Surprises In Healthcare Coverage For 2016

This past Sunday’s Parade article, 12 Tips to Get Your Best Healthcare in 2016, provided surprising news about where and how to get the best healthcare.  The suggestions consisted of employers encouraging you to go overseas for surgery, going to a corporate hospital or paying yourself.

For example, if you work for Lowe’s or Wal-Mart, then the corporation may have relations with particular hospitals where procedures can be covered, or discounted.

Some employers may incentivize you to engage in what is called “medical tourism,” where Americans travel to developing countries for procedures, stay in luxury hotels and end up paying a fraction of what they would have for just the procedure in the U.S.

Lastly, in the event you are priced out by the changes in plans and premiums and coverage (because the health insurance companies retained that power and are unrelated by State Commissioners), you may have to take a self-insured or Health Savings Account route to cover your care in the U.S.

For those residing in Washington state, here are two resources to use in comparing healthcare insurance options:

  1. Washington Health Plan Finder
  2. Washington Health Benefits Exchange

Copyright 2015 The Filutowski Law Firm, PLLC. Disclaimer: This page is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on any specific facts or circumstances. An attorney-client relationship is not created or continued.

Auto Insurance Favors Marriage

Need another reason to tie the knot with your special someone? How about lower auto insurance rates?

According to a study done by the Consumer Federation of America, marital status plays a significant factor in determining a driver’s auto insurance premium.

While this does not seem fair, and perhaps, even discriminatory, the auto insurance industry says its study finds that married couples are overall more responsible than single people, or, how it should be stated more accurately, unmarried people.

However, the logic here seems flawed, as a married couple, with two on the insurance, and good odds of a kids or future kids,  the automobile would get more use: from the couple or family running errands, taking the kids to after-school activities, etc.

Auto insurance is state-mandated.  In WA, a driver must carry a policy of at least $25,000 liability.  The New York Times argues that since state laws regulate auto insurance, auto insurers should be more transparent with how they determine their rates.

Becoming widowed or divorced, having a lower credit score, not having any club memberships (e.g., alumni associations or AAA), or living in a high-risk or car-dense zip code will affect your auto insurance rate, but you won’t know by how much.

Therefore, shop around, getting at least three quotes.  Based on these quotes you should be able to find the best deal on auto insurance for your circumstances.

Copyright 2015 The Filutowski Law Firm, PLLC. Disclaimer: This page is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on any specific facts or circumstances. An attorney-client relationship is not created or continued.

The Top 5 Things You Need to Do To Get A Deal On Washington Car Insurance

Up for renewal on your auto insurance?  Looking to maybe lower your rate, or get different coverage?

Here are the top 5 things you need to consider for getting better Washington car insurance:

  1. Shop til you drop!  Shop around, comparing different plans and rates.  Even if you have been with the same insurance company for years, that does not guarantee you the best rate.  Call a few other companies, to compare rates.  Esurance.com is a helpful resource for comparing multiple insurance companies.  Some companies value your membership in various organiztaions (e.g., AAA automobile club), or if you are a good university student, or have no claims on your auto policies for the past 10 years, and will reward you with a discount.
  2. Get at least the minimum limits.  Washington state’s minimum insurance law is $25,000/$50,000/$10,000.  This is how insurance policies are typically summarized.   It translates to: $25,000 available for claims by the one person you injure; $50,000 for claims brought by two or more people you injure and $10,000 for the damage you caused to the person’s car.
  3. Evaluate your value.  How much do you value yourself, your productivity at your work, your health and your vehicle.  If a lot, then get adequate uninsured or underinsured coverage (also known as UM or UIM).  This is coverage for you when the person who injured you had no insurance or inadequate coverage.
  4. Get your bills covered.  Get Personal Injury protection (PIP) with the maximum $35,000 limit.  This is no fault medical and lost wages coverage in the event you cause an accident, or are a victim of an accident…your bills will be taken care of, typically with no questions asked.  Nice.
  5. Carry your proof of coverage so you avoid a ticket and you can immediately report the incident and protect your interests on the claim.

Go out there and get the best Washington Car Insurance for yourself!

If you have questions about auto insurance claims following an accident, The Filutowski Law Firm offers free consultations.  You can complete the form below and we will be in touch with you shortly:

Copyright 2015 The Filutowski Law Firm, PLLC. Disclaimer: This page is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on any specific facts or circumstances. An attorney-client relationship is not created or continued.

 

How Much Will ObamaCare Cost?

obamacareThis is the question on many people’s minds.  It is a good question that is difficult to answer with certainty.  MSN Money today posted an article that lists 5 things you need to know about ObamaCare:

1. Competition  

The Affordable Care Act (also known as “ACA” or ObamaCare) mandates that each state create an insurance exchange.  The exchange must offer a variety of Qualified Health Plans (“QHPs”).  The state must ensure that the insurance companies placed on the exchange comply with ACA guidelines for premium limits and scope of offerings within the plan.

As with most marketplaces, the larger the state, likely the more competitive the options.  Therefore, Vermont may see less options than residents will in California. [Read more…]

How Will Obama Care Affect Health Insurance Premiums?

With Obama winning another four years in the President’s office, his self-named “Obama Care” health care plan is coming under renewed scrutiny.

In June this year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Congress requiring every U.S. resident to buy health insurance.   The opinion did not comment on how the law would be applied by the States, nor did it require each of the States to expand Medicaid.  However, for those States that agree to expand Medicaid to beyond those at or under the poverty level, the federal government would pay the full cost for the first three years, starting in 2014, and gradually decrease its share to 90 percent in 2020 and beyond.

The New York Times today raises the following questions about ObamaCare:

Mr. Obama faces crucial choices about strategy that could determine the success of the health care overhaul: Will the administration, for example, try to address the concerns of insurers, employers and some consumer groups who worry that the law’s requirements could increase premiums? Or will it insist on the stringent standards favored by liberal policy advocates inside and outside the government?

Answers will come in the following year as each State decides how to interpret and apply the federal law locally to its residents.

The Department of Health & Human Services (DSHS) will be promulgating rules on how to carry out Obama Care later this year.  Part of these rules will be the calculation of premiums.  Will there be a flat premium across the board for all insureds, or staggered premiums based on income, age, or health condition?  Only time will tell.

Copyright 2012 The Filutowski Law Firm, PLLCDisclaimer: This page is intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on any specific facts or circumstances. An attorney-client relationship is not created or continued.

 

 

Insurance Bullying The Defenseless

“I think they’re still hoping that we are what they originally thought we were: stupid people that they could bully.”

~  Joan Fischer, the mother of Katie Fisher, who was killed in a car collision in 2010, comments on Katie’s insurance company, Progressive.

Joan Fischer’s daughter, Katie, was killed June 19, 2010 in a car accident.  Katie’s insurance claim with Progressive made headlines in the New York Times yesterday.

On June 19, 2010, Katie was driving when she was hit by another car in an intersection.   Two years later, a legal battle ensued between Progressive and Katie’s family.

The dispute in any civil case is two fold: 1) who is at fault, 2) how much money will they pay?

The other driver (“third party”) and a passenger in Katie’s vehicle said Katie ran the red light.  A witness said Katie had a green light.

The third party insurer entered into settlement negotiations with Katie’s family and offered the insurance limits of $25,000 to avoid litigation. This sum was inadequate compensation for Katie’s life, so Katie’s family pursued a claim with Katie’s underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage on the Progressive policy.   The policy had a $100,000 limit.  UIM is available where the third-party is underinsured.

[Read more…]

Electronic Medical Records Pose Risk of Tampering

Yesterday The Baltimore Sun reported on privacy issues with digitalizing patients’ medical records. The article raises valid concerns about the risks associated with digitizing patients’ medical records. While paperless increases the efficiencies in transferring, updating and sharing a patient’s information, it also provides opportunities for insurance companies to alter records to avoid responsibility for coverage and payment.

As efforts to implement electronic medical records escalate, so do the debate about patient privacy and the potential for commercial exploitation of the technology.

Computerized files are seen as a way to improve care and save tens of billions of dollars in health costs, but doctors and advocacy groups have raised concerns about the risks of exposing detailed personal health information. In particular, doctors worry that insurance and drug companies could manipulate the records to affect decisions on patient treatment.

MedChi, which represents more than 22,000 Maryland physicians, recently announced that it was the first medical society in the nation to pass a resolution calling for state-level legislation to ensure that doctors retain responsibility for treatment decisions and that medical records are made available on a neutral platform that does not advance any commercial interests.

“As we implement the system, we want to make sure the data remains the patient’s data and is private,” said Gene Ransom, MedChi’s chief executive officer.

The establishment of electronic medical records is a major part of national health care reform. The Obama administration set aside nearly $19 billion in stimulus money to establish electronic records for all Americans by 2014. The records would include a patient’s history as well as guidelines and the latest medical research and treatments for diseases.

[Read more…]

Allstate Insurance Reveals Unfair Claims Handling Process

In response to a multi-state examination of its bodily injury claims handling software, Colossus, Allstate has agreed to pay $10 million to 45 states following findings of inconsistent and potentially unfair claims handling processes.

Allstate, home and auto insurer, infamously known for it’s motto of placing its insureds “in good hands,” uses a software program to limit the calculation of personal injury claims to a robot’s algorithm, with no exception.

[Read more…]

Washington State Insurance Commissioner: Vote No on I-1082

Our State’s Insurance Commissioner, Mike Kriedler, deems I-1082 as the insurance industry’s way to unfairly “Deny, Delay, Defend” valid on-the-job injury claims. Protect yourself, your family and your future. Read the fine print and make an informed decision when voting in November.

As Insurance Commissioner, Mr. Kriedler is responsible to ensure Washington State insurance policyholders are treated fairly by insurance companies. He recently prevented Regence from denying healthcare coverage to just children. See Washington Legal Times: Regence’s Denial to Insure Children, Rescinded By Insurance Commissioner

Tanning Bed Addiction, Possible Need For FDA Regulation

The American Association for Justice (AAJ) reported today:

The Los Angeles Times (4/20, Roan) reports that, according to a study published in the April issue of the Archives of Dermatology, “as many as a third of young people who use tanning beds may be addicted to the behavior.” While “it’s unclear how or why tanning can become compulsive…exposure to UV light triggers production of brain chemicals called endorphins that boost mood. One study, published in 2006 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, found that frequent tanners experience some withdrawal symptoms when given naltrexone, a drug that blocks endorphins.”

Despite the fact that “indoor tanning can cause skin cancer, premature skin aging, and eye damage, according to the US Food and Drug Administration,” Bloomberg News (4/20, Randall) explains that “about one-third of college students who tried indoor tanning facilities were addicted to the artificial rays, and the addicts drank more alcohol and smoked more marijuana than other students, researchers found,” according to a study in today’s medical journal, Archives of Dermatology.

[Read more…]