160th Cavalcade Of Risk – Colorado Wildfire Season Edition

The news in Colorado for the past few weeks has been dominated by stories of wildfires, and there seems to be a new one every few days.  Watching footage of houses burning and courageous firefighters battling the blazes definitely brings to mind all sorts of risk-related thoughts.  We send our best wishes to everyone living in the areas that have been hit by the recent fires, and hopefully Colorado will get some good rain very soon. We’re very thankful for the firefighters and we’ve mixed in historic images of heroic firefighters from the past.

firefighters With that in mind, welcome to the 160th Cavalcade of Risk.  We’ve been participating in the Cavalcade for nearly six years, and we’re always honored to get the privilege of hosting.  The Cav is all about risk, and with that in mind I wanted to share one of the best articles I’ve seen in a long time on the topic of risk.  Mr. Money Mustache lives just down the road from us, in Longmont.  He’s got quite a way with words, and his blog is both informative and entertaining.  This article that he wrote about the illusion of safety is a must-read.

Jason Shafrin, aka The Healthcare Economist, brings us a solemn article about suicide among veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Sadly, more veterans have died from suicide than from enemy fire.  This article sheds light on the very real need for better mental health support for our armed forces, both during and after their deployments.

In a similar sobering fashion, Julie Ferguson of Workers’ Comp Insider discusses domestic violence at work – both in terms of violence that occurs in workplaces and violence in homes or other2 locations that can result in injury or death for first responders.  Julie describes the four main types of workplace violence – one of which is domestic violence – and explains why employer cannot afford (financially or morally) to ignore the problem of domestic violence in the workplace.

Switching to happier news, in a short – and very sweet – post, Hank Stern of InsureBlog shares a new study that found the secret to health is 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate every day.  Sounds good!  Of course, for optimal benefits, it should probably be combined with all that other stuff we know is good for us… good diet, plenty of exercise, water, sleep, etc.  That includes red wine, right?

Jaan Sidorov runs the excellent Disease Management Care Blog, and gives us his thoughts on pharmaceutical company coupons.  Drug copays are set by health insurance carriers to reflect the greater cost associated with brand name prescriptions, and the higher copays for brand name drugs usually serve as an incentive for patients to opt for lower copay generics.  But if the pharmaceutical company provides coupons that mitigate most of the copay for the brand name drug, the end result is higher cost for health insurers.  But Jaan wonders what would happen if the insurance carriers were to fight back and offer their own coupons?  Whatever the […]

Why People Don’t Buy Life, Disability, and LTC Insurance

[…] Insurance just isn’t that much fun to buy, period. It’s a product that we purchase while hoping we never have to use it, and if we ever do have to use it, things aren’t going so great. Having insurance does contribute to our peace of mind though, and that’s valuable in and of itself.

Grand Rounds – Colorado Fall Colors Edition

Henry Stern of InsureBlog brings us an interview with the whistleblower who has brought a lawsuit against LabCorp for allegedly charging a lower price to United HealthCare than to Medicare. The post is particularly interesting because Hank adds his own thoughts after the interview, and he sees things a little differently than Andrew Baker (the whistleblower). Hank agrees that it does look like LabCorp lowered their fees for UHC […]

Colorado Bill Would Allow Employers To Reimburse Employee Premiums

The 2011 Colorado legislative session is now underway, and Senate Bill 19 will be particularly interesting to watch. Since 1994, Colorado has had a law that bans employers from reimbursing employees for individual health insurance premiums. If any portion of the premiums for such plans are paid or reimbursed by the employer, the Colorado Division of Insurance considers the employer to have created a small group health insurance plan, and the plan must adhere to small group regulations (this impacts things like underwriting, and also has tax implications for the employer). […]

Is A Symbolic Repeal Vote Worth The Time?

[…] Political analysts generally agree that a repeal vote in the House is likely to pass, but much less likely to clear the Senate. If it did, it would be virtually impossible to override a presidential veto. So the vote next week is basically symbolic – which can also be looked at as a waste of congressional time and resources. A more productive solution might be to start looking for ways to significantly reduce the actual cost of health care. […]

Capping Profits And Admin Costs Across The Healthcare Industry

[…] Time will tell, but it seems that as long as doctors, hospitals, medical device makers, and pharmaceutical companies are exempt from any rules concerning profits and administrative costs, the MLR rules might not have much long term impact on the actual cost of health insurance. Premiums will keep rising (at a pace similar to what we’ve seen over the last several years) as long as the cost of healthcare continues to climb at the same rate it has for the last decade or so.

How US Healthcare Compares With Other Developed Countries

[…] While many studies comparing health care around the world tend to look at generalized data like life expectancies and total cost of healthcare, this one was more focused on how healthcare in each country impacts individual people, and whether people are satisfied with their health insurance, personal medical costs, and access to care. […]

The Wisdom Of Evidence Based Medicine

David mentioned that “…ideologues would call this rationing.” I couldn’t agree more, and I think that research like this is the best defense against those who criticize any sort of evidence-based medicine that results in less treatment – but better or equally good outcomes. The word rationing has a bit of a negative connotation in our culture. It conjures up images of people standing in line for hours to get a loaf of bread, or only being allowed to buy five gallons of gasoline at the pump. It makes us think of hardship and having to do without things that we need. I believe that people who are opposed to scientific, evidence-based medicine are capitalizing on the public’s general dislike of the concept of rationing […]

Amendment 63 On The Ballot In Colorado

Throughout this year, the Independence Institute has been working to get a measure on the ballot in Colorado to block the health care reform legislation that would require everyone to have health insurance starting in 2014. Yesterday, the Colorado Secretary of State confirmed that the amendment supporters have gathered enough signatures to get the measure on the ballot, so it will be up for a vote in November. […]

Not Many Details Yet On Maternity Coverage In Colorado

[…] We still have several months left in 2009 for regulators and insurance companies to work out the details, and I’m sure we’ll know more by the end of the year. When you combine this with the new Colorado law banning gender rating on health insurance policies, and the myriad of reforms coming from the federal government, I’d say that health insurance regulators in Denver are going to have their hands full for a while.

Cavalcade Of Risk – Colorado Rocky Mountain High Edition

We’re in the midst of a beautiful Colorado summer, and the words to John Denver’s Rocky Mountain High (one of our official state songs) were running through my head over the weekend. So this week’s Cavalcade is a tribute to all the beauty that Colorado has to offer. I’m including a few photos we’ve taken over the years, so not only will you learn all sorts of new stuff about risk and risk management, but you’ll get a virtual tour of Colorado at the same time […]

Colorado Governor Ritter At Odds With Attorney General Suthers

Colorado is an interesting place to be this summer, as the health care reform debate continues to play out – in the courts now, rather than in town halls and legislative sessions. Our Attorney General, Republican John Suthers, is part of the group of AGs from 20 states who are challenging the legality of a federal mandate requiring people to have health insurance. And our Governor, Bill Ritter Jr., is one of four Democratic governors of those states who disagree with the position taken by the Attorneys General. […]

IRS 2011 HSA Contribution Funding Limits

The IRS has just issued Revenue Procedure 2010-22, which outlines the 2011 cost-of-living contribution and coverage adjustments for HSAs, as mandated under Code Section 223(g). The limits for 2011 are unchanged from 2010.
HDHP Minimum Deductible:
You must still have coverage under an HSA-qualified “high deductible health insurance plan” (HDHP) to open and contribute to an HSA. Federal law still requires that in 2011 the health insurance deductible be at least […]

Grand Rounds Vol. 6 No. 8

How To Cope With Pain brings us a truly amazing video. It’s a reminder to be thankful for all that we have, and for the things in life (like this video) that inspire us. It’s well worth the five minutes it takes to watch it.

Amy Tenderich of Diabetes Mine shares a “would you rather…?” moment from her 9-year old daughter. It’s a poignant reminder, seen through the eyes of a child, that all of the parts of our lives – even the bad parts – combine to make us who we are […]

Health Wonk Review

Welcome to the Health Wonk Review. 2009 has been an exciting year for health care reform, and last Saturday’s passage of HR3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, has given us plenty to talk about. For anyone who hasn’t kept up on the details of the House reform bill, I want to start things off with a four-part series from Tim Jost, who holds the Robert L Willett Family Professorship of Law at the Washington and Lee University School of Law. His articles were published at Health Affairs Blog, and amount to an excellent primer, written in plain English, for people who want to understand HR3962, but don’t have time to read all 1990 pages […]

We Are What We Eat

[…] no matter how comprehensive or affordable our health insurance is, we won’t be healthy without a good deal of personal commitment. But it’s unrealistic to expect people to purchase fruits and vegetables over less expensive grain products. As long as we continue to subsidize the grain products, they will continue to be less expensive and more widely available.

And You Thought Gender Based Pricing Was Bad

[…] an insurance company called GuideOne Mutual actually had a question about “religious denomination.” And it seems that Atheists and Agnostics were charged more.

Colorado HB 1224 Passes Senate

[…] I would like to see lower utilization of health care across the board. Overall, I think that the focus needs to be on reducing health care costs (which requires addressing all aspects of the health care system, from patients and doctors, to pharmaceutical companies and health insurance carriers) rather than redistributing the costs among men and women.

Daschle And Health Care Reform

[…] The millions of Americans who lack any type of health insurance and the ever-increasing cost of health care are issues that must be addressed. And unfortunately they’re going to have to be addressed during a time when money is squeaky tight. I imagine partisan politics and lack of money will be a far bigger hurdle for health care reform than Daschle’s withdrawl.

Hopefully No Need For Offshore Medical Centers

[…] A little government intervention in terms of providing affordable basic healthcare access to all Americans through a tax-funded program is a good idea. But too much government intervention, in the form of a moratorium on private pay healthcare, is a bad idea.

Heart Attacks Down But Tobacco Tax Revenue Dwindling

[…] I’m thrilled that the Pueblo smoking ban has yielded such positive effects on the health of the population, and I’m glad that the rest of the state followed suit a few years later. Now let’s hope that the state can figure out the funding for programs like Medicaid and SCHIP – both of which provide health insurance to Colorado populations that desperately need it – despite dwindling tobacco sales.

Cancer And Poverty In Colorado

A Rocky Mountain News article reports that Colorado residents who live in poverty are more likely to get cancer and more likely to die from it than Coloradans who live above the poverty level. Some changes in our tax and employment systems to eradicate poverty might be a good place to start. This would benefit all of us, not just the impoverished. […]

Business 101 For Joe The Plumber

[…] So Obama would increase taxes on the plumbing business by $900/year (if the business is making an annual profit of $280,000). McCain would let the business keep that $900/year, but he would take away more than $9,000 in tax savings that the business gets by deducting health insurance premiums.

The Right To Health Care

At the Colorado Health Insurance Insider, we’ve made it clear that we believe access to health care is a basic right, not a privilege. A lot of people don’t agree, and see health care as just another enterprise in our free market system. But does the power wielded by doctors instill them with an inescapable obligation to humanity? […]

Dangerous Bill To Be Aimed at the Individual Market

[…] if you currently have pre-existing health conditions and would like to double or triple your health insurance premiums, contact your legislators and tell them to remove underwriting from individual/family health insurance in Colorado so healthy people no longer have a reason to purchase coverage for the possibility of future health problems.