Insurance Company Pays People to Keep Fit

Misfit Fitness Band

Misfit Fitness Band

Insurance companies are becoming increasingly proactive in how they help consumers. One new insurance company aims to use technology to better tailor health insurance to people.

An insurance company named “Oscar” has unveiled an initiative where every member can obtain a free “Misfit fitness band”. The band allows people to track how much exercise they are performing every day and sync the data on their smart phone. Customers who already use fitness tracking software can also sync their data with Oscar’s fitness tracking system.

The insurance company then rewards people who exercise regularly with rewards. The application sets a number of health goals, and for every health goal passed they receive $1. The user can cash-out when their total reaches $20 and will receive the amount in Amazon gift cards.

This isn’t the first time this company has provided rewards for when customers make smart decisions about their health. They previously gave customer $20 if they had a flu shot by a certain date.

Schlosser admits that this is “very much the beginning,” and that one of Oscar’s main goals is to collect more health data on its members to make sure doctors have the most information available on them. Down the line, that could include nutrition data, sleep data, and as tracking technology becomes more sophisticated, perhaps even blood pressure data.

“We aren’t the people who deliver your healthcare, but our job is to facilitate the delivery of your healthcare,” Schlosser says. “To do that, we can get more information to your doctor.”

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Health Insurance Applications Top 1 Million in First Week Enrollment

Affordable Health Care Act enrollment

Affordable Health Care Act enrollment

According to the federal government, the first week of the “Affordable Health Care Act enrollment” period brought in 1 million applications. The huge number of applications indicates that the government’s HealthCare.gov website was functioning better than last year. In 2013 a number of technical issues hampered some people finding the right insurance policy for them.

The secretary of health and human services, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, suggests the numbers are positive but more work needs to be done, saying: “We are off to a solid start, But we’ve got a lot of work to do every day between now and Feb. 15.”

This enrollment period ends on February 15. The HealthCare.gov website operates as an insurance exchange for 37 states, while the remaining states have their own state-based exchanges.

The Affordable Care Act has been widely criticized by conservative politicians in the United States, who intend to wind back the changes. The question that needs to be answered is “does it work?”. The data indicates that many people who were previously not eligible for health insurance can now obtain it. So in terms of people with chronic conditions, it’s clearly working.

The number of people who have managed to buy insurance has also greatly increased. There are some questions about the cost of the insurance plans and the efficiency of the insurance exchanges to provide the best deal.

The total enrollment for federal and state exchanges was 6.7 million by mid-October. 3.7 million of those users enrolled using healthcare.gov. The federal government is hoping to have more than 9 million enrolled by the end of 2015.

13 Ways to Lower the Cost of Health Insurance

13 Ways to Save Money on Health Insurance

13 Ways to Save Money on Health Insurance

Health insurance is one of the most expensive parts of the household budget.  Here are 13 simple ways to save money on your health insurance premiums!

1. Comparison Shop
The most common and simplest advice possible is to do your research before choosing a provider.  Compare levels of coverage and cost.  Also consider the reputation of the company.  Ask your colleagues and extended family about the insurance provider they use and if they are happy with the level of service.

2. Negotiate with Your Insurance Company Over Price
You have every right to negotiate with your insurance company over price.  Many people just accept the premium that the insurance company pushes at them every year, but this is not necessary.  Contact the insurance company, ask for loyalty discounts or any other reductions that you can think of given your health condition.

3. Negotiate with Your Insurance Company Over Coverage
If your doctor has told you that a procedure is required, but the insurance company has told you they won’t cover it — lodge an appeal!  Many times you will actually get the insurance company to eventually cover the procedure.  You have nothing to lose by pushing for your best interests.

4. Ask Your Doctor For Help
Your doctor is perhaps the best person to help you navigate the world of health insurance.  Ask their advice on which provider to choose, ask them about about particular types of coverage you need, given your health concerns.

5. Check That Everything is Necessary
Make sure you have a great relationship with your general practitioner and don’t hesitate to ask their advice on hospital stays and tests.  If you are in hospital and the doctor doing the rounds starts to make decisions about tests, you have every right to make sure they are necessary.  If you are suddenly in the hands of a doctor you don’t know, ask your GP about the tests and medical procedures.

6. Choose a Policy With a High Deductible
You can always quickly save money by choosing a higher deductible on your insurance policy.  This can also be negotiated with your insurance provider.

7. Pickup a “Medigap” Policy for Things That Concern You
If your policy doesn’t cover every ailment you are worried about, then buy a “medigap” policy that covers only those specific problems.  This is useful for closing the gaps in your existing policy.  Again, work in conjunction with your local doctor to ascertain which health problems might occur that your existing policy doesn’t fully cover.

8. Use a Health Savings Account
The IRS offers special tax provisions for special savings accounts that are to be used for healthcare.  This is a great way to prepare for any health emergencies and is useful for covering procedures that insurance companies will not insure.

9. Compare the Prices That Hospitals Offer and Negotiate
Many people sometimes forget that hospitals are businesses like any other.  Some off better value for money than others.  Shop around as if you were buying a car, looking at price, quality, reputation of the manufacturer.

10. Look For Tax Deductions on Medical Expenses
There are various tax deductions which you may be able to obtain for medical expenses.  For example people who spend more than 7.5% of their gross income on medical expenses can receive a tax rebate.  People who work for themselves can also receive tax rebates for health insurance.

11. Check Hospital Bills
Don’t trust your hospital to do the sums correctly.  There have been many cases of hospitals charging the incorrect amounts for procedures or even charging for procedures and tests that didn’t happen.

12. Save on Medications by Going Generic
You can always save money on your medications by going generic.

13. Be Healthy!
One of the best ways to save money on your health care is to look after yourself.  By eating well and exercising you can avoid the hospital for a very long time and have a happier life!

Americans Without Health Insurance Drop

Uninsured Rate Drops

Uninsured Rate Drops

A new survey indicates that the number of Americans without any form of insurance has dropped dramatically since the introduction of the Affordable Healthcare Act by the Obama administration. That includes millions who have never had health insurance before.

In the last quarter of 2013 the number of adults that lacked coverage was 18% and that figure dropped to 14.7% in the last part of March. That equates to about 8 million people gaing health insurance since September last year. That also adjusts for cancellations of policies that may have occurred when the new laws forced the removal of plans that did not meet the legislation’s requirements.

The poll was conducted by Gallup, who have a long history of monitoring the state of health care in the United States, including the progress of Medicare and Medicaid. The results are a slap in the face to pundits who said the law has not done anything to increase participation in health insurance.

According to Gallup researchers – “The uninsured rate has been falling since the fourth quarter of 2013 … a sign that the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, appears to be accomplishing its goal of increasing the percentage of Americans with health insurance coverage,”

Under the Affordable Healthcare Act, insurance companies could no longer turn away sick individuals who may have had pre-existing conditions. Many of the newly insured may in fact be people who could not find insurance previously.

Under the act, in many states low income Americans could also sign up for Medicaid coverage for the first time. The survey doesn’t even cover the full extent of the increase in the number of insured because many Americans gained coverage before September.

An estimated 3 million children gained the coverage of their parent’s health care plans which they retain until they turn 26.

The number of uninsured has always been relatively high in the United States, but it became worse under the George W Bush administration as the economy slid into recession and many people could no longer afford it, or lost their employment.

It may in fact be a number of years before we know the full impact of the Affordable Health Care act, as people adjust their insurance plans and decide on what level of coverage they think is appropriate. There is a distinct possibility that many of the new signatories to health insurance may not remain covered for more than a couple of years and instead return to the pool of uninsured.

In some states certain provisions like the Medicaid changes are also being rolled out late, so there will be a boost to the insured rate there in the coming months. Additionally, many people who began applying for insurance coverage by March 31 may not have actually completed their application and have until April 15 to do so. There could be many more thousands who jumped in at the last minute and will not show up in the insurance figures yet.

Gallup said this may result in another drop to the uninsured rate in the 2nd quarter of 2014.

According to the survey, the greatest gain to the insured rate was in African, Latino households who could suddenly access cheaper health care plans. Households earning less than $36’000 a year also demonstrated a large gain in insurance rates. They were all groups that the Obama administration did expect large gains in, so they have come to fruition.

Gallup isn’t the only poll reflecting these gains with recent polls by the Times and Rand Corp also showing a drop in the uninsured rate.

Most Uninsured Americans Say They Will Get Insurance

Obamacare Deadline Approaches

Obamacare Deadline Approaches

In a new poll by Gallup, most uninsured Americans indicated that they would get insurance rather than pay a fine. 55% of uninsured Americans said that they would prefer to pay insurance premiums rather than a fine, slightly down from the 63% from last fall.

Gallup has been tracking uninsured American’s attitudes towards insurance and particularly “Obamacare”, also known as the Affordable Health Care Act, that aims to get more people onto health insurance. The polling group talked to more than 1500 uninsured adults in February to obtain these figures.

Gallup says the demographic of people who are in the uninsured group of Americans is constantly changing, so it’s views reflect a wide variety of financial situations, ages and attitudes. The people who have been in the uninsured category for the longest are the most reluctant to acquire insurance themselves.

The attitude of most Americans towards the Affordable Health Care Act is still mostly negative and some Americans who refuse to purchase insurance are doing so because they object to the insurance act and the law’s requirements. Other Americans are just becoming increasingly disparaging about insurance products on offer and their cost. It’s not surprising given that there are so many stories about insurance companies refusing to pay claims.

The number of uninsured Americans is going to continue to decline as we approach the March 31 insurance deadline set out under Obamacare. Individuals will have to pay a fine if they do not obtain insurance before this date.

Gallup suggests that most people are going to be obtaining their insurance from insurance exchanges, where you can often get greater value for money. However in Gallup’s polling many people who looked into insurance exchanges had a negative experience, perhaps why they remained in the “uninsured” demographic.

Once we have reached the March 31 deadline it should be much clearer how Americans have taken to the new health care plan implemented by President Barack Obama and the white house.

Obamacare Blamed for Health Insurance Cost Increase

Obamacare

Obamacare

A new report claims that the newly rolled out “Obamacare” health reforms is being blamed for some health insurance cost increases that it has nothing to do with. There have been some issues with the Obamacare rollout, but new research indicates that some parties are incorrectly blaming Obamacare for price increases on their insurance products.

Research indicates that nearly half of the Americans with higher incomes in the $50’000-$75’000 and employer health insurance believe that Obamacare has somehow made them worse off. 46% of the people in this salary bracket say that they are now paying more in out of pocket expenses than they were a year ago.

However insurance industry analysts suggest that this cost increase is actually insurance companies simply charging more and using Obamacare as a scapegoat. Some people are seeing out of pocket expenses like their copay for doctors visits going up rapidly and by as much as 30% in the last year alone. Analysts suggest this is simply insurance companies attempting to get more money out of insured parties to improve their bottom line.

Some cost increases are kicking in before Obamacare has even impacted them. For example the top of the line health insurance plans are blaming a clause in Obamacare which sees the tax rate change to 40% on these types of plans. The plans are being hiked up in cost now to cover this expense, but in reality the cost increase won’t happen until 2018, so the insurance companies are simply price gouging for additional profit on those plans.

With insurance companies acting in this way, it’s no wonder that support for the Obamacare reforms is slipping away. One recent poll indicates that only 38% of people are in favor of keeping the reforms. That is compared to polls a few months ago that indicated 46% support for the reforms.

Critics of the scheme had admitted that some of the worst case scenarios they thought might happen have not come to pass. Despite that the public sentiment is increasingly negative.

A recent survey also found 52 percent of women with employer-based coverage report higher out-of-pocket expenses, compared to only 35 percent of men. This is most because insurance companies were previously allowed to charge women more for insurance than men. Gender discrimination is prohibited under Obamacare, so those statistics are set to change after January 1.

Some analysts are concerned that consumers are unable to assess the Obamacare reforms on their actual merit because of the behavior of some insurance companies.

Calculating insurance subsidies for students

Students insurance subsidies

Students insurance subsidies

Calculating insurance subsidies can be a complex matter if you are in a position where you only work part time or are studying. One of the most common questions is from students who are studying full time and not working – How do they calculate subsidies for purchasing insurance on the exchange?

In general terms the insurance subsidies are calculated as they would be for anyone. If your total income is between 100% and 400% of the poverty level, you will qualify for some premium tax credits to help pay for insurance. If it is within 100% to 250% you may also qualify for cost sharing assistance from the federal government.

The biggest distinction when determining how much of an insurance subsidy a full time student is able to claim is if they considered a part of their parents household or not.

If your parents claim you as a dependent on their federal tax return, that means you must use their household modified income when you are calculating your eligibility for insurance subsidies. The household income figure is your parents gross income and the income of anyone else in the household who earns enough to lodge federal tax returns.

When determining if you are a dependent, the tax department looks at your primary place of residence, your age, the money you contribute to supporting yourself and the type of tax returns you have been filing.

Basically, if you are supporting yourself you can not be considered a dependent and any calculations to determine insurance subsidies will be on your income alone. Hopefully this quick tip will help you understand how insurance subsidies are calculated!

Save Money on Health Insurance!

Health Insurance Policies

Health Insurance Policies

Health Insurance is very important protection for you and your family against expenses that arrive should you or one of your loved ones become ill. For that reason, it is extremely important to get health insurance right. You need to choose a policy with great coverage, that has all of the options you need and is affordable. Check out the below tips to help you obtain great value for money when choosing your health insurance.

Compare life insurance quotes

In order to get the best value for money, you need to consider as many providers as you can. There are many health insurance comparison web sites which have been setup for just this reason. They will allow you to enter a few details and obtain quotes from multiple health insurance providers. The comparison websites will list all of the details of the policy so you can make an informed decision about which one offers the best value for money.

Customize your health insurance

Nowadays you can actually formulate an insurance policy to suit you individual needs and save money. If you don’t want to have any more children you won’t need an insurance policy that covers pregnancy costs, for example. If you are in your 20s you won’t need a policy that provides insurance for hip replacements.

In this way you can remove the extras that a policy doesn’t need and really get down to the essentials and things you are worried about. It’s a fantastic way to save money on your health insurance.

Beware of costly and silly additions on a health insurance policy. If there are items associated with the insurance policy that you know you won’t need, speak to the provider and ask for a special deal.

Start health insurance early

Insurance companies like to reward customer loyalty and customers who join at a young age. Many companies will allow you to lock in a lower insurance premium if you join at a young age (below the age bracket of 30-40 in most cases). If you lock in that low lifetime insurance premium you will have a cheaper rate when you are 50, 60, 70 years of age. You can also be rewarded for staying with the same health insurance for a number of years with many companies offering a discount after 10 years of paying insurance premiums.

Choose an insurance plan with a higher excess

The excess is a payment you make to the insurance company when you decide to claim on your insurance policy. Usually the higher the excess, the lower the insurance premium, so you can save money in this way as well.

There are also co-payment options where you agree to pay a certain sum or percentage of medical costs when you claim on your insurance. That can also lower your insurance premiums, but you must be aware of precisely what co-payment obligations you have. Some plans will have a minimum fee attached to hospital stays on a per day basis, so a co-payment of $100 per day you spend in hospital.

Make sure there are limits on the co-payment amounts when signing onto an insurance policy because a per day hospital co-payment can quickly add up if you have a serious accident. Reading the policy in detail is the best way to make sure there are no hidden or substantial excess or co-payment fees in your policy. It is always a trade off between excess/co-payments and insurance premium savings, so find the right balance for you.

Pay in advance to lock in cheaper premiums

Most years there is an insurance premium rise, so avoid copping this rise, consider buying a years insurance in advance instead of doing monthly payments. Many insurance providers will pass on the rise in premiums immediately to customers who are paying every month, but customers who have paid for a year in advance won’t cop the premium rise until the expiry date on their policy.

If you look at the history of premium increases with your company, you may be able to determine what part of the year they raise premiums. If your insurance company usually increases premiums in March-April, then by buying your year long insurance policy in February, you will lock in a decent saving.

Consult your policy before having procedures done

You can save yourself some money by understanding exactly what your insurance policy covers and doesn’t cover. If you aren’t sure what costs you are up for, consult your general practitioner and contact your insurance company. There might be ways to save money by changing which facility you have the procedure done at or by changing some of the options associated with your hospital stay or procedure.

Make health insurance claims immediately

Make claims on your insurance policy immediately to get the ball rolling and prevent any personal costs to you. Most health insurance companies have a maximum claim period as well, so if you have a procedure and don’t claim it for 2 years, the insurance company will not pay you. You don’t want to be stuck with a large medical bill because you forgot to fill in the paperwork!

Critical Illness Life Insurance

Critical Illness Insurance

Critical Illness Insurance

Your future is always uncertain and you never know what might await you tomorrow or next week.  That’s one of the reasons that people purchase insurance in the first place – to provide some financial certainty in the case of an unexpected and unfortunate event popping up.  This is especially true of health insurance and critical illness life insurance in particular – the financial certainty could be the difference between life and death!

Critical illness insurance is designed to help with your finances in the event of a critical illness like a heart attack or lung cancer.  There are about 30 to 40 illnesses covered by these kinds of policies, everything from major organ failure to cancer, to heart bypasses.  Once you find yourself afflicted with one of these major illnesses you will receive a lump sum cash payment from the critical illness insurance policy.  You can use that money however you please, with most people using it to pay for their medical bills, but you can also use it to pay off debt so your family is in good shape should events turn for the worse and you pass away.

To obtain this insurance you need to be between the ages of 17 and 70.  It’s a useful type of policy because coverage is usually cheaper than standard health insurance as it covers a specific set of illnesses, but the money can be used for anything you want.
Choosing the right policy is usually straight forward, but you should compare insurance premiums and the number of illnesses covered by the policy.  It is best to find a policy that has all of the common illnesses covered – heart disease, cancer, stroke and so on.  Some policies will also settle earlier than others, with many policies not paying out in the early stages of the disease.  A number of policies will pay a set amount in the early stages of the disease, so if you have just been diagnosed with lung cancer, you receive 10% of the payment and if the cancer progresses you receive the other 90%.

The cheaper plans tend to have more restrictions on when payouts occur but many are still worth obtaining because they will pay out when it’s needed most.  It is crucial to get into the fine detail of the policy and determine the payout conditions and percentages as well as the actual illnesses covered.

This kind of insurance is becoming more popular because the payout can be used for anything, with some people using it to pay simple living expenses when they are ill and using their health care policy to cover the actual medical costs.  It’s a fantastic supplemental policy because if there are any issues with the health insurance policy you have, you can depend on the critical illness plan to cover you.

It’s one of those policies that is fairly cheap and easy to obtain but the benefit is significant if you fall ill to one of these common illnesses.

Accident & Sickness Unemployment Insurance

Accident Unemployment Insurance

Accident Unemployment Insurance

Accident and Sickness Unemployment insurance is about providing financial assurance in the case that you become unemployed via redundancy or illness.  It’s a safeguard for people who would like financial protection if the case they lose their job for whatever reason.  The insurance will then provide a monthly payment until either you recover from the accident/illness or you find another job.  However there are limits to how long the payments will continue and policies do vary greatly.

With some policies, the ASU insurance policy will cover hospital bills as well as other major expenses while you are sick.  That means credit card bills, loan repayments and more.  If you have a lot of outstanding debt, that kind of coverage may be a good idea and it leaves your family well protected while you recuperate.  Other ASU coverage might only cover hospital bills until you can resume work and some forms of this insurance might have time limits or total expenditure limits.

Like most forms of insurance you can find online insurance comparison tools which deal specifically with Accident and Sickness Unemployment Insurance.   Also you can use an insurance agent to help you find the best insurance for your requirements.  The insurance agent will take a small commission for the service, but sometimes it’s worth it if you want to be absolutely certain that you are covered.  In many cases you can find professionals who won’t even charge you because they receive a commission from the insurance companies.The insurance brokers will be familiar with all of the ins and outs of the insurance providers so can also save you a lot of time by finding the right provider quickly.So if you want to have peace of mind in your families financial circumstances this form of insurance is one of the best moves you can make!