High-risk health insurance pool in Colorado asks federal government for almost $15 million more in funding

After experiencing claims that have now totaled twice the average for the country, the struggling high-risk health insurance pool in Colorado has now asked the federal government for additional funding of almost $15 million more than originally anticipated. Colorado has already received $90 from a total pool of $5 billion in federal money for assistance in carrying out an element of the country’s healthcare reform which involved insuring high-risk uninsurable individuals. The funds were meant to hold out until the insurance regulations are fully in place in 2014, at which…

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Gym membership coverage: A potential double-edged sword for the insurance market

Some private insurers participating in the Medicare Advantage program have begun offering gym memberships as a way to encourage older consumers to stay healthy and active. While many consider this to be good news, others say that the practice is a double-edged sword. Inclusion of gym memberships may signal that insurers are attempting to procure the healthiest individuals while leaving the high-risk policies in the hands of the Medicare program. This practice may have an impact on how health insurance exchanges. These state-run insurance programs will provide limitless coverage to…

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Federal Insurance Office receives 150 comments on how to modernize the U.S. health insurance regulatory system

In October of last year, the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) issued a request for commentary on how to modernize health insurance regulations. The commentary period ended in December with the agency receiving more than 150 suggestions on what to do. Now, the FIO is using the comments it has received to help build a report regarding the regulatory system in the U.S. When completed, the report will be given to Congress and used to help plan a course of action for the future. Michael McRaith, director of the FIO, attended…

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Trustmark Life Insurance clashes with federal regulators over higher insurance rates

Trustmark Life Insurance Co. has run afoul of federal insurance regulators who claim that the company has raised rates for health insurance to unreasonable levels. The insurer has raised rates in five states by at least 13%, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. These states are Arizona, Virginia, Wyoming, Pennsylvania and Alabama. The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to submit their rate proposals for federal review if they pass the 10% mark. The Department of Health and Human Services has ordered the insurer to rescind the rate…

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Idaho legislators debate health insurance exchange issues as new legislative session begins

The Idaho Legislature convened earlier this month for its latest legislative session and one of the main topics of discussion is whether the state will build a health insurance exchange program. The state has received a $20 million federal grant to help build the exchange, but legislators have yet to accept the funds as they still remain divided on the issue. Idaho is one of 22 states that have not reached a conclusion on what to do about an insurance exchange yet. Health insurance exchanges are part of the Affordable…

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Texas petitions federal government to delay enactment of the medical loss ratio provision of the Affordable Care Act

As some states seek exemptions from the controversial medical loss ratio provision of the Affordable Care Act, Texas officials are looking to the enacted of the plan delayed. The provision requires insurance companies to spend at least 80% of the money they collect from premiums on improving medical care. Insurers have been opposed to the provision since it was passed in 2010, arguing that it would hurt their ability to stay competitive in the market. Federal regulators have, thus far, been unwilling to cave to the concerns of insurers. State…

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Report highlights the sluggish growth of health care spending due to U.S. recession

The worldwide recession has had a major impact on the health care system of the U.S. The effects are quite obvious in terms of insurance. As thousands of people throughout the country lost their jobs, they also lost their health insurance coverage. The recession, which lasted from late December 2007 to the middle of 2009, suppressed health care spending in the U.S. significantly, according to the federal government. The Obama administration released a report this week from the Department of Health and Human Services showing the impact of the recession…

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Insurance reform takes a backseat in Florida Legislature, Insurance Council continues to press forward with changes

As insurance reform loses momentum amongst legislators, the Florida Insurance Council says that it will continue pushing for major changes to the state’s regulations and the Citizens Property Insurance group. Reform has fallen to the wayside in the current session of the state’s Legislature, which will begin next week. While lawmakers focus more on budget and redistricting, the much needed insurance changes are not to be considered until the next legislative session, which will happen much later in the year. The Insurance Council is pushing for changes to the state’s…

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New Jersey working to make deadline for federal grants that would help the state build and insurance exchange

The state of New Jersey has just over six months to finalize plans for a health insurance exchange. The deadline concerns a federal grant that would help the state make progress toward the new insurance system. The grant, worth $5 million, would be used to hire new staff that will maintain the upcoming virtual insurance marketplace. It would also help the state purchase new equipment needed to operate the system and would fund marketing efforts to promote the exchange program. If New Jersey misses the deadline, it may not be…

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Some states making major progress on insurance exchanges, while others lag behind

Throughout the U.S., progress on setting up health insurance exchanges is accelerating. As of December, 2011, 13 states had fully functional exchange programs. Several other states have legislations pending that would allow for the building of the exchanges. While many states oppose the overarching Affordable Care Act, only Arkansas and Louisiana have chosen not to build insurance exchanges of any kind. According to the law, all states must have an operational exchange program in place by 2014. As of now, 20 states are making major progress toward establishing exchanges. The…

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