Friday, October 21, 2016

Misspelling "3000% rate decrease" Part #8392


[click pic to embiggen]

[Hat Tip: FoIB Jeff M]

MediShare: Epilogue

So, the other day I asked about folks' experiences with Health Care Sharing Ministries and, as usual, our readers came through in a big way.

Thank you!

One thing missing, though, was an agent's perspective; that is, from someone who'd actually sold such a plan. Fortunately, I received an email from one such, who's graciously agreed to let me share her story:

"I'm a financial advisor and licensed insurance agent (since ’97). I moved my family to Samaritans two years ago when that insurance we were promised we could keep was no longer available. It took me some time to get comfortable with the idea of believers sharing burdens like this. In part my skepticism was a result of my training in the industry; insure risk, insure risk, insure risk.

Also, my skepticism was partially anchored in knowing human nature. This year we had a small need, $1,800. The plan worked as explained, and receiving notes of encouragement from all those folks was encouraging. It's a privilege to pray for and encourage those to whom we send our monthly contributions, so to receive it in return warmed my soul.

We have found that generally telling doctors that we are cash pay affords better treatment, better pricing, easier appointment times and we've become much more aware of cost [ed: which tracks with what other commenters have noted] as we don't wish to burden the group any more than is absolutely necessary. It's been eye opening to see just how badly and invasive the insurance industry has injected itself between the doctor/patient relationship. Now, even if the ACA is repealed, I don't think I'll go back to regular insurance

Thank you, this is exactly the kind of input I was seeking.

So, I think at this point that I need to "move on" from my skepticism of this model, at least insofar as this new product is concerned.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Goodbye Snoopy

Long time representative of a large financial institution was given his walking
papers. Easily recognized and loved by all, Snoopy is out of a job.

Metropolitan Life has fired Snoopy.
The largest U.S. life insurer announced Thursday that it will phase out the use of Snoopy and Peanuts characters in its marketing. It also unveiled a new tagline, “MetLife. Navigating life together,” in what the New York-based company called the most significant change to its brand in three decades. - Bloomberg

What is the world coming to?

Next thing you know, AFLAC will say goodbye to Yogi and the duck.

You've misspelled "3000% rate decrease"


From FoIB Jeff M:

"Arizona’s Obamacare marketplace rates are set to skyrocket as the state’s two remaining insurers in the marketplace raise their rates 50-75 percent."


Health Wonk Review: Mom's always right edition

Peggy Salvatore hosts this week's terrific compendium of health care wonkery, from political prognostications to Big Tobacco.

Not to be missed.

Blast from the Past: Penn Treaty in the News

Co-Blogger Bob just sent me this:

"Penn Treaty and its affiliates are so broke that their unpaid obligations for Pennsylvania are expected to top $500 million, "close to or at the 2 percent cap" for annual surcharges on Pennsylvania health-insurance policy premiums"

So says Sean McKenna, spokesctitter for the national life and health guaranty group [ed: basically FDIC for insurance]. And what does this mean?


"[Pennsylvania] braces for largest health insurance failure in U.S. history"

Sounds ominous, no?

We first wrote of PT's woes almost exactly 7 years ago, when this whole mess began to unravel for them. This news, though, is much bigger: some $4 billion in the hole, perhaps things would have "passed quietly to reinsurance - a sort of insurer underworld of risk-swapping - if Penn Treaty had been liquidated when it was first taken over."

Oh well, hindsight's always 20/20, right?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Spectacular O'Care Fail

Along with halting the ocean's rise, we were promised that everyone would have health insurance. Hey, they even made it illegal not to have it. And of course this has been a rousing success, and there are no longer any uninsured folks roaming the streets.

Wait, what?

"Why 27 Million Are Still Uninsured Under Obamacare"

I would of course counter: what does it matter? That is, the "why" is irrelevant, only the fact that, 6+ years in, over half of that baseline number (the thoroughly debunked 47 million) still have no health insurance.

But hey, #Winning.

[Hat Tip: FoIB Holly R]

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Health Sharing Ministries: Information Bleg

I recently wrote about a product, newly available to me, that relies "on the kindness of strangers" to help pay medical bills. Today, I learned about another new (to me) product that also relies (but only in part) on this Health Care Sharing Ministry concept.

One of the sticking points is that all of them do require a "statement of faith;" I'm not sure how well that might go over, but that's not really my biggest objection.

Here's the thing: I get that there's a certain amount of risk one takes going this route, but I also look and see these horrendous premiums and out-of-pocket expenses before ObamaPlans actually pay anything. And men especially draw the short stick: we get to pay for maternity and female birth control and the like, but can never benefit from this coverage.

So we pay out thousands, often tens of thousands of dollars with no real discernible benefit (other than - maybe - avoiding the ObamaTax).

So the sharing ministry's shortcomings have begun to look less and less onerous to me.

What I'd really like, and here's my bleg, is to know what experience my readers have had with them, either as customers or agents. Please feel free to leave a comment, or send me an email. And of course your privacy will be respected if that's a concern.


From the "Not Ready for Prime Time" files

Today, class, we learn that the ObamaStration continues its long streak of making ... um ... stuff ... up:

"[M]any consumers will have a new option for the law’s fourth open-enrollment period: standardized health plans that cover basic services without a deductible."

Seems that the folks in DC have (finally!) noticed that ObamaPlans cost a lot, but also offer very little value. These new plans purport to change all this, although if they'd actually bothered to look, they'd notice that every other such plan already covers a host of freebies.

Where these plans differ seems to be in how they handle co-pays; that is, many current offerings require one to satisfy the annual deductible before co-pays (for doc visits, for example) kick in. These essentially waive the deductible and go straight to the co-pays.

Something about lipstick and pigs.

The good news is that they've really thought this through, well in advance of the actual Open Enrollment Period.



"[T]he new plans could still be costly ...  officials did not say how many such plans will be available, in which states they will be offered or how much they will cost."


[Hat Tip: FoIB Holly R]

Monday, October 17, 2016

Off the Menu

Regular readers may recall that North Carolina's Blue Cross franchise recently announced that it wouldn't pay commissions on most new plans. No big deal, right? After all, there are plenty of fish in the sea, and carriers in the market.

Not so fast there, grasshoppa:

"[A]lmost all of the state, from the Blue Ridge to the Outer Banks, will have just one insurer selling ACA policies when the exchanges open again for business in November"

Care to guess which carrier that might be?

I'll wait...

If you guessed Blue Cross, give yourself a (Cuban?) cigar; the carrier "agonized over whether to leave, too. Instead, it is raising its rates by nearly 25 percent."

Nice consolation prize.

But Tar Heel State citizens share a common fate with other ACA victims Americans:

"For the coming year, Oklahoma and Alaska will join Wyoming in having just one insurer selling ACA plans."

Not to put too fine a point on it, but:

Is Health Insurance Rationing on the Table?

■ Data Point 1: Health insurance ≠ health care

■ Data Point 2: We already know that health care is being rationed

Question: Is health insurance rationing "the next big thing?"

Reason I ask is this tidbit from The North Star State's Pioneer Press:

"Insurance companies on the individual market will increase their premiums between 50 percent and 67 percent ... and almost all the plans will put caps on the number of total customers they accept." [emphasis added]

About the massive premium hikes we already knew, but that highlighted section is bone-chilling. With one very unusual exception, I have never heard of a carrier putting a limit on how many plans it would sell. Think about it: have you ever heard a car dealer say "hey, we've already sold too many cars this month, let's take a break?"

On the other hand, the government isn't telling car dealers to lose money every month, either.

Exit question: How long until it's in your state?

[Hat Tip: HotAir]

Friday, October 14, 2016

More Lies from the Shameless Media: O'Care edition

First, hateful right-wing politicians repeat the terrible canard that "[i]t doesn't make any sense. The insurance model doesn't work here."

Now, the press itself is promulgating obvious disinformation:

"More Than 1 Million in Obamacare to Lose Plans as Insurers Quit"

This has been debunked again and again. Here, for example:

The ObamaTax vs Your Salary

FoIB, and clinical psychologist, Dana Beezley-Smith has written a rather interesting take on how the ACA has impacted employees' wages:
My question concerned promises that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would increase the incomes of American employees. “How would that work?” I wondered.

And she successfully fuses economic theory with real-world, real life experience, and even brings in our old "friend" Jonathan Gruber.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sad (Potential) Vendor Trick

So a few weeks ago, got an email from an outfit called "Agent Pipeline" touting a new (to me, anyway) product called "Minimum Essential Coverage Plans." These are stripped down plans that meet the strict ACA guidelines enough that policyholders avoid the ObamaTax,  but because they're pretty bare-bones supposedly save money.

I'm currently working on an interesting case where there are a sizable number of employees who don't qualify for the group health plan (hours worked) but manage to make too much to qualify for Medicaid. So I thought that perhaps this might be something to look into for those folks.

The plan covers the general Minimum Essential benefits (preventive care, x-rays, etc), and is quite affordable: about $150 a month for a single person. It also covers quite a range of telemedicine services, and because it's not an ObamaPlan, one can enroll outside Open Enrollment without a qualifying event.

So, pretty sweet-looking, but I had a few questions:
1 – Is this available for groups/employer-based only, or for individuals, as well? Also, what about associations?

2 – If group, what’s minimum size, and are there participation requirements (either number of people and/or employer premium contributions)?

3 – Pretty sure I know the answer to this, but what about catastrophic claims (cancer, etc)?

4 – The brochure says you’ll accept $$ from HSA accounts, but these plans aren’t on the 213d list of approved expenses. How does that work here?
These seem pretty obvious, simple things to me, and so I expected a prompt reply.

That was two weeks ago, with a helpful nagmail in-between, and still none.

'Tis a shame, no?

Late Week LinkFest

From the "Stopped Clock Twice-a-Day Department:" Sarah Kliff's post on "The Obamacare problem that Democrats don’t want to talk about" touches on some common themes we've written about for many years. And she puts a decidedly human face on the problem:
"Pieknik is a 37-year-old PhD student ... She earns $42,000, which is just slightly too much to qualify for tax credits where she lives ... So right now she’s facing a choice: Pay a lot more money, or scale back her level of coverage."
I'll note in passing that, at age 37, the "free" maternity care that makes up a substantial part of that premium is likely not a big selling point for her.

And from the "In Case You Missed it Department," we learn that North Star State governor Mark Dayton agrees with both Ms Kliff and noted right-winger Bill Clinton:

"Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday said that the increase in health insurance costs in Minnesota highlights “some serious blemishes right now and serious deficiencies” in the federal health care law known as Obamacare."
No kidding.

I still don't understand why these people keep telling obvious lies.

Finally, FoIB Allison Bell has at least a partial answer to a question we've been asking for a while now:

"About 94.5 percent of tax filers who owed mandate penalties paid them by December 2015"

She also noted that the IRS was giving some late-payers a break by writing off over a quarter of all late payments.

To be sure:

"The IRS wrote off some of those late payments because the people who owed the payments were dead"

Doesn't necessarily keep them from voting, of course.