My wife and I are self employed and buy our own coverage for our family of four. The health insurance premiums, by far, represent our largest yearly expense ($13,600), and that’s with additional $2,500 deductibles for each family member. We are all “healthy,” but reserve visiting the doctor unless there is an unavoidable and urgent Continue Reading
Better Insurance Value
Health insurance costs a lot. What drives that cost, and who gets all that money? New requirements make sure more of your insurance dollar is spent on care, but that’s not the only cost driver.
Consumers Union Documents
- Health Reform: Holding Insurance Companies Accountable, Getting A Better Deal On Your Coverage
The spiraling cost of health insurance is a huge concern for hardworking Americans and businesses, and the new national health reform law includes a key provision to make sure you get better value for your insurance dollars.
- CONGRESSIONAL TESTIMONY: Grandfathering Regulations and Medical Loss Ratio Requirements In the Affordable Care Act
Comment on the proposed legislation which would repeal consumer protections.
- BRIEF: Mini-med Health Plans: Don’t Call It Insurance
Mini-med health plans have garnered attention recently because their benefit levels don’t conform to new requirements being phased-in that all health plans provide coverage up to certain levels.
- The Affordable Care Act: The First Year
Discover What the New Law Means for You and Your Family
- New rule requires plans to spend a percentage of premiums on actual medical care
CU comments on the future Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) standards, to be established under Section 2718 of the Public Health Service Act (PHS Act), which will require health plans to spend a minimum percentage of insurance premiums on actual medical care and quality-of-care measures rather than administrative costs and profit.
- What will you get under health reform?
Find out what benefits you’ll get, when they’ll be available and how the key provisions will work
- Shopping for insurance after reform
How the exchanges would work, looking at the Massachusetts model.
- Getting the best possible health insurance marketplace
In the absence of a public plan option, a robust national insurance exchange is the best way to force companies to compete on price and quality.
- CU President’s Letter to House Leadership
On January 6th, 2010, President Jim Guest asked Congressional leaders to make sure the final health reform bill is affordable for American families who will be required to purchase health coverage.
- Our Prescription for Change
The limited reform efforts of the past 20 years have not succeeded in clamping down on soaring health care costs, stemming the number of uninsured or reducing unsafe care. We need not half steps but real change–a uniquely American solution based on the system we already have.
- Consumers Union applauds covered California for reining in 2015 health insurance rate requests
Consumers Union praised Covered California for doing a good job of helping to keep health insurance rates in check for those buying coverage through the state’s exchange.
- Covered California announces health plans, proposed rates
Health insurance exchange offers plans eligible for subsidies, enables Californians to make smart choices
- Consumers Union Praises Proposed Essential Health Benefits Rules
But warns regulators about giving insurers too much flexibility when it comes to benefit substitutions
- Consumers Union Launches Effort to Scrutinize Health Insurance Hikes in California
Contract award from California DMHC to Consumers Union aims to educate public and slow rapid rise of health insurance premiums
- Texas Health Insurance Companies Dropping Rates to Comply with Healthcare Law
April 3, 2012 Texas Health Insurance Companies Dropping Rates to Comply with Healthcare Law According to recently released information from the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), several health insurance providers, including that state’s largest insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield, are dropping health insurance rates ahead of new Medical Loss Ratio rules that will soon force Continue Reading
- HHS denies WI request to delay insurance reform
HHS action protects $13 million in health insurance rebates for Wisconsin
- Bill to Bolster Insurance Companies Harms Consumers
The bill erodes tool for reigning in insurance companies and fighting rising costs
- Groups applaud federal rejection of Texas effort to delay health reform consumer protection
The decision is a victory for Texas consumers who buy insurance on their own
- NAIC shifts stance on medical loss ratio
Nat’l Assoc. of Insurance Commissioners weaken consumer protection that brings value to health insurance
- CU: Reject efforts to weaken forms for comparing health plans
The White House should implement a new requirement for simple, standardized health insurance forms
- Governor Brown: Don’t make Californians choose between getting care and losing their homes
Take action: Tell Governor Jerry Brown to sign SB1124. Older Californians shouldn’t have to choose between getting health insurance and losing their homes – but that’s the choice I’m facing after finding out about California’s policy of recovering the assets of those over 55 on Medi-Cal after they die. I bought my home in San Continue Reading
- Surprise! Your anesthesiologist is out-of-network
Lisa N. from Santa Cruz, California, wrote to us sharing her medical bill-shock story from a recent pregnancy. When the time came, Lisa checked in to her local in-network hospital and used her in-network gynecologist and the approved in-network neonatologist. She hadn’t been planning on getting an epidural, but ended up needing one. “Did I Continue Reading
- Barry knew his daughter’s ER visit might be expensive – but he wasn’t expecting a $55,000 bill
When Barry’s daughter was in a car accident, she was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. He immediately went to the hospital to meet her. She had no broken bones and didn’t need any stitches, but Barry says the hospital staff insisted on her staying at the hospital for at least four hours while they Continue Reading
- $2,000 for two bags of saline? One former nurse says something’s gotta give
There’s a basic problem with the cost of medical care: when you really need help, you’re not exactly in a position to negotiate. Even the most well informed patients can fall victim to the system, as Sandra from Huntington Beach, Calif. recently discovered. As a retired operating room nurse of 30 years, Sandra,knows a thing Continue Reading
- Outrageous Bills – Bad Insurance?
When June’s son dislocated his shoulder while playing basketball at school, it was an easy decision to take him to the hospital, because the Florida family thought that they had a good health insurance plan. At the hospital, doctors took an X-ray, gave her son morphine for the pain, and manually put his shoulder back Continue Reading
- Get in under the wire: Affordable health insurance for those with COBRA coverage
Losing your health insurance can be a scary experience, especially when it happens because of a job loss. A combination of federal and state laws, known as “COBRA” and “Cal-COBRA” (named after The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), allows most Californians who lose their jobs to hold onto their health insurance for up to Continue Reading
- Guest Post: A Blueprint for an Out of Control Cost Structure
Guest post by Roland Garton Consumers Union collected stories on the many problems consumers face with the cost of health care. This guest blog comes from one of the hundreds of story sharers that wrote to us. How does one find out the cost of a medical procedure without actually having it performed? Short answer: Continue Reading
- Unnecessary tests leave patient confused and wanting better transparency
When it comes to health care, consumers in the U.S. have come to expect high prices and hospital bills that are difficult to decipher. In some cases, people are even running into unnecessary tests or procedures. Scarlett from Nevada experienced one of these unnecessary tests coupled with high prices in 2011. “I was bitten by Continue Reading
- Shutdown: A lot of sound and fury at a high cost
The government shutdown and debt ceiling fight was a lot of sound and fury, but ultimately resulted in little change at a high cost. Opponents of the Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare” as it’s come to be known) had hoped to use legislation that funds the federal government as leverage to change the health law, Continue Reading
- Add this to your Fall shopping list: New Health Insurance Options!
California was the first state to pass a law creating its own health insurance “marketplace” after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The new marketplace, named “Covered California,” will open its virtual doors for business October 1 — great news for the millions of Californians without affordable health insurance. You Continue Reading
- Blue Cross profit up 20% in 2011; reserves at $1.15 billion Source: Pioneer Press (Tuesday April 3, 2012)
Eagan-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota saw its profit grow by just over 20 percent in 2011 as financial reserves at the state’s largest health insurer grew to $1.15 billion.
- Women still pay more for health insurance, data shows Source: New York Times (Monday March 19, 2012)
Women still pay more than men for the same health insurance coverage, according to new research and data from online brokers. The new health care law will prohibit such “gender rating,” starting in 2014.
- Groups push for tough health spending targets in Massachusetts Source: Kaiser Health News (Friday March 16, 2012)
Even as Massachusetts celebrates a dip in the growth rate of health care costs, state lawmakers are still working feverishly on cost-control bills.
- Senate bill could roll back consumers’ health insurance savings Source: ProPublica (Friday March 16, 2012)
This summer, health insurance companies may have to pay more than a billion dollars back to their own customers as part of the 2010 health-care reform law. But now an insurer-supported Senate bill aims to roll back the rebate requirements.
- Feds jump-start health insurance co-ops with loans Source: Kaiser Health News (Tuesday February 21, 2012)
The plans are being started under the health reform law’s Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program. The aim is to increase competition among insurers, potentially reducing premiums and improving health care quality and customer service.
- Study: healthcare costs decrease when low-income uninsured are provided coverage Source: UC Irvine (Thursday February 9, 2012)
Enrollment of uninsured patients in a program with benefits comparable to those offered under the Affordable Care Act of 2010 resulted in significant healthcare cost savings, a new study finds.
- Feds reject Texas' request to delay insurance reform Source: Texas Tribune (Friday January 27, 2012)
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has rejected the Texas Department of Insurance’s proposal to delay implementation of a federal health care reform provision aimed at curbing rising premiums.
- Collaborative efforts can save money and improve care Source: Kaiser Health News (Thursday January 5, 2012)
Physicians and hospitals share cost savings with the employers and insurers, and in some cases share losses if savings targets aren’t met. Medicare has launched a similar program under the 2010 health reform law aimed at developing so-called accountable care organizations.
- U.S. denies bids by Kansas, Oklahoma for health law waivers Source: Bloomberg (Wednesday January 4, 2012)
Health insurers in Kansas and Oklahoma can’t take more than 20 percent of the revenue they collect in premiums for overhead and profit, after the U.S. today denied requests from the states for more generous limits.
- HHS rejects looser insurance rules in two states Source: The Hill (Wednesday January 4, 2012)
HHS denied Kansas’s and Oklahoma’s requests to soften the healthcare law’s medical loss ratio (MLR) provisions. The law requires insurers selling policies to individuals to spend 80 percent of their premiums on medical costs, with the remaining 20 percent for profit and administrative costs.