Hello World!

November 19, 2012

Hello World and welcome to the first ever CB Health Insurance Blog!

I have been wanting to do a blog for a long time, and now that the time has arrived (and I figured out how to do this), I am at a loss of words. Not really! I actually have so much to say that I don't know where to start.

A lot has happened in 2012 including a decision by the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the healthcare bill - stating that it is not constitutional to make people buy insurance, but you can 'fine' them for not buying. And oh, by the way, it's not a FINE; it's a TAX. Remember what the Obama Administration and the Democrats said after passing the law- it's not a tax; (I) we won't tax the middle class. Right! Was I the only one confused by this Supreme Court Decision? I hope I'm not alone.

The good news for many states was the decision not to take away all funding for states refusing to expand Medicaid. Although Governor Quinn is committed to the expansion of Medicaid in IL, many are wondering how our state will pay for this. Illinois is ranked the worst financially in many categories and has received more down-grades from the rating agencies than any other state, I do believe. Of the 1.9 million people in the state without insurance (this represents 15% of the population; 85% have insurance), it is estimated that about 21% will qualify for Medicaid. That's 399,000 more people. By the way, we have doubled the number of people on Medicaid from 2000 to 2011.

The next major event was 'the big election', and for around the 5th time in recent history, the winner received less than 51% of the popular vote. I wouldn't call that a landslide. It just goes to show you that as a nation, we are still very divided on issues; let's hope that Congress will be able to work together and deal with some big, important and pressing issues – the fiscal cliff, the band aid for physicians fees for Medicare, and some not so distant issues such as the unsustainability of Social Security and Medicare. The men and women of Congress definitely have their work cut out for them.

Speaking of work, the clock is ticking for the states to set up their Exchanges. A dozen or so states have essentially said "no thanks; we'll let the government do it." I believe these states all have Republican Governors and probably all suited the Fed Gov't over the healthcare bill, but who's keeping track? One thing is certain: no one knows for sure the real cost of setting this up. The deadline to submit a proposal has been moved from Nov 16th to December 15th. Now instead of a whole proposal, the states just have to submit a 'letter of intent' stating if they wish to have a State Exchange, a Federal Exchange, or a combo plan called a Partnership Exchange. The detailed proposal deadline has been delayed further, to be determined.

We are right around the corner from 2013 which is the start of lots of new taxes for this healthcare bill (this is not counting the fiscal cliff). There is an additional Medicare Tax and a new tax on "unearned income" for high income earners to help pay for the bill. There is a tax to insurance companies on their products. (Question: Do you think they will just 'eat' this cost and not pass along to consumers? It's a hypothetical question – no need to respond!) There's a tax on the manufacturing of medical devices. And I'm sure there are others we are not aware of.

One thing is for sure, there is a lot of work to be done between now and 2014 when the majority of this law will go into effect. Hopefully Congress will agree to modify and reform this bill as needed so that it will be workable for all. (The law states a group health plan cannot have a deductible more than $2000 for an individual and $4000 for a family. This will make nearly all the H.S.A. plans with high deductibles and thousands of other plans 'illegal', and I doubt the law is intending to penalize people who already have adequate insurance. I personally have an H.S.A. with a family deductible of $10,000 and this insurance is more than adequate for my husband and I, who have never been hospitalized or met a deductible in 20 years of marriage.)

Well, these are the highlights for 2012, and I look forward to keeping you posted on all the issues as we head into 2013. Thanks for reading this and feel free to contact me with questions or comments.