Tag Archives: health insurance

Unaffordable Rx: 9 Ways to Save

In the U.S., prescription drug prices continue their meteoric rise. The truly outrageous increases hit the national news outlets and some result in congressional hearingsFor example, Mylan, the maker of the life-saving EpiPen allergy-reaction injector, increased the price of its two-pack from $100 in 2009 to $608 in 2016.Nitropress, a common blood pressure drug, rose more than 300%, soaring from $214 to $881 last year. On average, drug prices have doubled in the last decade, according to AARP.

Simultaneously, insurance company formularies of covered drugs have narrowed, while co-pays have increased. This double-whammy has hit older Americans the hardest, as they use more medications than any other age group. Many retirees with limited income are faced with deciding whether to spend their limited funds on needed medications or on food.

As this situation will continue to worsen in the future, it’s getting more important to find ways to obtain the medications you need at better prices. Continue reading Unaffordable Rx: 9 Ways to Save

Obamacare 2017 Open Enrollment

The Open Enrollment Period for obtaining healthcare coverage through the ACA Health Insurance Marketplace is November 1, 2016 through January 31, 2017. However, to begin coverage January 1, 2017, you need to complete your enrollment by December 15, 2016.

As in previous years, depending on your income, you may be eligible for subsidies for monthly premiums. About 85% of ACA enrollees do qualify for federal tax credit subsidies.

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF)  provides an easy-to-use, free tool   for calculating your monthly premiums and subsidies:

http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/?utm_campaign=KFF-2016-The-Latest&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=36914797&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9i9tCWA45-q0Zj72lKxH_CvDBI40JCd_m9ODVftpiDnBz3wsqGaMwgCrrhHqn1M9b5buVUplnt8e0FGnW4uSJAFP8NRw&_hsmi=36914797#state=ca&zip=90402&income-type=dollars&income=40%2C000&employer-coverage=0&people=1&alternate-plan-family=individual&adult-count=1&adults%5B0%5D%5Bage%5D=62&adults%5B0%5D%5Btobacco%5D=0&child-count=0&child-tobacco=0

More Difficult to Find Affordable, Comprehensive Plans

Unfortunately, there are several unfavorable factors impacting Obamacare coverage for 2017, including the withdrawal of some large insurers from offering plans in selected states.

In general, 2017 premium increases will be larger than they were in 2016. Rates will vary by geographical area and the type of plan selected. This trend is not limited to Obamacare plans, but is also impacting individuals who have coverage through their employers. Deductibles and copayments are continuing to rise.

The other trend that is continuing is the narrowing of networks. There are both fewer doctors available in general and contraction of choice in specialists. Again, this is the situation for both Obamacare and employer plans.

A newer trend for Obamacare is the limited availability of independent insurance brokers to assist with making plan choices. These agents work on a commission basis, and now insurers are either reducing or no longer paying commissions to agents for helping people obtain ACA coverage. For example, Cigna, Aetna and UnitedHealthcare have dropped commissions in many states. As a result, a growing number of brokers are declining to offer their services to new enrollees, although some will continue to assist established clients.

For 2017 coverage, it may take a bit more time to evaluate your options and find a plan that is best suited to your needs. Remember, there is still help available from healthcare.gov and from individual insurers.

 

 

Beware of Out-of-Network PPO Providers

Insurers continue to look for ways to control costs. While using the term “consumer-driven,” many of the changes are not in the best interests of consumers. One technique that continues to grow is the creation of smaller networks of doctors and hospitals. Employers enjoy lower premiums from insurers, but workers are challenged with reduced access to providers.

To make matters worse, many in-network facilities contract Continue reading Beware of Out-of-Network PPO Providers

2016 Medicare and ACA Enrollment Deadlines

It’s that time of year again. If you obtain your healthcare insurance from your employer, you will be presented with open enrollment choices. As in previous years, the trend continues, with the employee portion of the premium typically increasing. People with coverage by Medicare and the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) are also in the fall/winter enrollment period. Continue reading 2016 Medicare and ACA Enrollment Deadlines