Friday, October 12, 2018

CanuckCare©/Medicare4All: A study



"On a Slippery Slope, Canadian Hospital Unveils Physician-Assisted Suicide Plan for ‘Sick Kids’"

Hat Tip: FoIB The Political Hat

If it's too good to be true....

There's an old retailer's trick where one marks up the merchandise 75% (or more!), then announces a 50% off sale. It's tried and true, and coming to an ObamaPlan for you. From our friend Holly R:

"Obamacare premiums are going down for first time"

Oh frabjous day!

That's right, standard-bearer Silver level plans are set to go down a bit when Open Enrollment v6.0 takes off next month.

By about 1.5%. Which is nice, but then comes the not-so-fine print:

"[T]he decline comes after a 37% spike for this year's benchmark silver plan."

Which means that average $6 per month savings pales in comparison to the $1,200+ increase they ate last year, and will continue to pay even now.

Such a deal!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Something new

So, we've discussed Direct Primary Care (DPC) for quite a while here at IB; some pro, some con. On balance, I think the idea has a lot of merit, and certainly potential.

But as Yoda says, "there is another:"

I've been reading a lot about Virtual Primary Care (VPC). Like DPC, it's usually a subscription-based model, offering direct access to a (presumably qualified) physician who can diagnose what ails ye, and even prescribe meds. One advantage to VPC is that, unlike your friendly neighborhood Direct Primary Care doc, it's available 24/7. Of course, you give up the inherent advantage of actual person-to-person direct access, but how often is that actually necessary?

The other appeal to VPC is its low price, often much lower than DPC (caveat: be mindful of "you get what you pay for"). It seems to me that these plans would work well with so-called "high-deductible plans" (scare quotes because true "cat plans" are illegal under ObamaCare), especially those with limited or no office visit co-pays.

We've arranged to offer one such plan to IB readers - the subscription fee is a modest $20 a month (regardless of whether it's just you, or a family). You can get all the gory details in the "Teledoc [NEW]" link in the side-bar.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The cost of compliance

First off, I realize that anecdote ≠ evidence, but this seems like a really simple, effective and meaningful way to describe the impact of full ACA-compliance on small group plans:

Both Employers A and B are insured with the same carrier, are about the same size and with similar plan designs, and boast a January 1 renewal date. Employer A's plan is Grandmothered (doesn't fully comply with all ObamaCare requirements), Employer B's is not.

Yesterday, I received both renewals.

Company A's premium actually decreased (by pennies, but still...). I haven't seen that for many, many years.

Company B's premium increased by about 17%. Now, I've seen worse, but it's not as if they can now just go out and raise their service rates by almost 20% to cover that difference. And that 17% is, basically, the cost of ACA compliance.

The more you know...

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer: v2018

Once again, I'm raising money with my team: Love, Hope and Faith. Our walk is Saturday, October 20th, and I'd really like to break the $1,800 mark.

Will you please help out by making a donation - Any amount helps.

Thank You!!

What happened?

How could this be?
'Tis a poser.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Monday Round-Up

We noted last month that surprise medical bills, primarily from out-of-network providers, continue to be a plague and a menace. As a result, there's at least one legislative effort to curtail them, but will the cure be worse than the disease?

Our friends at Health Agents for America tipped us to this article that offers a clue:

"Legislation limiting a provider’s ability to negotiate prices could ultimately result in reduced access to care for consumers"

One step forward....

Short Term Medical plans continue to be a popular ObamaPlan alternative, offering lower premiums and greater flexibility. But so-called Blue States seem to have a problem with choice. Our friends at Inside Health Policy pointed out this handy info:

"A federal judge in DC on Tuesday (Oct. 2) scheduled a hearing for Oct. 26 on stakeholders' motion to immediately suspend the administration's short-term health plan rule."

Will be interesting to see the outcome.

Regular readers know about the zeroing-out of the (Evil) Mandate/Tax for the 2019 plan year (assuming there's no drastic change due to next month's mid-term's). But what most of us likely didn't know was just what burden that tax levied on those least able to afford it:

Finally, a bonus. Via email from the folks at All Health PR:

"Sperm Counts Drop Across U.S. - Except New York"

According to new research, the sperm counts of male residents of six major US cities went down over the past ten years, except for those in New York City.

Yeah, I don't believe that, either.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Pot, Kettle, LifeLock©

So this happened:

[click to embiggen]

This in email from a Mr Ed Sutton at Symantec. His proposed solution?

"If employees are not enrolled in LifeLock, this is a good reminder for them to do so now."

Really, Ed?

Here was my reply:


That the same LifeLock that exposed millions of its own customers' data?

That LifeLock?

What. A. Joke

Odds on him responding?

Yeah, no.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

An Unspoken ObamaCare Shanda: Bye, Bye PPO

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, Anthem is diving back into the individual major medical market for Open Enrollment '19; although there's no official word yet on product details, it's a safe bet that they'll be using the ubiquitous (and problematic) HMO model. And we've just recently learned that Medical Mutual is also re-joining the Ohio market, and they've confirmed that theirs is, indeed, an HMO product.

So what's the big deal, Henry? Shouldn't you be grateful that (at least) two more options will exist for your fellow Buckeyes? And isn't this incentive enough to dive back in yourself?

If only it were that simple. Yes, I suppose it's gratifying to see carriers dipping their toes back into the individual medical pool. But it's disheartening - if completely understandable - that all of the choices available for the upcoming season are HMO's, with zero PPO options even available.

Ok, but you still haven't answered the question: So. What?

Back in the day, the PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) was dominant: under this model, one got the "biggest bang for the buck" by accessing care in-network, but there was always this safety net, or out-of-pocket cap, on non-network services. Sure, it stung a little more, but at least one wasn't footing the entire bill.

Under the HMO model, there is essentially zero coverage for non-life-threatening situations outside of the (now even narrower) network. This means that unless one is basically bleeding out on the front steps of the out-of-network facility, there's likely to be no coverage.

This is a major issue for folks with significant and/or chronic health issues: what if your oncologist isn't in your plan's network? Yeah, a problem. And it's a direct result of ObamaCare rules which leave carriers with few options to rein in costs. Of course I'm not holding them entirely blameless, but this is really the only rational choice.