by Chris Huckins Google+ Email 

 

29 November 2012

California Health Exchange 101

Posted in Covered California

California Health Exchange 101

    Imagine you’re cramming for an important test. It doesn’t involve parallel parking, reaching a Goblet of Fire, or understanding what follows SCISSORS : CUT :: on the SATs. Oh yeah, and President Obama is your professor. The government will require most Americans to have health insurance by 2014. We’ve had months to study for the test that is “Obamacare” and most of us have procrastinated understanding the details.

    Now everyone’s buzzing about "Health Care Exchanges", "Health Insurance Exchanges", "the Exchanges". This just in! Exchanges have been renamed yet again to "marketplace" to avoid confusion during translation. Well no wonder everyone avoids the subject when no one knows which name to use! If you feel behind, you’re not alone. Lucky for us, it’s never too late to learn.

    Question 1: What is an Exchange?
           
     Let me save you the trouble of "wikipediaing" it. "Health Insurance Exchange", "Health Exchange", or just plain 'ole "the Exchange" all mean the same thing: a market place organized by each state for consumers to purchase health insurance plans. By 2014 every state must set up its own Exchange.

    Think of the Exchange as Priceline.com for health insurance, a website where you view and compare multiple plans for the best deal which fits your needs.

    The mission of "Covered California" is to increase the number of insured Californians, improve health care quality, lower costs, and reduce health disparities through an innovative, competitive marketplace that empowers consumers to choose the health plan and providers that give them the best value.

    Question 2: What if I don’t get health insurance?

    There’s a penalty, and the amount will go up each year for the first three years.

  •   In 2014, you'll pay $95 or 1 percent of your taxable income, whichever is greater.
  •  In 2015, the fine will be $325 or 2 percent of taxable income.
  • In 2016 the penalty will be $695 or 2.5 percent of income.
  •  Each year after 2016, the government will refigure the fine based on a cost-of-living adjustment.

    Question 3: What if I can’t afford health insurance?

    If you and your family meet certain qualifications, the government will offer tax credits (subsidies) which lower the maximum amount of premium you have to pay for health insurance. All you have to do is enroll in one of the new state-run insurance Exchanges.

  • If your income falls between 133 and 400 percent of the federal poverty levels (FPL*), you won't have to pay more than 2 percent of your income in premiums.
  • *FPL is $10,830 for an individual and $22,050 for a family of four.
  • If your income is 400 percent of FPL, your premium costs won't be more than 9.5 percent of your income.

   If you have any questions you’d like answered by us, please comment below and we’ll be sure to address them!

  For all your health insurance needs, call Haronian Insurance at 818.251.5000 or click here for a free health insurance quote!

24 November 2012

It’s All-You-Can-Eat, not All-You-Can-Work

Posted in General Information

It’s All-You-Can-Eat, not All-You-Can-Work

    We all love to eat out. Unsurprisingly many of us have cut back on this luxury due to that dreaded economy everyone’s talking about. Even if one didn’t vote for him, we all hope that after President Obama’s reelection the country will continue its upward, albeit slow recovery, and that would mean we can all celebrate by going out to dinner, right? Well some of our friends and family isn’t celebrating over food and it’s all because of Obamacare (Affordable Care Act). But don't blame the president just yet. 

    Recently Darden Restaurants, operator of casual dining restaurants such as Olive Garden and Red Lobster, has slashed employee hours to avoid offering them healthcare. Under Obamacare, employers are required to offer healthcare to workers who put in at least 28 hours a week or pay a $2000 fine. The aforementioned chains claim they’ll be testing this concept in four markets, but fail to disclose where; hardly worth celebrating over, at least from our server’s perspective.

    And the all-you-can-eat shrimp that is our news doesn’t stop there. Over the weekend, Zane Tankel, CEO of Applebee-Metro, which includes Applebee’s, jumped on the bandwagon by announcing that he not only plans on slashing hours to his employees in a similar fashion, but claims he’ll cease hiring new workers due to Obamacare. And while you’re reading this, trying to decide where to eat and not feel guilty, here’s another dining getaway tarnished by its owner. CEO, John Schnatter, of Papa John’s also plans to cut employee hours to offset the profits he’ll lose due to Obamacare. This is even after his announcement that for the very same reasons, he’ll raise the price of pizza by 14 cents. Now it’s personal.

    Surely there will be more businesses and not just eateries we’ll hear follow in the footsteps of these restaurant entrepreneurs. According to a report prepared for the International Franchise Association, Obamacare will add more than $6.4 billion in costs to franchise businesses. We can only hope these owners come to their senses and understand the news will oust them for their harsh treatment of loyal employees. I could really go for a trip to lunch, without a guilt trip.

24 November 2012

Happy Family Health History Day!

Posted in Latest News

Happy Family Health History Day!

    As families gather around the table to feast and tell stories, it’s a perfect opportunity to ask about family health history. After all, today marks the 9th annual Family Health History Day, which wasn't created by pilgrims but instead the last person you’d see in a belt buckle hat, the Surgeon General. Sure, the holiday he created isn't celebrated with 7-story balloons or a Charlie Brown special like Thanksgiving, but it’s an important opportunity to learn more about your family health history and be thankful for it.

    “An important step in prevention and wellness is learning about health conditions in our families that may put us at increased risk for diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, Alzheimer`s disease, mental illness, and many others," said Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin. While not the civil authority credited with starting this nationally-recognized, albeit hardly-known holiday, she makes a good point. It was actually Benjamin’s predecessor, Surgeon General Steven K. Galson, who deserves the title of Founder of Family Health History Day.

    The cornucopia or "centerpiece" of Family Health History Day is its simple web tool, Family Health Portrait  on the Office of the Surgeon General’s website. Free, secure, and easy to complete, this application is designed to teach you about you.

    Begin Family Health History day by answering the Health Portrait questionnaire, because isn't that how every holiday starts? Answer questions like “How many brothers do you have?” and "What are their existing medical conditions?" to essentially build a family health tree with a list of known conditions for each family member. Once completed, you can view and trace consistencies between men who may have heart disease or women with breast cancer in the family, for example. The whole point is you have an easy-to-update history for you and your relatives to study in order to take preventative health measures.

    Most importantly, this information is private. The federal website does not retain your family history or distribute it to other parties. This is just for you and your well being.

    So while recovering from your tryptophan overdose that’s inevitable on each Turkey Day, use your downtime complete a family tree for your future. Even if you have a big family, you can keep it simple by detailing only members with known conditions. Use this knowledge and contact a family physician to discuss where you may fit in this tree and where your health could be headed. Will your new found education lead you along the same path as your grandmother who lived to be 100? You and your doctor may be able to make these predictions with the Family Health Portrait.

    “On this Thanksgiving holiday, I hope you and your family will take a few minutes to create a family health portrait,” Dr. Benjamin said. “Learning your family’s health history is a valuable investment to make in your health and your family’s health.”

    And have a Happy Thanksgiving!