вторник, 14 декабря 2010 г.

Reform May Result in Higher Health Insurance Premiums

President Barack Obama fulfilled his promise to reform the nation's healthcare system and make health insurance affordable on March 23, 2010, when he signed the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) into law. Proponents of the law applauded the reform, based on the assumption that many formerly uninsured Americans would be given the opportunity to obtain health insurance coverage.
Obama predicted at the time, that the average family would save $2,500 in yearly premiums. This amount was later refuted by the Congressional Budget office, which predicted a yearly health insurance premium increase of $2,300.
The New York Times reported that beginning in 2016, individual health insurance premiums will have increased by 10-13 percent over what the estimated premiums would be without the reform. Small business owners have already seen their employee premiums increase up to 11% this year, and the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers believe the trend will continue, with insurance premiums continuing the climb by 11-20 percent in 2011.
These dire predictions are disputed by the proponents of the plan who believe that health care costs will be contained by educating Americans about health and wellness. They point out that subsidies for many people will offset the cost of the increases. Government-mandated state "exchanges," healthcare shopping places, are also expected to lower premium costs up to 4%, according to The Congressional Budget Office.
Small business owners are not convinced, and are bracing for the inevitable cost increases that they expect to pass on to their employees in order to keep their overhead manageable.
Subsidies are not expected to take place until 2014, and will not be available to those people covered under employment health insurance plans.
Higher premiums, or restricted care by way of health care rationing, may be inevitable in the United States. The U.K. is a step ahead of the U.S. in health care reform and is already experiencing deep cuts due to rising health care costs.

среда, 8 декабря 2010 г.

Health Insurance Cost to Increase in Maine

Affordable health insurance is looking like harder and harder to achieve as obstacles to president Obama's health care reform are piling up daily. Among many hurdles are the increasing costs of current health insurance plans. Anthem Blue Cross, for example, has announced plans to increase premiums and in California and now in Maine.
To be sure health insurance companies are not on the way to the poor house. Rather, companies like Wellpoint, the parent company of Anthem Blue Cross have continually posted profits. To impose heavier premiums on individual health insurance plans seems a bit excessive.
In Maine, Anthem Blue recently requested to raise individual rates by as much as 23 percent. One in 10 residents of Maine currently lack health insurance. If health insurance rates do go up as planned, this could mean that the millions of individuals who can barely buy insurance may not be able to keep up the payments.
Despite the fact that the health insurance rate hikes will most likely not affect those covered under their employers, it will have a huge impact on the majority of Americans. For the millions who are uninsured, the only real option aside from government assistance is to buy individual policies. These are already over-priced with extremely high deductibles.
If the trend continues, more and more Americans will opt out of health insurance all together. This will then cause a domino effect forcing health insurance companies to raise premiums to cover the costs of sick individuals who need health insurance to help pay medical bills.
Health Insurance Reform Looks Harder to Achieve
One small victory has been achieved. Anthem Blue Cross of California announced that it will delay its proposed 39 percent increase to individual health insurance plans. In Maine, the Bureau of Insurance will begin hearings on the matter later in the month.
The increase in insurance premiums across the nation coupled with Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts reveals a rocky path for health insurance reform. If Obama is to achieve success, many measures will have to be approved. This may take longer than expected. Bi-partisan politics and health care reform makes it seemingly impossible to implement real change.

четверг, 2 декабря 2010 г.

More People Go Without Health Insurance In Florida

It seems that more and more people in Florida are losing their health insurance. This is happening either because they lose their jobs or because they choose not to have it as health insurance is not affordable and monthly premiums are increasing.
According to a report issued on Wednesday by the Washington consumer advocacy group Families USA some 3,500 people in Florida remain without health insurance every week. By the end of the year the number is expected to to reach 185.000. Across the country it has been estimated that 2.3 million more Americans will be without health insurance coverage. This makes the recent moves by the Senate Committee, Congress and the president on speedy health care reform more justified that the nation needs a comprehensive health care reform making it affordable so all can have access to it.
According to the study, between 1999 and 2008 the average premium for health insurance for a family has increased by 119 percent from $ 5.791 a year to more than $ 12.600. These increases have led many employers to discontinue or reduce health care benefits. They simple could not afford providing benefits anymore. In fact, burdening the American employer with more taxes makes our economy less competitive in the world.
Under the COBRA law when a person loses his or her job the individual may remain with the health insurance company for many months by paying the total premium. This has proved prohibitive for the majority of the unemployed as the cost is very high. When you have a job your employer, if providing benefits, pays for health insurance and the employee pays a small portion of it. However, when you lose your job then you pay for your COBRA insurance's full cost. The federal government has some assistance in these cases, but many people do not know what to do or how to apply. Some people who had coverage for themselves and their spouses while working now are forced to leave out protection for the spouse because of the high cost of the premium.
The report, published by Families USA, based its calculations on the estimates made by the publication Health Affairs. However, perhaps the situation with health insurance in the state of Florida is even worse, as the report does not include jobs that are lost each month due to the recession. In May, the unemployment rate in the state rose to 10.2 percent, with the consequent loss of health insurance coverage for the unemployed.

четверг, 25 ноября 2010 г.

Affordable Health Insurance For Children In North Carolina

Health choice for Children is an insurance program in North Carolina for families who do not qualify for Medicaid, but have a difficult time finding affordable health insurance. The program is either free, or offered at an affordable insurance premium for families who cannot afford health care for their children.
Children who do not have access to affordable healthcare suffer as adults from lifetime illnesses. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “all children should have access to comprehensive, age-appropriate, quality health care”, yet many families with children in North Carolina do not qualify for health coverage under Medicaid, leaving gaps in health insurance coverage for children.
Health Choice for children in North Carolina covers outpatient services and hospitalization. The program also offers dental, vision, x-ray and lab benefits. Prescription drug coverage is also available.
Working family members receive deductions under the Health Choice for Children for child care and a $90 work-related expense deduction for each employed family member.
Eligibility requirements for the North Carolina Health Choice for children affordable health insurance program varies, depending on the number of children in your family. A family with 2 children might qualify for free health insurance for their children. Those who are not eligible can also enroll. The difference is there may be co-pays for healthcare services. If you cannot find affordable insurance for your children, you might qualify for coverage under Health Choice for Children. To find out about affordable health insurance for children in North Carolina, visit Health Choice for Children.

четверг, 18 ноября 2010 г.

Scientists learn more about how kidneys fail and how new drugs may intervene

Scientists are learning more about how protein gets in the urine when the kidneys begin to fail and how a new drug blocks it. "We have known for a long time that renal failure comes with protein in your urine, especially in diabetes," said Dr. David Pollock, renal physiologist at the Medical College of Georgia Vascular Biology Center. It's also known that a new class of drugs called endothelin A receptor antagonists reduce protein in the urine.
New research published in the journal Hypertension connects the two, providing more information about how new drugs under study for kidney failure work.
The scientists have shown in rats that increased levels of the peptide endothelin 1 – characteristic of conditions such as diabetes and high-salt diets – increase the permeability of tiny kidney filters. The filters recycle key components such as red and white blood cells and proteins, including albumin, that help keep blood vessels from leaking fluid.
The increased permeability causes the proteins to be eliminated in the urine, resulting in a double whammy that likely includes generalized body swelling and further kidney damage. "Without albumin, the fluid just goes into your tissue," Pollock said.
"This filter, which is like cheesecloth, gets damaged in kidney failure and so you get more of these proteins in your urine. Filters start scarring over, you lose the nephron (the filter and its associated kidney cells) and so the kidneys slowly die," he said.
And that's just part of the damage. High endothelin levels also trigger inflammation, sending out proinflammatory molecules that attract inflammatory cells like white blood cells and macrophages to the kidneys, MCG researchers have shown. They also have shown that endothelin A receptor antagonists reduce this inflammatory response.
"There has been no drug that really targets diabetic nephropathy," said Mohamed A. Saleh, MCG graduate student and the study's first author. The study provides more scientific evidence that the new endothelin A receptor antagonists may be the first class of drugs to fit that bill, said Saleh, noting that his native Egypt, like the United States, has an increasing problem with diabetes.
The positive results were achieved without affecting blood pressure, the scientists noted. Endothelin receptor antagonists are known to have health benefit but precisely why was an unknown, said Pollock, corresponding author on the study. "A lot of people thought they just lower blood pressure and anything that lowers blood pressure is going to make your kidneys feel better," he said.
Endothelin 1 has A and B receptors and whether the peptide hurts or helps generally depends on which receptor it activates. The B receptor is considered the good guy, helping the kidney eliminate excess sodium, for example. The A receptor is generally considered a trouble maker that interferes with sodium excretion, constricts blood vessels and promotes inflammation.