Individual Market

When the last resort isn’t available.

As much outrage as there is about rescissions, there’s a larger-scale problem of people being denied for pre-existing conditions. David Lazarus at the Los Angeles Times has a heartbreaking story of one such couple. The state’s safety-net program for those denied for private coverage due to their health status is full. It has a waiting list of hundreds of people, despite never advertising. And as Lazarus says: But it’s not easy to get into. It’s not comprehensive. And it’s not cheap. He goes even further: It currently takes as long as four months to be enrolled in MRMIP. And even then, you have to wait three months more for coverage of prescription drugs to kick in. To accommodate more people, […] Read More

New report details lack of competition in CA…

As insurance company executives from around the nation congregate to San Diego on Wednesday June 3rd, 2009, Health Access, as part of the Health Care for America Now campaign, released a new report today showing that consolidation in the private health insurance industry is creating skyrocketing premiums for both patients and employers. In California , the state and most metropolitan areas are considered “highly concentrated” under U.S. Department of Justice guidelines. This kind of concentration means that an insurer can, without minimal consequence, raise premiums and/or reduce the variety of plans or quality of services offered to customers. Health insurance premiums for California working families have increased 96 percent from 2000 to 2007. At the same time, the median earnings […] Read More

Some “high risk” reforms…

Our new Health Access colleague, Cynthia Craft, reports from today’s Senate Health Committee, which passed some key health measures today. Of particular note was two bills to assist those who are denied for “pre-existing conditions,” and thus cannot get health insurance at any price: SB 227, Alquist (D), would launch an overdue overhaul of the state’s 20-year-old health insurance program of last resort for Californians deemed by insurance companies to be too sick to enroll. Of two measures on the topic in the Senate Health Committee Wednesday, SB227 had a greater reach, offering more opportunities to extend coverage to the so-called “high-risk” individuals whom health plans blacklist as “medically uninsurable.”The bill would update the state’s “high-risk” pool for those who […] Read More

Unleashing the power of COBRA

COBRA has been getting a lot of attention, since lots of people are losing their jobs, and likely their health coverage. One option is COBRA (which stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, the law that created in 1985), where you can sign up to keep the coverage you had at work–but you have to pay the employer’s share of premium. Bobby Caina Calvan at the Sacramento Bee report has a front page article on COBRA, where I point out that this can seem like a devil’s bargain, especially given that you are asked to pay the full cost at exactly the moment where many lose income. As has been pointed out before, the cost is an outrageous percentage […] Read More

From bad to worse…

Even articles that aren’t about the campaign don’t bode well for the McCain health plan. Today, Jordan Rau of the Los Angeles Times has a in-depth article about the state’s high-risk pool, the Major Risk Medical Insurance Program (MRMIP), and the problems with it. It appropriately takes Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to task for vetoing AB2 (Dymally) this year, that would have improved and expanded the program, and as Rau points out, was supported by the program’s governing board, most of whom the Governor appointed. And it can be read as a devastating critique of the McCain plan, which would rely on these high risk pools, and by shifting more people into individual market, and allowing more people to be denied […] Read More