insurance

Is That Health Insurance Website for Real?

Shopping for health insurance online?  Before making your final purchase – read on.  Health insurance scams have been preying through websites selling medical discount plans.

According to the complaint in a recent case FTC settlement, IAB Marketing Associates, LP et al. , was a sham nonprofit trade association offering memberships suggesting it would provide consumers with a comprehensive medical insurance plan. Here’s how it worked: people shopping for health insurance online would come across websites quoting prices for health insurance plans once they entered their personal information. The websites acted like collection baskets: they asked for contact information, age, occupation, marital status-and whether folks had health insurance or pre-existing medical conditions. IAB telemarketers then called people who provided their information on these websites and used aggressive tactics to sell IAB memberships. As long as people paid upfront fee and made monthly payments – both ranging from $40 – $1,000 – they were promised a comprehensive health insurance plan that covered virtually every medical procedure and illness

Or so they thought.

The truth? According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), consumers never were enrolled in a comprehensive health insurance plan. The IAB plan was essentially a medical discount plan, offering, if it existed, limited discounts and reimbursements on visits to certain doctors or hospitals. Many consumers who suffered an accident or illness were shocked to find that their IAB “health plan” covered very few, if any, medical expenses, leaving them with major medical bills.

For additional information go to:

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/health-insurance-website-real

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students why they should research a company before providing their personal information.
  • Where can students file a complaint if they suspect a health insurance scam?

Discussion Questions

  1. How can consumers protect themselves from such scams?
  2. Should consumers provide personal information on the web?
Categories: Chapter 9, insurance, Wise Shopping | Tags: | Leave a comment

Medicare & You 2015: What’s Important in 2015?

In September 2014, millions of Americans received a 152-page booklet from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, called Medicare & You 2015.  It doesn’t have much of a plot, but it might be the most important reading for seniors or their adult children.  Here is what’s important in 2015:

  • Stay healthy with Medicare-covered preventive services. Medicare pays for many services that can prevent or detect health problems early when they are easier to treat.  Ask your health care provider what services you need.
  • Keep track of your personal health information. Access your personal health information using Medicare’s Blue Button.  This information can help you make more informed decisions about your care and can give your healthcare providers a more complete view of your health history.
  • Continue to get help in the prescription drug coverage gap. If you reach the coverage gap in your Medicare prescription drug coverage, you’ll quality for some savings on generic and brand-name drugs.
  • Find out what you pay for Medicare (Part A and Part B). The 2015 Medicare premium and deductible amounts were not available at the time of printing.  To get most up-to-date cost information, call 1-800-Medicare.

For additional information go to

http://www.medicare.gov/Publications/Pubs/pdf/10050.pdf

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students to choose a current issue of Money, Consumer Reports, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, and summarize an article that updates Medicare’s programs for 2015.
  • Ask student where they can find other ways to get Medicare information and compare the quality of plans and health care providers.

Discussion Questions

  1. What factors should senior citizens consider in making the choice among various types of Medicare, medigap, or HMO health care insurance policies?
  2. What services are not covered by Medicare?
Categories: Chapter 9, Health Insurance, insurance | Tags: | Leave a comment

You Tube Videos: Healthcare and Taxes

In September 2014, the Internal Revenue Service announced the availability of new You Tube Videos to help taxpayers get important information about the Affordable Care Act and tax return filing.  These videos on IRS You Tube channel discuss the premium tax credit and the individual shared responsibility provision.  These provisions of the Affordable Care Act will affect tax returns beginning with the 2014 filing year.

In the premium tax credit video, the IRS Commissioner explains how it can help make purchasing health care through the Health Insurance Marketplace more affordable for people with moderate incomes.

For additional information on the tax provisions of the Affordable Care Act go to
http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/New-YouTube-Videos-Provide-Tips-on-Health-Care-Tax-Returns

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the original article to discuss

  • What are the criteria used to be exempt from the Individual Shared Responsibility provision?
  • How and where can you obtain an exemption?
  • Who is subject to the individual shared responsibility provision?
  • What you need to do if you want to be sure you have minimum essential coverage or an exemption for 2014?

Discussion Questions

  1. What will you have to do if you don’t have or don’t maintain your health insurance coverage?
  2. If you don’t have health insurance coverage or qualify for an exemption, how and when must you make an Individual Shared Responsibility payment?
Categories: Chapter 9, Disability Insurance, Health Insurance, insurance | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

How Healthy is Your Insurance Company?

When buying home, health, auto or rental insurance, you should find out if your state insurance department offers any information about insurance companies and rates.  Check several sources for the best rate and get quotes online.  Consult an independent insurance agent who represents several insurers in your area to get a better deal.

 Before purchasing insurance, be sure the insurance company is licensed and covered by the state’s guaranty fund.  The fund pays claims if the company defaults.  Your state insurance department can provide this information.

Research the complaint record of the company.  Contact your state insurance department, or visit the website of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (www.naic.org), which maintains a database of complaints filed with state regulators.  Finally check the financial stability of the insurance company.

For additional information and guidance visit the following websites:

http://www.ambest.com, http://www.standardandpoors.com, and http://www.moodys.com

Discussion Questions

  1. Why is it important to contact state insurance department before purchasing insurance?
  2. How can an independent insurance agent provide a better insurance rate?
  3. Why is an insurance company’s financial stability important?

Teaching Suggestions

You may want to use the information in this blog post and the websites to

*  Have students visit the various websites in this blog and then prepare a short summary of their findings.

*  explore a few advantages of purchasing insurance from an independent insurance agent?

Categories: Chapter 8, Chapter 9, Chapter_10, Home Insurance, insurance | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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