Monday, October 24, 2016

Exit, Stage Right

So after (literally!) losing sleep for several weeks, I finally came to a decision about Open Enrollment v4, and sent this to my ACA insureds:

"To my valued clients:

As we enter the 4th annual Open Enrollment season, I've had to make some difficult decisions. Due to the significant changes carriers have made to their compensation schedules (aka commissions), I don’t believe that I can continue to offer the kind of comprehensive service to which I, and you, have become accustomed.

On the other hand, I'm loathe to just leave folks, many of whom I've had the pleasure to serve for many years, just "twisting in the wind."

The good news is that one of my valued partners, Cornerstone Brokerage, has a terrific program to which I can refer most clients. They're equipped and staffed to offer the same kind of help and support that I've provided, and I've worked with them long enough (20+ years) to trust their judgment and integrity. And the best part is that I'll still be able to help with any service or claims issues that you might have.

And now, the logistics: as your renewals come in, I'll forward your contact information (email and phone number) to the folks at Cornerstone. Please let me know as soon as possible if you'd prefer that I not do that, and of course I’m happy to answer any of your questions about this new process.

Thank you all so very much for the opportunity to have been of service

Thus far, the response has been positive, with clients expressing their disappointment but appreciating that I'm not just walking away from them. As to next year's season, well, we'll see.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Can we believe anything the Administration tells us about health care?

You'd have to be Rip van Winkle not to know medical insurance premiums rise sharply for 2017.  As they have each year ever since full implementation of Obamacare in 2014.

"President Obama calls this a “transition” because insurers aggressively priced too low to get healthy people to sign up."

Oh, rilly?

This must be why Obama's healthcare advisor Ezekiel Emanuel accused insurers back in 2013 of aggressively increasing their prices before Obamacare went fully into effect.

"Ezekiel Emanuel, brother of Rahm Emanuel and President Obama's health care advisor during the Obamacare debate, conceded last month [February, 2013] that medical insurance premiums are rising.  But, he suggests, the reason is a sinister insurance industry money grab because, don't forget, ACA will make them lower their medical insurance premiums next year."

So which is it?  Did insurers increase their prices before Obamacare as Emanuel claimed?  Or reduce them, as Obama claimed?  

You just can't believe a thing Obama or his administration says.

Not a damn thing.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Misspelling "3000% rate decrease" Part #8392


[click pic to embiggen]

[Hat Tip: FoIB Jeff M]

MediShare: Epilogue

So, the other day I asked about folks' experiences with Health Care Sharing Ministries and, as usual, our readers came through in a big way.

Thank you!

One thing missing, though, was an agent's perspective; that is, from someone who'd actually sold such a plan. Fortunately, I received an email from one such, who's graciously agreed to let me share her story:

"I'm a financial advisor and licensed insurance agent (since ’97). I moved my family to Samaritans two years ago when that insurance we were promised we could keep was no longer available. It took me some time to get comfortable with the idea of believers sharing burdens like this. In part my skepticism was a result of my training in the industry; insure risk, insure risk, insure risk.

Also, my skepticism was partially anchored in knowing human nature. This year we had a small need, $1,800. The plan worked as explained, and receiving notes of encouragement from all those folks was encouraging. It's a privilege to pray for and encourage those to whom we send our monthly contributions, so to receive it in return warmed my soul.

We have found that generally telling doctors that we are cash pay affords better treatment, better pricing, easier appointment times and we've become much more aware of cost [ed: which tracks with what other commenters have noted] as we don't wish to burden the group any more than is absolutely necessary. It's been eye opening to see just how badly and invasive the insurance industry has injected itself between the doctor/patient relationship. Now, even if the ACA is repealed, I don't think I'll go back to regular insurance

Thank you, this is exactly the kind of input I was seeking.

So, I think at this point that I need to "move on" from my skepticism of this model, at least insofar as this new product is concerned.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Goodbye Snoopy

Long time representative of a large financial institution was given his walking
papers. Easily recognized and loved by all, Snoopy is out of a job.

Metropolitan Life has fired Snoopy.
The largest U.S. life insurer announced Thursday that it will phase out the use of Snoopy and Peanuts characters in its marketing. It also unveiled a new tagline, “MetLife. Navigating life together,” in what the New York-based company called the most significant change to its brand in three decades. - Bloomberg

What is the world coming to?

Next thing you know, AFLAC will say goodbye to Yogi and the duck.

You've misspelled "3000% rate decrease"


From FoIB Jeff M:

"Arizona’s Obamacare marketplace rates are set to skyrocket as the state’s two remaining insurers in the marketplace raise their rates 50-75 percent."


Health Wonk Review: Mom's always right edition

Peggy Salvatore hosts this week's terrific compendium of health care wonkery, from political prognostications to Big Tobacco.

Not to be missed.

Blast from the Past: Penn Treaty in the News

Co-Blogger Bob just sent me this:

"Penn Treaty and its affiliates are so broke that their unpaid obligations for Pennsylvania are expected to top $500 million, "close to or at the 2 percent cap" for annual surcharges on Pennsylvania health-insurance policy premiums"

So says Sean McKenna, spokesctitter for the national life and health guaranty group [ed: basically FDIC for insurance]. And what does this mean?


"[Pennsylvania] braces for largest health insurance failure in U.S. history"

Sounds ominous, no?

We first wrote of PT's woes almost exactly 7 years ago, when this whole mess began to unravel for them. This news, though, is much bigger: some $4 billion in the hole, perhaps things would have "passed quietly to reinsurance - a sort of insurer underworld of risk-swapping - if Penn Treaty had been liquidated when it was first taken over."

Oh well, hindsight's always 20/20, right?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Spectacular O'Care Fail

Along with halting the ocean's rise, we were promised that everyone would have health insurance. Hey, they even made it illegal not to have it. And of course this has been a rousing success, and there are no longer any uninsured folks roaming the streets.

Wait, what?

"Why 27 Million Are Still Uninsured Under Obamacare"

I would of course counter: what does it matter? That is, the "why" is irrelevant, only the fact that, 6+ years in, over half of that baseline number (the thoroughly debunked 47 million) still have no health insurance.

But hey, #Winning.

[Hat Tip: FoIB Holly R]

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Health Sharing Ministries: Information Bleg

I recently wrote about a product, newly available to me, that relies "on the kindness of strangers" to help pay medical bills. Today, I learned about another new (to me) product that also relies (but only in part) on this Health Care Sharing Ministry concept.

One of the sticking points is that all of them do require a "statement of faith;" I'm not sure how well that might go over, but that's not really my biggest objection.

Here's the thing: I get that there's a certain amount of risk one takes going this route, but I also look and see these horrendous premiums and out-of-pocket expenses before ObamaPlans actually pay anything. And men especially draw the short stick: we get to pay for maternity and female birth control and the like, but can never benefit from this coverage.

So we pay out thousands, often tens of thousands of dollars with no real discernible benefit (other than - maybe - avoiding the ObamaTax).

So the sharing ministry's shortcomings have begun to look less and less onerous to me.

What I'd really like, and here's my bleg, is to know what experience my readers have had with them, either as customers or agents. Please feel free to leave a comment, or send me an email. And of course your privacy will be respected if that's a concern.


From the "Not Ready for Prime Time" files

Today, class, we learn that the ObamaStration continues its long streak of making ... um ... stuff ... up:

"[M]any consumers will have a new option for the law’s fourth open-enrollment period: standardized health plans that cover basic services without a deductible."

Seems that the folks in DC have (finally!) noticed that ObamaPlans cost a lot, but also offer very little value. These new plans purport to change all this, although if they'd actually bothered to look, they'd notice that every other such plan already covers a host of freebies.

Where these plans differ seems to be in how they handle co-pays; that is, many current offerings require one to satisfy the annual deductible before co-pays (for doc visits, for example) kick in. These essentially waive the deductible and go straight to the co-pays.

Something about lipstick and pigs.

The good news is that they've really thought this through, well in advance of the actual Open Enrollment Period.



"[T]he new plans could still be costly ...  officials did not say how many such plans will be available, in which states they will be offered or how much they will cost."


[Hat Tip: FoIB Holly R]

Monday, October 17, 2016

Off the Menu

Regular readers may recall that North Carolina's Blue Cross franchise recently announced that it wouldn't pay commissions on most new plans. No big deal, right? After all, there are plenty of fish in the sea, and carriers in the market.

Not so fast there, grasshoppa:

"[A]lmost all of the state, from the Blue Ridge to the Outer Banks, will have just one insurer selling ACA policies when the exchanges open again for business in November"

Care to guess which carrier that might be?

I'll wait...

If you guessed Blue Cross, give yourself a (Cuban?) cigar; the carrier "agonized over whether to leave, too. Instead, it is raising its rates by nearly 25 percent."

Nice consolation prize.

But Tar Heel State citizens share a common fate with other ACA victims Americans:

"For the coming year, Oklahoma and Alaska will join Wyoming in having just one insurer selling ACA plans."

Not to put too fine a point on it, but:

Is Health Insurance Rationing on the Table?

■ Data Point 1: Health insurance ≠ health care

■ Data Point 2: We already know that health care is being rationed

Question: Is health insurance rationing "the next big thing?"

Reason I ask is this tidbit from The North Star State's Pioneer Press:

"Insurance companies on the individual market will increase their premiums between 50 percent and 67 percent ... and almost all the plans will put caps on the number of total customers they accept." [emphasis added]

About the massive premium hikes we already knew, but that highlighted section is bone-chilling. With one very unusual exception, I have never heard of a carrier putting a limit on how many plans it would sell. Think about it: have you ever heard a car dealer say "hey, we've already sold too many cars this month, let's take a break?"

On the other hand, the government isn't telling car dealers to lose money every month, either.

Exit question: How long until it's in your state?

[Hat Tip: HotAir]