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Health insurance reform is happening now

by Tony Novak, CPA, MBA, MT
This article pre-dates the passage of federal health insurance reform laws and so parts may be outdated.

 

This article includes a listing of the most basic and non-controversial goals of health insurance reform and a partial list of the currently available insurance policies that meet the list of reform demands.

Despite the current obstacles in federal health insurance reform, a handful of the most fundamental changes appear to be not only “do-able” but are happening now as a matter of market force and actions at the state level. A recent subdued article titled “Ten GOP Health Ideas for Obama” ran in the Wall Street Journal this week that reiterated a few of the least controversial non-partisan ideas. The published list includes seven items that specifically pertain to commercial health insurance:

1. Make insurance affordable. The after-tax premium cost of health insurance must be perceived to be a good value in order to achieve voluntary acceptance by consumers. There are at least three ways to lower insurance premiums for consumers: a) have the government directly pay some or all of the cost (as with the COBRA subsidy program or the Massachusetts expanded Medicaid plans), b) offer tax incentives to individuals and businesses that buy health insurance, and c) restrict the dollar amount of benefits paid out (as with Medicare, Medicaid and commercial mini-med plans). Only the third approach can happen without additional government action and it is clear that virtually all health insurance plans are charging full-speed in this direction. Even with all of these actions taken together, there is still a gap between what consumers consider “affordable” and what they are willing to accept as the standard of medical care. This means that controlling insurance alone, without dealing with other influences in the health care industry, will not solve our health care problems.

2. Make insurance portable. Individuals should not lose coverage simply because they change jobs. We should recognize that COBRA programs are only a Band-Aid for this issue.

3. Make insurance available across state lines. Although no insurance is available in all 50 states, many of the plans listed at FreedomBenefits.net are now available in more than 30 or 40 states. This represents a significant increase in availability from even a year ago.

4. Remove eligibility restrictions due to pre-existing conditions. We know that low cost health insurance cannot immediately pay the costs of those who were previously uninsured as a matter of simple mathematics. But a growing number of health insurance plans now accept all applicants and do not include medical eligibility questions on the enrollment form. This is great for those who were previously excluded from all types of commercial coverage.

5. Allow doctors and patients to control costs. Doctors and patients have proved effective in controlling costs when offered the opportunity and financial incentive to do so. Health Savings Account members and the emerging medical clinics that bypass insurance show that we do not need to have the approval of our insurance companies in order to obtain high quality affordable health care.

6. Meet the needs of the chronically ill. Expand telephone and Internet based care rather than require repeated doctor’s visit in order to ensure that care will be covered by insurance.

7. Protect early retirees. Coverage needs be available and affordable and not automatically expire at age 65.

Freedom Benefits Association is excited to see a growing number of new or updated policies that meet the health insurance reform criteria. All of the currently available health plans in this category are more affordable than traditional major medical insurance, are portable and may be continued past age 65. These policies are available regardless of past medical history. They allow policyholders rather than insurance companies to control the plan of care. All come with CallMD (or another similar telephone-based service), that can help reduce doctor visit costs for routine issues like prescribing some medications by telephone.

These are some examples of health insurance that meets the reform objectives and are available throughout most of the United States:

Value Benefits of America offers Value Access Guarantee, a group member benefit plan, not an insurance plan in 36 states for a family premium rate of $319 per month for the lower level benefits to $729 for the highest level of coverage. This mini-med plan is available regardless of medical history, previous declines and offers an innovative method of providing some coverage for pre-existing conditions.
 
A similar coverage is offered by Guarantee Trust Life Insurance Company and United National Life Insurance Company called Value Med that covers up to $1,000 per day hospital expenses and up to 10 doctor visits per year. This insurance is available in 41 states.

Guarantee Trust Life Insurance Company also offers VBA 24 Hour Accident supplemental coverage from $2,500 to $10,000 that is available in 44 states. The family premium rate is just $35 per month (for $2,500 coverage) to $65 per month (for $10,000 coverage).

Core Health Insurance from US Fire Insurance Company is perhaps the best known of this new breed of health insurance plans. While rates vary depending on age and location, the other features of health insurance reform are incorporated into this affordable limited benefit health insurance.

Presidential Insurance Company offers National Employer’s Association Value ER coverage that pays up to $1,000 per emergency room visit. This plan is available in 32 states and the cost is $30 per month.

More details on these health insurance plans and other available options are listed on a state-by-state basis at FreedomBenefits.net.


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This web site is independently owned and managed by Tony Novak operating under the trademarks "Freedom Benefits", "OnlineAdviser" and "OnlineNavigator". Opinions expressed are the sole responsibility of the author and do not represent the opinion of any other person, company or entity mentioned. Tony Novak is not an agent, broker, producer or navigator for any federal or state health insurance exchange but may provide uncompensated advice, reviews and referrals to these official resources. Novak is compensated as an accountant, adviser, affiliate consultant, marketer, reviewer, endorser, producer, lead generator or referrer to some of the other commercial companies listed on this site. Information is from sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed.