Thursday, March 22, 2018

Thursday LinkFest

First up, this warning to "Beware the employer-paid COBRA continuance bear trap."

What's that, you ask?

Well, to be fair, I'd never heard of it, either, but apparently some folks can elect to have their former employers actually pay for their COBRA plans (nice!). The downside is that when COBRA runs out, it's not considered a Special Open Enrollment trigger.

Heads' up.

From our friends at Cornerstone, the newest info on this year's HSA contribution limits, which basically decrease the max effect family maximum $6,900 to $6,850. Not necessarily the end of the world, but every dollar counts.

FoIB Holly R alerts us that Badger State governor Scott Walker has signed "SB770, intended to control health insurance costs by implementing a state reinsurance plan that would pay as much as 80 percent of insurance claims of individuals with high medical bills."

Details here.

I'll just remind folks that government actions pretty much never "control health insurance costs."

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Much ado about ... What, exactly?

Health Agents for America (HAFA) president Ronnell Nolan produces a series of vlogs (basically video blogs) about various issues that we deal with every day. Recently, she posted this one. Please watch (it's only a few minutes long) and then I'll share our discussion about it:

She linked the video on Twitter, with the warning that "one of HAFA's Agents from New Hampshire with a large book of business lost their Anthem contract. Basically, they were told because they could! READ YOUR CONTRACTS!!"

This agency, which had apparently brought a lot of business to Anthem's table, was summarily excused from it. This is not in dispute. Where Ms Nolan and I part ways is in her characterization:

I pointed out that Anthem was well within its rights to execute the contract's cancellation clause, as would be any carrier (and, of course, agents are also free to bail at their discretion). To which Ms Nolan replied:

"Most Agent/Brokers do not know contracts can be cancelled at will. Goes back to the question....whose customer is it. After I bring the company to have a right to discard me?"

Well, yeah.

As I responded, when I request appointment with a carrier I also agree to abide by the terms of their contract (which is supplied to me and which I of course read from cover to cover). And yes, I did bring them my customer/client. Which client, by the way, I am free to move to another carrier in the future, and there's nothing that Anthem (et al) can do about that.

Understandably, Ms Nolan wasn't entirely satisfied with this take, and pointed out that it's "Not wrong by contract you are right. But morally wrong."

Perhaps, although as I just pointed out, it's a two-way street: am I "morally wrong" when I move clients from one carrier to another?

The bottom line is that while I in no way condone Anthem's actions here, I'm not seeing anything illegal or even "wrong" in what they've done. Reprehensible, probably, but not wrong.

Monday, March 19, 2018

From the P&C Files: AirBnB Issues

Several years ago, my daughters traveled to Vancouver (because reasons) and stayed in an AirBnB. What I most recall about the experience was that the hostess insisted upon "meeting" them on Skype and interviewing them to see if they'd be a 'fit.' Having stayed in numerous traditional Bed & Breakfasts myself, this struck me as both odd *and** sensible.

Apparently, not every such host goes that extra mile, and to their detriment. FoIB Tsrblke alerts us:

"An Airbnb host claims that a nightmare guest left $18,000 worth of damage in her home"

After some 300 people trashed their house (invited by her client, no less), the owner admits that there were some "red flags", but it appears that the "green dollars" overcame them.


The corporate folks at AirBnB HQ offer a cool million dollar "guarantee" for hosts, but so far this one's not seen a dime.

So why doesn't she just claim it on her homeowner's policy?

We reached out to our regular Guru of P&C, Bill M, who told us that:

"The use of your home for commercial purposes is typically excluded.  Some companies are coming out with a business endorsement for “air b&b” type exposures.

The biggest thing is to communicate with your agent to discuss challenges and how best to solve them.

And by the way, traditional B&B's can have some of the same issues, especially if the owners/hosts live in the home

As Tsrblke reminds us:

"Nobody in the "sharing economy" is taking basic steps to protect their assets. The company "guarantees" aren't insurance and shouldn't be treated as such."


Friday, March 16, 2018

Willfill Blindness or Simple Fanatacism?

There is no question that insurance companies, primarily as a result of the politics and economics of ObamaCare, contribute less value and drive more out-of-pocket than ever before. And it's also true that Direct Primary Care (DPC) continues to offer a viable alternative method of health care delivery and (to a much lesser extent) health care financing.

But I'm concerned that DPC proponents are, as the saying goes, becoming the abyss:

To which I replied:

And this is becoming a real problem. Regular readers know we have no compunction about calling out Stupid Carrier Tricks, but the fact is, insurance can (and does) play a uniquely vital role in most people's ability to afford catastrophic health care expenses.

Yes, re-introducing true Cat plans would be a tremendous step in the right direction, but we don't have that yet, and aren't likely to any time soon (more's the pity).

But the fanatical DPC Brigade risks losing whatever credibility it's built up by ignoring the actual costs of major claims and presuming that regular folks can bear the brunt of them.


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Ides of March Health Wonk Review

Our good friend David Williams hosts this month's round-up of all things health wonkery.

Do check it out.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Another opinion survey

Civis Analytics (CA), a firm started by 2012 Obama campaign veterans, conducted a telephone opinion survey February 28 about American policy priorities.  Powerline reported their results hereand Vox here.

Powerline excerpts two charts from the CA survey.

The first chart shows responses of likely Democratic voters - of whom 45% give top priority to “health care”!  Whut!? Because Obamacare didn't work?  Because this time, they’ll get it right fer shur?  

Reminds me of an old Flip Wilson punch line:  “Hell no, you broke yours off already!” 

The second chart shows responses to the same questions, only this time the sample group is all likely voters – in other words, not just Democrats.  Notice how the percentages change from the first chart to the second.  The second chart reveals far less less support to “health care”.

Yet Civis Analytics has this to say:  Democratic voters, and voters in general, seem very clear in their preference that health care come first.”  Vox opines that “the numbers are strikingly similar, with answers more concentrated around health care and guns”.   Really? Voters in general?  Strikingly similar??

I don’t think so.  I say CA and Vox have it wrong.  I say Powerline has it right: “the results skew when all likely voters—not just Democrats—are reported”.  How much does it skew?  Assuming CA surveyed roughly equal numbers of likely Democratic and non-Democratic voters, the results in the two charts imply about 17% support for “health care” among likely non-Democratic voters. Do 45% and 17% seem strikingly similar to you?   Do 45% and 17% mean underlying agreement?   

Of course not.  CA and Vox both err in looking at the average of the combined surveys as though that average reflects unified public opinion. It’s an error because the responses of the two survey populations show a clear and sharp difference of opinion about “health care”.  Therefore it’s false to claim the overall average represents any general preference.   CA’s conclusion is like claiming that, on average, Americans have one testicle and one ovary.  It’s only “true” when you ignore the reality underneath the average. 

Yet despite Civis Analytics’ (and Vox’s) equivocations, I think the CA survey does reveal two important truths – (1) “health care” remains a divisive issue among Americans and (2) the division still appears to have more to do with politics than with the actual substance of “health care”.  

Low Opinion or Xenophobia (or both?)

Well, have to do the (stupid) Anti-Money Laundering course again (don't ask). Each time I do so, I find something else that's ironic and/or humorous (or, more often:  dumb).

[click to embiggen]
So what are they saying here, exactly?

And aren't the folks who actually write and enforce this material in an "elected or appointed government position?"


Monday, March 12, 2018

On Severability

We first noted this issue way back in 2010:

"[A] federal judge in Virginia has ruled the (Evil) Individual Mandate unconstitutional ... Since the judge has ruled that the precept of "severability" does not attach"

Um, Henry, what's your point?

Well, it actually involves The Lone Star State (and 19 of its closest buds), The Constitution, and the law. Severability simply means that if one part of a particular law is deemed unenforceable, the rest of it could still be fine. But its absence would mean that if one part is tossed, then the rest is, too  (baby, bathwater, you understand). Most legislation includes a "severability clause" that essentially says "hey, even if Part 2 is deemed non-enforceable, the rest of this law still stands." It's pretty standard wording.

Unless you're the Party in Power
©, in which case you ram through a hastily written revampling of our entire healthcare financing and delivery system, and decide one's not necessary [ed: we would also accept "You're the Party in Power© and are too stupid to catch its absence"]. And here's where it gets .... interesting:

The theory behind the suit is that, since Justice Roberts (et al) deemed the Mandate 'kosher' as a funding mechanism, and since  the  Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 explicitly set that funding at $0, the entire platform on which ObamaCare was built is null-and-void.

Whoa there, Henry, went a little fast there, didn't you?

Okay, remember that "severability clause:" we discussed? Well:

"Once the heart of the ACA — the individual mandate — is declared unconstitutional, the remainder of the ACA must also fall."

Of course, the Supremes will do what the Supremes will do, but this seems like at least a viable argument.