If you’ve ever had to select an insurance plan from a new employer, you know that two popular options are HMO and PPO, but what are they?
This video from Stay Smart, Stay Healthy, via YouTube, explains the difference:
Following in the footsteps of Anthem Blue Shield and PacifiCare, Aetna Inc. has become the third major health insurance company in California to announce that it was stepping back from its proposed rate increase there. Now, instead of roughly 43,000 Aetna policyholders being handed a rate hike of 17.9%, their insurance will go up only 12.2%. This decision came after the insurer agreed to postpone any increase to July 1, in response to a request from Dave Jones, the California Insurance Commissioner.
The reduced rate increase will likely save Aetna’s policy holders $6.7 million in premiums, and, according to Mr. Jones, the sixty-day delay added another $1 million to that savings.
Aetna isn’t reducing its rate increase without protest, however. The insurance company maintains that the rising cost of medical care is necessitating an increase in health insurance costs, and that a limit on the company’s ability to raise rates could be detrimental to its future. Addressing this in a statement, a representative of the company wrote, “Long term, our financial viability in the individual health insurance market in California could be impacted by the inability to implement rates which adequately address the rising cost of health care services in the state.”
Commissioner Jones also made a statement about Aetna, saying, “Aetna policyholders will benefit from Aetna’s decision to lower their proposed July 1 rate increase. Aetna has agreed to a reduction of their most recent increase, but Californians have experienced unsustainable health insurance increases year after year and they want me to have the authority to reject excessive rate increases. A.B. 52, which would give me that authority, passed out of the Assembly Health Committee this week.”
The announcement from Aetna represents the latest success in Jones’s push to expand the regulatory role of his office in the health insurance market.
Earlier this week, Craig Fugate, director of FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) emphasized the importance of public officials learning how to respond to hurricanes and other powerful storms, and also said that the state of the economy was not an excuse to forgo preparation.
Speaking at the National Hurricane Conference in Atlanta, Fugate said, “As much as we talk about the public, this team is constantly changing. There has been a tremendous turnover. How many of the elected leadership are going to participate — and not just for the photo op?”
He stressed that mayors, governors and others have to participate in hurricane preparedness drills in order to really understand the sorts of decisions they may have to make during this summer’s Atlantic hurricane season, which begins in a bit over a month. He also urged the emergency management community to use social media to keep the public engaged in the process, and stressed that they need to work with private sector responders when handling disasters.
When asked if budget concerns would affect state and local governments’ response to disasters like hurricanes, or the recent spate of tornadoes in the Midwest and South, Fugate was dismissive, saying, “Just because the economy’s horrible doesn’t mean hurricanes stop.”
Also speaking at the conference was National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read, who reviewed last year’s hurricane season, which, he said, had the highest number of the storms without a landfall in the United States.
Among his priorities this year, said Read, are outreach to boost community preparation and public empowerment. His top concern is Haiti, where 1.5 million people are still living in tents, putting them at an even greater risk than ever from a major hurricane.
Read said, “That’s going to be my biggest gut check. I don’t know how many people can be safely dealt with in a hurricane of that magnitude.”
The state legislature in North Carolina went home for the weekend last Thursday without coming to an agreement on the cost of health insurance for state employees, teachers, or retired persons. At that point they were already outside the deadline that had been given.
Earlier last week, Governor Beverly Perdue vetoed a proposal that would require all active employees to pay a monthly premium for their own health insurance for the first time in state history. As a result, a new insurance bill is required.
Last Wednesday, the North Carolina House approved a measure to retain an insurance option for those workers that did not include a monthly premium, but Republicans in the state Senate didn’t like the fact that it would cost roughly $16 million in state funding over two years. The vetoed plan had been designed to close a $515 million likely shortfall between expenses and revenues through mid-2013.
Speaking about the issue, Senator Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson) said, “It just wasn’t acceptable to our caucus at this point, so there’s no reason to stay around.” Apocada was the chief sponsor of the bill that Governor Perdue vetoed.
Apocada added that there have been several new options presented, including one that gives retirees also covered by Medicare an option without premiums, but that there hadn’t been enough time to negotiate with the House.
Jack Walker, Executive Administrator of the North Carolina State Health Plan told legislative leaders that he would be moving ahead with July 1 enrollment plans based on the cost of premiums as of last Thursday afternoon. House Speaker Thom Tillis (R – Mecklenburg) explained that the delay will probably mean a second enrollment period once new premiums have been determined.
Last week, Governor Perdue explained that the biggest factor that went into her decision to veto the bill was that teachers – and specifically the North Carolina Association of Educators – were not involved in the original negotiations.
Earlier this week Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona vetoed SB 1592, a bill which directed the Governor to form specific compacts with other states on behalf of Arizona, in order for citizens there to purchase health care insurance across state lines.
Her, reason, she wrote in her veto letter, included the fact that directing the governor to sign such an agreement would violate the separation of powers requirement outlined in Article 3 of the Arizona constitution.
While Governer Brewer was wielding her veto stamp, she also vetoed Arizona’s so-called “birther” bill, which would require political candidates to provide specific documentation (beyond their short-form birth certificates) in order to appear on ballots in the state, and another bill that would have authorized students to carry guns on campus.