Monday, October 15, 2018

Singer Quits, Medical Tourism Wins

Longtime entertainer and 4-time Grammy Award winner Michael Buble, whose hits include "Haven't Met You Yet" and "It's a Beautiful Day" has put his career on hold to care for his liver cancer-stricken son, Noah:

"Going through this with Noah, I didn’t question who I was, I just questioned everything else. Why are we here? 'Is this all there is? Because if this is all there is, there has to be something bigger."

A selfless act by a successful musician. Yasher koach, and may Noah experience a full recovery.

Which is all very noble, Henry, but what the heck does it have to do with insurance, let alone medical tourism?"

Well, as regular readers know, we have pointed out many times over the years that CanuckCare
© may be free, but that doesn't mean it's terribly good. And how do we know this? Because folks with the resources to do so choose American health care when lives are at stake:

"Both he and Luisana put their careers on hold to be there for their son - they jetted to the US so Noah could undergo treatment for hepatoblastoma." [emphasis added]

Of course, with a $46 million a year income, he and his family can afford to do so. But what about average Joe Poutine?

Gives one pause, no?

[Hat Tip: FoIB Michael Bertaut]

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer: v2018

Once again, I'm raising money with my team: Love, Hope and Faith. Our walk is coming up so quickly - this coming 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!!

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

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.


Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Phrasing: An LTCi story

Recently, I had an interesting Twitter conversation about Long Term Care insurance. It all started when our friend Allison Bell tweeted:

"While a lot of insurers are hiding from stand-alone long-term care insurance... National Guardian Life is out there getting its product Partnership program approvals."

[ed: Partnership-compliant plans have special powers]

I replied:

"Good for them! Challenge: They still use Service Days for Elimination Period."

And that's when things got interesting.

A Twitter friend responded "Educate us please... What is that, and why bad?"

So I explained:

"Long Term Care insurance (LTCi) plans have a "deductible" in the form of waiting periods until benefits begin. Some (most?) are based on *calendar* days; that is, I've been eligible for benefits for 90 days now, go ahead and send those checks.

NGL, though, uses service days; that is "I've been eligible for benefits for 90 days, but have only had care for 60 of those, so I still have 30 more days receiving care before I'm eligible.

It's not good/bad, just different, but I much prefer calendar to service. Often get benefits much quicker."

Our friend Scott Olson (a recognized LTCi guru) chimed in:

"My relative had a home health aide come to the house everyday for 90 days... just a short visit of a few hours. That satisfied the service day elimination period in only 90 calendar days and it didn't cost much."

I replied that I had nothing against service day plans, but that I preferred calendar-based ones. I then pointed out that home health care is not free; around here, it runs about $20 an hour. Based on a 90 day elimination period (by far the most popular option), that would cost about $3,600 just to access the claims process.

Scott agreed, but suggested that this could be offset by lower premiums on service day plans. My experience has been that this is rare (I've actually never seen it happen 'in real life.'). Still, worth considering.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Tuesday Linkage

Hey Ohio Gov John "The Mailman's Son" Kasich:


Britain's Much Vaunted National Health System© still hates young people:

"A Teesside school choir has created a hit record - to raise much-needed funds for an Eaglescliffe teenager."

Recently graduated Evie Whittaker has been fighting an uphill battle against cancer, complicated by a stroke. She's still unable to sit up, and has been told by the caring, compassionate government bureauweenies who run the MVNHS© that she's no longer eligible for that awesome free health "care." As a result, her friends and family are trying to raise money to get her to Germany for treatment.

Consider the irony of that.

[Hat Tip: @flintbedrock]

Finally, our friend Shari G tips us to a summary of who's really to blame for the train-wreck that is Obamacare, and this singularly explosive (not to mention dead-on accurate) assessment:

"The individual market comprises just 7% of the total insurance market. And of those, only a much smaller fraction had ever been denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions before ObamaCare"

Baby, bathwater: Indeed.

Monday, October 01, 2018

More from The Standard

The innovative folks at The Standard strike again. Readers may recall our post last month about the carrier's Family Care Benefit:

"[H]elp your client take time for caregiving. This benefit provides cash to replace lost income due to working fewer hours and earning less income to care of a family member."

I could see that as a sort of Long Term Care insurance supplement, as well.

Anyway, they have a new bennie available that seems like it could be very helpful for folks with college debt. Via email this morning:

"With the Student Loan Rider, if you become totally disabled ... we'll reimburse all or a a portion of your student loan payments so you don't fall behind."

I could see this as particularly helpful for attorneys and physicians, who can rack up big student loan bills and take a while to start earning enough to begin chipping away at the debt.

Very cool!

[Hat Tip: Diversified Brokerage]