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Will you receive a tax credit to help you purchase health insurance?

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An Infographic

By Healthinsurance.org

This infographic helps Americans determine whether they will be eligible for a health insurance premium subsidy under the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare.

The infographic accompanies a story by blogger Maggie Mahar, who explains not only how eligibility for health insurance tax credits is determined, but also how much recipients should expect to receive.

The article also includes a chart with federal poverty level (FPL) numbers and links to a Kaiser Family Foundation premium subsidy calculator

Link: Healthinsurance.org

The graphic was created by Mahar, HIO editor Steve Anderson, and designer Barb Etzkorn. It was posted on the Blog of the Health Insurance Resource Center, one of the longest running sources of consumer health insurance information on the Web.

***

obamacare-and-premium-subsidies-590x371

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Assessment

All healthcare and medical professionals should be aware of the information in this info-graphic; all FAs, too!

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Conclusion

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PP-ACA Premium Percent Changes from 2014-2015-2017

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For the Silver Plan 

[By Kaiser Family Foundation]

Premiums for the silver insurance premium plan that is used to benchmark tax credits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will fall by an average .8% in 2015, according to a new study.

Meanwhile, premiums for the lowest-cost bronze option available through the ACA’s healthcare exchanges will increase by an average of 3.3%.

Silver plans were chosen by 65% of exchange enrollees in 2014, and bronze plans were chosen by about 20% of enrollees, according a report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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kaiser_chartfinal

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Reference: http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/news/aca-exchanges-silver-premiums-decrease-average-8-2015

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Understanding Basics of the Health Insurance Exchanges [HIEs]

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The Four Basic Categories of the PP-ACA

By Rick Kahler CFP® http://www.KahlerFinancial.com

Rick Kahler CFPThe opening date was yesterday, October 1, 2013. And today, the competition is lined-up and ready to go after bronze, silver, gold, and even platinum.

These competitors aren’t athletes, but insurance providers. The field they are entering is the new health insurance exchanges [HIEs] as mandated by Obamacare [ACA].

The New Year

Beginning January 1st 2014, nearly everyone in the US will need to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. Those not insured through their employers can apply for coverage through these health insurance exchanges, also called “marketplaces.” Enrollment began October 1st, 2013 for coverage starting in January, 2014.

These exchanges are intended to make it easier to find insurance providers and compare their coverage and costs. Each state’s exchange website will list all the policies available in that state, with prices and policy provisions.

So far, over half of the states (including my State of South Dakota) have opted to use exchanges managed by the federal government instead of setting up their own.

The Four Basic [Colors] Categories

Bronze, silver, gold, and platinum describe the four basic categories of policies that will be available through the exchanges at different costs. Here is a very brief summary of each category.

Bronze

The least expensive option is a bronze plan, which might be the best choice for younger people with lower incomes and good health. The plan will pay 60% of health care costs and the insured will be responsible for 40%.

Silver

The second level, silver, will pay 70% of health care costs.

Gold and Platinum

Gold covers 80%, and a platinum plan covers 90%. Obviously, the categories with higher benefits also will have higher premiums.

The Essential Benefits

All these plans are required to cover “essential health benefits.” These include preventive and wellness care like cancer screening, chronic disease management, pediatric care, many prescription drugs, injury rehabilitation, mental health and addiction treatment, maternity and newborn care, hospitalization, and emergency services.

Companies are not allowed to deny coverage or charge more for those with pre-existing conditions. There are no lifetime benefit limits.

The Carrot and Stick Approach

The requirement to have health insurance coverage, the “stick” of Obamacare, is accompanied by a “carrot” in the form of federal subsidies to help pay insurance premiums. It’s estimated that two-thirds of Americans will be eligible for subsidies, which will be figured on a sliding scale. The upper limit for qualifying is four times the federal poverty level, which amounts to about $88,000 a year for a family of four.

Other Outlines

This ME-P summary is just the barest outline of the health care changes coming our way. To find out more, it’s a good idea to spend some time online, especially at two sites that offer a lot of helpful information.

  1. The First site is the federal government website at www.HealthCare.gov. It provides links to the state exchanges, plus detailed information that for the most part is explained in straightforward, plain English.
  2. The Second site is the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation at kff.org. An especially useful tool available here (http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/) is a calculator to determine the federal subsidy that applies at your family’s income level.

Obamacare 2014

The elements of Obamacare that take effect in 2014 represent a huge shift in the way we cover health care costs. I strongly recommend that you start now to figure out what this will mean for you and your family.

###

Obama Care

###

Don’t wait until December and end up making hasty decisions in a last-minute rush. The more informed you are; the better insurance choices you can make.

Assessment

The changeover to the new insurance environment is likely to be chaotic and confusing. Navigating it will take some energy, commitment, and stamina. When all the scrambling is over, we can only hope the ultimate winners will be the American people.

Conclusion

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PR Firm Behind Propaganda Videos Wins HIT Stimulus Contract

Ketchum Deep in Controversy

By Sebastian Jones and Michael Grabell

ProPublica – March 30, 2010 12:26 pm EDT

President Obama’s push for electronic medical records [1] has faced resistance from those who question whether health information technology systems can protect patient privacy. So last week, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services hired a public relations firm to try to win consumer trust.

The irony?

The firm chosen for the job — Ketchum Inc. [2] — was hip-deep in controversy a few years ago for producing a series of fake TV news stories that violated a federal ban on propaganda. The company also drew fire for channeling taxpayer funds to a conservative pundit to promote the Bush administration’s education policies.

About Ketchum

Ketchum, based in New York, is one of the world’s largest public relations firms, with a host of large corporate clients and a history of winning government contracts. Company spokeswoman Alicia Stetzer declined to answer questions about the $25.8 million contract, funded by the federal stimulus package. Nancy Szemraj, a spokeswoman for the government’s health IT initiative, said the PR firm won the contract over four other companies because of its ability to attract public acceptance. “Ketchum has a long rich history of doing outstanding communication outreach work for large social marketing endeavors,” Szemraj said. “They are very capable of moving the needle, with has to happen here.”

She noted that Ketchum’s work helped HHS enroll 35 million people in the Medicare prescription drug program. And she said all of the firm’s marketing ideas would be reviewed by senior managers at HHS.

Consumer advocates warned that the PR contract will only heighten skepticism about the security of online health records. A poll [3] conducted last year by NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health found that roughly six in 10 Americans lack confidence in the privacy of online health records.

Public Suspicions

“The public has always been very suspicious over whether electronic health information will be safe,” said Dr. Deborah C. Peel, a physician and founder of the Coalition for Patient Privacy, which includes consumer, privacy and health groups. Peel called Ketchum a “very, very troubling choice because the last thing the public needs are more tricks being pulled on them.”

During the Bush administration, Ketchum and its former lobbying arm, the Washington Group, had several prominent Republicans on the payroll, including former New York Rep. Susan Molinari. In the last year, it has beefed up its Democratic credentials, hiring Jonathan Kopp, a member of the Obama campaign’s national media team, and Donald J. Foley, a longtime Democratic strategist.

Ketchum has continued to draw government work – particularly from HHS – despite a series of reports in 2004 [4] and 2005 [5], in which Government Accountability Office investigators found it had produced a series of video news releases that constituted “covert propaganda” because they did not disclose they were paid for by the federal government.

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The segments aired during local television broadcasts on at least 40 stations across the country. Designed to look like news reports, each concluded with a paid actor posing as a journalist reporting from Washington.

One series was produced for HHS in an effort to promote the Medicare prescription drug program to seniors. The others were paid for by the Department of Education. Overall, video news releases have become increasingly common, used by large public relations firms and companies to repackage advertisements as news. [6]

Prior Controversy

Ketchum was involved in a separate controversy in 2005, when reports surfaced that it had used taxpayer funds to pay syndicated columnist Armstrong Williams $240,000 to promote the No Child Left Behind [7] education bill during radio broadcasts as part of outreach to the African-American community.

In both instances, Ketchum defended its tactics. Stetzer referred reporters to a 2005 PR Week article, in which CEO Ray Kotcher said, “There is no indication that it was ever the intent of Ketchum or any of our people to mislead anyone.”

This time around, HHS has hired Ketchum to provide a “comprehensive campaign for communications and education,” to encourage doctors and hospitals to adopt health IT and to assure the public that their information will be safe.

Assessment

The campaign is part of the administration’s $26 billion health IT program, also backed by the stimulus package, which aims to spearhead the transition to online medical records through grants, bonuses to doctors and hospitals, and the development of national standards.

Link: http://www.propublica.org/ion/stimulus/item/pr-firm-behind-propaganda-videos-wins-stimulus-contract

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Battered Health Journalists

9 of 10 Would Repeat Career Choice

By Staff Reportersred-appple

According to the Association of Health Care Journalists on March 12, 2009 pia@healthjournalism.ccsend.com, and on behalf of the Association of Health Care Journalists news@healthjournalism.org; a new survey cited newsroom cutbacks, lack of time for research and travel, and fewer opportunities for training at their news organization as factors making their jobs more challenging than ever; so says the recently released survey in conjunction with the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Fewer Drawbacks in Health Reporting

Moreover, while about 3 in 4 respondents said that US journalism was headed in the wrong direction, just more than half felt that way about health journalism. And two-thirds of respondents said health care journalism was headed in the right direction at their media outlet.

A Hardy Career

Fortunately, health journalists are a hardy bunch. Nearly three-quarters of health journalists surveyed said the amount of coverage given to health care topics has stayed the same or increased at their news organization and two-thirds said the quality of coverage has been stable or gotten better over the past few years.

Link: http://www.healthjournalism.org/resources-articles-details.php?id=94

Assessment

Despite the challenges and the uncertain times, 88 percent of respondents said if they had to make their career choice over again they would still go into health journalism. Interestingly, that was the same percentage of respondents who said they had health insurance.

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Does this positive career choice percentage for health journalists match that of physicians today? Was this career choice query even asked of doctors two decades ago?

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