Tuesday, September 25, 2012

To Buy Health Insurance Or Pay The Penalty??

Which are you planning on doing?  The time will soon be here where there will be a tax penalty to pay if you do not have health insurance.   You may purchase health insurance directly from a provider, through a state created insurance exchange ( with or without qualifying for credits, i.e.discounts), or through a company group plan!  

It looks like, from the following article that the penalty is going up!  So do do your homework.

Here is info written by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar on September 24, 2012 in the Insurance Journal: 

"Nearly 6 million Americans — significantly more than first estimated— will face a tax penalty under President Barack Obama’s health overhaul for not getting insurance, congressional analysts said. Most would be in the middle class.

The new estimate amounts to an inconvenient fact for the administration, a reminder of what critics see as broken promises.

The numbers from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office are 50 percent higher than a previous projection by the same office in 2010, shortly after the law passed. The earlier estimate found 4 million people would be affected in 2016, when the penalty is fully in effect.

That’s still only a sliver of the population, given that more than 150 million people currently are covered by employer plans. Nonetheless, in his first campaign for the White House, Obama pledged not to raise taxes on individuals making less than $200,000 a year and couples making less than $250,000.

And the budget office analysis found that nearly 80 percent of those who’ll face the penalty would be making up to or less than five times the federal poverty level. Currently that would work out to $55,850 or less for an individual and $115,250 or less for a family of four.

Average penalty: about $1,200 in 2016."

You may read the entire article here:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

CA Consumer Complaint Study

Did you know that there is a Consumer Complaint Study (CCS) published by the California Department of Insurance (CDI) to assist insurance consumers as they shop for insurance. In addition to using this study, consumers should also consider coverages, premiums, agent service, and insurer financial strength before buying a policy.
The Consumer Complaint Study is a combination of two studies which provide informational data. The primary study is the Justified Complaint Study (Composite Ratio) which ranks the insurance companies according to their justified complaint ratio. The secondary study is the Company Performance and Comparison Data Study.
Click on the following link to view Consumer Complaint Study.  Hope this information is useful to you!

The above is taken from the CA website: 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

10 Services Of CA Dept Of Public Health

How much do you know about the California Department of Public Health.  Here are 10 of their primary services:
  1. Monitoring health status to identify community health problems including health disparities.
  2. Detecting and investigating health problems and health hazards in the community.
  3. Informing, educating, and empowering people and organizations to adopt healthy behaviors to enhance health status.
  4. Partnering with communities and organizations to identify and solve health problems and to respond to public health emergencies.
  5. Developing and implementing public health interventions and best practices that support individual and community health efforts and increase healthy outcomes. 
  6. Enforcing laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety.
  7. Linking people to needed personal health services and ensuring the provision of population-based health services.
  8. Assuring a competent public health workforce and effective public health leadership.
  9. Evaluating effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of public health services, strategies, and programs.
  10. Researching for insights and innovative solutions to public health problems. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Got A Healthcare Question? Live In California?

As written by David Gorn
The Department of Managed Health Care recently received a $4.6 million federal grant to fund its consumer assistance program to help answer questions from California consumers about health coverage.

"This will enable us to reach and assist more Californians who are struggling with health coverage questions," said Marta Green, deputy director for communications and planning at DMHC. "The focus of the grant is on consumer assistance for Californians," Green said, "and in particular to help seniors and people with disabilities, who have more specific needs."

The California Department of Insurance and the Office of the Patient Advocate stand to benefit from the grant money, as well, according to Green. "It is a single-applicant grant, but DMHC will distribute some funding, such as to OPA for data collection, and to CDI for enhancement for the health center." DMHC is working with nonprofit, community-based service organizations to work in a proactive way to reach anyone with concerns about coverage, rather than waiting for questions to appear. "The community services groups are sort of our boots on the ground," Green said. That includes data collection across different programs, she said, "which allows us to spot problems and any trends emerging. And that's a very good thing."
So, heads up to all who are connected to community organizations that could benefit from the above.  Get yourselves known and use this new service here in CA.   Trust me, you will have questions!!! 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Great Tips For Doctor Visits & Taking Care Of Yourself

Thank you AHRQ for these tips ... some great tips for your next visit to a new doctor or even one you've been using!

Before Your Appointment

  • Bring all the medicines you take to your appointment. This includes:
  • Prescription medicines.
  • Non-prescription medicines, such as aspirin or antacids.
  • Vitamins
  • Dietary or herbal supplements.
  • Write down the questions you have for the visit..
  • Know your current medical conditions, past surgeries, and illnesses.

During Your Appointment

  • Explain your symptoms, health history, and any problems with medicines you have taken in the past.
  • Ask questions to make sure you understand what your doctor is telling you.
  • Let your doctor know if you are worried about being able to follow his or her instructions.
  • If your doctor recommends a treatment, ask about options.
  • If you need a test, ask:
    How the test is done.
    How it will feel
    What you need to do to get ready for it.
    How you will get the results.
  • If you need a prescription, tell your doctor if you are pregnant, are nursing, have reactions to medicines, or take vitamins or herbal supplements.
  • Find out what to do next. Ask for:
    Written instructions.
    Web sites.
After Your Appointment

  • Always follow your doctor's instructions.
  • If you do not understand your instructions after you get home, call your doctor
  • Talk with your doctor or pharmacist before you stop taking any medicines that your doctor prescribed.
  • Call your doctor if your symptoms get worse or if you have problems following the instructions.
  • Make appointments to have tests done or see a specialist if you need to.
  • Call your doctor's office to find out test results. Ask what you should do about the results.

Free Tools
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, supports research that helps people make informed decisions and improves the quality of health care.

AHRQ offers these free resources to help you make decisions about your health care:

  • Questions are the Answer: http://www.ahrq.gov/questions 
    This Web site lets you make a list of questions that you can bring to your medical appointments and gives you tips on talking with your doctor.
  • Consumers & Patients: http://www.ahrq.gov/consumerhttp://www.ahrq.gov/consumer
    This page links to consumer information on staying healthy, getting high-quality health care, and more.
  • Your Medicine: Be Smart. Be Safe: http://www.ahrq.gov/consumer/safemeds/yourmeds.htm
    This booklet answers common questions about getting and taking medicines and has a wallet card to help you keep track of your medicines. Order a free copy by calling 1-800-358-9295.