medicare

The HHS Move to Curtail the Availability of Short Term Health Coverage Will Hurt Consumers In Need of an Affordable Bridge To Other Coverage……

………Like Medicare or Other Employer-Sponsored Coverage.

Yesterday the Obama Administration and HHS announced they were significantly curtailing the availability and use of short-term health insurance.

Their reasons? Not exactly sure.

Maybe it’s due to the myriad of current issues in the individual market – rising rates, carriers pulling out, and actuarially not enough covered lives (especially healthy people) – and the need to get more healthy people to buy individual policies. Take away options and hopefully it’ll drive more people to buy on the exchange.

Maybe, it’s a shot at UnitedHealthcare (UHC is one of the main providers of short –term or temporary coverage). Retribution, possibly, for UHC pulling out of the exchanges?

Letters From CMS (Medicare) to Employers Regarding Group Health Plan Reporting Are Causing Some Confusion

Many employers are receiving letters from CMS (Medicare) requesting information and it’s causing some confusion. The actual title of the letter reads “Requirement to Submit the Group Health Plan Report for the IRS/SSA/CMS Data Project”.

Here’s an overview that may help clarify for you.

This letter from CMS is separate and apart from the new ACA employer reporting requirements that recently went into effect (employers with 50+ employees). Employers are required to provide the requested information but it’s pretty basic and, other than complying with the request, not anything to really be concerned about.

Lots of Medicare Questions From Employers and Employees This Year

…Here are the ABC’s (and Part D)

For whatever reason – aging workforce, increasing costs, heightened awareness because of ACA – we’re getting lots and lots of questions from clients and their employees about Medicare this year. Way more than in years past. The vast majority of questions are about the basics.

And, it’s easy to get confused about what’s what. So thought it might be helpful to put together a cheat sheet of sorts about the basics. Here’s a quick summary of the ABC’s (and Part D’s)…

Did you hear Baxter the dog has health insurance?

There is a story that circulated last week on Twitter that a guy enrolled himself on healthcare.gov but the welcome letter that came was addressed to his dog, Baxter. Apparently they mistook his password for his name.

That got me thinking…

Two months ago I had a doctor’s appointment and I had to take my cat (a good old guy) to the vet.  My doctor is phenomenal. He works his tail off.  I received excellent care but he quickly moved on to the next patient. He seemed to be maxed out with time and the demands on him from his medical practice.

My veterinarian is also a phenomenal person. The visit for the cat took approximately the same amount of time. Yet the vet was more relaxed and seems to have more capacity in his practice.

The vet bill was $63 bucks cash.

The doctor’s office filed the claim through my insurance plan and it was knocked down from $120 to $65 bucks.  I paid the $65 bucks to my doctor’s office about 45 days AFTER the date of my appointment.

As I read about how physicians are creating concierge practices, operating outside insurance and considering leaving Medicare, I can’t help but think of those two visits.

I wonder if there is a way to make low dollar costs in healthcare more transparent and efficient. Maybe even the ACA could move in this direction instead of focusing on low copay plans in most of the advertising.

I wonder why we, as a society, seem to be more accepting to pay cash for a vet visit but less likely to be responsible for the full cost of a routine doctor’s office visit — when often they net out to roughly the same cost.

Here is a recent article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal about concierge medicine, titled Pros and Cons of Concierge Medicine.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from all of us at BBG!

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