91% of Texans to be insured by 2014, thanks to the Affordable Care Act

The Texas Medicaid Director, Billy Millwee, spoke to the House Public Health and Insurance committees this week regarding the Affordable Care Act. The director has been tracking the trends and effects that the federal health care law has birthed in the state and has come to a promising conclusion. Currently, 74% of the state’s residents have some form of health insurance coverage. Millwee claims that when the Affordable Care Act is fully enacted in 2014, this will jump to 91%. By that time, only 2.3 million Texans will have no…

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Texas insurance regulatory system may be seized by federal regulators if the state’s Department of Insurance is not granted more authority

The Texas Department of Insurance has been reviewing health insurance rate proposals since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010. Regulators have been scrutinizing any insurer that aims to raise rates by 10% or higher, but their efforts may be in vain. According to the Department of Insurance, regulators do not have the authority to block any rate proposal that they deem excessive. They also do not have the means to distribute information regarding rate hikes amongst consumers. This is because the state does not have the laws to…

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Texas Consumer Health Assistance Program to come to an end after a short year of operations

The Texas Consumer Health Assistance Program, a state-run program meant to help consumers find affordable health insurance, is scheduled to be shut down this April after only a year of operation. The program was established in January last year with the help of a $2.8 million federal grant. More than 6,000 consumers had used the service to find insurance coverage and the program was responsible for over 160 events geared toward raising awareness of insurance options. Despite the benefits the program had brought consumers, however, it will be shutting down…

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New report shows that Farmers Insurance of Texas has the most consumer complaints of any other insurer in the state

A new report from Texas Watch, a consumer advocacy group promoting transparency in the insurance industry, shows that Farmers Insurance, the third largest insurance organization in the state, boasts of the most consumer complaints in the state. The report’s findings are based on data collected by state insurance regulators between the periods of October 2010 and September 2011. According to the report, Farmers has garnered a great deal of consumer complaint for their handling of homeowner claims. In regards to the report, Farmers spokesman Jerry Davies noted that its credibility…

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Farmers Insurance and State Farm look to raise rates on home insurance in Texas

Farmers Insurance Group, one of the largest insurers in the U.S., has unveiled plans to raise rates on homeowner’s insurance policies in Texas. The new rates, if approved by state regulators, will take effect next year. The company cites the growing number of high cost claims that has been streaming in since 2008 as reason for higher premiums. The proposal for higher rates from Farmers Insurance comes on the heels of a similar proposal from State Farm that would have the same effect on homeowner’s policies. The insurer is seeking…

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State Farm petitions Texas insurance regulators to deem the state’s wildfires an official catastrophe

Texas has been battling an outbreak of wildfires since the beginning of September. The fires have wrought carnage throughout the state, burning more than 1 million acres and more than 1,000 homes. The catastrophe has put enormous pressure on the state’s insurers who have been struggling to mitigate the damage caused by the fires. The disaster is so serious that State Farm Insurance has petitioned the Texas Department of Insurance to designate the wildfires as an official catastrophe. The petition was submitted to the Department on September 12, but regulators…

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Over 20 percent of drivers in Texas aren’t insured

In Texas, more than 1 in every 5 drivers does not have adequate auto insurance to comply with the laws within that state. According to a recent report by the Texas Department of Insurance, 21.6 percent of all of the drivers in the state were operating their vehicles while uninsured. Dallas County had the largest number of uninsured drivers among the most populated counties in the state, with 24.1 percent of its drivers lacking insurance. Bexar county followed closely behind with 22.9 percent of drivers being uninsured. In the entire…

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Texas governor appoints new head of the state’s Department of Insurance

The Texas Department of Insurance is in for a shakeup as Governor Rick Perry announced Wednesday that a new Insurance Commissioner is on the way. Eleanor Kitzman, once the executive director of the South Carolina Budget and Control Board, has been appointed to the position and will take the reins of the office beginning next month. Her term will span until February 1, 2013, giving Kitzman ample time to affect change in the state’s insurance industry. Kitzman will be replacing former Commissioner Mike Geeslin who held the office for several…

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Texas residents received fraudulent windstorm inspections, may not be eligible for coverage

The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, the state-run insurance program that is one of the very few places offering coverage against wind damage to Texas residents, will continue to offer insurance coverage thanks to a special session of the state’s Legislature. Lawmakers toiled over the issue for some time, often unable to meet a consensus on what should be done about the indebted program. The decision was made some weeks ago that the program should continue, but with changes. Along with these changes come new home inspections, which will determine whether…

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“Anti-Ambulance Chasing” Bill in Texas Called Unconstitutional by Federal Court of Appeals

A ruling against a Texas “anti-ambulance chasing” bill has been reversed by a federal appeals court, saying that the decision of the lower court was unconstitutional.  U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel’s ruling was determined by the Austin-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to have been made in error, regarding a 2009 law that was enacted in Texas, and that was, according to the federal court of appeals, unconstitutional.  The bill had to do with the solicitation of victims of car accidents within the first thirty days after…

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