Latest Trends in Health Insurance

Most Americans are beneficiaries of healthcare coverage in multiple ways which include private insurance coverage arranged by their employers, coverage purchased on their own and public insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. It is believed that about 160 million Americans enjoy employer-sponsored health insurance, and another 13 million have bought insurance directly from an insurer or HMO. Total spending for health care services continues to steeply rise – from $1.4 trillion in 2001 to an estimated figure of $3.1 trillion in 2012.

Insurance premium for people with private insurance have risen drastically in recent years. At the same time, consumers are also suffering because their out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and other cost sharing have gone up significantly over the same period.

While coverage availability has somewhat declined for those having employer coverage, a lackluster economy and high unemployment rate have intensified problems faced by those seeking individual coverage. The economists have to find ways to control increases in health care costs and to provide coverage for the uninsured.

Paying contributions, however small, towards health insurance policies discourage workers from joining the insurance scheme. Statistics reveal that about 20 percent of all uninsured people live in families where a worker has declined employer-sponsored insurance coverage. The refusal to avail employer-sponsored insurance is mostly because of the cost involved. For many, the health insurance is less of a priority compared to food and housing.

It must also be stated that the costs of private health insurance have risen steeply particularly in relation to a workers average earnings and general inflation. In the past three years, insurance premiums have increased between 10.9 and 13.9 percent annually, while workers’ wages have grown only between 2 & 3 percent.

The cost of health care is certainly burdensome for most Americans but it those with limited means are hit the hardest. Nearly 75% of low-income group adults reported some difficulty obtaining health coverage.

Consequently, 44 percent of low-income group adults remain uninsured at compared with only 13 percent of moderate- and higher-income adults in the non-insured category. Despite the fact that the United States is spending nearly $200 billion every year on tax incentives for health insurance, 46.6 million people still lack health coverage.

The one redeeming news is children-especially those in low-income families have somewhat gained in insurance coverage. Even with regard to uninsured children, more than 50% of them are eligible for Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)-the two public insurance programs responsible for providing coverage to low-income group children.

Established in 1997, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program provides states the authority and funding to expand health insurance coverage to low-income children by broadening Medicaid eligibility, developing new child health programs, or a combination of both.

While Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program has effectively covered low-income group children, the same cannot be said for children in middle-income group families, for whom access to Medicaid and SCHIP is not easily accessible. Yet the unfortunate fact remains that racial and ethnic disparities in children’s health insurance coverage persist, despite all gains.

As public coverage is generally not available to adults, almost 50% of the increase in uninsured adults belong to the low-incomes group leaving their families at great risk for being uninsured.

Top Five Reasons Why Barack Obama’s Health Plan Will Make You Sick

Are you waiting for Obama to get elected to fix the health insurance problem in America? Are you sick of high health insurance rates? Have you been declined by a health insurance company due to a pre existing condition? Are your medical bills unpaid and ruining your credit and your life?

If you think it is bad now…Just wait until Barack Obama is elected!

TOP FIVE REASONS OBAMA’S HEALTH PLAN SOLUTION WILL MAKE YOU SICK

Reason # 5 -

COMPREHENSIVE BENEFITS: According to Obama’s own website, benefits would be similar to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, also known as FEHBP. While this might sound great on paper – the reason Federal Employees are on this plan is because it is HIGHLY subsidized by the government (hint also known as tax payers) as an employment benefit. To think individuals can afford such PREMIER coverage, or even need such premier coverage will only RISE the cost of such insurance buy a large amount of money.

Reason # 4 -

SUBSIDIES: Obama’s plan relies heavily on subsidizing low income and other Americans coverage, possibly even beyond today’s large health care subsidies. Since when was the government responsible for Health Care in America? Has anyone tallied up the TRILLIONS upon TRILLIONS of unfunded government future obligations? No offense to Mr. Obama but the math is doesn’t add up.

Reason # 3 -

EXPANSION OF MEDICAID AND CHIP: The last thing we need to do is expand an already over inflated government program to pay for child health insurance. Recent health insurance quotes on http://www.goquoteme.com revealed a child with no major health issues in Texas ranged from under $50/mo to around $150/mo for comprehensive coverage through major carriers – most plans had office visits co pays and other typical benefits. How is it that people can afford CELL PHONES and CABLE TV but not a $50 to $150/mo child health insurance plan? Look I know some people are down on their luck and really can not afford the coverage – but what we have now is people who CAN afford the coverage, they would just rather take the government hand out, and who can blame them. Obama would like to expand government hand outs to those who can fully afford their child’s health insurance.

Reason # 2 -

FLEXIBILITY OF STATE PLANS: While we can not confirm, we assume Mr. Obama is a big supporter of the 5 or so states that are GUARANTEED ISSUE HEALTH INSURANCE regardless of pre existing such as Maine, New Jersey, New York and Vermont to name a few. What a great concept everyone is covered! Regardless of age! Regardless of health or in some cases rates are the same regardless of location! Wow what a great idea! Or is it?

Let’s take a look…

In New Jersey a plan through BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD for a 40 year old COUPLE might cost $1500 to $2500 PER MONTH. This same plan in TEXAS which has a far more logical approach to health insurance coverage would cost…. are you ready….

Any where from $200 to $500/mo depending on the carrier, deductible, and benefits.

Reason # 1 -

GUARANTEED ACCEPTANCE: What are you kidding? The #1 reason Obama’s plan will make you sick is because they will accept everyone? Are you nuts? This is cruel so cruel! OK look here is the situation. You have a very small percentage of people using the VAST majority of Health Insurance and health care costs.

Some people are sick due to heredity, bad luck, issues well out of their hands. Some people are sick due to obesity, smoking, and lifestyle. The reality is a lot of people just do not take care of themselves – imagine a car you don’t change the oil in for 80,000 miles. People get sensitive when we talk about humans and the human body but the reality is there is A LOT more people can do PRO ACTIVELY to prevent major medical expenses in the future.

Should people be shunned away and placed on a private island excluded from the general public? NO!

Should people not be able to obtain coverage anywhere? NO!

There is a solution, but it is not the Obama plan. The solution is to segregate the risk from the general population. Many states , such as Texas have a HIGH RISK POOL as a way of allowing those with HIGH RISK CONDITIONS to obtain comparable coverage. This is a great idea, and it works. Remember only around 5 of the 50 states are guaranteed issue and take everyone equally – and there is a good reason for this, IT DOES NOT WORK. Anytime you mix the healthy and severely unhealthy you get rates that are not affordable for anyone.

Most states have some form of patched up RISK POOL, some do not. I do agree fully that RISK POOL PLANS can be subsidized either by tax (not my first choice) or premium tax (the healthy kick in a few bucks for the unhealthy) or other financing means. The choices for those with health issues needs to be kept to a manageable cost and no one should ever be treated poorly due to their health – but here is the problem Mr. Obama, you can not make health insurance UN AFFORDABLE FOR ALL just to do the right thing.

Well as you might guess I am not a huge fan of Mr. Obama’s health care “solutions”, however there are some notable points I must acknowledge.

Our system is not perfect and needs some adjustments – this virtually all of us can agree on. I do agree with Mr. Obama’s take on increasing efficiency, increasing automation and reducing government waste – these are all notable points that need acknowledged.

My belief is health care should be free market and LESS government regulation not more. People should have the freedom to choose their price points and benefit levels. While Mr. Obama’s plan is not perfect it has a few good ideas – and we should also note John McCain’s plan while better – is far from perfect as well.

It is interesting that the debate on national health care has been going on since THE GREAT DEPRESSION. If you think this discussion is going to be resolved anytime soon, you are sadly mistaken.

The New Epidemic – Child Obesity

Child Obesity… it’s everywhere now. Over 1 in 5 kids are obese now. What is happening to our kids?

Things have changed a lot since I was a child, nearly 50 years ago. We had Physical Education in school every single day, it was mandatory. Most of us kids brought our lunches to school, consisting of a healthy sandwich, fresh fruit, homemade cookies, and juice or milk to drink. Or you could purchase milk and apples from the snack bar. Oh yeah, there was candy and Twinkies, etc., But the Washington Red Delicious apples were so good who wanted candy?

After school we’d play tag football or ride bikes around the neighborhood, and on weekends helped our parents with the chores, and then played some more out in the street, or in the backyard with friends. In high school, I rode my bicycle to school, approximately 6 miles from home on a hilly road. Many of my friends had cars, but we couldn’t afford it, and I didn’t like riding the school bus. We rarely had any ‘fat’ kids in school. If there was an obese child, it most likely was a specific health issue.

We didn’t have computers back then, video games, DVR with cable TV, cell phones to text messages on, chat rooms, or movie rentals. The only fast food restaurant that I recall was McDonald’s and it was only on special occasions that we would ever go there. Eating out in restaurants was a treat, but we didn’t do it all that often. Money was tight. It was more practical to buy the ingredients to make a nice meal at home. I loved to cook, and often would use my parents as ‘guinea pigs’ creating unique and interesting dishes. This is a fond memory, because many of those dishes actually turned out to be delicious and I still make them today. When my kids come to visit they always request them.

But I’m getting off topic. I want to talk about child obesity. It’s become the new ‘epidemic’. Everywhere you go, the children are chubby. What is happening to our next generation? It’s been reported that between 5-25 percent of children and teenagers in the United States are obese (Dietz, 1983). The prevalence of obesity in the young varies with ethnic groups. Is it based on economics? Junk and fast food is considered cheaper. It is estimated that 5-7 percent of White and Black children are obese, while 12 percent of Hispanic boys and 19 percent of Hispanic girls are obese (Office of Maternal and Child Health, 1989). Note that this quoted citation is as of 1989, so increase those percentages by another 5-10%, at least, since that was almost 20 years ago!

Is obesity among children on the rise? A study done by the National Children and Youth Fitness Study revealed in their finding that 6-9 year olds have thicker skinfolds than their counterparts in the 1960s (Ross & Pate, 1987). Other studies done during the same period, also disclosed their findings to show a 54 percent increase in the prevalence of obesity among 6-11 year olds (Gortmaker, Dietz, Sobol, & Wehler, 1987).

Defining Obesity in Children and Adolescents

Most folks know what obesity looks like, or what the ideal weight should be for children of a certain age. If not, their doctor will certainly tell them. When the total body weight is more than 25 percent fat in boys and more than 32 percent fat in girls (Lohman, 1987). Although childhood obesity is often defined as a weight-for-height in excess of 120 percent of the ideal, skinfold measures are more accurate determinants of fatness (Dietz, 1983; Lohman, 1987).

Skinfold measures are easy to obtain by a trained technician in a school or clinical setting. The triceps alone, triceps and subscapular, triceps and calf, and calf alone have been used with children and adolescents. When the triceps and calf are used, a sum of skinfolds of 10-25mm is considered optimal for boys, and 16-30mm is optimal for girls (Lohman, 1987).

The Problem of Obesity

I remember when my children were babies. They were just about the chubbiest little babies you ever saw. But they were 100% breastfed for over 6 months, and then gradually began to add bananas, cereal, and fruit to their daily diet. They were breastfed for nearly 2 years, all three of them. They lost their chubbiness when they started walking, and now, they are all in their 20’s and by most standards, would be considered underweight. Today, they are all tall, handsome and beautiful, and not an ounce of fat on either of them.

It’s true that not all obese infants become obese children, and not all obese children become obese adults. But it goes without saying that the prevalence of obesity increases with age among both males and females (Lohman, 1987), and there is a greater likelihood that obesity beginning even in early childhood will persist through the life span (Epstein, Wing, Koeske, & Valoski, 1987).

There are many health risks to the child that is obese. The challenge of dealing with the extra weight into adulthood is only one of the issues. Pediatric hypertension is of the complications resulting from obesity, and this health issue is associated with Type II diabetes mellitus, increases the risk of coronary heart disease, increases stress on the weight-bearing joints, lowers self-esteem, and affects relationships with peers. Obese children also suffer from social and psychological problems and these can cause additional emotional and mental problems long into adulthood.

For more information about Childhood Obesity, check out my book at Live Long and Live Healthy [http://livelong-livehealthy.com/child-obesity.html].

References

References identified with an EJ or ED number have been abstracted and are in the ERIC data base. Journal articles (EJ) should be available at most research libraries; documents (ED) are available in ERIC microfiche collections at more than 700 locations. Documents can also be ordered through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service: (800) 443-3742. For more information contact the ERIC Clearinghouse on Teacher Education, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 610, Washington, DC 20036; (202) 293-2450.

Becque, M. D., Katch, V. L., Rocchini, A. P., Marks, C. R., & Moorehead, C. (1988). Coronary risk incidence of obese adolescents: Reduction by exercise plus diet intervention. Pediatrics, 81(5), 605-612.

Bouchard, C., Tremblay, A., Despres, J-P, Nadeau, A., Lupien, P. J., Theriault, G., Dussault, J., Moorjani, S., Pinault, S., and Fournier, G. (1990). The response to long-term overfeeding in identical twins. The New England Journal of Medicine, 322(21), 1477-1482.

Dietz, W. H., & Gortmaker, S. L. (1985). Do we fatten our children at the television set? Obesity and television viewing in children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 75(5), 807-812.

Dietz, W. H. (1983). Childhood obesity: Susceptibility, cause, and management. Journal of Pediatrics, 103(5), 676-686.

Epstein, L. H., Wing, R. R., Koeske, R., & Valoski, A. (1987). Long-term effects of family-based treatment of childhood obesity. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 55(1), 91-95. EJ 352 076.

How to Get Cheap New York Health Insurance

New York City is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, costing twice as much as any other city in the United States. Is it any wonder, then, that 25% of New York City residents do not have health insurance? If you’re uninsured, here’s how to get cheap New York Health insurance with a reliable company.

Health Insurance Costs in New York

Consider these facts about health insurance in New York:

* New Yorkers pay 26% more for health care than the national average.

* From 2000 to 2006, health insurance premiums in New York rose five times faster than earnings.

New York State Insurance

New York does provide options to help the uninsured get cheap health insurance. Several state programs are available:

* Family Health Plus is a public health insurance program that provides comprehensive coverage for uninsured adults who don’t qualify for Medicaid.

* Child Health Plus provides similar coverage for children.

* The Healthy NY program helps small business owners provide employees with affordable health insurance.

To find out if you’re eligible for any of these programs, go to the New York Department of Health website – health.state.ny.us – and click on “Health Insurance Programs” under “Site Contents” on the right side of the page.

Private Insurance

If you aren’t eligible for any of these programs, you can find the cheapest rate on individual or family health insurance by going to an insurance comparison website. Insurance comparison websites let you easily obtain quotes from multiple A-rated insurance companies so you can compare them and choose the cheapest one.

The best insurance comparison websites let you talk online with insurance professionals so you can get answers to all your insurance questions and get advice on how to lower your insurance costs. (See link below.)

When you choose an insurance company, you want to choose a company that will be reliable and provide you with excellent service. So before you make a final decision, check the New York Consumer Guide to Health Insurers webpage, which ranks insurance companies based on complaint statistics and enrollee satisfaction surveys. Then you’ll be confident that you have the cheapest premium with the best company.

Purchasing Family Health Insurance – Things to Consider

There is a lot to consider in purchasing Family Health insurance. There are many plans that are available that you can buy that can add or reduce the cost. We have all heard of the following: HMOs – Health Maintenance Organization; PPOs – Preferred Provider Organization; POS – Point of Service Plan. There is a new one that has come into the mix and it is called the Health Savings Account. With HMOs the doctors and associates work directly through the HMO. PPOs and POS are organized by the health insurance. The POS is the most flexible of the three.

The Health Savings Account is a supplemental service used for retirement and is meant to replace the high costs with low deductible health insurance policies. So, there has been a change when it comes to health insurance coverage.

When purchasing Family insurance make sure to investigate the “Child Health Insurance Options.” There are state and federal plans available. There is health coverage for low income families but most parents choose to add their children to their own policies to save money. If your insurance doesn’t offer a family or group plan there are always the PPOs and the HMOs that do. In researching a quote for you need to fill out the information to receive a quote. The company needs the following information: Gender; Height; Weight; Smoker – yes or no; Birth date and your zip code. After you have filled out all of the information for your family you can submit for information for the insurance coverage and the quote.

Also, when purchasing Family Health Insurance there should already be a feel in which company you would like to approach. There is Blue Cross Blue Shield, Tufts and Aetna to name a few. Each has their own health care coverage. Some examples are other than the basic: Alternative Therapy that involves: massage; manipulative; biologic – herbs; Energy and others.

Guaranteed Issue – is is you have any pre-existing health issues that you can not be denied coverage. Indemnity insurance is when the patient can choose who, where and when specifically. Knowing what alternative insurance ahead of time would be a great helping in finding what you need.

The whole objective is to make your health insurance coverage the most beneficial and cost effective. So, remember to know your plans, insurances offered and where you would like to purchase. This will save a lot of time and you will have your numbers to talk to other plans for coverage.