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Ask Colleen King | Blogs


Health care reform, Anthem rate increases, it’s going to be a busy month folks!

09-12-2012by Colleen King

There have been multiple articles in the Los Angeles Times and different online sources about rate increases, health care reform and what it all means. The kicker is, on the health care reform front, no one really knows because it hasn’t all been figured out.

David Lazarus’s article in the Times yesterday about a woman’s rates increasing with Blue Shield is happening all over. Blue Shield, Anthem, Aetna, Cigna, Health Net, they are all having ‘rate actions.’ And since most of my business is with the first three, I’m busy trying to move my folks around.

What makes it difficult at this point is that big unknown called health care reform. Anthem is not quoting anything after September 22, because the reform rules are taking effect September 23. Other carriers are saying according t one of my sources, that they don’t have to comply until either October 1 or January 1. So who are you to believe?

Aetna and Cigna have come out and said they won’t be doing ‘child only’ policies after October 1 because the rule about ‘no pre-existing conditions’ goes into place September 23 if you are under age 19. I’m very curious to see what that is going to do to rates for people with kids on their plans. Supposedly, you wouldn’t be able to ask any health related questions which determines conditions, which determines whether they will be accepted and at what rates. And you don’t think the carriers are really going to ‘low ball’ this, do you? more

What’s an insurance exchange?

08-21-2012by Colleen King

You may be hearing about this more and more in the news these days. Will they be of help to you? Here’s some info, with a bit of my ‘opinion.’

Health care reform proponents wanted to create a ‘marketplace’ where people could go to compare different types of coverage, get help figuring out what plan will work best for them. In the insurance agent community, we weren’t exactly sure what that meant, since wasn’t that we did already? Go to my web site, check out the plans, or call me and I’ll check some out and make suggestions, all without creating a new government agency.

There is still LOT to be done in establishing the exchanges as each state is to create one, or if they don’t want to, the federal government will do one. The biggest difference, is if you are eligible for a subsidy from the feds to purchase coverage, you can ONLY buy from the exchange. Agents in California supposedly are going to be able to offer plans through the exchange, but details on that will need to be worked out–like commissions.

There is a lot more to be figured out, like cost, what will the plans look like, which insurance carriers will be participating, and this needs to be created for both individual/family plans and small group plans. Will it help affordability? Not sure, that will take some time to figure out. And keep in mind, it all has to be up and running by January 1, 2014. Not very far off…. more

Category: Uncategorized

Expensive health care, mediocre results–really?

11-30-2011by Colleen King

While Americans continue to brag about their marvelous levels of care, well at least some Americans, our quality apparently isn’t up to snuff.

Life expectancies, hospitalization rates, cost of care, we’re trailing on an international level. America rates well in cancer care though, according to this article. Switzerland’s system is touted as being effective, and significantly reduced cost, but scroll down to the comments and you will see that while they do have a private insurance system, reimbursement for care and insurance rates are highly regulated. Payments are based on a fee schedule. Take 2 minutes and read this article I found on California Healthline, and you’ll find some interesting statistics on the costs involved with health.

Also interesting is how lack of access is cited as a big problem in the US, not obesity, smoking, etc., the usual suspects.

So what do you think? more

Category: Uncategorized

Health care reform and the role of the local broker–more important than ever?

11-02-2011by Colleen King

Well, okay so your broker doesn’t have to be physically down the street, but it’s looking more and more like getting some help in sorting out options from someone when shopping for health insurance, available to you at no cost, makes sense.

Several articles talk about rates had shooting up and and people looking for new coverage. Often people found working with an independent broker helped find something manageable. You can go to the big major online sites but honestly, the past few years, I’ve helped people change plans several times after they bought something online then found it didn’t work the way they expected.

The California Small Business Association (CSBA) which I’m a member of has a program titled Buy California Small Business First which is aimed at drawing attention to doing business with people and companies within California. The reason to do this is to keep more money/revenue in the state; it’s not necessarily more expensive to do business with local smaller stores.  Now obviously not all insurance companies are based within California, but the local broker is. You will most of the time end up with more personal service when working with a broker. And if you don’t, then you need to look elsewhere; there are thousands of us.

The point is with health care reform in full bloom, there is way too much to keep track of and relying on your broker to help you where needed can be a real plus. Rate increases are hitting–we don’t have all the information yet like we have in years past but do you want to sit on hold with Anthem Blue Cross or Aetna for 20-30 minutes? I’m already doing it, so just add you question to my list. It’s all about trying to save clients money on their health care coverage where we can while making sure as close as we can that your needs are met–that what we do. more

Category: Uncategorized

Health care reform made all preventive care free, right?

09-23-2011by Colleen King

In the effort to increase access to care the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) mandated that preventive services be covered on newly developed plans with no share of cost and before a deductible is met.

Or so we thought–Check out this article from the US Department of Labor. One thing that was not really mentioned is where you go for services may determine whether or not there is a sharing of cost or not. The example here is that if you go to a free standing, ambulatory surgery center for a colonosopy, you probably won’t have a co-pay. But if you go to the outpatient department of a hospital, you probably will because cost of care at those types of facilities typically is higher.

So that’s why I call this the asterisk, or the footnote, yet another, in health care reform. The bill was passed with little detail really delineated, just a ton of concepts. So my advice So Cal, is if you have to have anything more complex than a blood test, so you minimize your costs call the member services number on the back of your insurance card. We have a lot of free standing ambulatory surgery centers in Los Angeles, and a lot of hospitals. Make sure you find your most cost effective options! Money’s still not growing on trees, at least not in the San Fernando Valley.

Have a great weekend!. more

Category: Uncategorized