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Arizona Health Insurance Blog

The latest news on health insurance in Arizona. Topics include Obamacare, Medicare Supplements, individual insurance and industry news.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

ACA vs. Repeal/Replace

For better or worse; for richer or poorer; in sickness and in Wealth?

What are the consequences to employment in the health sector if President Trump follows through on his campaign promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act? That may not be as big a concern as we once thought… Instead of abolishing it, his language has changed from "repealed" to "amended" to "repair & replace" so now, though no one knows exactly what's going to happen, it appears that millions won't be left without coverage.  

Maybe his solution will be worse than former President Obama's plan; maybe it will have the same net-effect; hopefully it will be even more comprehensive and better. We're going to have to wait and see.


Repeal would hurt the health industry

There's no doubt that the complete repeal of the ACA would result in many people not being able to afford healthcare. Fewer people would see doctors; fewer patients would mean lowered staffing requirements for clinics. Doctors' incomes would see a consequent decrease, as would the total number of employees in the health industry.

The new President doesn't want to alienate a very wealthy sector of the population (medical professionals) or cost the sector innumerable jobs. Nor would Big Pharma be too thrilled about a 25% drop in prescriptions for the expensive pills they sell, either.  He's a businessman, as he's often proclaimed, and he's got "good people", so hopefully he'll get good advice.

Where did all this come from?

The United States has always placed a high value on being staunchly independent; on standing apart from the crowd; on the value of the individual being able to determine his or her own highly customized future.  

Being afforded that opportunity some people have profited immensely. Good for them! We reward those that are the first to do something; who improve a process; and particularly, those who do something better than anyone else.

Sometimes that encourages them to spread the wealth among those they deem to be deserving of their aid (e.g. the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). On the other side of the coin, sometimes successful people are more like Ebenezer Scrooge, simply valuing their wealth for its own sake. Generally speaking, we appreciate the people that share their wealth more than the people that hoard it.  

Historically we had no say in that, of course; it was entirely up to them what they chose to do with it. At least it was that way until universal taxation came along. You can't just have a government; you need to develop rules, processes, and laws, to make it all function, and of course it needs to be financed.

But once you have a government where do you draw the line about what should be covered and what shouldn't? Roads? Sure!  Hydroelectric dams? Absolutely! Healthcare? Um… let me get back to you on that!

Gambling with our health

Insurance/Assurance has existed for very long time.  Mathematicians (actuaries) would study history and calculate the odds against an event and offer to compensate people who experienced that event against a flat wager placed at the beginning of the term.  It's actually a socially acceptable form of gambling.

Some people became very good at calculating the odds and turned it into a profitable business model.  As civilization advanced around the world, some individuals thought the service ought to be regulated by the government as a fundamental human right.  Profits were too high, they claimed, especially being based on human suffering.  Many governments elected to provide a basic healthcare package for all of their citizens.

In most of the developed nations of the world, irrespective of politics, basic healthcare is provided to citizens.  If you need medical care in France, you just call the local Health Service and a doctor will come to your home or office and provide treatment. S/he can admit you to hospital on the spot. If you get a prescription, for any drug you can get it filled at any pharmacy for between 0-65% of the cost. This is true for most of Europe. 

The same is true in Cuba…just walk into any hospital for free treatment for everything from the flu to prosthetic limb replacement.  England has this, as does Canada, and the ABCs of South America (Argentina, Brazil, and Chile).  

North and South America have a total population of just over one billion people.  Of the 414.7 million in South America, 60% are covered by public health.  Mexico's 122 million are well on the road to Universal Healthcare, starting with healthcare for babies far back in 2006, and Universal Care for Pregnant Women in 2009.  The 35 million in Canada have been able to get heart-lung transplants for the cost of a bus ticket to the hospital since the 1960s.

Once again, the U.S. stands alone, resisting Universal Healthcare, while virtually all other developed and developing nations embrace it. Our independent spirit has moved us through history, accomplishing astonishing things, often setting the best example for the world to emulate.

We have to ask ourselves: "If we're the Greatest Nation on Earth, shouldn't we be showing the world how to do it better than they do it?"  We're not followers; we're leaders!

We need to show them that we can create a low cost, sustainable, inclusive, healthcare plan for everyone; where citizens don't expire on the street because they have no access to Medical Care; where our famed American-Know-How gets the job done without all the pointless partisan politics; where we don't have a mass exodus of our medical professionals to another country, searching for job stability, as happened in Venezuela.  

If we're doing the job right, we should be increasing the number of people in the medical profession.  Why?  Right now we currently have about 240 per 100,000 of population, compared to 590 per 100,000 in Cuba, and 425 in Russia.  Medical care is far too expensive and inaccessible to a large portion of our population compared to other countries, and therefore we have fewer medical professionals.  Currently we stand at number 52 in the world—and isn't that unacceptable for the Greatest Nation on Earth?

What will likely happen

  • Drug patent monopolies will change.  The United States is the only country that provides extended patent drug monopolies without price controls.  As a result we pay more for our drugs than any country in the world.  This isn't a "free market" issue, since it involves a monopoly;
  • We may allow the import of medication from overseas manufacturers to put downward pressure on the price of drugs in this country;
  • If we end up paying an obligatory premium (tax) on our paychecks to cover Universal Health Care, that will be fully deductible from our income taxes;
  • There should be a schedule created of prices for medical procedures.  Anyone staying within the system will pay the same as anyone else for the same treatment.  We should eliminate "charging whatever the traffic will allow";
  • With diversified providers you get increased competition and better prices.  A Federal decision to allow Medical Insurance to be purchased by anyone, anywhere, and be valid in all states will decrease costs.

The Takeaway

For fans of Obamacare, it may end up being called Trumpcare, while the remaining largely the same. It might be a little worse; it might be vastly better. The good thing to remember is that it is probably not going away.

President Trump is all about investors and business people; and at this point, they're getting really tired of playing the role of yo-yo in this political game.  He's got to offer them some stability so they can make sensible investment decisions.  That means that Medicaid expansion will probably continue; laws and regulations which have been created to help the health industry (with notable positive effect) will stay in place.  

The expansion of Home Healthcare will probably continue, since it is often as effective as care received in a hospital or a skilled nursing facility.  Visiting Doctors, Nurse Practitioners, Nurses, and other healthcare workers are far less costly that stays in a facility, and this increases employment opportunities in the medical field rather than decreasing them.

Once all the dust has settled, the number of people in the medical industry should maintain its normal growth rate based on an increasing population, or perhaps increase compared to the population, providing faster service to increasing numbers of people accessing the service.

According to an article that appeared on Forbes.com ("How Obamacare's Victory Makes it Easier to Raise Medicare's Retirement Age"), the ratification of Obamacare gives Congress the option of raising Medicare's retirement age. Congress could contend that low-income seniors who would normally need Medicare may be able to gain coverage from a state insurance exchange. There are some advantages and disadvantages to raising the age requirement for Medicare as well as some possible issues with President Trump's selection for budget director, Mick Mulvaney eyeing Medicare as a potential spot for budget cuts.

If you are a resident of Arizona who is approaching age 65, it is important that you thoroughly understand how Medicare insurance works. Many retirees are confused about the timing and requirements for Medicare and don’t know whether they qualify for Medicare supplemental insurance in Arizona

Also known as a “Medigap” policy, Medicare supplemental insurance helps Arizona citizens close the “gaps” in Medicare by providing for deductibles and coinsurance.  However, there are certain time-sensitive purchasing qualifications that exist in Arizona. 

For example, once a Medicare recipient reaches the age of 65 and joins Part B, they can sign up for a Medigap policy within three months of their 65th birthday.  This is known as Medigap open enrollment.  If seniors enroll during this period, they cannot be denied coverage for a pre-existing condition, nor can they be placed on a waiting list.  

The Open Enrollment period for 2017 health insurance ends January 31, 2017. You only have a short time to get enrolled for this year's health insurance unless you have a qualifying event. Below are helful links and information to help you choose the right Arizona group health insurance or medicare before Open Enrollment closes.

When it comes time to start your own business or quit your job to become your own boss, there are plenty of things to be excited about. You no longer have to answer to anyone, you make your own hours and if you work from home you probably can spend the day in your pajamas. As much as there’s an allure of working in sweatpants, becoming your own boss also means that you’re responsible for a lot more. You no longer have group insurance with your employer, and health insurance isn’t always easy to find. If you’ve always been covered by a group health plan, the health insurance options available may not be as appealing, so you’ll have to do your research or get help from your Arizona health insurance broker.

As the number of senior citizens increases in the United States, Medicare fraud has become far more prevalent in recent years. By definition, Medicare fraud is the collection of Medicare health care reimbursements under false pretenses. While there are many different types of Medicare fraud, they all have the same goal – collecting money from the Medicare program under false pretenses.

Visitors who come to Arizona often imagine it as one of the healthiest states in the union. After all, isn't this the place where people come to soak in hot springs and take a sun-soaked "spa vacation"?

It would be difficult to convince people from cold and damp locales that Arizonans face higher risks for certain diseases.

While on the surface it seems like everyone here is tan and in terrific shape, that isn't always the case; particularly in a state where 13 percent of adults do not have health insurance in Arizona.

Are you looking for an affordable health plan in Arizona? Then it may be time to take another look at Arizona health insurance quotes

Ever since the new healthcare reform laws started going into effect, health insurance companies have significantly changed the type of insurance they offer to individuals.

Group plans may not have been affected quite as much, but individual health plans now offer certain coverage, such as preventive care, that was not previously included with the plan.

In addition, the laws’ stipulations about preexisting conditions, Medicare and insuring college students have caused continual change in major health insurance plans.

If you are requesting Arizona health insurance quotes on your own, you will need to be aware of these changes.

A lot has been written about the negative effects of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, but much of it is politically motivated misinformation. While health care reform laws are far from perfect, they do little to impact the quality and affordability of Medicare. In fact, some Medicare benefits are getting better because of Obamacare.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

What is Open Enrollment?

Healthcare.gov defines open enrollment as "The yearly period when people can enroll in a health insurance plan." This time period typically runs from November to January. Learn what this enrollment period means for you and what you can do if you still need coverage today.

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