Reinsurance Program Fair for Employers


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This past summer I worked for Cigna, which a major multinational health insurance provider. Obviously, the Affordable Care Act is major topic of discussion there and I had become pretty well versed with the Act over the course of the summer I spent there. So I was not surprised when I got a 10/10 on the quiz, which only covered the main points of Act.  Though, I did not know about many of the more obscure points of it.  One aspect that I did not know anything about was the reinsurance program that was established with the Act.

Reinsurance is typically insurance bought by insurance companies from other insurance companies as a way to hedge risk on some of the policies that they hold. The reinsurance program that is established by the Affordable Care Act is for employers already providing health benefits to its retirees over the age of 55 who are not eligible for Medicare.  It is a temporary program that will provide employers reimbursement of 80% of claims between $15,000 and $90,000. The purpose of this program is to lower the costs of the employees registering in their employer’s health care plan.  A total of $5 billion is to be put into the program and will be effective until January 1, 2014.

Regardless of my own political opinions on the Affordable Care Act as a whole, I think that this is a beneficial aspect of the bill.  A fair amount of burden is put on employers to provide care to its employees and if they are already providing benefits to retirees, it seems reasonable to give them some assistance during the transition phase of the enactment of the bill.  As far as a “Mandingo” or “Broomhilda” for the Affordable Care Act, I do not think that there is really either for the Act. Mainly because I think that the objective of the bill is straightforward and it would be almost impossible to try to put a “Broomhilda” into the Act because it is so widely scrutinized.

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The Not-So-Affordable Care Act


After going through the Kaiser Family Foundation quiz on Obamacare, I was surprised to get 8 out of 10 questions right.  Though I was familiar with most of the questions asked, my understanding of Obamacare is at a basic level and I was interested in learning more about the law.  As I read several articles discussing Obamacare, I learned more about the effect that the law would have on businesses.

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Obamacare: Progress for Women’s Health; What about Abortion Coverage?


health-care-reform-cartoonI  scored 6/10 on the Health Reform quiz, which seems to be the average for the class. A few weeks ago I attended an informational session on the Afforable Care Act, where I learned the basics of what the act does (presented by Brandn Green and Carl Milofsky). The presentation didn’t have a political agenda; the speakers wanted to spread knowledge about what the act does and how to sign up for insurance.

I was surprised to see that the Kaiser Family summary of the PPACA specifically addressed abortion, so I did research on how the act confronts the issue of abortion. Viewpoints on abortion tend to be polarized along party lines, therefore I expected “Obamacare” to increase access to abortion and decrease the cost of abortion. Though abortion is a controversial piece of the act, I found that the PPACA doesn’t address it in a radical way.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows for federal subsides to be used for abortion services permitted under the Hyde Amendment. This amendment was passed in 1977 in response to Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. The Hyde Amendment particularly affects Medicare; it prevents federal funds from paying for abortions unless the mother’s life is in danger, or she is a victim of rape or incest. The Hyde Amendment applies to the new health insurance exchanges. Those who wish to purchase abortion coverage can choose a specific plan (if their state allows) where their payments will go into two different accounts: one for abortion coverage and one for the remainder of the premium. The abortion coverage payment must be at least one dollar per month per enrollee. Continue reading

26 Year Old Children


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I scored a 5 out of 10 on the quiz. I found that the five I answered correctly were provisions I have heard about over and over and some of the others are ones I have never heard any discussion about. In choosing a topic to focus on, I thought about how Obamacare relates to me. There is a new policy that allows “children” to say on their parents’ healthcare plan until they are 26. Previous to this, insurers could drop children from their parents’ plan regardless of student or job status. The Department of Labor answers some basic questions about this nicely. Continue reading

May the ‘Death Panel’ Be Ever in Your Favor


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Obamacare is something that gets thrown around pretty readily today in the news.  For the past few years, this act has caused a great deal of controversy behind the doors of the government officials.  Yes, it may be all over the news and many citizens have taken a side but the real question is how many people TRULY, understand what the hell this even entails.  After taking the quiz, I can easily sit here and tell you I am well informed after receiving a 7 out of 10.  But that wouldn’t be fair to say, as I based my answers off of preconceived ideas of the government and what I would just ‘assume’ the answer to be.

The question that caught my eye and really left me looking for more answers was the following, Continue reading

Small Businesses Beware


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I take pride in being informed on major issues that are happening on a domestic and global scale. That is why I am quite embarrassed to say that I was very uneducated about the various nuances of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. My quiz results of six out of ten were not terrible, but in all honesty I kind of guessed on a majority of the answers for I had no idea one way or the other. Many of the answers on the quiz thoroughly surprised me, for they went against some of my perceived notions of the health care bill. Most notably, the fact that the health reform requires that employers with 50 or more employees must pay a fine if they do not offer health insurance. Is this arbitrary number fair? Or does is tie the hands of employers in various instances that include hiring, firing, and the decision to keep people full-time or part-time?

Forbes published an article with a hypothetical situation where a small business struggles with the decision of hiring a 50th and 51st worker that would really help their production, but at the cost of offering every employee health insurance. Do the benefits outweigh the costs? It is a tough question to answer, for every little decision that small businesses make can have drastic consequences on their future success. This also affects big businesses that hope to have a larger full-time workforce. Each new full-time worker is to be provided health insurance in accordance with the new bill. Forbes points out that this could push businesses to hire more part-time workers in order to avoid the insurance payments. The forced benefits for workers are going to have a major effect on job availability when the bill comes into full effect in both smaller and larger businesses.

I personally feel that the specific number of 50 is going to cause more problems than good. Of course for businesses that already house between 100 and 200 employees, this will not be an issue. However, the companies with 45 to 60 employees may start making cuts or demotions to part-time in order to save profits that keep the business afloat. This is a very conservative viewpoint, but the working world can be fickle when it comes to crunch time and jobs can be lost due to owners and managers hoping to save a few extra dollars. This of course is just one of many provisions that Obamacare hopes to accomplish in the upcoming years. Other details such as financial help being given to workers with low to medium income who do not receive insurance through their professions are very noble and have my personal support. It is just difficult to put that pressure on a business owner with such a small workforce and tight budget. However, the fact that a bill has minor details that one may disagree with does not mean the overall act is not worth going forward with. This healthcare reformation will do more good than harm for many people and minor details should not derail the bill.

Are children being helped or hurt by the extension of CHIP?


I was excited to hear that we’d be learning about the PPACA for this blog because it’s a topic I didn’t know much about. I think it’s important to be informed about current events, especially politically related since certain laws could have major effects on people. While taking the quiz, I felt like I wouldn’t get more than a few right, but I ended up getting a 5/10. Although I knew more than I thought, I still didn’t feel educated enough. The first question in the quiz brought up what is probably the most controversial aspect of Obamacare. I was surprised to learn that people will have to pay a fine if they don’t have health insurance starting in 2014. There are some exceptions such as religious objections, but for the most part, Americans are going to be required to have health insurance.

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One of the aspects of the PPACA that I wanted to learn more about was the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Chip was signed into law in 1997 and provides health coverage to about 8 million children in families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid, but not high enough to afford private health care coverage.

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The Side Effects of Obamacare


How likely are these side effects?

How likely are these side effects?

Upon taking the test, I scored an unanticipated 8 out of 10….now, in no way do I think this is representative of my knowledge of this act. I found that many of the aspects of the act were new to me, and as I learned I started to materialize my own opinions. I strived to find why the biggest piece of healthcare legislation since Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

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Obamacare to the Rescue: The End of American Obesity?


Before taking the Health Reform quiz, I assumed I would only get 2-3 correct out of the 10 questions because the PPACA seems like a very intricate overhaul of our healthcare system. However, I know the basics of the act and the questions in the quiz were pretty straightforward–I got 9 out of 10 correct by asking myself: does this answer match up with the goal of Obamacare? Which, in my opinion, is to give people easier access to healthcare. Continue reading

Tax on Medical Devices


By taking this quiz I truly realized how little I know about the PPACA. Although I did score a 4/10, to be fair I would have to call all of my answers guesses. I find it quite amazing how little I know about one of the top, if not the single most common subject mentioned in the news. Now, I do take some responsibility for this, but I do not think it lies solely with me. We have talked all semester about the best way to present information for your audience, and it is clear that the government did not do an extensive job presenting this piece of legislation. Perhaps when something so relevant comes into law the government (like the PPACA) should go to extra lengths to ensure that the public is well informed to its purpose, or supposed purpose.

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Employer Requirements


This is another good topic for this week’s blog. I enjoy how these subject matters are very pertinent to today’s political and economic debates. The quiz was a great way to start discussions. I got a 8/10 on the quiz. I knew a fair amount on the rules behind the PPACA, but I did not expect to get an 80%. I would admit that this quiz was not the best indicator of my knowledge since I guessed on a couple of questions. One question I got wrong was “Will the health reform law require employers with 50 or more employees to pay a fine if they don’t offer health insurance?” The answer is yes. I was unaware of this provision. I did not know the PPACA required employers, who employed over a certain threshold of full time employees,  to pay a fine. Instead I was under the impression employers would only face a fine if they did not offer health insurance to employees who worked over thirty hours a week.

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The provision, 4980H, applies to “applicable large employers” or companies that employ more than 50 full time employees.  If small companies do not meet the “applicable large employer” criteria, the penalties do not apply to them. Furthermore the small employers may be eligible for a health insurance tax credit if they employ fewer than 25 employees and the average income is up to $50,000. The provision requires large employers to offer its full time employees and dependents to enroll in minimum essential coverage under the employer-sponsored plan, or pay a $2,000 penalty annually multiplied by the number of full time employees, excluding the first 30 workers. However if the employer offers coverage but the insurance does not pay for at least 60% of covered health care expenses for a typical population or if at least one of the employee(s) has to pay 9.5% Continue reading

Blog Post 7 (Affordable Care Act)


In March 2010, over three years ago today, Obama and his administration passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also known as “Obamacare.” Even the name has been a political football with Obama at first not wanting it labeled with his name as Republicans were doing,  and then embracing it.  This has been a topic that has swirled in our newsfeeds and is frequently a topic of conversation. Yet, much of the general public does not know the details or even the major facts of the act.   In fact, the Democratic party has been proposing some form of national health insurance since at least President Truman.

However, it seems the government, politicians, and the media have not done a great job explaining this law.

TAKE THIS QUIZ... post your answer below.  Th BC would be surprised in you get 2-3 right.

For this week, we invite you to learn more about the act, which, in reality, has many, many parts.   Write about one specific provision or aspect of the PPACA law.  Use  good resources about the PPACA explore one aspect of the act that you had not previously known about.  Your goal is to explain what it does in specific terms.

This post links into doing paper 2 and the final paper in terms of information literacy.  To explain your provision, you may find government sites, news coverage, research centers, or think tanks are useful.

We invite you to learn about it it “before’ you put on your own political lenses.  Does the provision or aspect you describe seem like a good idea?

After you have done so, please think back to last week and analyze the provision FROM your apparent political ideology.

PLEASE, try NOT to repeat topics!

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Refusal to Stop the Time Bomb


A protester depicts the frustration of the American people towards government officials

I must preface this post by saying that I lean toward a conservative political ideology, but after digging deeper into the viewpoints of liberals regarding the government shutdown and debt crisis, I understand their point of view.  Republicans were essentially holding the nation’s economy hostage in leaving the government unopened and threatening not to raise the debt ceiling if Obamacare is not repealed.  I agree that targeting the Affordable Care Act, the legacy of President Obama’s term, was a poor move because even if Republicans could muscle their way into getting enough votes to edit the legislation through Congress, the President would veto it.

That being said, Democrats are just as much to blame as Republicans.  They refused to negotiate on any terms unless the government was first opened and the debt ceiling was raised long-term. Harry Reid essentially was telling Republicans to concede to all of the Democrats’ terms and then negotiations will begin. This caused strict partisanship and lengthened the government shutdown, as Republicans could not find any common ground with Democrats.  Continue reading

Racism to Blame for GOP’s Fight Against ObamaCare?


Although I am still finding my own voice and forming my own opinions, the quiz reaffirmed that I am a “main street Republican.” Some things that I know for sure: I am pro choice and I believe the government is too big right now–spending is out of control and our deficit is a major concern.  Continue reading