09. May 2017 · Comments Off on For Women – How to Buy Health Insurance When You’re Between Jobs – Without Losing Your Skirt · Categories: Health Insurance

As a woman, I have been worried about not having health insurance, have you been worried too? I know how to use a computer, so I was able to check out the online health insurance quotes on the Internet. I filled out a few forms but it was difficult to pick the right one for me, there were just too many choices! So why was I researching online health insurance quotes? I was recently laid off, my boss said “he hated to let me go” but he had to lay some people off and since I was the last hired…well you know how it goes. I found out I could not afford the Cobra Plan for continuing my group health insurance, no way for $585.00 per month! I was shocked to know that is how much my company had been paying for my individual health insurance. Guess a person does not really appreciate some things until they are gone…like boyfriends, a good job and oh, a flattering hair style!

My biggest concern about shopping online for health insurance was how does a woman know if the health insurance quote you get is a good deal? I mean, we know if a handbag is a good deal or a business suit for work or a gift we buy off eBay, but health insurance? Also, I feel uncomfortable with insurance salespeople; I don’t like being pressured to decide to buy something right now. So if you are like me, you can understand how we don’t like to be pressured into a sale or “sold’. Why? Have you ever been in a mall and had a sales lady warmly greet you and smiling so much at you, she looks like her face hurts? Then she follows you around the store and won’t leave you alone to shop? I have, I hate it, bet you do too and we can’t wait to get away from her, right? So I get the same feeling about insurance, especially health insurance sales people.

So here I am unemployed, with only unemployment pay and in need of really cheap health insurance. I got a really bad scare recently. A long time and close friend of mine did not have health insurance through the small business she worked for and got stuck with an enormous medical bill! I won’t tell you what she had, just that she is recovering and will be returning to work soon. But her retirement fund is going to be drained dry when she pays that huge medical bill. Her retirement account is will be almost empty! That is so terrible, she has worked so hard and now this!

I had figured to chance not having health insurance for a while, just until I get a new job…But after what happened to my good friend, I can’t chance it. I am much older than her and don’t want to fall victim to a health catastrophe. Now, I am scared and just don’t feel safe without some kind of health insurance. So again, I went out to the internet looking for a decent website that could give me an inexpensive health insurance plan. I was afraid to wait and wanted a short term health insurance plan to tide me over and protect me until I get a good job with a group health insurance plan. I warmed up my Mac computer and got online and went looking for a “good, inexpensive, low monthly premium health insurance plan.” One that I could afford without losing my skirt!

Before I had bookmarked a few websites to return to, so I went to those first. But I was getting frustrated with slow loading insurance sites; you know the ones I mean. You can go grab a soda and check your mail while they load! Anyway, after searching and being frustrated by filling out forms that did not send my information, I finally found a couple good ones to submit my informaiton to and get a good quote. A high quality site generally makes it easy to find the information you want. After browsing the sites I located information on different types of insurance and on health insurance providers. Stuff a woman needs to know to make an intelligent decision about buying health insurance. The websites online covered all sorts of things you would want to read about, like HMO, PPO, health saver plans. As I searched the sites I noticed threre were many different insurance providers! That made me feel like I needed help since there were so many good providers.

Great now I was ready to check out their Privacy Policy and that looked good and safe too. When I was browsing I found that many sites have all 50 states coverage. I looked at the health insurance page for quotes and followed their easy instructions on “How to get your fast health insurance quote.” I clicked in the area of the form that said, “fill in your zip code” and filled it in. I filled in my personal information and clicked the submit button. I received confirmation of the personal information and that they would be getting in contact with me right away with more information about my health insurance quotes.

I was happy to find the agents were easy to deal with. They really wanted to help. That made me feel good and like I was being properly cared for. No high pressure just good advice and easy to understand answers to my not so smart insurance questions. I felt good and really took my time, I even was able to buy my policy online! So after paying for my health insurance this month, how much money do I have left…or so, how short is my skirt?

Well, a little higher than just above the knee, I really hope are in style again! But you know what? I feel good about my short-term health insurance. This will work for me to tide me over and keep me safe until I get a good job with health insurance again. I know my retirement money is safe and will not be taken from me because I got stuck without health insurance. I love taking good care of myself and I hope you do too. So if you are a woman and need health insurance, please take care of yourself. Please be safe, and just click on the link and “fill in your zip code” Well, here’s to your having great looking legs, you’ll need them, since your skirt is a wee bit shorter!

02. May 2017 · Comments Off on Affordable Health Insurance Options in Ohio: An Interview With Ohio Department of Insurance Director · Categories: Health Insurance

According to the United States Census Bureau, 87.7 percent of Ohioans had some form of health insurance coverage during 2005, while 12.3 percent were not insured at any time during the year. Additionally, 14 percent of Ohio residents under the age of sixty-five did not have health insurance during 2005.

AFFORDABLE HEALTH INSURANCE OPTIONS IN OHIO

Most Ohioans who have health insurance are covered by either employer based plans or government programs. What options are available for individuals who do not have access to such coverage? Ohio Department of Insurance Director, Ann Womer Benjamin, references the “increasing number of options with Health Savings Accounts. There may be a person, or a family, generally comfortable paying for health care costs, but wants a high deductible policy. Also, for fairly young, fairly healthy individuals, an HSA coupled with a High Deductible Health Plan could really work.”

Health Savings Accounts are not feasible for everyone. Ohio residents who are not interested in HSAs should try to take advantage of alternative plans and programs. “Ohio has an Open Enrollment Program that takes (uninsured individuals) regardless of pre-existing conditions, but is likely costly”, Womer Benjamin explains.

HEALTH CARE COVERAGE LEGISLATION

There are currently two bills in the Ohio Legislature, Senate Bill 272 and House Bill 5 / Senate Bill 5 that are generally supported by the Ohio Department of Insurance as methods of expanding access to health insurance coverage.

Senate Bill 272 would repeal the Open Enrollment Program, as well as the Open Enrollment Reinsurance Program. In its place, the Ohio Health Insurance Risk Pool would be created to provide health care coverage to individuals who are unable to obtain affordable health care coverage in any other manner. This would eliminate the annual periods of open enrollment that sickness and accident insurers, health insurance corporations, and multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs) are currently required to hold. “The Ohio Health Insurance Risk Pool would provide a state fund for those without health insurance coverage. We would support this concept and have various suggestions for funding. We would theoretically be able to reach ten times more individuals than the Open Enrollment Program does currently”, says Womer Benjamin.

House Bill 5 / Senate Bill 5 would permit small employers to offer health care plans that do not provide benefits otherwise required by law. The bill provides for the operation of health savings accounts that are consistent with federal law, and places a limit on an insured’s liability for co-payments and deductibles under a health benefit plan. ODI Director Womer Benjamin asserts that the bill “would provide more options for small businesses, and we are hopeful that that will pass”.

THE MASSACHUSETTS EXAMPLE

On April 4, 2006, Massachusetts House Bill 4850 was overwhelmingly passed by the state legislature. All Massachusetts residents will be required to obtain health insurance coverage by July 1, 2007. The state’s plan dictates that businesses with more than ten employees that do not provide health insurance coverage will be charged a fee of as much as $295 a year for each employee. Government subsidies to private insurance plans will provide affordable health insurance to a greater number of the working poor, and individuals who can afford private health plans will be penalized on their state income taxes if they do not have coverage. Should Ohio consider a similar plan in order to achieve nearly universal health insurance coverage? Ohio Department of Insurance Director Ann Womer Benjamin says that we need to “watch Massachusetts and evaluate the plan’s success and funding”. “Ohio has a larger number of uninsured individuals and is different than Massachusetts, politically.”

Ohioans have a large selection of health insurance carriers and government programs to choose from. Regardless of the provider, it is extremely important for individuals to obtain a health insurance plan. Director Womer Benjamin emphasizes that she is “concerned with people who don’t think they need health insurance coverage”.

About The Ohio Department of Insurance

The Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) is an informative resource for those seeking information regarding health insurance options in the state. ODI asserts that its mission is to be “responsive to and safeguard consumer interests through education and vigilance while promoting a stable and competitive marketplace among insurance providers”. The Ohio Department of Insurance can help uninsured persons sort through their options, depending on their individual circumstances. For more information, call the ODI Consumer Hotline at 1-800-686-1526.

The Department is headed by Director Ann Womer Benjamin, who was appointed in January of 2003, and is the first woman to hold this position. Prior to this appointment, Womer Benjamin served in the Ohio House of Representatives for eight years.

07. April 2017 · Comments Off on Aetna Health Insurance Leaving California – Recommended Replacement Plans · Categories: Health Insurance

Aetna Health Insurance announced they are leaving the California marketplace for individual and family plans. The end date of all their plans is December 31, 2013. All 49,000 Aetna clients still have six months to figure out what health plan they should move to. In this article we’ll give you a simple mapping that recommends which plans you should move to based upon the Aetna health plan you currently have, a “gotcha” to watch out for, and a couple of silver linings to feel good about.

The simplest way to replace your Aetna Health Insurance is to simply look for an alternative plan with the same (or similar) deductible amount. The recommendations below will make that easy to do. With just a little more effort, you could re-think what you need in yearly medical benefits and pick a plan the is a better fit for your current needs. Either way, you should be able to find a good solution listed below.

Aetna Health Insurance Underwriting Is More Lenient

This will be the gotcha for some people. Aetna has always been more willing to accept people with some health conditions. I know a number of my clients are in Aetna plans because they had specific health conditions that the other carriers either would not accept, or would “rate” much higher than Aetna. So this is something you have to be aware of and be careful about.

If you have existing health conditions, or are “too short” (okay… a little over-weight), or have a rated plan with Aetna, then you should definitely talk to a broker before you apply with another health insurance company. You’ll want to have the broker do Pre-Screen Requests for you to see how the other insurance companies will treat your application.

It’s important to do the pre-screen step first, because if you just pick a health plan, apply for it, and then get declined or rated even higher, it will be very hard to get other insurance companies to consider your application.

Let’s start mapping replacement plans…

Aetna Open Access MC Value Plan Alternatives

The Aetna Open Access Value plans are Aetna’s low-cost option. The Value plans offer a number of different deductibles, $8,000, $5,000, $2,500, and provide 3 office visits for a simple copay, and coverage for Generic prescriptions.

This plan description matches very closely to what is offered in the Anthem Blue Cross SmartSense plans. If you only need two office visits rather than three, then the best choices are the Health Net PPO Advantage plans and the ClearProtection plan from Anthem Blue Cross.

If cost of the plan is one of your major factors, then here is how the alternative plans above should be used.

  1. Health Net PPO Advantage 3500 – offers the best overall value (cost vs benefits)
  2. Health Net PPO Advantage 6500 – is usually the lowest cost option
  3. Anthem Blue Cross ClearProtection 3300 – Anthem’s lowest cost solution
  4. Anthem Blue Cross SmartSense 6000 – closest match to Aetna’s Open Access Value 8000, but lower cost
  5. Anthem Blue Cross SmartSense 3500, 2000, 1000 – if you feel more comfortable with lower deductibles

In the majority of cases, the alternative plans from Anthem and Health Net will be lower cost than the comparable Aetna Value plans. You’ll need to review health insurance quotes to see how the pricing looks for your location in California.

Aetna alternative plans from all major health insurance companies in California. The best plans!

Aetna Open Access MC Plan Alternatives

The Open Access plans are Aetna’s high-end offerings. These plans offered unlimited office visits for just a copay, provided both Generic and Brand name prescription coverage, and offered deductibles of 5,000, 3,500, 2,750, and 1,750.

The best mappings of the Open Access plans are the following:

  1. Cigna Open Access Value plans – Cigna’s entry plans, but very similar to the Aetna plans but without brand name prescription coverage
  2. Anthem Blue Cross Premier plans – these plans are the top of the line from Anthem
  3. Cigna Open Access plans – the high-end Cigna plans
  4. Blue Shield Shield Secure Plus plans – Blue Shield’s top end plans

Health Net does not have any plans that provide unlimited office visits and coverage of brand name prescriptions, so there are no options listed.

Aetna Open Access MC High Deductible Plan (HSA Compatible) Alternatives

These are Aetna’s entry in the Health Savings Account (HSA) compatible market. Like all HSA plans, they provide no benefits except zero-cost preventive care until after you reach the deductible. The plans come with two deductibles, either 5,500 or $3,500.

The mappings for these HSA plans is the following:

  1. Health Net CFB HSA 4500 plan – this is the best value HSA plan in the market
  2. Health Net CFB HSA 6000 plan – this is the overall lowest cost HSA plan
  3. Blue Shield Saver HSA plans – these are lower cost than the other non-Health Net HSA plans
  4. Cigna Health Savings 4900 plan – good general purpose plan
  5. Anthem Blue Cross Lumenos 5950 plan – Anthem’s last remaining HSA plan

Are You Looking For Lower Out Of Pocket Risk?

Some shoppers may be looking to lower premiums AND lower the OOPM’s they have had in the past. If this is your wish, then here are a couple of options you should explore:

  1. Health Net CFB PPO Standard plans – the OOPM in these plans is equal to the deductible, and 2 office visits for a copay
  2. Cigna Open Access Value 5000/100% – the OOPM is the same as the deductible, and the plan offers unlimited office visits

These alternative plans will cost a little more than the direct replacement options listed in the sections above. However, the attractiveness of having lower risk if an accident or a medical condition starts is very compelling.

Silver Linings In The California Aetna Health Insurance Decision

I believe that Aetna is just the first in a line of large and small health insurance companies that will leave the California individual and family health insurance marketplace over the next 3-5 years. Aetna had a very small market share, and would have a hard time competing with the insurance companies that dominate the California market. So having Aetna leave now will reduce the turbulence we see during the Health Care Reform roll-out later this fall.

The first silver lining in all of this is that Aetna plans tend to have very high Out-Of-Pocket Maximums (OOPM). As an example, for a family, the Open Access Value 8000 plan has an OOPM of $25,000, while the Anthem Blue Cross SmartSense 6000 plan and the ealth Net PPO Advantage 6500 have a $19,000 OOPM.

This is one of the reasons people have stayed away from new Aetna plans unless no other health insurance company would accept them. There are plenty of plans from Health Net, Anthem Blue Cross, Cigna, and Blue Shield that will have lower OOPM’s than the Aetna plans.

The last silver lining of this change at Aetna, is that Aetna plans have not been very competitive the last couple of years. So changing to comparable plans will give you a reduction in premiums. With the information we’ve given you above, you should be able to find a good Aetna replacement plan, now go forth and prosper.

Aetna alternative plans from all major health insurance companies in California. The best plans!

30. March 2017 · Comments Off on A Few Things You Must Know Before Buying a Health Insurance Policy in India · Categories: Health Insurance

‘Health is Wealth’ is an old saying, which depicts that good health is as important as having lots of wealth. A person with good health can work efficiently to earn wealth and lead a quality life. On the other hand, a person who does not have good health spends a lot of his wealth to regain the health. According to an Arabic proverb, “He, who has health, has hope; and he, who has hope, has everything”. All of these sayings imply that good health is of great importance, and it cannot be compromised.

So, don’t we need to take necessary steps to protect it? Since, despite all precautions, the possibility of an accident or illness cannot be ruled out; we need to be prepared for any eventuality. In such tragic circumstances, we fall prey to the dual economic crisis – first, we have to abandon work because of poor health, and second, pay huge healthcare expenses. Our hard-earned money is spent on illnesses. At times, we are forced to borrow from within or outside the family.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) study on the impact of rising health expenditure in India, states that about 40 per cent of low-income families have to borrow money from outside the families to meet their healthcare expenses resulting in over 16% of them getting pushed below the poverty line.

Therefore, to safeguard any health related eventuality, we must have a health insurance policy of appropriate cover. Today, there are many health insurance products of various insurers available in the market. Through research and comparison, one can identify the best product which suits one’s needs. With hundreds of products to choose from, this research can be quite confusing and time consuming. Thankfully, with the advent of insurance web-aggregators, simple comparisons of all products are available. Web-aggregators allow customised comparisons of products based on their features, coverage and premium besides other things. The fact that web-aggregators provide unbiased comparisons that has helped consumers in their search for the ideal insurance product.

There are few points which need to be kept in mind before buying insurance products:

1. Premium and Coverage: Expensive insurance policies are not necessarily always good. If premiums are identical, benefits such as OPD, Hospitalisation Cash Benefit, Coverage of Critical Illness etc. should be reviewed. Assess and identify the benefits you need. Choose the appropriate cover. Identify 3-4 products and compare them to find your ideal policy.

2. Basic Hospitalisation Cover: If your pocket doesn’t allow you to buy a comprehensive health insurance policy, you must buy a basic health insurance plan, which pays expenses incurred out of an accident or illness.

3. Sum Assured: Sum Assured can be determined on the basis of the city you live in and your family size. Keep in mind that healthcare cost more in big cities as compared to smaller cities, so determine sum assured accordingly. Typically, sum assured of Rs 2 to 3 lac, and Rs 5 to 6 lac for a family of 3 to 4 members in small and big cities respectively, are considered appropriate.

4. Family Floater Policy: It is always recommended to buy a family floater health insurance policy instead of individual policy. Under family floater policy, each member in the policy can utilise the sum assured either individually or collectively. Thus, you can save on premium.

5. Separate Policy for Parents: In family floater policies, premium amount is calculated on the basis of the age of the eldest member. Therefore, it is always advisable to have separate policy for parents, and save on premium.

6. Day Care Procedures: Before buying insurance, have a look at the list of diseases covered under Day Care Procedures.

7. Exclusions: Before signing on the policy document, policy buyers should go through it very carefully. And, also ask for detailed terms and conditions of the policy. In any policy, exclusion part is very important because it mentions the diseases and scenarios which are not covered under the policy.

8. Top-Up: If your employer has provided you a health insurance policy, and you want a policy of higher sum assured or coverage of critical illness, you don’t need to buy separate policy. For this, you can top-up your existing policy with required sum assured and benefits. Doing this, you can save on premium.

9. Claim Settlement Ratio: Check the claim settlement ratio of the insurer before buying insurance as this directly relates to how many claims does the insurer pay on average. The higher the ratio the better it is.

10. Network-Hospitals: In the case of an illness, you are most likely to choose hospitals which are near your place of residence. You must try and choose insurers which have these hospitals on their network.

11. Seek expert advice: In case of any confusion, do not hesitate to seek expert advice. You can choose from your agent, insurer, health advisor or a licensed web-aggregator. Pick up the phone and make an informed decision.

11. February 2017 · Comments Off on California Health Insurance – Independent Health Life Agent Verses Insurance Company In House Agent · Categories: Health Insurance

You have just completed an online form requesting a free health insurance quote and moments later you are being inundated with phone calls from insurance agents hoping to get your business. Try not to become overwhelmed or annoyed by these “pesky sales people” because they are really not telemarketers. Most of them are well-trained state licensed professionals who can really help you make a good decision regarding which health plan is best and most affordable for your individual or group coverage needs.

You may be under the misconception that if you buy your health plan directly from the insurance company, and cut out the “middle person”, you will save money. This is absolutely not the case. In fact, insurance companies rely on agents for most of their business and that’s why they pay them commissions for bringing in customers. It does not cost a consumer one penny more to use a licensed California health insurance agent to obtain their insurance coverage.

There are many differences between California health insurance and other states including how it is applied for.

For example, while Blue Cross and Blue Shield are one company in other states, here in California, each is separate and applied to individually as Anthem Blue Cross of California and Blue Shield of California.

California health insurance law AB 1672 is an improvement over the federal HIPAA law that covers all states in that it includes the following with regard to California group coverage:

1. Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions may change over to a new group health plan without an exclusionary period.

2. It allows small businesses and professional organizations to have access to health plans providing they have between 2 and 50 full time employees.

3. It keeps insurance rates from climbing after a claim is filed.

4. Employees who have health problems may change jobs or health plans without being rated higher for having pre-existing conditions.

That said, the very best health insurance agent for your individual and business needs is an “Independent Agent.” Why? Because they represent multiple insurance carriers, not just one. An independent agent can help you select the most appropriate cost-effective plan offering the most benefits for your dollar as available from the major carriers, rather than feeding you just one company’s line of health plans which may not suit your particular needs. Many people are too complacent and settle for what their current insurance company has to offer. They could use a good independent agent to sort through the many plans available from multiple insurance carriers to find and provide the best choice of options.

Another misunderstanding you may have is that insurance agents set the premium rates for the health insurance plans they sell. Thinking if you shop around you may get a better price for the same plan. Premium rates are based on your age, zip code or county in which you reside and are controlled completely by the insurance companies. Every agent uses the exact same rate guides set by the insurance companies. The condition of your health may affect your premium, which may be rated up after the insurance company’s underwriting department has reviewed your medical records. Again, the insurance company, not the agent, determines that outcome.

Now, let’s talk about the benefits of having a good insurance agent representing you. Most consumers neither know nor understand the benefits of a health plan being offered and need the expertise of an agent to explain the benefits to them in full. For example, do you know what the difference is between an “out-of-pocket maximum” and an “annual deductible?”

An out of pocket maximum is the most you will have to pay in a given year for deductible and coinsurance for covered benefits before your insurance starts to pay 100% of most expenses until the year ends.

An annual deductible is usually the amount you pay each year before your health plan starts paying anything for covered services. Generally, the higher the deductible, the lower the premium. Certain services such as prescription drugs carry separate deductibles. Plans may vary and sometimes benefits will kick in before you have to meet the deductible.

A knowledgeable health insurance agent can be a guide through the maze and help you choose the right plan to meet your needs and budget while obtaining the most benefits for your dollars spent. An agent will also make clear how the benefits for a generic prescription may differ from the benefits for a brand prescription on a particular plan.

After you have a health plan in place, a good, caring agent will remind you to pay your premium on time so the insurance company doesn’t cancel you. Your agent can also be an enormous resource for assistance if you run into a problem with a health insurance claim. Instead of waiting on hold at the insurance company’s 800 number for thirty to forty- five minutes, call your agent and explain your problem and if you have chosen the right agent, you will get help and may save yourself lots of time and frustration, maybe even some money by having an expert in your corner where your best interests come first.

So next time you or someone you know, fills out one of those on-line forms for a health insurance quote and you get several phone calls from health insurance agents wanting your business, be grateful that a professional wants to help you for free to choose the right plan and you’ll have an important friend for life.

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