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August 30, 2007

California Measure To End Retroactive Cancellations of Health Plans

The California Department of Managed Health Care on Tuesday said new rules to prevent HMOs from retroactively canceling individual policyholders' coverage are taking longer than expected to draw up because of the variety of plans involved, the Los Angeles Times reports. In January, the agency, which regulates California HMOs, said it would introduce in the spring regulations to stop the practice of HMOs retroactively canceling coverage because of a failure to disclose pre-existing medical conditions.

DMHC spokesperson Lynne Randolph said the delay in issuing the new rules is a result of the time required to survey the plans to make sure the rules fit them all. "These regulations need to get out in a timely way, but we also feel that consumers deserve to have regulations that will be able to be quickly adopted so that thousands of people who are now being denied health insurance or are afraid of obtaining health insurance because of possible rescission can get relief," Randolph said.

A survey of Blue Cross of California was the first to be completed in March, but the company is disputing the findings, as well as the department's decision that the HMO routinely violated state law by rescinding policies. Surveys of other plans are ongoing.

Proposed rules could take up to a year to be made public and then approved, revised or discarded. Randolph said rescission regulations would be sought even if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) health reform proposal is approved because major changes to the state's health care system would take a long time to implement and could face legal hurdles. Schwarzenegger's (R) plan would require that insurance be sold to all residents, regardless of medical history.

Jerry Flanagan of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights on Tuesday in a letter to DMHC criticized the delay, writing, "Patients cannot afford for you to allow another company's rescission policy to leave more Californians uninsured, uninsurable and facing unpayable medical bills."

Chris Ohman, executive director of the California Association of Health Plans, said the state's efforts to pursue the regulations are "kind of silly," adding, "Let's focus on issues that are going to be relevant to health care reform"

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Posted by healthinsurance at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

August 28, 2007

California did not start the current wave of efforts to overhaul the American health-care system, but what happens in Sacramento over the next few weeks could have a big impact on whether the drive gains momentum or peters out.

With three weeks remaining in the state's legislative session, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) still has nothing to show for the grand proposal he made in January to create a system that would guarantee health insurance for all Californians. But with the resolution of a nearly two-month-long state budget impasse last week, the focus is turning back to health care, with hard-to-predict results.

The adoption of a comprehensive plan to overhaul health care in a big, politically influential state probably would spur similar efforts around the country and increase pressure on presidential candidates to tackle the issue. It could also have an impact in Congress, where a battle will resume next month over whether to expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides coverage for uninsured children in low-income working families.

Smaller states took the first steps. Massachusetts last year passed a law requiring all citizens to buy health insurance, and in recent years Vermont and Maine approved legislation intended to dramatically expand coverage to the uninsured, and Illinois made a priority of covering more kids. In 1974, Hawaii became the first (and still only) state to require that employers provide health insurance to their workers.

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Posted by healthinsurance at 10:43 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2007

Small-business owners favor health care plan, survey says

More small-business owners in California back proposals being considered in Sacramento to revise the state's health insurance system than oppose them, according to a survey commissioned by a coalition of small-business organizations.

Officials with Small Business for Affordable Healthcare yesterday offered the results of its scientific survey as a counterweight to earlier, unscientific polling by the National Federation of Independent Businesses – an influential voice in the state's insurance-reform debate – that indicated opposition to the proposals from a majority of small business owners.

About 47 percent of the business owners surveyed by the coalition said they support Assembly Bill 8, which would charge businesses that don't sponsor employee insurance plans a 7.5 percent payroll tax to fund a statewide pool from which their employees would buy insurance.

The same amount of small businesses support a similar proposal by
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that would charge a 4 percent payroll tax for businesses with at least 10 workers.

The survey questioned 506 randomly selected small-business owners and senior managers between Aug. 2 and 15. The telephone poll, done by Core Strategies of Laguna Hills, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

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Posted by healthinsurance at 08:18 PM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2007

Health care for all should be the goal in California

Whenever the discussion heats up about whether California should be the first state in the nation to adopt a single-payer health care system - known among its opponents as "evil socialized medicine" - the first thing we hear is how satisfied millions of Americans are with their current health care. The knee-jerk rationale goes: Why would we want to risk the privileges of the most sophisticated health care in the world?

Let's set aside the fact that in 2000 when the World Health Organization surveyed the health systems in 191 countries, the United States ranked a relatively pathetic No. 37. (In many areas, we rank behind countries such as Canada and England that have government-run health care.)

Lots of double talk

If you really think your health insurance is so hot, let me ask you this. When is the last time you had to use it for anything other than a routine doctor's visit? If you think that dealing with a state-run health care system would be a nightmare bureaucracy, have you tried navigating the maze of double talk at your health insurance company lately?

The odds are that the health insurance you think you have has changed a lot in the past few years since costs have continued to skyrocket and employers have not been able to continue to foot the bill. In the five years since I've been writing about the health care mess, I've heard horror stories from people who have been denied care by their health

insurance carriers
that are as bad as the stories from people who don't have insurance at all.

The latest such story to grab the spotlight is the plight of Cynthia Campbell, a nurse in San Francisco who is fighting two kinds of cancer. She had a short-term health insurance policy with Blue Shield, which she purchased when she had left one job and was a few weeks away from starting another. During that time, she was diagnosed with cancer, and she fell into "pre-existing condition" hell.

She could not renew her policy, even though she had always had insurance and never missed a premium payment in 30 years. "What you find is that once you actually get sick, no insurance carrier wants to touch you," Cynthia told me. "They do everything they can to get rid of you."

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Posted by healthinsurance at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2007

US NetCare Launches Health Care Insurance for Non-US Citizens in California

US NetCare, an online administrator of healthcare and medical insurance for non-US citizens living in the United States, announced its plan to launch its services in Southern California. "California has the largest immigrant population in the United States and our products have been custom designed to be affordable and easy to apply. Our hope is that the Immigrant population which is in dire need of healthcare coverage will welcome us and our products," according to Jacob Harel, chairman of US NetCare Corp.

US NetCare, an online administrator of healthcare and medical insurance for non-US citizens living in the United States, announced its plan to launch its services in Southern California. "California has the largest immigrant population in the United States and our products have been custom designed to be affordable and easy to apply. Our hope is that the Immigrant population which is in dire need of healthcare coverage will welcome us and our products," according to Jacob Harel, chairman of US NetCare Corp.

US NetCare plans to reach out to the Hispanic community in Southern California through grass roots marketing programs targeted to the communities where they live. The Multi-media marketing plan will be comprised of TV, radio, direct mail, shared mail, door hangers, and Online advertising.

There are over 30 million non-US citizens currently living in the US, many of whom have come seeking employment or other opportunities to better their lives and the lives of their families. Health insurance for them has been unavailable in the past. For the first time, US NetCare offers comprehensive, flexible and affordable plans that support this diverse group and their needs. The plans have been streamlined to give the right coverage at the most efficient price.

Non-citizens residing in the US can include immigrants, foreign workers, exchange scholars, international executives, expatriates, green card holders, international students, undocumented individuals, and diplomats, among others. Through US NetCare, these individuals and their families can obtain coverage during their stay in the United States.

US NetCare's medical services are provided by First Health PPO, an extensive, nationwide network of medical professionals that share US NetCare's commitment to the well-being of the non-US citizen population. Non-US Citizens residing in the US are eligible, and there are no long medical history forms to submit for enrollment. US NetCare also features multi-lingual customer service representatives to assist individuals during the enrollment process and throughout the duration of their coverage.

Live in California? click here for you free health insurance quote today!

Posted by healthinsurance at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)

August 17, 2007

Valuable Health-Care Benefits You May Be Overlooking

Exploring your health-care plan comes naturally when you need it to cover treatments for an illness or injury. But some of its features are best used — and often overlooked — when you're well.

Even in an era of rapidly rising health-care costs, employers often offer a host of free or low-cost preventive-care and wellness benefits, either directly through their health plans, their health plan's negotiated discounts with a network of third-party providers or employee-assistance programs, benefits experts say.

But many go unused because workers assume they don't have them or don't think to ask about them.

Especially when it comes to lesser-known discounts, insured people may be passing up significant savings on expenses such as laser vision correction surgery, braces, infertility treatments, weight-loss programs, massages — even electric toothbrushes. Discounts often range from 10 percent to 40 percent and can translate into personal savings of thousands of dollars.

"There are great benefits available to people that they don't even realize they have," said Mary Jo Case, president of Alliance Resources Inc, a human-resources consulting firm in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Here are nine valuable benefits you might be missing out on from your insurer, employer or both:

Paid preventive-care benefits

Those could encompass age-appropriate screenings like colonoscopies and mammograms; regular checks of blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar; and prenatal vitamins for pregnant women.

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Posted by healthinsurance at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2007

State fears insurance for children in jeopardy

SACRAMENTO – President Bush's plan to veto a children's health insurance bill could leave about 200,000 California children uninsured and disrupt Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's goal of providing universal coverage, state officials said.

Bush has threatened to veto a pending Senate bill that would add $35 billion over the next five years to the State Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides coverage for children of the working poor. In California, the program is called Healthy Families.

Children enrolled in these programs have parents whose income is too high to qualify for Medicaid, called Medi-Cal in California, but not high enough for them to afford health insurance.

Bush also opposes a House bill that would add even more money to the program. Instead, he favors an alternative that would add $5 billion and reduce eligibility.

Bush's position set up a clash with Schwarzenegger, who has made expanding the program a top priority. It is a critical component of Schwarzenegger's plan to provide health insurance to the state's 6.5 million uninsured residents.

Schwarzenegger, who campaigned for Bush in 2004, repeatedly has disagreed with the Republican president on a variety of issues, including California's attempts to limit air pollution and greenhouse gases.

Californians, click here for your free California health insurance quote now!

Posted by healthinsurance at 01:25 PM | Comments (0)