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May 31, 2007

It's No Myth: Health Coverage Matters

In the debate over health care reform the desire to boil complex issues down to pithy statements can sometimes lead to over-simplification.

That's why CalHealthReform created a series of Myths & Facts summarizing key research about important issues related to health care coverage and financing. Two new Myths & Facts, which explore the questions of access to care for the uninsured and whether preventive care saves money, are now available.

* Does coverage matter or can the uninsured already access the care they need? Federal law requires emergency rooms to treat patients regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. Do the uninsured get needed care, and how do their health outcomes compare to those who have health coverage? Research shows that having health coverage makes a big difference.

* Will investing in prevention reduce overall health spending? The five major health reform proposals in California feature preventive care as a cost containment strategy. But the devil is in the details. While investing in preventive measures sometimes can yield health benefits, it can increase costs and must be used strategically to achieve savings.

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

Posted by healthinsurance at 06:28 PM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2007

State Watch | Blue Cross of California Launches Ad Campaign Criticizing Health Care Proposals

Blue Cross of California, the state's largest health insurer, has launched a media campaign opposing health care proposals by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and other state lawmakers that would require insurers to sell policies to all residents, regardless of health status, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The newspaper and television advertisements are part of an initial $2 million outreach campaign by the insurer's political committee, the Coalition for Responsible Healthcare Reform. Blue Cross is the only member of the coalition.

The ads criticize "guaranteed issue" provisions included in health care proposals by Schwarzenegger, state Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D) and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D). The ads say such plans could have "unintended consequences." Blue Cross supports the creation of a pool for residents who have health conditions that make them more expensive to cover. Ann-Louise Kuhns, a vice president of Blue Cross of California, said, "We're very supportive of health care reform efforts," adding, "We just need to fix what's broken and not break what's working."

Blue Shield of California spokesperson Tom Epstein said the insurer would not join the Blue Cross coalition. Blue Shield, which is a member of the coalition Together for Health Care, supports guaranteed issue and a requirement that all state residents obtain health coverage to balance the risk pool. Coalition members also include the insurers Health Net and Kaiser Permanente, as well as Service Employees International Union, AARP and the California Medical Association.

Want a free California health insurance quote? Click here!

Posted by healthinsurance at 04:18 PM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2007

Insuring children helps a life

Its is unfortunate that your parents failed you and that other parents continue to fail their children. I don't intend to be mean, but the truth of the matter is it was up to your parents to provide for you and buy you glasses; not me (I am the "somebody" who gets the bill for such services).

My children, like most American kids, already enjoy free health care, free dental care, free school lunches, free breakfasts, and free cloths. My kids are also lucky enough to have a free first car, free gas, free entertainment, free internet, free cell phones, and a free college education (all things nobody ever gave me). Now of course while all of that is "free" to them, is very expensive for me; just as those things are expensive for all of those other parents providing for their children.

Reading your OpEd I was led to wonder; if your parents could not afford to buy you glasses, then how did you afford college? I presume you received Cal Grants (Free Money) because of your austere background. While your education may have been "free" for you, it was not for me.

You are still young and still learning. As you enter the work force you will come to appreciate that there is no such thing as "free". Free simply means someone else is sacrificing for you. As you get to know your co-workers you will find that most of us did not receive college educations (free or otherwise), free insurance, or free anything else. Somebody has to pay for those free programs and more often than not, the programs you advocate have to be paid for by those of us who will never qualify to take advantage of them.

I notice you are planning on becoming a nurse. With your child development degree, I presume you want to become a pediatric nurse. Understanding this, your argument becomes self serving. Ensuring children have free access to your services ensures you have a ready payer for the services you intend to offer. Last year, my daughter asked if she should take the E.R. doctor's advice and see a specialist after she fractured her jaw in a fall. Inasmuch as her fracture was "clean" and I saw no benefit from seeing another doctor, I said no. She replied, "But it's free; the insurance will pay for it." Hmmm, I've created a monster.

Then there is of course the socialist incrementalism of your argument. I believe it was Stalin who said, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." Since most Americans are opposed to socialized medicine, those in support of such an entitlement system are now after the next generation of Americans - children. If you condition children to expect "free" health insurance, when they become adults they will not think twice about voting in favor of such programs. Once such an entitlement program is in place only a revolution will dismantle it.

And then there is the inability of our politicians to control our borders or our courts to control their generosity. Anyone who steps foot on American soil is "entitled" to social services, including health care. Anyone who can make it to the U.S., by whatever means, will get free health care for their children. So in effect, you are advocating free health care for every child in the world who can make it to a U.S. doctor. And of course by free, you mean I should be forced to pay for it.

Get free California health insurance quotes now!

Posted by healthinsurance at 07:14 PM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2007

Big health insurance push by coalition

Abandoning the business lobby's traditional resistance to health care reform, a new coalition of 36 major companies began a political campaign Monday calling for medical insurance to be expanded to everyone along the lines Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is proposing for California.

Founded by Steve Burd, chairman of the Safeway grocery chain and an ally of the governor, the coalition could boost efforts in Sacramento and Washington to overhaul health care laws. It also formalizes a growing division over the issue among businesses.

The coalition includes some of the nation's largest companies: PepsiCo, General Mills, PG&E, Wrigley, Kroger, and a number of Safeway vendors and grocery-item manufacturers such as Bumble Bee Seafoods. It also includes insurers and drug companies that probably would benefit from mandated health insurance: Aetna, Blue Shield of California, Cigna HealthCare, Lilly and PacifiCare.

Such large companies already provide medical coverage to their employees and have become increasingly frustrated as premiums have increased over the years. That has made them more willing to look to the government for solutions.

But small and midsize operations, such as restaurants and retail stores that usually don't provide coverage, have resisted wholesale changes to health care laws. California's Chamber of Commerce and the state's restaurant association led the successful ballot fight in 2004 to repeal a state law requiring companies with more than 50 workers to provide insurance.

Live in California? Click here for your free medical insurance quote now!

Posted by healthinsurance at 09:29 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2007

Blue Cross of California Introduces Resource Advisor(TM)

Today's employees face the challenge of balancing the day-to-day demands of work and the stresses of everyday life -- parenting, elder care, financial burdens, or more life changing events such as the loss or disablement of a loved one. Blue Cross of California has introduced Resource Advisor(TM), a new program designed to offer employees resources that help to improve well being and manage problems before they become an emotional or financial burden. Resource Advisor is a service provided to all large employers enrolled in life coverage offered by BC Life & Health Insurance Company.

Resource Advisor offers to employees and their dependents free, confidential access to a spectrum of life and work resources, including:

-- Convenient access for employees and family members to 24/7 consultation and referral services via toll-free phone number -- Online access for employees and family members to extensive work/life and legal/financial resources, including financial power of attorney, on-line will and living will preparation as well as identity theft information -- Face-to-face legal and telephonic financial professional consultations for the employee -- Beneficiaries dealing with the loss of an employee with life coverage qualify for face-to-face licensed mental health, legal and telephonic financial consultations

"Resource Advisor offers solutions that can help employees and family members who are dealing with difficult emotional or financial issues," said Nicholas Brecker, president, BC Life & Health Insurance Company. "Provided as part of our Life products, these valuable resources may improve employees' productivity and maintain quality of life."

The innovative new feature of Resource Advisor is just one example of what Blue Cross of California is doing to design a benefit portfolio that helps protect businesses and employees against the financial consequences of a death. With the unique contract flexibility and consultative approach employers receive, they are able to craft a benefit package that includes group term life, supplemental/optional life, and accidental death and dismemberment to create the ideal group and voluntary benefit package.

Click here for your free California health insurance quote!

Posted by healthinsurance at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2007

Health care in U.S. is 'mess,' ethicist says

The U.S. health-care system is "a dysfunctional mess" and politicians who insist otherwise look ignorant, according to a medical-journal essay by a prominent ethicist at the National Institutes of Health.

"If a politician declares that the United States has the best health-care system in the world today, he or she looks clueless rather than patriotic or authoritative," Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel wrote in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Emanuel, who supports sweeping health-care reform, said the U.S. spends $6,000 per person per year on health care, an amount that is more than 16 percent of the nation's gross domestic product and more than any other country.

He also said Americans' average life expectancy of 78 ranks 45th in the world, behind Bosnia and Jordan.

The U.S. infant death rate is 6.37 per 1,000 live births, higher than that of most developed nations.

Democrats and Republicans alike have made the "world's best" claim. President Bush frequently has said Americans have the world's best health-care system. Democrat John Kerry did so when he ran for president in 2004, as did Republican Rudy Giuliani on the presidential campaign trail this year.

Click here for your free California health insurance quote!

Posted by healthinsurance at 05:23 PM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2007

Assembly speaker tells of reform plans as people in Fresno air their ideas.

Pete Estrada buys health insurance for employees of his Clovis printing business and backs proposals to have other employers do so, too.

"I'm already providing my share," Estrada said. "I think that if everybody were on an even playing field, the system would work much better."

That's why Estrada lent his support to Assembly Bill 8, a universal health-care plan backed by Assembly Speaker Fabián Núñez, during a town hall meeting Saturday on a patio at the downtown Community Regional Medical Center.

Núñez's bill has plenty of competition in this year's Legislature, with his Senate counterpart, Don Perata, D-Oakland, carrying another bill and Gov. Schwarzenegger pitching his own proposal. But all share the same broad goal -- extending coverage to the state's estimated 6.5 million uninsured.

"Within five years, everybody in California would have health care -- that's the plan that I'm proposing in a nutshell," Núñez said. "We believe that this is the year we will get this done."

Still, halfway through the current session, prospects remain iffy. Many Republicans oppose employer mandates, a key element of most proposals. Some on the other side support Senate Bill 840, a plan by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, to replace private insurance with tax-funded, government-managed health care.

Californians, get your free health insurance quote today!

Posted by healthinsurance at 05:06 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2007

California's Health Insurance Plans statement on health care

"Health insurance plans remain committed to a safer, more effective and interconnected health care system. Our health plans have demonstrated that they have a unique role to play in achieving these objectives.

"We support the four cornerstones advanced by the Secretary and are implementing specific strategies to coordinate care, empower consumers with information, and maximize the quality and safety of care provided.

"As an industry, we have advanced specific recommendations to achieve an evidence-based system and cover all Americans. In addition, we have forged critical alliances to create a uniform quality measurement system and advance interoperability by working together with consumer and provider organizations.

"We will continue to collaborate with key stakeholder groups to contribute ideas and expertise to create a safer, more effective, and interconnected health care system."

Click here for your free California health insurance quote now!

Posted by healthinsurance at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2007

Competition good for health-care industry

Choice and competition work in health care. Unfortunately, most of us aren't lucky enough to have access to a market driven and shaped by them. This year employer health-care costs have risen 7.7 percent, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey, more than twice the rate of inflation or workers' wage growth. This is lower than it's been in recent years (costs rose almost 14 percent in 2003). But health costs are still high - and likely will go even higher next year.

Some of your fellow citizens are luckier. This month, millions of federal workers and retirees, including members of Congress, get to pick and choose their health plans for 2007. According to the Office of Personnel Management, which runs the civil service, their insurance premiums will rise, on average, just 1.8 percent. About 63 percent of them will see no premium hike at all.

These Americans are enrolled in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), a consumer-driven system in which many different carriers offer a choice of 284 private plans nationwide. FEHBP plans include a variety of benefit packages, including health-savings accounts. The bottom line: Feds get high-quality care at competitive prices. No wonder they're highly satisfied.

The FEHBP isn't the only example where intense competition works. Another, paradoxically, is Medicare. The overall cost of the new Medicare drug benefit is a serious problem, but at least drugs are being delivered to seniors through competitive private health plans. The result: lower drug prices. When the drug benefit was enacted, the projected average monthly premium was $37.

Now, intense competition among competing plans has brought this under $24 per month, nearly a 40 percent reduction, accompanied by growing patient satisfaction. That's what choice and competition can deliver.

Live in California? click here for your free health insurance quote now!

Posted by healthinsurance at 05:33 PM | Comments (0)

May 07, 2007

It may cost millions to provide government health insurance to poor children - but it's more expensive not to cover them, a new study asserts.

In fact, the lack of insurance costs society an annual $2,121 more in health care costs per child, it found.

Published in this month's Pediatrics journal, the research showed that cutting back on subsidized insurance programs forces poor children to bypass doctors' offices for more expensive emergency room care and leads to longer hospital stays.

While the findings are based on children in California, the results apply to Utah, said Richard Butler, the Brigham Young University professor of economics who co-authored the report.

"It turns out [restricting insurance coverage] is a false savings. The total cost to society increases when they're disenrolled," Butler said.

Those in the health-care industry have generally known that poor, uninsured children are more likely to go to an emergency room - where they can't be turned away for lack of coverage - and that they tend to stay in hospitals longer because their conditions are worse by the time they see a doctor.

Click here for your free California health insurance quote!

Posted by healthinsurance at 12:20 AM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2007

Study: 1 In 4 Kids Go Without Health Care

Some uninsured children of the working poor don't go to the doctor's office; it comes to them.

They make too much for Medicaid but not enough to have their own insurance.

And 150,000 patients per year, nationwide, get free care from 21 mobile units provided by the Children's Health Fund. But a new report out Thursday from this non-profit group says far too many kids are falling into a huge health care crevice, CBS News has learned exclusively.

The group's report finds despite billions of dollars in government spending, more than one in four children still don't have full-time health care — a gap twice as big as anyone thought.

"It's more than just insurance and lack of insurance, that are keeping children from getting medical care," says Dr. Irwin Redlener, president of the Children's Health Fund of Columbia University.

It's estimated that 9 million children are completely uninsured. But the new study says 11.5 million more kids end up without medical care for part of the year. And another 3 million can't get a ride to the doctor. That's more than 23 million children.

Californians. Get your free individual or family health insurance quote now!

Posted by healthinsurance at 05:14 PM | Comments (0)