Category Health Insurance

If You Thought Taxes Were Bad This Year, Just Wait

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No one looks forward to tax season. Even the people who make money from preparing returns grit their teeth because they know the stretch from January to April 15 will be long and hard. But it could be worse, right?

Actually, it’s about to be, and that comes straight from the officials at the top. Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen said that 2015 “will be one of the most complicated filing seasons we’ve ever had,” as the Journal of Accountancy reported.

It’s not that you will own more money, although you might very well. The main driver of the pain will be factors making filing far more complicated than usual...

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Insurers Ease Obamacare Deadline

Health Overhaul Consumers

Don Ryan/AP

WASHINGTON — Trying to head off a new round of consumer headaches with President Barack Obama’s health care law, the insurance industry said Tuesday it will give customers more time to pay their premiums for January.

America’s Health Insurance Plans, the main industry trade group, says the voluntary steps include a commitment to promptly refund any overpayments by consumers who switched plans and may have gotten double-billed by mistake.

Though the HealthCare.gov website is working far better this year, the industry announcement highlights behind-the-scenes technical issues between the government and insurers that have proven difficult to resolve. Last year’s enrollment files were riddled with errors, and fixing those has been a painstaking process...

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Adults Aren’t Grinning Over the Cost of Braces

Dentist and Patient customer satisfaction

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NEW YORK — Danielle Faust, 33, is six weeks into wearing braces to fix her crooked teeth and is pretty happy about the process, but not the price. While the $5,000 for Invisalign clear aligners in South Florida where she is a freelance writer is $1,000 less than a friend is paying in New York, she is kicking herself because she missed out on a Groupon that would have saved her even more.

Parents often blanch at the price tag of braces for their children but count it as a known cost of raising offspring. When it comes to their own teeth, however, adults are a lot more cautious about the money involved. Using braces to fix dental problems such as crooked teeth or bite problems can cost between $3,000 and $7,000, depending on the treatment options and where you live.

The number of Ame...

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Hospital Bills Just Got Easier to Manage

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Some welcome protection for American consumers struggling with health care costs has arrived. New federal regulations call on nonprofit hospitals to establish written financial assistance policies (also known as charity care policies), limit the amount billed to patients who qualify for assistance and screen patients for such assistance prior to pursuing aggressive collection actions.

The final regulations were released Dec. 29 by the Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service after a period of scrutiny for medical debt. In early December, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a report that found 43 million American consumers have medical collections on their credit reports.

Millions of Americans have only medical collections on their reports and half ...

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How to Pick the Best Medigap Policy for You

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More than 10,000 people enroll in Medicare each day, according to the National Council on Aging. If you are getting ready to join these ranks, you may find yourself in the market for a plan to pay costs not covered by original Medicare. Here are five steps to help you find the right plan for your needs.

1. Decide If You Want Medigap or Medicare Advantage

First, know that Medicare alone will not cover all your health care costs. “Original Medicare pays about 80 percent,” says Jane Kassel, owner of insurance brokerage firm Kassel Benefits in Phoenix.

The remaining 20 percent includes Medicare Part A and Part B deductibles and coinsurance, such as copays for office visits...

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Uninsured Are Getting Harder to Sign Up for Health Coverage

Governors Meeting

Steve Helber/APSecretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration says it’s getting harder to sign up those remaining uninsured under the president’s health care law.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell on Tuesday has given three reasons why the 2016 sign-up season will be a bigger challenge: The most eager customers have already signed up; many of the remaining uninsured are young adults who may not see the value of coverage and those who remain are juggling tight household budgets.

Burwell says an estimated 10.5 million Americans who remain uninsured are eligible for subsidized private health insurance through HealthCare.gov and state-run insurance markets.

Open enrollment starts Nov. 1...

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Money Minute: Virginia Sees Big Rate Hikes for Obamacare

A first look at how much health care premiums may go up in the second year of Obamacare.

Insurance companies in Virginia have filed rate proposals for 2015 that call for significant rate increases, but nothing near the dire predictions of Obamacare opponents. The Wall Street Journal reports the proposed increases easily top overall inflation, but that’s been true of health care costs for years. One of the biggest plans, Wellpoint’s (WLP) Anthem HealthKeepers, is asking for an average increase of 8.5 percent. Other plans call for rate hikes of 3.3 percent to nearly 15 percent.

But it may be a bit easier to pay for those increases. Economists polled by USA Today expect wage increases to be a bit higher than they’ve been in recent years...

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4 Ways to Deal With Medical Debt

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Medical debt can be crushing: 43 million Americans have overdue medical debt on their credit reports. If you have health insurance, the deductibles can be high: For families with a bronze health plan, the average deductible is $10,545. Given that 62 percent of Americans do not have enough money saved to handle a $500 emergency, medical debt can quickly become a big problem.

The problem is even worse for the 12.9 percent of people who do not have health insurance. If you enter an emergency room without insurance, you are going to be charged obscenely high rates. It is not uncommon for people to leave the hospital with $100,000 or more in medical bills. If you find yourself in a medical emergency, here are four things to consider to help manage the situation.

1...

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U.S. Health System Tops in Spending, Last in Results

US health system tops in spending, last in results

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Bang for your buck? No such luck — not even close.

The United States health care system has finished dead last — yet again — in a comparison of first-world countries, despite vastly outspending those nations on health services, according to a new study released Monday.

Adding insult to injury, the Commonwealth Fund-issued study ranked the United Kingdom in first place in the rankings despite the fact that the U.K. spent just $3,182 per capita on health — the second-least amount of the 11 countries surveyed.

And Canada, which was just above the U.S. in the overall rankings, spent just $4,522 per person on health services.

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In contrast, the U.S. spent $8,508 per person on health care, or 17.7 percent of the gross domestic product.

“The claim that the U...

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Market Wrap: Stocks End Lower for 2nd Day After Rally

Financial Markets Wall Street

Richard Drew/AP

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks closed lower Wednesday for the second day in a row as investors stepped back after a recent rally ahead of jobs data due later in the week.

Health care stocks were the only bright spot in the market after a U.S. Supreme Court hearing and a cancer drug approval.

Equities had surged in February and both the Dow and S&P hit record highs Monday, when the Nasdaq surpassed the 5,000 level for the first time in 15 years.

We would not read anything into today’s pullback. The market had a terrific February.


“We would not read anything into today’s pullback. The market had a terrific February,” said David Katz, chief investment officer at Matrix Asset Advisors, in New York. “We suggest buying into any weakness.”

Many investors were holding off on making big...

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