Tuesday, September 18, 2012

United Healthcare Medicare plans

United Healthcare Medicare plansUnited Healthcare is a well-liked alternative along with based on the firm, these people register one in five Treatment heirs into their health plans. In addition they present insurance coverage by means of SecureHorizons, AmeriChoice, and Evercare.

You might want to think about a United Healthcare Medicare plans for those who have recently flipped 65 and so are just turning out to be eligible for Medicare insurance. You might presently always be enrolled in a Medicare health plan yet are not content and wish to alter suppliers. You could be in times where you proceed to a whole new spot as well as are unable to obtain insurance coverage through your old strategy. You may be considering a new Medicare health plan in case you are concerned about receiving coverage on your medications.

United Healthcare Medicare plans can be obtained in many possibilities including HMO plans, product insurance plans, special wants plans, and Medicare part D prescription medication plans. These plans provide kinds of insurance coverage and also the best brand out there will be based on about your very own health problem.

As an example, United Healthcare Medicare HMO plans are super easy to utilize and comprehend. Simply pay out a set fee whenever you will need healthcare providers. You understand upfront precisely what the expenses will be and are not surprised by a huge physician's expenses. An HMO plan charge you a collection price with an doctor office visit, emergency room go to, and hospital stay. The particular fees are generally under you'd probably pay using conventional Medicare health insurance insurance coverage. The sole probable issue with the HMO program's you need to utilize physicians inside community until you need crisis attention. If you are using a doctor outside of the system, you should spend entire out-of-pocket price.

United Healthcare Medicare plans likewise incorporate supplement insurance. This insurance policy helps you deal with the expenses accrued in Medicare medicare part a as well as part B expenditures. The particular unique needs programs are only for those with selected health conditions and also existence scenarios and are not available for common sign up.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Employers complain to Obama Administration that ACA requirements are still unclear

Nervous because you still aren’t certain about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) rules will impact your company’s bottom line? You’re not alone. At a hearing on September 12 to discuss implementation of the ACA’s health insurance exchanges and related provisions, Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX) complained in an opening statement that the Obama Administration has relied too heavily on interim final rules for implementing ACA mandates on pre-existing conditions, dependent coverage, and grandfathered health plan policies. The problem with this, explained Johnson, is that the regulations then take effect before employers or health care providers group can submit comments on any particular regulation’s effects.

Johnson also complained that the Administration has issued guidance in an informal format such as bulletins and FAQs. Guidance in those formats can change at a moment's notice, he noted. According to Kaiser Health News senior correspondent Mary Agnes Carey, who attended the hearing, (www.kaiserhealthnews.org), panelists declared that "We really need those regulations because they really have more of the force of law, and we need them now."

November 16, 2012 is the deadline for states to notify the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding their intent to operate a state health exchange, and enrollment in exchanges is to begin in approximately one year from now, but there are nearly 100 areas where exchange-related regulations are still forthcoming, Johnson said, adding, “How are states supposed to commit tens of millions of dollars towards exchange implementation in the face of such uncertainty? How can states be expected to make decisions without so much as a final regulation to inform their decisions?”

With regulations on the mandated benefit package and expected out-of-pocket costs in plans offered via the exchanges still lacking, and without knowing what the mandated benefit package will look like, employers, said Johnson, have no way of knowing if they will be subject to the rather substantial employer mandate tax, making it difficult to make investment decisions regarding new employees, equipment or facilities. Johnson also highlighted tasks insurance plans will have to complete, including the design, price and marketing of plans, education of agents and brokers, and the establishment of provider networks.

Employers are understandably nervous, but Carey reported that the administration’s explanation for not having the actual rules in place was that it wanted to take all the stakeholder input it had received into account when drafting the regulations. Carey added that the administration pointed out that “…states have until November to say whether or not they actually want to run an exchange. So once they know how many states are involved, then they can decide when the federal government has to step in and in what states. And also, they’re talking about more regulations coming out in early 2013.”

Carey also said that “…one statement that was made was, ‘Look, if we get to the spring of 2013 and these regulations aren’t out, then we’ve got something to worry about. But with enrollment starting in the fall 2013 and the exchanges up and running in 2014, we’ll still have plenty of time to give you the certainty you want.’"

Friday, September 14, 2012

Survey Finds that Wellness Programs Provide Savings for Employers

Employers who have analyzed the financial impact of their wellness programs have discovered overall positive results. According to the report titled, A Closer Look: Wellness ROI by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, most of these employers reported $1 to $3 decreases in their overall health care costs for every dollar spent. The report surveyed organizations that have analyzed the financial impacts of their wellness programs and compared the answers of those who attained a positive return on their investment (ROIs) and those who did not (non ROIs).

“Without question, employers are beginning to understand the direct connection that wellness initiatives can have on both employee health and health care plan cost savings,” said Michael Wilson, Foundation CEO. “While the primary goal is reducing health costs, we’re also seeing other advantages from wellness initiatives, such as higher employee morale, increased productivity and reduced disability.”

The report also found that wellness program incentives and communications tools are used more by ROI organizations than non ROI employers. ROI organizations were much more likely (40% to 29%) to provide insurance premium reductions for participation in wellness programs, as well as incentives for participating in health screenings (65% to 43%), health risk assessments (74% to 51%) and for accessing health care coaches/advocates (43% to 22%). 

Employers credited communication as an important tool in achieving ROI. These organizations were more likely to provide wellness information and electronic communications through web links, social networks and wellness seminars and speakers as compared to their non-ROI counterparts. 

Overall, almost 74% of organizations experiencing ROI had a broader value-based health care strategy that included incentives for employee participation in health screenings, stress management programs, health risk assessments, and fitness and nutrition programs.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Roundup of 2012 Health Care Reform State Ballot Initiatives

Five states have approved ballot initiatives for the upcoming November election in response to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In Alabama, Florida, and Wyoming voters will be asked to vote on proposed amendments to their state constitutions. Missouri and Montana voters will also decide questions on the federal law’s reach within their states.

In Alabama, Montana, Wyoming and Florida, the initiatives use similar language seeking to prohibit individuals and employers from being compelled to participate in any health care system or purchase health insurance coverage. This is the Florida legislature’s second attempt at bringing such a question to a vote. In 2010, a similar measure was removed from the ballot when the state Supreme Court held that the measure was misleading and could confuse votes. The offending language is not included in the version that appears on this year’s ballot.

Missouri has framed the issue differently than other states. Voters there will be asked to approve an initiative that focuses on the health insurance exchanges that the states are required to set up under the ACA. If approved, Missouri would be barred from creating a health insurance exchange without prior approval from voters or the state legislature. The state would also be barred from accepting federal funds to use in establishing an exchange.

The outcome of the vote may well be affected by an August 28th ruling by Missouri Judge Dan Green. Judge Green held that the original ballot language drafted by Democrats was not “fair or sufficient.”  The original version asked voters, “[s]hall Missouri law be amended to deny individuals, families, and small businesses the ability to access affordable health care plans through a state based health benefit exchange unless authorized by statute, initiative or referendum or through an exchange operated by the federal government as required by the federal health care act?”  Instead, the judge accepted the Republican-drafted summary.The ballot question will now read, “[s]hall the Missouri law be amended to prohibit the Governor or any state agency from establishing or operating state based health insurance exchanges unless authorized by a vote of the people or by the Legislature?”

Monday, September 10, 2012

Romney Revises Health Reform Message

In an interview yesterday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney told host David Gregory, "I'm not getting rid of all of healthcare reform."  Although that statement appears to differ from the campaign’s earlier messages that the candidate would "repeal Obamacare," the Romney campaign clarified that this is not a change in position.

The Governor still intends to repeal the Act, but plans to re-implement certain aspects, noting that "there are a number of things that I like in healthcare reform that I'm going to put in place.”  Romney identified ensuring that those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage, providing access to coverage for unemployed people, and enabling families to be able to insure members, including children, for an indefinite period as provisions in the current law with which he agrees. He also explained that he wants “individuals to be able to buy insurance, health insurance, on their own as opposed to only being able to get it on a tax advantage basis through their company."
In response, according to The Washington Post, the President Obama’s campaign asserted that these statements do not reflect the Governor’s plan entirely. Rather, the campaign said that Governor Romney’s plan would cover preexisting conditions only for individuals who have been continuously insured. Those who have never had private coverage or who have lost it due to unemployment would not be covered for preexisting conditions. The Post also reports that independent health-care analysts have found that Romney’s plan to cover preexisting conditions would not be viable if the law does not require an individual mandate, which the GOP opposes.

American Health Care Reform - The Benefits to Women

The American health care reform act signed into law on March 2010 means different things to different people. To the women, it's a great stride to ending gender discrimination prevalent in the insurance market.

It is a known fact that in the past women experience difficulty in accessing health insurance more than their male counterpart. They were made to pay more because of their gender thereby making it impossible for a lot to be covered. If they are pregnant or require an operation during delivery or suffer domestic abuse, they are often denied coverage. Now, American women can heave a sigh of relief because of the benefits coming their way through the health act.

The current law was enacted to be effective in phases. Some have taken off while some will be fully effective in 2014.

Some of the provision for 2010 mandates the insurance companies to end rescission, to eliminate life time coverage limits and to restrict the use of annual limits in all new plans and existing employer's plans. Others include a prohibition to insurers from denying children coverage irrespective of their state of health and to provide affordable insurance for the uninsured Americans with existing conditions. It also makes provision for a mandatory prevention and wellness benefit in all new policies at no cost.

Starting from 2011 the law requires insurers to spend at least 80% of customer's premiums on medical services to ensure quality health care for every policy holder. It also stipulates that insurance companies should no longer increase premium without a written submission to justify the increase and those already over charging will be exempted in participating in the new exchanges.

Starting from 2014, the law prohibits companies from denying women coverage under any condition or to charge them higher based on gender or health status. It also stipulates the establishment of state based health insurance exchanges that will provide women with private insurance choices and multi-state plans that will encourage competition and offer additional options.

The exchange offers coverage for prevention health services, maternity benefits and places a cap on what insurance companies can require women to pay in out of pocket expenses. It provides tax credits for women who can't afford health insurance and provides for coverage on all basic pediatric services as well as dental, eye care for the children.

The act indeed is a good one, having successfully removed all past bottlenecks against the women and brought hope for a better future healthy life. It is timely to take advantage of this new dawn and get yourself protected.

You can get several quotes from different insurers simply by working with trusted online insurance brokers. Working with insurance brokers saves you time and eliminate unnecessary stress.

You must understand that it is not a must that you accept the quotes you get from any insurer. These quotes are absolutely free. If you are unsatisfied with your quotes, you can simply look somewhere else for your insurance. With this information, you can get started immediately.

Acne Treatment Right From Home

Acne is an uncomfortable and embarrassing skin condition that affects thousands of people across the globe. It develops when oily substances and bacteria get into the skin and clog the pores. It most commonly appears on a person's face, neck, or back, but can show up on almost any area of the body. If acne is a concern for you, it is a good idea to visit a dermatologist, however, there are several things that a person can do right from home for acne treatment.

Daily Cleansing- This is the number one acne remedy. It is important to find a gentle face cleanser that works well with your skin type. Regular deodorant soaps or body washes should never be used on the face or effected area. They will strip the skin of its moisture and make matters worse. After cleansing, use a mild moisturizer. It is essential to do this twice a day.

Cucumber- Peel a cucumber and put it into a food processor until a paste is formed. Apply the paste to the skin and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. This is an effective acne prevention method and also works to refresh the skin.

Cumin Seeds- Grind cumin seeds with a few drops of water into a paste and apply it to the skin. Leave the paste on the skin for about an hour, then rinse and pat dry.

Aloe Vera- Aloe Vera gel can be applied directly to the acne areas. This will sooth the skin and help to reduce any swelling and redness that may have developed. Aloe Vera is also available in a pill form and may be taken orally to help prevent the onset of acne.

Rose Water and Sandalwood- Make a paste from sandalwood and rose-water and apply it to the skin. Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes before rinsing and patting dry.

Fresh Garlic- Although it will produce a bit of an odor, garlic paste can be applied directly to acne irritated skin. Garlic is known to have very effective antiseptic properties and will begin to dry out the acne.

Lavender Oil- Lavender oil can be applied to acne irritated skin to cut redness and swelling and ease any discomfort. Allow the oil to sit for as long as you would like.

Cooked Oats- Cook unflavored oatmeal as directed on the package and apply it to the irritated skin. Allow it to sit and dry for 15-25 minutes. The oatmeal works to dry out the acne and sooth the skin.

Egg Whites- Apply egg whites to the skin and allow them to sit for 20 minutes. Rinse the skin and pat dry.

Fruit and Vegetable Mixture- This is a popular acne treatment. Combine one peeled and seeded apple, ½ cucumber, 1 tablespoon of plain yogurt, and 1 tablespoon of honey. Use a food processor to make the mixture into a paste. Apply it to the skin and allow it to sit for 15 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat dry. This will help to reduce scarring.

All of these home acne treatments are effective. Try some of them to find the acne remedy that works best for your skin.

Friday, September 7, 2012

ERIC Urges Obama Administration To Clarify Dependent Coverage Requirements

The ERISA Industry Committee (ERIC) is urging the Obama Administration to clarify and support the interpretation that employers are not required to offer dependent coverage in order to meet their shared responsibility obligations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In an August 27 letter to Deputy Assistant to the President for Health Policy Jeanne Lambrew, ERIC expressed concern that the executive branch agencies might inappropriately interpret the ACA to require employers to offer dependent coverage regardless of whether the dependent coverage is affordable or sufficiently valuable. ERIC argued that this interpretation is not consistent with the statute and would have significant negative effects on the nation’s large employers without producing a meaningful increase in dependent coverage.

“We urge the President to support regulations or other guidance clarifying that employers are not obligated to offer dependent coverage and are not liable for a shared responsibility penalty if they decline to cover dependents,” said ERIC President & CEO Scott Macey and Senior Vice President for Health Policy Gretchen Young.

ERIC’s letter explains that, although the shared responsibility provisions refer to health coverage for full-time employees and their dependents (the latter being referred to in a parenthetical), the penalties are based solely on the number of an employer’s full-time employees: dependents do not enter into the penalty calculation. An employer that offers affordable health coverage to all of its full-time employees is not subject to any shared responsibility penalty, regardless of whether the employer offers dependent coverage.

“If Congress had intended to create a dramatic new mandate that penalized employers for failing to offer dependent coverage, Congress would have done so much more directly (and more effectively) than the statute achieves with its parenthetical reference to dependents,” Macey and Young wrote. ERIC believes that the reference to dependents in the shared responsibility provisions is merely a drafting error (resulting from the legislative confusion during the passage of the ACA), one that should be corrected in agency guidance, they added.

The letter also warns that, while some commenters have suggested that the statute should be interpreted to require employers to offer dependent coverage on an employee-pay-all basis, a mandate to offer unsubsidized dependent coverage would impose substantial burdens and costs on the employer without increasing the dependents’ access to affordable health coverage.

ERIC contends that this suggestion misperceives the administrative burden that an employer must bear if it introduces dependent coverage, even on an employee-pay-all basis, and that such a mandate would not accomplish ACA’s central goal, which is to increase access to affordable health coverage.

“In fact, an employer might do its low-income employees a disservice by offering unsubsidized dependent coverage, since the availability of the coverage might make the employee ineligible for premium tax credits and other financial assistance with respect to the dependent,” ERIC argues.

For more information, visit http://www.eric.org.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Guidance Issued On ACA Shared Responsibility For Employers, Waiting Periods

The Internal Revenue Service, and the Departments of the Treasury, Labor (DOL), and Health and Human Services (HHS) (the Departments), simultaneously, but separately, have issued two notices, Notice 2012-58 and Notice 2012-59, respectively, providing guidance on two provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Notice 2012-58 describes safe harbor methods that employers may use (but are not required to use) to determine which employees are treated as full-time employees for purposes of the ACA-added shared employer responsibility provisions of Code Sec. 4980H. Specifically, the administrative guidance in Notice 2012-58 modifies and expands on previous guidance and includes a safe harbor method that employers may apply to specified newly-hired employees.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, Code Sec. 4980H provides that an applicable large employer (generally, an employer who employed at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees, on business days during the preceding calendar year) is subject to an assessable payment if either of the following situations exists:

1. the employer fails to offer its full-time employees (and their dependents) the opportunity to enroll in minimum essential coverage under an eligible employer-sponsored plan and any full-time employee is certified to receive a premium tax credit or cost-sharing reduction; or

2. the employer offers its full-time employees (and their dependents) the opportunity to enroll in minimum essential coverage and one or more full-time employees is certified to receive a premium tax credit or cost-sharing reduction (generally because the employer’s coverage either is not affordable or does not provide minimum value).

Coverage under an employer-sponsored plan is considered affordable to a particular employee if the employee’s required contribution (within the meaning of Code Sec. 5000A(e)(1)(B)) to the plan does not exceed 9.5 percent of the employee’s household income for the taxable year. Code Sec. 4980H(c)(4) provides that a full-time employee with respect to any month is an employee who is employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week.

Safe harbor method. The safe harbor method described in a previous notice provides employers the option to use a look-back measurement period of up to 12 months to determine whether new variable-hour employees or seasonal employees are full-time employees, without being subject to a payment under Code Sec. 4980H for this period with respect to those employees. An employee is a variable-hour employee if, based on the facts and circumstances at the date the employee begins providing services to the employer (the start date), it cannot be determined that the employee is reasonably expected to work on average at least 30 hours per week.

In addition, the safe harbor:

  • gives employers the option to use specified administrative periods (in conjunction with specified measurement periods) for ongoing employees (generally an employee who has been employed by the employer for at least one complete standard measurement period, a defined time period of not less than three but not more than 12 consecutive calendar months, as chosen by the employer) and certain newly hired employees;
  • facilitates a transition for new employees from the determination method the employer chooses to use for them to the determination method the employer chooses to use for ongoing employees; and
  • provides employers reliance, at least through the end of 2014, on the guidance in Notice 2012-58 and on the following approaches described in prior notices:
    • for ongoing employees, an employer will be permitted to use measurement and stability periods of up to 12 months;
    • for new employees who are reasonably expected to work full-time, an employer that maintains a group health plan that meets certain requirements will not be subject to an assessable payment under Code Sec. 4980H for failing to offer coverage to the employee for the initial three months of employment; and
    • for all employees, an employer will not be subject to an assessable payment under Code Sec. 4980H(b) for an employee if the coverage offered to that employee was affordable based on the employee’s Form W-2 wages reported in Box 1 (often referred to as the affordability safe harbor).

Seasonal employees.
Code Sec. 4980H(c)(2)(B) generally provides that if an employer’s workforce exceeds 50 full-time employees for 120 days or fewer during a calendar year, and the employees in excess of 50 who were employed during that period of no more than 120 days were seasonal employees, the employer would not be an applicable large employer. A seasonal worker is a worker who performs labor or services on a seasonal basis, such as during the summer or the winter holiday season.

This guidance is intended to encourage employers to continue providing and potentially to expand group health plan coverage for their employees by permitting employers to adopt reasonable procedures to determine which employees are full-time employees without becoming liable for a payment under Code Sec. 4980H; to protect employees from unnecessary cost, confusion, and disruption of coverage; and to minimize administrative burdens on the Affordable Insurance Exchanges (Exchanges).

Limited waiting period. Simultaneously with the issuance of Notice 2012-58, the Departments issued Notice 2012-59, which provides guidance under Public Health Service Act (PHSA) Sec. 2708. PHSA Sec. 2708 provides that, for plan years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2014, a group health plan or group health insurance issuer shall not apply any waiting period that exceeds 90 days. Other conditions for eligibility under the terms of a group health plan are generally permissible under PHSA Sec. 2708, unless the condition is designed to avoid compliance with the 90-day waiting period limitation.

A “waiting period” is defined as the period that must pass before coverage for an employee or dependent who is otherwise eligible to enroll under the terms of the plan can become effective. For this purpose, being eligible for coverage means having met the plan’s substantive eligibility conditions (such as being in an eligible job classification or achieving job-related licensure requirements specified in the plan’s terms).

If, under the terms of a plan, an employee may elect coverage that would begin on a date that does not exceed the 90-day waiting period limitation, the 90-day waiting period limitation is considered satisfied. Accordingly, a plan or issuer will not be considered to have violated PHSA Sec. 2708 merely because employees take additional time to elect coverage.

Variable hour employees. If under a group health plan an employee’s eligibility is based on the employee regularly working a specified number of hours per period (or working full time), and it cannot be determined that a newly hired employee is reasonably expected to regularly work that number of hours per period (or work full time), the plan may take a reasonable period of time to determine whether the employee meets the plan’s eligibility condition. The eligibility condition may include a measurement period that is consistent with the timeframe permitted for such determinations under Code Sec. 4980H, whether or not the employer is an “applicable large employer” subject to Code Sec. 4980H.

Unless a waiting period that exceeds 90 days is imposed after a measurement period, the time period for determining whether such an employee meets the plan’s eligibility condition will not be considered to be designed to avoid compliance with the 90-day waiting period limitation if coverage is made effective no later than 13 months from the employee’s start date, plus, if the employee’s start date is not the first day of a calendar month, the time remaining until the first day of the next calendar month.

Employers, plans and issuers may rely on the compliance guidance in Notice 2012-59 at least through the end of 2014.

All employees, whether full time, part-time, or variable hour, who are not offered the opportunity to enroll in health insurance by their employer will be eligible to receive premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions for Exchange coverage if they meet other conditions for receipt of these credits, the Departments asserted.

Comments. Comments on either notice may be submitted by September 30 to the specified addresses, referring to the applicable notice. For Notice 2012-58, send comments electronically to Notice.comments@irscounsel.treas.gov, or via regular mail to CC:PA:LPD:PR (Notice 2012-58), Room 5203, Internal Revenue Service, P.O. Box 7604, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, DC 20044. For Notice 2012-59, send comments electronically to e-ohpsca-er.ebsa@dol.gov; or via regular mail to Office of Health Plan Standards and Compliance Assistance, Employee Benefits Security Administration, Room N-5653, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20210.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day

In honor of Labor Day, Health Reform Talk will take a short break. Be back Wednesday.