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Author Topic:   Health Insurance -- Don't tempt the devil
Timlynn_Babitsky
Black belt
posted 07-05-1999 05:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Timlynn_Babitsky   Click Here to Email Timlynn_Babitsky     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We're getting down to the wire on this one.

We've been covered by a COBRA health insurance "transition" plan since Jim left a stint in corporate life in February '98. Nice coverage -- low deductible, dental plan, prescription plan.

COBRA allows you to take on the monthly premiums but still benefit from the 'low' group rate. Cost runs about $470 per month to cover both of us -- expensive but still lower than we'd pay as individuals.

In Die Broke Pollan and Levine in no uncertain terms urge you big time to get the best coverage you can afford. Scrimp on ANYTHING else, but not on health insurance. One hospital stay alone can wipe you out financially. In the sohodojo we cannot afford to let that happen.

Health Insurance coverage is a MUST HAVE, expensive monthly outlay. Sure, both the Senate (S.343) and the House (SETRA) have bills in the works to get us tax deductions for 100% of health insurance costs starting tax year 1999. But health insurance premiums take a big bite out of what you have to work with as you manage the monthly financials.

If any of you have pointers to share, now's the time to belly up to the moment and add your twenty cents worth to this discussion.

[This message has been edited by Timlynn_Babitsky (edited 18 August 1999).]

Timlynn_Babitsky
Black belt
posted 07-05-1999 11:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Timlynn_Babitsky   Click Here to Email Timlynn_Babitsky     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There's a lot of stuff out there on health insurance for the self-employed. It's almost overwhelming.

My BEST find so far is the National Health Association of America on-line Guide to Health Insurance.

Although it's dated April 1997, the content appears to be date insensitive. In 13 pages, this booklet covers the basic forms of health coverage. It helps you prepare to compare insurance plans as a knowledgeable consumer who understands the options and the consequences of selection.

My clear 'winner' in the "here's what you need to know" category to date.

[This message has been edited by Jim_Salmons (edited 31 October 1999).]

farmhaus
White belt
posted 08-03-1999 12:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for farmhaus   Click Here to Email farmhaus     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Some states like florida have health purchasing alliances which allow small businesses to select from several reputable carriers. Our alliance in florida is called CHPA (community health purchasing alliance)This may be the best of a bad deal for us little guys. by all means be very very careful of association plans. some employees in the small company where i work were severely burnt by one that finally went bankrupt and couldn't pay claims. also, most dental plans aren't worth the money.
another idea to pursue is getting a high deductible plan and establishing a MSA (medical savings account). good luck!

Timlynn_Babitsky
Black belt
posted 08-03-1999 10:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Timlynn_Babitsky   Click Here to Email Timlynn_Babitsky     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It might have been the heat, but the August 1 deadline for finding a new health insurance carrier passed -- and I didn't. In mid-July, we put health insurance into the "take care of it later" bin.

"Let's 'just continue coverage' with the COBRA carrier for a couple of months while we get our ducks in a row. No matter what it costs us we know we have great coverage and we'll give ourselves a buffer while we scramble on other pressing things."

We sent the application request for "health conversion to an individual policy" by overnight express around the 20th. The "new policy application" arrived before August 1 and a quick scan of the cover letter said as long as we filed the conversion application within 30 days of receipt of letter, we would be covered as of August 1. Yippee! "I'll read the rest later."

Big mistake!

Thanks to farmhaus' post above, today I took the time to read through the conversion paperwork carefully. I nearly died.

The "conversion" policy provided one thing and one thing only: a "MAXIMUM SURGICAL BENEFIT" of $750, or $600, or $500 or $300, depending on the policy plan one selected. That's it! You go for surgery and this plan will cover less than a thousand for the whole thing --- !

We couldn't believe it! Surely this was some kind of printing error and data had shifted into the wrong column on the form. Wrong! A phone call to the not-800 number netted me the second best advice of the day, "if I were you, I'd really look elsewhere, this is not really any kind of coverage at all."

I went back to farmhaus' information above and spent the rest of the day in HOT HOT HOT pursuit of coverage, I mean REAL coverage. And, I kicked my self all the way to the sites I had book marked months ago to check.

Lesson: NEVER assume anything about insurance coverage; read the fine print and gobbledegook REAL carefully the first time.

Timlynn_Babitsky
Black belt
posted 08-10-1999 12:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Timlynn_Babitsky   Click Here to Email Timlynn_Babitsky     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another real help for finding a good health insurance plan is the National Committee for Quality Assurance . NCQA is a private, not-for-profit organization that assesses and reports on the quality of managed care plans so consumers can make better decisions on selection.

NCQA Accreditation looks at health plan issues that consumers generally cannot check on themselves. Survey teams look at how grievances are handled, how thoroughly physicians are evaluated, care management processes, preventive health efforts, medical record keeping, quality improvement, member satisfaction, quality of care, access and service. The assessment is comprehensive and rigorous.

A health plan must be aggressively managing quality and delivering excellent care and service to earn a Commendable or an Excellent Accreditation ranking from NCQA. NCQA has purposely set the standards high to encourage health plans to continuously enhance their quality.

When you have a candidate insurance provider in mind, go to the NCQA search screen and type in the plan. If a plan is rated commendable or excellent, you know it's going to be a good one. If it hasn't applied for accreditation review, I would certainly wonder why.

Timlynn_Babitsky
Black belt
posted 08-18-1999 04:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Timlynn_Babitsky   Click Here to Email Timlynn_Babitsky     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs)

The MSA is a tax-exempt account, similar to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA), used to pay for eligible medical expenses. The MSAcan only be established along with a qualified high-deductible health plan. The MSA is intended to pay for most routine medical expenses; the health plan is intended to pay for the potentially devastating expenses of serious illness or injury.

A self-employed individual (or his or her spouse) may establish an MSA if he or she has a qualified high deductible plan. To find out everything you wanted to know about MSAs, see Health Insurance Association of America and MSA Advantage.

[This message has been edited by Timlynn_Babitsky (edited 18 August 1999).]

Timlynn_Babitsky
Black belt
posted 08-18-1999 12:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Timlynn_Babitsky   Click Here to Email Timlynn_Babitsky     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Health Insurance for Artists!

For artists, actors, and musicians in the nanocorp community, obtaining and keeping health insurance is often difficult. Many of you don't have coverage.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and The Actors' Fund of America have an on-line Artistsí Health Insurance Resource Center (AHIRC) to help artists across the country get information on their health insurance options.

Individual and small business group health insurance options available for folks in the arts are covered on the AHIRC website. Because laws and health insurance coverage varies by state, the web site is organized on a state-by-state basis.

Stephen, Scott, Patrick, Mark, Neal and all the other wonderfully creative people in the sohodojo community, if you don't have health insurance, check into this today.

You want to live to enjoy your fame and fortune!

[This message has been edited by Timlynn_Babitsky (edited 03 December 1999).]

Timlynn_Babitsky
Black belt
posted 11-10-1999 02:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Timlynn_Babitsky   Click Here to Email Timlynn_Babitsky     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I originally posted this on Timlynn's nanocorp diary on October 12th. I had been incredibly consumed with getting health insurance coverage, and finally that was done. . . .

We've taken care of the Health Insurance issue. And finally, we both are covered! No vision plan, no dental plan but the best coverage we can afford.

We've opted for a PPO with prescription support and a moderate deductible ($1,000 which only kicks in for major medical situations). Doctor's visits cost a co-pay of $20; prescriptions cost a co-pay of $10. It's an 80/20 plan with a solid company -- Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina -- with a "commendable" rating by NCQA.

We've learned a LOT of lessons along the way. The MOST important is to be as accurate as possible in filling out the application form.


  • Do NOT volunteer information you are not asked for.

  • Double check your medical records before you report you've HAD something you think you may have had.

  • If you get rejected for coverage, don't hesitate to find out why, fix the problem and re-apply.

We may still search around for a supplemental plan to cover that 20% of the major medical we haven't covered. But for now, we breathe a little easier knowing that a hospital event, will not just wipe us out financially.

Timlynn_Babitsky
Black belt
posted 12-03-1999 06:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Timlynn_Babitsky   Click Here to Email Timlynn_Babitsky     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Health Insurance rates increase AGAIN!

We got a brief note in the mail yesterday, from our health insurance carrier -- Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC.

On 1/1/2000 our monthly rate goes up 33%! What a cross to bear! And from what's been on the news, hefty rate increases appear to be an industry-wide decision.

Where ARE the legislators supporting the small businesses of America? How fair IS it that corporations can take 100% deductions for their contributions to employee health insurance, but us little guys have our percentage deduction slowly roll up to 100% over the next several years.

We need health insurance costs relief NOW!

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