Report Highlights Recent Health Insurance News
Several newspapers recently reported on news related to health insurance. Summaries appear below.
- Benefits:Most workers with employer-sponsored health benefits "assume theircoverage will remain intact" from year to year, but many companiesengage in an ongoing process of re-evaluating their offerings, the Houston Chronicle reports. According to Hewitt Associates,only about 40% of U.S. workers change or reconfirm theiremployer-sponsored health benefits annually. Sara Taylor, Hewitt'sannual enrollment leader, said some employers have started terminatingcoverage for workers who do not reconfirm their benefits, saying that"they want people to understand it and value it." Jill Watson, managingpartner of Gallagher Benefit Services,said that some companies also have been evaluating the extent ofdependent coverage and spousal coverage to cut health care costs (Cook,Houston Chronicle, 10/29).
- Healthcredit cards: Some health insurers are introducing credit cards thatenrollees can use exclusively to pay for health care services, the Forth Worth Star-Telegramreports. Typically the cards offer low- or no-interest periods, butlike other credit cards, they often come with fees and higher interestrates after the introductory period. Humanarecently launched such a product, called the HumanaAdvance card, whichhas a $96 annual fee and allows users to pay off bills interest-freeover six months through payroll deductions. Beth Bierbower, Humana'svice president of product innovation, said, "This is something forpeople in time of need." Some consumer advocates are concerned aboutthe growing availability of such credit cards. Mila Kofman, anassociate research professor at Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute,said, "If you can't afford the deductible, then putting the deductibleon a credit card -- adding in the fees and the interest -- is the worstthing you can do. That's not going to help you be able to finance yourmedical care. It's just going to get you further into debt" (Perotin,Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 10/29).
- Long-termcare insurance: The average age of people purchasing long-term careinsurance for the first time has fallen below 60 years old, accordingto a study released on Monday by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, the St. Paul Pioneer Pressreports. According to the study, in 2007, the average age of first-timelong-term care insurance purchasers was 58. It was 61 years old in 2000and 69 years old in 1995, according to the study. The number of U.S.residents who have long-term care insurance increased about 60% toeight million, compared with less than five million in 2000. Accordingto the study, 46% of long-term care insurance buyers were between ages50 and 6, and 40% were older than 60. The remaining 14% were youngerthan age 50 (St. Paul Pioneer Press, 10/29).
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