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
- Fact Sheet: Reporting Your Income When Buying Health Insurance on Your State’s Marketplace
The new health care law offers special tax credits to help low- and moderate-income people pay for insurance they buy on their state’s Health Insurance Marketplace. This help is available to individuals earning up to about $46,000 a year and a family of four earning up to about $94,000 a year. You can use these Continue Reading
- Health Reform: 7 Things You Need to Know to be Ready
Consumer Reports has developed this brief guide to help you understand how the changes brought about by health reform, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010, will affect you and your family as it is fully implemented in January 2014.
- Customer Service Principles and Performance Standards for Exchange Call Centers
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) commits to giving consumers applying for affordable health coverage a seamless, top-flight experience. Turning that lofty goal into reality will require performance standards to assure the expectation is met. In some instances, for example, consumers calling an Exchange (Federally Facilitated Exchange also known as an “FFE”, or a state Exchange) Continue Reading
- Health Reform’s ‘Value for Your Dollar’ Rule: Early Impact in Arizona
CU reviewed 2011 MLR results for Arizona insurance companies in the individual and small group markets.
- Health Reform’s ‘Value for Your Dollar’ Rule: Early Impact in Missouri
CU reviewed 2011 MLR results for Missouri insurance companies in the individual and small group markets.
- Health Reform’s ‘Value for Your Dollar’ Rule: Early Impact in Florida (html)
The MLR rule went into effect on January 1, 2011. The first round of rebates must be paid by August 1, 2012, and will be based on insurers’ 2011 spending. Rebates may be in the form of refund checks or a credit toward future premiums. CU examined rebate estimates for the top Florida insurers covering Continue Reading
- 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.
- CU Testimony To Texas House on Recent Changes to the Health Care System Created by the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act
Texans lack the protections afforded in many other states from unfair rate hikes and low value coverage.
- 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.
- 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
- CU to Testify for Consumer Protections in Health Care Law at Congressional Hearing
Testimony challenges proposals that would strip away consumer protections in healthcare
- 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
- 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
- Less than 100 days away, beneficiaries start to take notice
Less than 100 days remain before the new Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) state Marketplaces open their doors for people to apply for health insurance coverage. The nation remains split on opinions about the ACA, with many even unaware that the ACA is the law of the land. Americans don’t understand the benefits of the ACA, Continue Reading
- Blue Cross Blue Shield owes millions to Texans, again
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas is doing better but still isn’t spending enough of its customers’ premiums on health care, according to our analysis of new data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. We’ve been monitoring insurance companies to see how well they’re complying with a provision in the Affordable Care Act that Continue Reading
- Obamacare already saving millions, improving care
Obamacare doesn’t go into full effect until January, but employers, health care providers and individuals are already seeing positive effects. Two recent studies highlight the law’s positive effects on the economy, and Bloomberg reported today on a little-known Obamacare program that is already improving patient care and saving millions. Under Obamacare, health care providers can Continue Reading
- Covered CA’s Newest Innovation Will Expand Health Care Coverage!
On Tuesday, the Board of Covered California , a new marketplace working toward transformational improvements to the affordability of insurance in California, took action on fulfilling that promise for low income Californians. Offering affordable health plans is a critical priority for Covered California. The Board set in motion an approach to using “Bridge Plans” to Continue Reading
- Demystifying Health Insurance Shopping for Consumers
Covered California, California’s new marketplace that will transform the way consumers shop for affordable health insurance, announced bold action at a press conference today featuring Covered California’s Executive Director Peter Lee and Consumer Reports’ President Jim Guest The event announced how Covered California will transform one of a consumer’s most dreaded tasks—shopping for health insurance—into 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.