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.

26. April 2017 · Comments Off on Getting Temporary Car Insurance for Permanent Drivers · Categories: Car Insurance

By itself auto insurance is confusing enough for many people. Throwing in a wrinkle like temporary car insurance may be a bit much. But relax, temporary car insurance is quite specialized and really isn’t that scary.

As the name implies, temporary auto insurance is a policy designed to be in force for a short period of time and for a certain occasion. Terms for policies are usually measured in days or weeks. Temporary car insurance shouldn’t be confused with things like non-owned auto insurance, which is a full-term auto insurance policy that covers a driver instead of a vehicle.

Temporary Car Insurance for Rentals

Although there are other uses for it, the most common application of temporary car insurance is in a rental situation. Rental temporary auto insurance is not true car insurance as much as it is an agreement between you and the rental company for that company to reimburse you for damages. It’s an added charge to your rental and always presented as an upsell.

Many insurance companies will automatically cover you at least partially in a rental car as long as you stay in the United States or Canada. Temporary car insurance offered by the rental company may pick up the slack, or may be completely unnecessary.

If you plan to rent a car in the near future and are unsure of your coverage, consult with your insurance agent before renting. It could save you quite a bit in unnecessary rental car charges. If you do rent, plan on an extra $6 to $12 a day in rental charges – not cheap if you annualize that premium.

If you’re driving in any other country, however, you want to seriously consider taking the rental company’s temporary car insurance. Apart from Canada, most American auto insurance policies exclude international coverage in general and coverage in Mexico in particular. The chances are very good indeed your car insurance back home won’t be there when you get off that international flight. That rental auto insurance may be the only thing between you and an unfortunate international incident should you get in an accident.

Temporary Car Insurance in Mexico

Another common application of temporary car insurance involves driving south of the border, even if it’s your own car. Unlike in Canada, where your local auto insurance policy is valid and generally recognized by local authorities, legally driving in Mexico carries an entirely different set of requirements.

American insurance companies don’t do business in Mexico or sell Mexican auto insurance. You will have to strike out on your own to get the coverage you need.

Temporary Mexican car insurance may be available through your agent by way of an insurance brokerage, online, or through an agency based close to the border. When purchasing temporary auto insurance for use in Mexico – and especially when dealing with agents or firms you don’t know – be sure you’re actually getting Mexican auto insurance. Also be sure you’re not paying too much.

There are several reputable Mexican insurance companies to choose from including ACE Seguros, HDI Seguros, Grupo Nacional Provincial and others. Don’t be afraid to do some research on these companies as many have A. M. Best ratings for financial security just like their American counterparts. “Seguros,” incidentally, is Spanish for “insurance.”

Now that you have your Mexican insurance, you’re just about halfway done. You also need to get a Mexican tourist visa and a “Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit” for your automobile. Although this permit isn’t required in Baja California and parts of Sonora in the northwestern part of the country, don’t even think about driving without it elsewhere in Mexico. If you’re caught without one, your car will likely be confiscated and you might find yourself spending time behind Mexican jail bars.

The visa and permit are available at the customs port of entry at the border or at a Mexican consulate. An English-language online application for the permit is also available, which will help you save time at the border. All told the total investment for driving in Mexico will run you several hundred dollars, however much of that is a deposit on the permit. You’ll get the deposit back when you surrender the permit upon returning to the United States.

13. April 2017 · Comments Off on Cheap Car Insurance For Damaged Cars · Categories: Car Insurance

Car insurance varies depending on various factors such as the price of the car, the purpose for which it is being used, capability of the driver, own or rented car, safety features of the car, etc. It is recommended to go for the best insurance quote that would cost less to the car owner, yet gives all the benefits of auto insurance. There are many so called cheap auto insurance agents in the market who promise to offer low premium insurance quotes.

Preliminary requirements for car insurance are:

• The car should fall below a stipulated number of miles

• It should have been manufactured after a particular date and be of a certain level

• Do not be gulled into believing that the car has none but scrap value; be sure to get a second opinion

Several insurance agents offer low auto insurance premium quotes compromising with the benefits the car owner would get in case of an accident or damage to the car. For example, the insurance premium would be high for rented cars and one may not rent a car if the driver is not willing to pay the insurance premium. The premium for rented cars is high because there may be individuals who wouldn’t drive a rented car as carefully as an owned car.

Used cars attract better auto insurance premium as the damage may be higher in an accident to used car. The damaged cars should also be insured properly to avoid lesser payout if met with an accident. For brand new cars, the auto insurance has to be taken considering all the features like the airbags in the car and other safety features apart from the driver’s profile of the car. Check out for more details on auto insurance quotes on the website.

Damaged vehicle insurance can be easily to find as it is easily available from several top insurance providers. You can also get cheap auto insurance for your damaged vehicle, simply because the liability coverage amounts remain about the same. Most difficult part is to get comprehensive coverage. Most of the insurance firms won’t offer comprehensive coverage on damaged cars, in case you find a firm that offers, you will notice a huge jump in premiums.

So, it is better to work with a licensed insurance broker, who is familiar with the ins and outs of the several insurance companies in your locality. Hey can help greatly in finding a company that fits with your needs. Consulting a broker is a great source for various insurance problems.

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.

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