Happy Thanksgiving and welcome to the 197th Cavalcade of Risk! If you’re a brave soul who relishes the thought of a family dinner filled with spirited debates about healthcare reform, insurance and risk, we’ve got plenty of fodder for your conversations. Just don’t steer the conversation over the line into politics, especially after a glass or two of wine, or else you might find yourself spending the evening on the porch swing.
Catching up on healthcare reform
My vote for best all around article in this edition goes to Harold Pollack, writing at HealthInsurance.org. Harold’s article is a clear, well articulated look at the policy cancellation troubles that have plagued the ACA for the last several weeks. He points out that there are certainly some people who are justifiably upset that their existing coverage will end within the next 13 months, and they will be paying more for a replacement because they don’t qualify for an exchange subsidy (although not all of us who are in that situation are upset about it). Harold also notes that there is a much larger group of Americans who will be significantly better off because of the ACA. But affluent people who are having to pay more for their health insurance tend to be more vocal about their displeasure, and catch the attention of media outlets far more readily than low income, uninsured people who are somewhat used to getting the short end of the stick. We know that there’s no such thing as a law that pleases everyone – there will always be winners and losers. But in this case, the winners far outnumber the losers. And which is worse… to ask healthy, relatively well-off people to pay more for their health insurance, or to continue with a status quo in which 50 million people are uninsured, often while also coping with significant medical conditions? Harold’s article is the best I’ve read yet about the policy cancellation bruhaha. Don’t miss it.
And next, because I love good news about the ACA, here’s an article from Health Beat Blog‘s Maggie Mahar, explaining that more than 6 million Americans will have access to policies with zero dollar premiums after tax credits. Of course, not all of them will choose those policies – some will opt to pay a small amount of money each month to have even better coverage. But the fact that so many people – many of whom were previously uninsured – will be able to get policies that don’t cost them anything is good news for millions of people who are working hard to make a living but are struggling to break into the middle class. Having their health insurance covered by subsidies should give them a much needed boost, and is also likely to lead to improve their health.
InsureBlog‘s Hank Stern shares his thoughts about what “substandard” means when it comes to health insurance policies that are being cancelled (or in some cases, allowed to renew for one more year). I agree that it’s disingenuous to lump all of the non-compliant plans into the same “substandard” category. Some are truly bad policies, full of holes that leave insureds on the hook for huge medical bills even though they had coverage. Others – like my own family’s plan – are good quality plans that create a solid safety net in case of a serious illness or injury, but have out-of-pocket maximums that are just a little too high to be ACA-compliant. And of course, in the individual market, they’re almost all medically underwritten plans, which means that it’s more expensive to replace them with guaranteed issue coverage, even if the benefits are only slightly improved. Not anywhere near as straight-forward as a lot of media outlets on both sides of the debate have made this all seem.
Health Business Blog‘s David Williams sums up the pros and cons of shopping for health care on daily deal sites or sites that utilize auction-style pricing. You might get a screamin’ deal, but you’ll also miss out on continuity of care and could end up paying for bundled services that you may not need. Although daily deal sites help to bring much-needed transparency to healthcare pricing, it’s probably best to save daily deal sites for things like restaurants, where variety is the spice of life anyway.
Risk and savvy employer
Tom Lynch from Workers’ Comp Insider has written a review of Work Safe: An Employer’s Guide to Safety and Health in a Diversified Workforce. It’s a good reminder for both healthcare professionals and employers that many employees and patients have different languages and cultural norms. This is especially true among the low-skill workforce, which is rapidly growing. Employers would be wise to take steps to make sure that safety precautions are understood by all of their workforce, not just the ones who speak English.
Claire Wilkinson from Terms & Conditions writes about corporate social media us and realities versus expectations. The majority of companies are using social media (and that is sure to grow even more over the next few years) and yet many are lagging behind when it comes to having clear rules and expectations for social media use and a plan to avoid legal action stemming from social media posts.
The all-too-human side of risk
Matt Becker from Mom and Dad Money explains why just about everyone needs disability insurance. We agree. It’s not fun to think about becoming disabled – especially long-term – but insuring against it is an important part of a sound risk-management strategy.
Robert Wilson from WorkersCompensation has a post that reminds us to pause and give thanks to those who have sacrificed their lives so that others may be free. Robert was on a plane that was being used to transport a fallen soldier home to his family, and his description of the trip fits perfectly with the meaning of Thanksgiving.
David Williams will be hosting the next Cavalcade of Risk at Health Business Blog on December 11th, so check back in a couple weeks for more excellent risk-related posts from around the blog world.
Cheers, and Happy Thanksgiving!