Thursday, February 21, 2019

Attention Gamers! Clock is ticking...

Our friends at Fat Dragon Games have launched their newest Kickstarter, and there's less than a week left to get in on it:

"Printable Miniatures is a collection of fantasy miniatures designed to 3D print without slicer supports."


Even if you're just considering the world of 3D printing [ed: BTW, a fantastic printer runs about $230], would be a great idea to get in on this for when you do pull that trigger.

Math is hard

To wit:
And by "scandalously" Mr K means "by an order of magnitude:"

"The fact that the CBO assumed 14 million could lose coverage mainly due to the elimination of mandate penalties helped kill the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare."

Uh, no: that falls 100% on the feckless GOP "majority."

Still, it's worth noting that the reality turned out to be a lot less of a big deal than the projections, and doubtless played at least some role in the mid-terms.

But that's not even the best part (for certain vales of "best"). No, the best part is this:

"... actuaries for the [CMMS] ... estimated that the elimination of the individual mandate would have a significantly smaller impact than the CBO has long estimated. Specifically, the CMS report revealed that 2.5 million more people would go without insurance in 2019 due to the repeal of the individual mandate's penalties, and the impact would be "smaller" thereafter."

In marked contrast  to the 13 or 14 thousand folks the CBO "guesstimated." Close enough for government work!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Nectar of the Gods: Lagniappe

Almost exactly a month ago, we notified readers of a (ghoulish?) new anti-aging technique:

"A controversial startup that charges $8,000 to fill your veins with young blood to 'defeat aging' now claims to be up and running in 5 cities across the US"

At the time, we also noted that there was scant (ie "zero") scientific evidence backing up that rather extravagant claim. But: no harm, no foul, right?

Well, not so fast there Dr. Acula:

"The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning against buying young people’s blood in an attempt to fight aging and other diseases."

Now notice they're not saying that this is potentially harmful (and, of course, they're not saying it's not, either), but the Feds are concerned that folks may be sweet-talked into spending thousands of dollars on junk science.

Caveat emptor.

[Hat Tip: FoIB Holly R]

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Interesting AutoGraphic

Our friends at the Insurance Information Institute have provided us with this handy (and helpful) visual guide to how your car insurance rates are determined:

[click to embiggen]

Monday, February 18, 2019

Medicare Advantage Plans are Like a Store Credit Card

Why are Medicare Advantage plans like a department store credit card? Before BankAmericard and Master Charge department stores like Sears, J C Penney, Macy's, etc had their own store credit cards. You could get what you want at Sears with your Sears card but don't try to use it at J C Penney's.

Original Medicare is accepted almost everywhere, but not so for your Advantage plan insurance card.

Georgia Medicare Expert explains Advantage plans like you have never heard before.

#MedicareAdvantage #OriginalMedicare #GeorgiaMedicareExpert

Friday, February 15, 2019

It's all so incenstuous: Redux

Just over 3 years ago, we noted the revolving door between the government and the insurance business:

"As regular readers know, AHIP (the health insurance industry's lobbying organization) has been on-board Team O'Care since Day One. What folks may not know is just how deep the ties run between the administration, major labor unions and the insurance industry."

We mentioned several folks specifically, including one who went from the AFL-CIO to AHIP, and then on to running EmblemHealth in New York.

We also pointed to "the lovely and talented Marilyn Tavenner, who came to AHIP directly from her previous gig as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services."

Notice a pattern here?

Well, the other day the industry news reported breathlessly on the objections of the current Keystone State Insurance Commissioner to Short Term Medical (STM) plans:
Here's what she had to say:

"One big problem with expanding consumer use of short-term health insurance is that consumers may have no good way to know what a policy will really cover."

Well for one thing, this is true of every insurance policy of every type: who actually reads them? And whatever happened to personal responsibility? It's true that STM's are underwritten, and don't over pre-existing conditions, maternity or routine physicals.

On the other hand, they offer a much less expensive alternative to ObamaPlans, and generally have significantly lower out-of-pocket maximums, to boot.

On the gripping hand: they appear to be a threat to ObmaCare, since lots of folks have figured out that they are an efficient, lower cost alternative.

Which is a problem for O'Care proponents.

Which brings us back to Ms Altman, who, it turns out, has a vested interest in curtailing the flight of folks from ACA to the short term market. As I pointed out on Twitter, "Ms. Altman worked at the U.S. Department of [HHS] for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, where she developed policy and facilitated implementation of the Affordable Care Act. No vested interest here."

And then co-blogger Patrick chimed in with even more helpful information: turns out, she's also the daughter of current Kaiser Family Foundation President Drew Altman (KFF has been a consistent and vocal ACA supporter).


Thursday, February 14, 2019

A Health Insurance ValDay card

From frequent foil Sarah Kliff:

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Mask Slips


Everything Old is New Again: MEWA edition

It's been a while since we discussed MEWAs (Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement), but this type of plan (along with AHPs and self-funding arrangements) have become hot (again).

Why's that?

Well, primarily because they offer smaller employers the ability to (potentially) save a lot of money on their group health insurance plans.

And how does that work?

Mostly because, unlike ACA group plans, they're medically underwritten, so relatively healthy groups can benefit from rates that reflect the actual risk, instead of Community Rating, which basically dictates ACA plan rates, which subsidizes unhealthy groups at the expense of healthier ones.

And why are you bringing this up now, Henry?

Well, because I recently underwent training to be able to actually sell these plans. The session I attended was for Anthem's version, and took about an hour. The plans themselves are pretty much "off the shelf," with a variety of options and plan designs, including HSAs. From the employer side, there's a bit more paperwork, including something called a Form 5500, "an important compliance, research, and disclosure tool for the Department of Labor, a disclosure document for plan participants and beneficiaries, and a source of information and data for use by other Federal agencies."

From the employee side, it looks just like any other group health plan: you get an ID card and a website "portal" that lets you track expenses, find providers, all the same bells and whistles as ACA plans, but at (potentially) substantial savings.

Of course, there's also the possibility that the rate could could come back higher than an ACA plan (a group can't be declined for health reasons, but it can be rated up), but in that case they're no worse off than before, it just means they're "stuck" with their current plan for a while.

Will be interesting to see how this plays out.