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School Yourself On Insuring Yourself In 2014

A Health Insurance Exchange Primer – Get Your Facts!

From Kaiser Health News, via The Washington Post:

By Julie Appleby, Tuesday, March 29, 5:19 PM

It seems like a simple idea: Create new marketplaces, called “exchanges,” where consumers can comparison shop for health insurance — sort of like shopping online for a hotel room or airline ticket.

But, like almost everything else connected with the health-care overhaul law, state-based insurance exchanges are embroiled in politics. Some Republican governors are threatening to refuse to set up exchanges unless they get more flexibility over Medicaid, the state-federal health program for the poor. Others say they don’t want to implement any part of the federal health-care law.

Last week, Louisiana officials decided against setting up an exchange. And in Montana, GOP lawmakers killed a GOP-sponsored Senate bill to set up an exchange. Still, some Republican officials are embracing them. And consumer advocates, disease groups and industry lobbyists are jockeying for influence over how the exchanges will be regulated.

If done well, proponents say, exchanges could make it easier to buy health insurance and possibly lead to lower prices because of increased competition. But, if designed poorly, experts say, healthy people could avoid the exchanges, leaving them to sicker people with rising premiums.

Here are some common questions.

Q: What is an exchange, as envisioned by the health-care law?

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Tea Party Upends S.C. Insurance Exchange Bill

State House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Cooper, R-Anderson, and seven other Republican state House members today removed their support from legislation that would create a state health insurance exchange.

The legislation, created by state Rep. Harold Mitchell, D-Spartanburg, picked up sponsorship from about a dozen Republican representatives earlier this month in addition to its initial Democratic co-sponsors, but the bill has now lost most of its GOP supporters.

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Justice Department Investigates Blue Cross Blue Shield

By Ashley Fletcher Frampton
Published March 28, 2011

The U.S. Department of Justice claimed in a lawsuit filed in October that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan was violating antitrust laws in its contracts with hospitals, and now the government is expanding its investigation of the matter.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina appears to be among the targets of that investigation.

Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona said the department’s antitrust division is investigating the possibility of anticompetitive practices in various parts of the country involving “most favored nation” clauses. She decline to discuss specifics or to name regions or states.

Elizabeth Hammond, spokeswoman for Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina, said the company had received an inquiry from the Justice Department. She also declined to comment further.

“We did receive an inquiry from the U.S. Department of Justice and are working with our counsel to respond,” Hammond said.

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Affordable Care Act Helping South Carolinians (Episode 2)

Ever-feisty Debbie McDaniel, owner of Columbia’s Revente shops, also joined S.C. Health Care Voices in honoring the anniversary of health-care reform at the State House last week. Debbie read her prepared statement again for our camera afterward. Thanks for standing up and speaking out, Debbie!

Health Care Reform Has 820,000 Fans In South Carolina

Brittanie Turpin, 23, accumulated $20,000 in medical debt from emergency gallbladder surgery last year. “It’s pretty tough without insurance,” Turpin said. Under the Affordable Care Act, passed one year ago, Turpin will be able to stay on her mother’s insurance until she is 26. (Brad Nettles)

From The Post & Courier:

Benefits to S.C. so far

On its first anniversary, the Affordable Care Act has provided health care perks to at least 820,000 South Carolinians. The law is in effect, despite the fact that it is maligned by S.C. Republican leaders and faces court challenges and threats of congressional repeal. It is expected to cost the state between $1 billion and $5 billion over 10 years.

Here are some of the benefits so far for the state:

–46,900 seniors with high prescription drug costs have received rebate checks for $250.

–15,100 young adults can stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26.

–758,000 Medicare enrollees can receive wellness visits and preventative screenings such as colonoscopies and mammograms without co-payments, co-insurance or deductibles.

–Thousands more South Carolinians will benefit as the law becomes fully effective. Various phases guarantee coverage for children with pre-existing conditions, lift lifetime limits on coverage, and ban insurance companies from taking advantage of an application mistake to drop coverage when an individual gets sick, among other provisions.

–$16.8 million to South Carolina so far for grants to hold down insurance premiums, build competitive insurance marketplaces, provide insurance to early retirees and strengthen public health and prevention efforts.

–Provides up to 57,896 small businesses in South Carolina with tax credits to offset the costs of purchasing coverage for their employees.


Right-Wing Ideology Trumps Health Care In S.C.

Dr. David Cull has invented a device that is aimed at restricting constant high blood flow created from arteries being grafted to veins in the arms of dialysis patients.

Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2011

By JAMES ROSEN – McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — The good doctor was frustrated.

Dr. David Cull, a prominent vascular surgeon in Greenville, had invented a small valve system that, if it works, could spare 300,000 dialysis patients across the country enormous suffering and save U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars.

But Cull’s hometown senator, Jim DeMint, would not write a letter supporting the surgeon’s application for a federal grant under the landmark health care bill that President Barack Obama signed into law a year ago today.

A hard-core conservative with a growing national following, DeMint vowed in 2009 to make health care Obama’s “Waterloo” and is leading Republican efforts in Congress to repeal or deny funding to the law, designed to provide medical coverage to 31 million uninsured Americans.

Backing a grant application under the law — even for a constituent who lives in the same Upstate town as DeMint — would leave the senator open to charges of hypocrisy, staffers say.

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Misinformation Still Plagues Health Care Reform Law

Font of misinformation.

From CBS News:

March 23, 2011 5:12 PM

By Stephanie Condon

One year after President Obama signed his landmark health care reform package into law, his administration is still working to make sure the public understands the sweeping changes, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday.

Recent polls, including last month’s CBS News poll, have shown that more Americans disapprove of the legislation than approve of it. In a conference call with reporters, Sebelius said that the reforms can be hard to understand because they phase in over time – and because its detractors are distorting the truth.

“There still is a lot of intentional misinformation by opponents that continues to be repeated,” she said.

Perceptions of the law are changing as the benefits kick in, she said. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack added that as small businesses and farmers file their tax returns, they’re realizing one particular benefit of the new law — a tax credit for small businesses of up to 35 percent for premiums paid on health insurance for employees.

“I think the acceptance of this and the awareness of this is going to grow substantially,” Vilsack said.

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Affordable Care Act Helping South Carolinians (Episode 1)

Alan Roblee was among three South Carolinians who joined S.C. Health Care Voices for a press conference at the State House yesterday. He and others whose lives have been greatly improved by the Affordable Care Act testified to the law’s efficacy on its one-year anniversary.

S.C. Health Care Voices would like to thank Alan for standing up and speaking out on this hotly politicized, and therefore controversial, law. Not until folks realize what’s in it for them will they embrace the law’s benefits, so please, if you or anyone you know have been helped by the ACA, consider contacting us and sharing your story.

Opinion: Repealing Reform Would Harm Minorities Most

ACA works to close the gap in life quality and expectancy, the author writes. | AP Photo


From Politico:

By WADE HENDERSON | 3/23/11 4:40 AM EDT

As an African-American man, I can expect my life to be six years shorter than that of the average American.

That’s six fewer years watching my daughters thrive as young women, six fewer years with my wife and six fewer years to be an active participant in the country I love. Even as the homicide rate for black men has decreased, this stubborn disparity persists. If left unaddressed, it means the 16.5 million black men now living in the U.S. will lose about 99 million years of productive life.

The primary reason for this disparity is that black men are much less likely to have access to health care and insurance — which means higher rates of preventable diseases and death.

The demographic reality is clear — and not confined to African-Americans. Many other groups that collectively make up the majority of the country are at greater risk for health problems and premature death.

Tuberculosis strikes Asian-Americans at a rate 16 times higher than the general public. Latinos are twice as likely to die from diabetes. Women are three times more likely than men to suffer from autoimmune diseases.

A significant contributor to these health disparities is unequal access to health insurance and, therefore, to adequate health care. Though people of color represent one-third of all Americans, they make up half of the uninsured population. Seventeen million women in the U.S. have no health insurance — including one in five women of reproductive age — and face significant financial barriers to getting care. Millions of Americans with disabilities have no access to needed coverage.

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