All Articles Tagged "insurance"

Most Say Doctors Aren’t Talking About Obamacare, Leaving Patients Without Critical Information

July 3rd, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Maybe it’s not just businesses that aren’t ready for the new Affordable Care Act.

In hospitals, the elephant in the room seems to be Obamacare, which will jump start in 2014. In a Health Pocket study, only half of clients had a conversation about Obamacare with their physicians. Doctors may not be too keen on discussing the new program because of its possible negative affects on their practice.

Out of patients whose doctor did comment on Obamacare, 38 percent had something negative to say while 33 percent said something positive, the Health Pocket study found. With the enrollment period for Obamacare only three months away, the doctor-patient conversation on health care reform is scarce.

A Gallup poll found that 43 percent of Americans without insurance have no idea about the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act. The court mandated that a fee will be imposed on those who fail to get insurance. Federal and state governments face hurdles in educating the public about Obamacare.

“[T]he administration faces considerable challenges leading up to open enrollment. Whether doctors can be leveraged to assist in the roll-out remains to be seen,” added Health Pocket.

However, there won’t be many doctors promoting the Affordable Care Act because “for Obamacare to succeed, American doctors need to earn less money,” Forbes said. A whopping 93 percent of physicians are weary of being paid too little for their services under Obamacare. “More than half of physicians expect their incomes to fall dramatically over the next three years,” said Daily Finance.

According to a 2013 physician survey, 57 percent of doctors believe that the practice of medicine is in danger; only 31 percent of physicians approve of the U.S. health care system.

Under Obamacare, doctors will be paid based on the quality of their work. Currently, physicians are paid per service, regardless of performance. About $1 billion in federal health care payments will rely on patient-satisfaction surveys, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Supporters say paying for performance removes a lot of bad incentives in the current system. It removes the motivation to do unnecessary tests and hospitalize people who don’t need it,” Wall Street Journal added.

The government is hoping that a larger percentage of the public gains more knowledge on the Affordable Care Act. By January 2014, uninsured Americans are expected to purchase health care plans on an exchange,“one of the state-based online marketplaces currently under development.” Every state is required to have one to allow all citizens to be covered by insurance.

American Women Spend More On Childbirth Than Any Other Nation In The World

July 2nd, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Maybe it’s more economical to move to South Africa if you’re expecting a bundle of joy. Statistics show that South African mothers pay $2,035 for delivering a child while U.S. mothers spend $9,755 for childbirth. Americans, according to the Seattle Times, spend the most on newborn care than any other nation in the world.

Expenses for delivering children have tripled over the last 20 years, says a study by Truven Health Analytics. With the hefty costs of pregnancy, childbirth, and infant care, the bill accumulates to more than $50 million for all U.S. deliveries. Medicaid programs and most insurers disburse the most cash for “maternity and newborn care”, added Seattle Times.

You would think that with such a high price tag on maternity care, American mothers would have access to advanced technological services than other nations, but this does not seem to be the case. Studies have shown that citizens of other developed countries “do not have less access to care or to high-tech care during the pregnancy than Americans do,” it added.

Compared to other countries, the average American woman pays more for childbirth because they undergo the same hospital services more often. Women in the U.S. “tend to get more of everything, necessary or not, from blood tests to ultrasound scans”, said Katy Kozhimannil, a professor who studies the cost of women’s health care at the University of Minnesota.

Obstetricians once performed ultrasounds for patients in their office for a flat fee. Currently, they charge extra for the service or refer clients to radiologists who have much higher rates. (The New York Times did a big story last month about what drives up the pricing for procedures in the US, in that case, a colonoscopy.)

Studies show that in 2011, 62 percent of women in the U.S. who had private insurance plans — not sponsored by an employer — did not have coverage for pregnancy and newborn care. Even women who did have plans that covered their maternity needs were swamped by demands for higher co-pays and deductibles. According to a survey conducted by Childbirth Connection, expecting mothers pay an average of $3,400 in out-of-pocket costs.

From 2004 to 2010, the Truven study found that the out-of-pocket expenses quadrupled.

“In most other developed countries, comprehensive maternity care is free or cheap”, Seattle added. “Ireland for example, guarantees free maternity care at public hospitals, though women can opt for private deliveries for a fee.”

Pervasive use of midwives in Europe is another reason why other developed countries are not breaking the bank to deliver children. In America, obstetricians are seen as more of a necessity, but in Europe they are seen as specialists “who step in only when there is a risk or need,” Seattle Times added.

Midwives deliver 68 percent of British births; only eight percent of midwives deliver babies in the U.S.

Medical Bills Are The Number One Cause Of Bankruptcy In America

June 30th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Americans just can’t seem to get a grip on paying their mortgages or credit card bills due to outstanding medical charges. Even with health insurance supplementing the costs, medical bills are the biggest cause of bankruptcies in the U.S., reports CNBC.

Unpaid medical bills are expected to drive nearly two million Americans to file for bankruptcy this year, a study by NerdWallet Health said. The findings also show that 56 million people — 20 percent of the U.S. population between the ages of 19 and 64 — will find financial hardship due to healthcare costs.

While most people assume credit card debt is the primary culprit behind bankruptcies, the towering debt is actually caused by skyrocketing health costs. “More than 11 million people will take on additional credit-card debt to cover mounting medical bills, ” CNBC added.

NerdWallet found that 10 million Americans will not be able to cover food, rent, and utilities due to these medical expenses.

As MN recently reported, 25 percent of African Americans found that paying to stay healthy was a struggle; they could not afford the prescription drugs they needed. While health care plans should remove some financial burdens, it turns out that insurance coverage does not alleviate the stress. “The annual family of four—with employer-paid health insurance—annually spends more on medical bills than groceries,” that article said.

Insurance policies with high-deductible health plans take a toll on Americans as they require consumers to pay out-of-pocket more frequently. “With an average American family bringing home $50,000 in income, a high medical bill and a high-deductible insurance plan can quickly become something they are unable to pay,” said Christina LaMontagne, vice president of NerdWallet Health.

Mike Jackson, an African-American man afflicted with high blood pressure and diabetes accumulates a bill of $500 a month, NPR said. Jackson was laid off from his job and lost his health benefits. He was once taking 60 units of insulin to control his diabetes, but now he must settle for 30 units a day to cut prescription costs. However, the cutback caused problems. “Jackson developed numbness in his foot, toes, and nerve damage in his eye—all complications of uncontrolled diabetes,” NPR added.

“It’s one of those things where, if something happens to my car or to me healthwise, I’m in trouble,” Jackson said.

Many Americans  swamped in health care bills share in Jackson’s sentiments when he stated, “If anything goes wrong, I’m one step away from disaster.”

The Double Saving Divas On How To “Spring Clean” Your Finances

April 16th, 2013 - By Tai and Tarin Perry
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Spring is here! We all look forward to the weather getting warmer. Most of us already have our vacations planned and our barbecue gatherings set. But, do you take the time out to Spring clean your finances? Your financial health is just as important as cleaning and purging your home of clutter.

Revisit Your New Year’s Resolutions: Raise your hand if you are still on track with keeping up with your New Year’s resolutions. Anyone? By now most New Year’s resolutions are no more. Everyone starts the year off with every intention of following through. But life happens. Our schedules get hectic and our days fly by. Spring is the perfect time to revisit those promises you made to yourself. Don’t give up. Just pick up where you left off. Attacking your financial goals should be an ongoing task that we always strive to accomplish. Continue to kick debt to the curb!

Clean Out Your Closet: How many times do we buy an item that looks very similar to one we already have? Most times we purchase clothing because our closets are overflowing with items that we cannot find when we need it. Take the time out to go through every piece of clothing you own. If you have not worn the item in at least a year, then it is time to donate it or sell it to make some extra cash. Once you go through all of your clothing, organize the rest of your closet by color and clothing type. Now, you will be able to open your closet doors and immediately see what you have, saving you money before you buy it again. The rest can be donated. And most places where you donate, will give you a charitable donation letter that you can use to claim on next year’s tax return. If you are strapped for cash and want to make a little side money, eBay and Craigslist are great places to sell items. Or have a garage sale! We absolutely, love garage sales. One man’s garbage is truly another man’s treasure.

Request a Free Copy of Your Credit Report: Every 12 months you are allowed to request a free copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus: Transunion, Experian, and Equifax. We personally use www.annualcreditreport.com, which the FTC recommends to avoid scams and other companies taking advantage of consumers. This is a good practice for finding items on your credit report that are incorrect or fraudulent. Your credit report is vital to your financial health because this is an indicator to lenders of your credit worthiness. Check out the Federal Trade Commissions website for more information.

Review All of Your Insurance Policies: Your insurance needs can change from year to year, so sit down with an agent to go over the policies for things like auto, home, life, and health insurance. You don’t want to be under-insured or over-insured. Check out the article we wrote on how to save on your insurance policies here on MadameNoire.

Reassess Your Budget: Creating a budget should be something that you accomplish every month. However, Spring is a great time to reassess your budget and make sure what you have been doing since January is still working out for you. During the warmer months we all have a tendency to spend more. The kids are in Spring/Summer activities such as camps and swimming. And, let’s not forget about the vacations that cost money too! Be sure you put miscellaneous expenses such as these in your springtime budget.

These are just a few tips to get you ready for your financial Spring cleaning. It is imperative to always keep your finances in tip top shape!

Tai and Tarin Perry, the Double Saving Divas,  are financially savvy identical twin sisters, and investment bankers turned money saving experts. You can also connect with them on their Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube Channel.

Join us on Facebook this Thursday at 3pm where the Divas will be taking your questions on all money-related topics! 

Double Saving Divas: Tips To Save Big On Your Auto, Health, And Life Insurance Policies

January 28th, 2013 - By Tai and Tarin Perry
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Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Many of us get so busy with the hustle and bustle of everyday life that our insurance policies typically get overlooked. Now’s the perfect time of year to take a look at all of your insurance policies such as auto, health, life, and homeowners in particular. Here are a few key pointers to keep in mind while reviewing each policy.

Health Insurance: If you are covered by an employer’s plan than typically you have one time of year where you can update or make adjustments to your insurance policies outside of a family life change such as birth, death, or marital status change. “Open enrollment,” for most, takes place in the fall, towards the end of the year. Therefore, any changes you make will take effect starting the new calendar year.

Plan ahead and review your current plan’s premiums, co-pays, out-of-pocket expenses, and annual deductibles. Compare them to other plan choices and possible increases for the next year if possible. Be sure to read each option carefully, weighing the pros and cons because your health plan choices can impact your take home pay tremendously.

Also, contact your benefits department to see if they have a health and wellness program for their employees. Many employers are adopting these programs to help encourage a healthier lifestyle. Extra incentives and cost deductions may be applied to your health insurance just for taking part in your company’s health and wellness program.

Life Insurance: Most people are under-insured when it comes to life insurance. Sit down with a specialist to review your policy at least once per year. A good rule of thumb is to have at least 10 times your annual income in life insurance coverage. This can allow your family to pay for college education, mortgage, funeral expenses, and other necessities to name a few. The aforementioned healthier lifestyle can be a cost savings to you. The higher health risk you are, the higher in cost for your coverage. There is not a “one size fits all” when it comes to choosing coverage. They will ask you questions and have you fill out a questionnaire to see what coverage fits best for you and your family.

Sandy’s Aftermath: Storm Cost Could Reach $20 Billion

October 30th, 2012 - By Tonya Garcia
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Flooding in Manhattan. Image: Samuel Rigelhaupt / Sipa USA (Sipa via AP Images)

Those affected by Hurricane Sandy woke up this morning to devastation. Trees down, flooding, fires and property damage, hundreds of thousands without power, hospitals in New York evacuating, in some cases moving critical and neonatal patients, transportation at a standstill, and most unfortunate, the loss of life. Everyone in the storm’s path is in our thoughts. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a press conference on right now says it could be the worst storm the city has ever experienced.

Now the business begins of cleaning up and putting things back to normal.

From a business standpoint, we previously reported that the markets would be closed again today. We heard on NBC this morning (via CNBC reporter Bob Pisani) that the New York Stock Exchange is working feverishly to reopen tomorrow, particularly because it’s month-end. Today, the focus is on checking out backup generators for power, communications systems, and whether or not a couple hundred people can make it to work tomorrow. You can get more info about that here. But it is expected that the NYSE will open in at least a limited fashion.

Ultimately, as the clean up effort begins, companies, individuals and the government are trying to assess the cost of the damage the storm has caused, though estimates have already put the price tag at $20 billion with insurance covering between $5 billion and $10 billion.

As Forbes points out (h/t to our writer Ann Brown), the personal toll for workers who can’t make it to work and can’t work from home has yet to be tabulated. That includes restaurant workers, hotel staffers, and others who depend on an hourly wage to make ends meet.

Then there are those who have lost their homes or who are without power. The storm could actually help some industries, like construction, home supplies and food markets, where activity will rise as the aftermath unfolds. The impact will be felt for days but should be temporary, reports the Wall Street Journal, quoting Moody’s Analytics.

“Sales, wages and productivity will all take a big hit. The storm, for instance, is arriving at the tail end of the $8 billion Halloween retail season. But some sales can be made up later, and the storm will drive purchases of items like plywood and generators that wouldn’t otherwise have been sold,” the paper says.

Department stores have shut and, even when they reopen, shoppers won’t necessarily be flocking to them. Travel has been reduced and might be for some time. Events, like the Google Nexus unveiling that had been planned for yesterday, were put off, which interrupts prospects for the holiday shopping season.

The New York Times points out “intertemporal substitution” will probably take place, with consumer activity likely taking place at a higher volume in the coming days to make up for the missed time. Gas prices may also spike, but then come back down to Earth.

As a final note for those who were expecting it, the consumer confidence index has been postponed until Thursday.

And on a final note, here’s one of the many incredible images from the storm that’s been making the rounds on the Internet, a carousel in downtown Brooklyn, still lit, floating but intact.

via andjelicaa on Instagram

WTF News: Man Sat Dead In Hospital Lobby For Hours…And No One Noticed

September 22nd, 2012 - By Drenna Armstrong
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"Dillard"

delewareonline.com

This is exactly why people don’t go to the hospital: they’re afraid they won’t come out alive.

The family of Melvin Dillard has filed a lawsuit against the company that operates Beebe Medical Center’s emergency room in Delaware after Dillard died in the hospital’s lobby in June without anyone noticing him there.  By the time someone took notice, rigor motis – the stiffness of muscles after death – had begun to set in.

The claim states that Dillard called an ambulance the day before he passed away with chest pains. Even though he had a history of cardiac issues, the emergency room decided he was well enough to be discharged. He died in the waiting room while possibly trying to figure out a way back home after a friend was unable to get him.  The claim states that only then was Dillard rushed back into the emergency room where he was pronounced dead.

Dillard’s family states that because the emergency staff was made aware of his prior health problems, he should have been admitted for further testing and not sent home.  To that end, they are suing Beebe and Sussex Associates for medical negligence and wrongful death, while also seeking an undisclosed amount in damages.

Hospital officials released a statement saying Dillard had been seen and after medical staff had followed proper protocol, he was released in “stable condition.”  Further, hospital representative Kelly Griffin says the incident was fully disclosed to oversight authorities and investigated.

Part of the confusion stems from the fact that the EMS workers noted that when they got to Dillard, he was showing “signs of an impending cardiac event” and when they released him tot he hospital his EKG was abnormal. He died of a heart attack in the lobby.

His family has declined to comment, saying that the lawsuit speaks for itself.

What a very sad turn of events.  One has to wonder if  Mr. Dillard had “good” insurance.  There has long been talk that if you don’t have “proper” health insurance, hospitals will not treat you with the same care and respect as one with, let’s say, “top notch” health insurance.

Of course, no amount of money can bring Melvin Dillard back but his family deserves more clear answers.

Source

Things You Must Do Before You Die: A Financial Bucket List

September 17th, 2012 - By Ann Brown
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Image: iStockphoto

Death is never a subject many people like to think about. But there are several financial steps you need to take to prepare for the inevitable.

According to a new Forbes article, “7 Money Musts Before You Die,” there are key things to do to make sure your family not only inherits your fortune but also understands the family´s financial situation.

Here’s what Forbes suggests:
1.    Make sure you have adequate life insurance.
2.    Update beneficiaries on retirement accounts, annuities and life insurance policies.
3.    Research whether you can add beneficiaries to your other assets, such as bank and investment accounts.
4.    Draft a will.
5.    Consider creating a trust. This is an option to take especially if you have a complex financial or family situation.
6.    Try to involve your spouse in family finances.
7.    Make a record of where everything is.

Besides these steps there are others things to do, according to Investopedia like take stock of what you own, make a list of your debts, the organizations you belong to and charities you support.

You should also make a list of all your social media passwords, so your family can close your email, Factbook, Twitter and other online accounts, a modern issue that tends to get overlooked.

Storm Ready: Keeping a Natural Disaster from Becoming a Personal Catastrophe

September 6th, 2012 - By Ann Brown
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Houses under water from Hurricane Isaac. Image: Sean Gardner/Reuters

Hurricane Isaac whipped through the Gulf Coast and, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, caused up to $2 billion in damages. At least 13,000 homes were destroyed, said the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

It is inevitable that natural disasters are going to take place, but you never know where or when they’ll happen. There are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself and your home against them.

Before Disaster Strikes

  • Check your homeowners insurance policies.  See what you are covered for and what you aren’t. “Make sure your plan includes the proper limit, or the assessed amount it would currently cost to replace your home if need be,” advises Forbes.com.
  • Don’t scrimp on coverage.  According to Forbes, homeowners sometimes “roll the dice, in hopes that they can save money on premiums and get by with minimal insurance. They may get a rude awakening when a major storm, flood, earthquake or fire hits their communities.” If you live in an area prone to earthquakes you should buy coverage for such occurrences. Consider adding flood insurance if you live in area that’s prone to flooding. “Standard home insurance policies won’t cover flood damage,” Forbes adds. “To cover flood damage, you’ll need a policy backed by the federal government with cooperation from local communities and private insurers.” Check into the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which the government created to assist homeowners, renters and business owners.
  • Rent and insure. Purchase renter’s insurance to cover your personal property in case of damage.
  • Lock it up. Make sure all of your important documents (insurance policies, wills, etc.) are in a secure place. A fireproof metal safety box or cyberlocker (online document storage) are two options.
  • Is your home fortified? When you hear a storm warning, secure outdoor furniture. Check for leaks or crack in your house that water can seep into. Make sure your doors and windows are strong enough to withstand a major storm.

TheHousingForum.com offers some tips for what to do in the aftermath of a disaster.

  • Get out of harm’s way by steering clear of effected areas.
  • As soon as it is safe to do so, assess the damage to your property and report it to your insurance company. If you need additional or immediate help, contact local community and disaster relief agencies.
  • Avoid downed power lines. Call the electric company.

Expect the Unexpected: Prepare Your Business for an Unforeseen Emergency

August 21st, 2012 - By Rhonda Campbell
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Image: Hermera

Insurance provides businesses with financial protection in the event company property is damaged, can protect against libel lawsuits and safeguard against civil claims customers may file against a business due to employee errors. Businesses can even purchase reputation insurance to help with the cost of hiring a PR firm when a corporate crisis arises.

Even with this coverage, a business continuity plan is a necessity.

Business continuity plans help prepare employees, business owners and members of senior management teams to respond to unexpected emergencies, such as something weather-related like Hurricane Katrina or a fire. After heading up business continuity plans for a Fortune 500 corporation for several years, I’ve learned that key components of effective business continuity plans include a few key items:

  • An employee contact list that contains telephone numbers and addresses for each employee and independent contractor working at a firm.
  • A list of business continuity team members, a group selected by senior managers (or the senior managers themselves) along with members from the security, medical, human resource, technology and real estate teams.
  • Actions to be taken during building evacuations.
  • Names and contact information of key clients. Irrespective of your title, if you work with clients, you should have a backup system. An emergency could even be something isolated to a department, like a major computer problem. A business will need to contact clients and notify them of alternative operation plans in the event of a business interruption.
  • Alternate work locations. With Internet access, many employees can work from home. However, if you plan to use an alternate work location, regularly check the computers and other equipment in that space.

Each employee should receive a copy of the business continuity plan. And members of the business continuity teams should know the specific functions they are to fulfill in the event of a business interruption or unexpected emergency.

To ensure employees know how to respond to emergencies, conduct regular building evacuations and call tree and emergency notification tests. Call tree tests ensure that each employee in the firm, usually by department, is contacted during an emergency. Consider using software to automate call tree and emergency notification tests. Notification tests are performed to ensure managers know how to provide employees with action steps that should be taken after a business interruption.

Having the ability to resume critical business functions following a business interruption can distinguish your company as an industry leader. And being ready for the unexpected will make you an outstanding member of the staff when the company most needs them.

Rhonda Campbell, an East Coast journalist, is the owner of Off The Shelf radio and publisher of Long Walk Up and Love Pour Over Me.