the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, all Americans must have health insurance or risk paying a fine. But there are exemptions, and one of those is for people who belong to something called “health care sharing ministries.”

Members of these sharing ministries, which have more than 500,000 members around the country, help cover one another’s medical costs as they arise. Twenty-nine states have strong legal protections for the groups.

Some ministries require monthly payments to a centralized administrator, who then pays out to needy members, while others ask members to send their monthly payments directly to those in need, and often they do so with prayers attached.

The ministries don’t provide guarantees and preventive care is not included, but members say the advantages of being in a caring community outweigh the risks. 


Health insurance coverage canceled over a few cents | Medical Alert – WBAL Home

Making their health a priority, many Marylanders applied for insurance through the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.

But some told the 11 News I-Team that they quickly lost their coverage over a few cents.

This includes Amber Barner. The 23-year-old bank teller and college student is studying accounting and said she is diligent about paying her bills on time. So receiving a letter from her health insurance provider telling her that her medical coverage has been canceled due to insufficient premium payments was devastating, frustrating and confusing.

Compounding Barner’s frustration was the amount of money her insurance carrier said she failed to pay: one cent.

“I cannot understand that,” Barner said. “I said, ‘A penny? Are you serious a penny?'”

CareFirst terminated Barner’s coverage claiming her payment was one penny short. Barner said that she applied for coverage through the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange and paid over the phone exactly what a representative told her. The penny shortfall was not her mistake. 


$6.8 Billion Health Insurance Merger Clears First State Hurdle | California Healthline

The California Department of Managed Health Care gave a green light Tuesday to the $6.8 billion acquisition of Health Net Inc. by St. Louis, Missouri-based Centene.

It’s the first of two California regulatory approvals needed before the deal can be finalized.

The department imposed conditions on the sale. Among them: The headquarters of Health Net, a Woodland Hills-based company, must remain in California, and the combined company must make several improvements in quality of care and access.

The conditions “will improve both plan performance and care for California’s members,” Shelley Rouillard, director of the department, said in an interview. 


United States Personal Accident and Health Insurance Market 2016-2019 – Research and Markets | Business Wire

The ‘Personal Accident and Health Insurance in the US, Key Trends and Opportunities to 2019’ report provides detailed analysis of the market trends, drivers, challenges in the US personal accident and health insurance segment.

It provides key performance indicators such as written premium, incurred loss, loss ratio, commissions and expenses, combined ratio, total assets, total investment income and retentions during the review period (2010-2014) and forecast period (2014-2019). 


Romania’s Health Insurance House president leaves office

The president of Romania’s National Health Insurance House (CNAS) Vasile Ciurchea has stepped down from office.

He submitted his resignation at the Government yesterday, invoking personal reasons, according to government sources cited by local Mediafax.

Former Prime Minister Victor Ponta appointed Ciurchea as head of CNAS on June 30, 2014. His term should have expired on June 17, next year.

Ciurchea had also headed CNAS between February 2007 and January 2009, until the former Prime Minister Emil Boc replaced him with Irinel Popescu.

The National Health Insurance House manages the Romanian taxpayers’ mandatory healthcare contributions and has a budget of some EUR 5.3 billion per year. 


Des Plaines aldermen go against mayor, OK health insurance benefits

It’s official: Health insurance benefits for elected officials in Des Plaines are now part of city code.

The city council’s 6-2 second reading vote Monday night follows at least two months of debate at council meetings — an issue prompted by Alderman Denise Rodd when she ran for office in 2013 that officials be stripped of the coverage.

Des Plaines mayors, aldermen and city clerks have all been eligible for city health and dental coverage for more than three decades — something that’s been “policy and practice” but nothing that was ever written in the code, according to Peter Friedman, the city’s general counsel.

That led to the approval Monday of an ordinance codifying the perks. 


Medibank, NIB and HCF: Worst health insurance ‘junk policies’ named

And while they don’t come cheap, low-value or ‘junk’ policies with Medibank, NIB and HCF were among the worst offenders.

Despite costing as much as $2410 a year for a couple, the policies come with so many restrictions and exclusions that, in many cases, less than one per cent of care would be covered during a hospital stay.

And treatment for the most common serious illnesses such as cancer, stroke and heart disease was often excluded — meaning you’d be better off relying on the public system.

Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey called on the Federal Government to clamp down on what he argued was “a waste of money for consumers and taxpayers”.

“It’s particularly concerning that some health funds boast about the popularity of these ‘junk’ policies, knowing full well they offer inadequate coverage,” Mr Godfrey said. 


Heading for Cuba? Don’t Forget Your Proof of Health Insurance – MarketWatch

Cuba-bound Canadian tourists are urged to update their travel insurance documents and, if necessary, re-evaluate their coverage in anticipation of a huge influx of American visitors burdening the Caribbean nation’s emergency health care infrastructure this coming fall and winter season.

With the signing of an agreement granting scheduled commercial U.S. airlines up to 110 flights to Havana and nine other outlying airports each day, Canadians and other nationals can expect more competition and higher prices for all of Cuba’s goods and services–including care in local hospitals and clinics.

The Cuban Tourist Board (CTB) in Toronto has re-affirmed to Ingle International that all visitors to Cuba must carry proof of health insurance that will cover them while in Cuba. This requirement will apply to Americans as it has to Canadians and other nationals since 2010, when the measure was first passed. Should visitors lack such proof, they will be required to buy coverage from Cuban insurance companies situated at or close by the various ports of entry.* 


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