Health Care Waiting Room

Charity Care in L.A.ís Diverse Communities

Samantha Beasley, Health Care Policy Manager, L.A. Area Chamber on August 27, 2014 at 12:00:00 am in Health Care Waiting Room 
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Charity Care in L.A.’s Diverse Communities

Despite the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandate, there are certain groups of people that will not be able to obtain health insurance and who will (in essence) “fall through the cracks.” This population is composed primarily of those exempt from the individual mandate because insurance options are not affordable, those who opt out of the individual mandate and face resulting penalties and undocumented immigrants and legal residents of less than five years. According to a 2010 report by the Center for Health Care Strategies, the estimated 20 million individuals who are not able to take advantage of ACA will have to depend, to one degree or another, on charity care programs.

 

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Taking Advantage of the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

Samantha Beasley, Health Care Policy Manager, L.A. Area Chamber on August 13, 2014 at 12:00:00 am in Health Care Waiting Room 
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Since 2010, the government has offered a tax break for certain small businesses that offer qualifying employer-sponsored health plans to assist employers with premium costs and contributions. The health reform law, known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) does not require small businesses to provide health insurance coverage for employees.  However, for those small businesses that have chosen to provide, or are already looking into providing, coverage to employees through Covered California’s Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) in 2014, the tax credit can help ease the overall costs. 

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The Rising Cost of Specialty Care Drugs and its Impact on Businesses

Samantha Beasley, Health Care Policy Manager, L.A. Area Chamber on July 30, 2014 at 12:00:00 am in Health Care Waiting Room 
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Even though the cost of prescription drugs has plummeted for many Americans, a small slice of the population is being asked to shoulder more and more of the cost of expensive treatments for diseases like cancer and hepatitis C. Rare and often more serious diseases requiring specialty drugs can come with breathtaking price tags, according to a report by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics. On average, the monthly price tag for a specialty drug is $2,000, which is 10 times greater than the price tags for non-specialty medication. The high monthly price tags for these drugs (and the long-term treatment that is required for serious diseases) can put severe financial hardships on affected individuals. 

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2014 and the New World of Health Insurance

E. Jones, MPH, ACA Implementation Specialist on July 16, 2014 at 12:00:00 am in Health Care Waiting Room 
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Recently, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 1446, allowing small group employers with a health insurance plan that was in effect on Dec. 31, 2013, and still in effect as of the passage of the bill, to renew their current health plan, even if it does not meet certain requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This means that some small group employers now have the option of keeping their current 2013 non-ACA-compliant, non-grandfathered plans for one more year. The extended transitional period will give small employers more time to prepare to bear the costs associated with plans that fully comply with the ACA, and more time to consider their choices while moving into the new world of health insurance.   

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Three Things You Can Do to Lower Your Health Care Costs

Samantha Beasley, Health Care Policy Manager, L.A. Area Chamber on July 1, 2014 at 12:00:00 am in Health Care Waiting Room 
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In last week’s blog post, we shared an overview of cost drivers in the health care system. This week, we would like to share three strategies to consider to begin driving down health care costs for small employers.

Providing health coverage has numerous benefits for you as a small business owner. It can help you attract and retain good employees. But even more important, it can help you maintain a healthy workforce, which is critical to the future success of your business.

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Why Are Health Care Costs So High?

Samantha Beasley, Health Care Policy Manager, L.A. Area Chamber on June 18, 2014 at 12:00:00 am in Health Care Waiting Room 
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Health care premiums have generally increased year after year due to complex factors. As a business owner, you can still take action to lighten health care costs now for your employees. With payment reform and delivery system reform, small businesses are beginning to see a way to bring down costs. We will discuss these strategies more in the next couple of blog posts.

The average annual premium for single coverage in an employer-sponsored health plan in 2011 was $5,429 ($15,073 for family coverage). That represents an 8 percent increase for single coverage and a 9 percent increase for family coverage from 2010 (inflation based on the Consumer Price Index was only 3.2 percent in 2011).

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Promote Wellness Plans

Tina Hossain on June 4, 2014 at 12:00:00 am in Health Care Waiting Room 
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By adopting wellness programs, you become proactive in making your workforce healthier, which may reduce your insurance costs. The goal of wellness programs is to make and keep employees healthier by promoting proper nutrition, exercise, weight loss, stress management and smoking cessation. According to the Wellness Council of America, more than 80 percent of U.S. businesses with more than 50 employees have some sort of wellness program. But small businesses can also benefit from them.

The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce promoted wellness plans and programs to its business members through a November 2013 “Health Happens Here: In the Workplace” conference targeted at increasing education and implementation of such practices. We continue to support efforts to improve employee health, control health care costs, and even increase children's health through comprehensive employee wellness programing.

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Navigating the Health Insurance Marketplace

E. Jones, ACA Implementation Specialist on May 21, 2014 at 12:00:00 am in Health Care Waiting Room 
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The “individual mandate” provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. health care reform or “ACA”) began in January 2014, meaning that most U.S. citizens and legal residents need to have health insurance coverage or face a penalty by the end of each tax season. This is just one of many provisions and programs that kicked off in the new year, but will have a significant impact on individuals who do not currently have health coverage. Many people are still confused as to what they will need to do to find coverage, what type of coverage is available, and whether they qualify for federal financial assistance which can help make purchasing insurance more affordable.

Even if you don’t provide coverage as a business owner, you may find yourself in the position of needing to assist your employees with navigating the new health insurance marketplace. If you employ 50 or fewer full time employees, you now have an option to purchase coverage through the new health insurance marketplace, known as “Covered California,” in addition to being able to purchase from health insurance plans directly. Knowing the basics can help you and your employees be prepared and confident in navigating the new health insurance marketplace and selecting the right health plan specific to your needs and budget.

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Medi-Cal Expansion: The Road Ahead

Tina Hossain on May 7, 2014 at 12:00:00 am in Health Care Waiting Room 
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California is the largest market for health care insurance in the country. When it comes to health care, as California goes, so goes the nation. To maintain our status as a leader in Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation, California needs to maintain the integrity of its health care delivery system and create policies to make quality care more accessible and sustainable. 

Medi-Cal, California's version of the federal Medicaid program, is the main source of health insurance for more than 8 million Californians, primarily those who earn less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, children, pregnant women, seniors and nonelderly adults with disabilities – all uniquely vulnerable populations. Because Medi-Cal is the single largest source of health insurance coverage in the State - covering one in five Californians - and a major source of funding for safety-net providers, it is critical to understanding how health care is financed and delivered in California. 

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California's Small Business Health Options Program

E. Jones, ACA Implementation Specialist on April 23, 2014 at 12:00:00 am in Health Care Waiting Room 
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A major component of health care reform that has rolled out in each state is the health insurance marketplace. Each marketplace is operated by that state’s government, the federal government, or a partnership between the state and federal governments. California’s marketplace, known as Covered California, is a state-run marketplace. It serves both individuals looking for health plan coverage for themselves and their families, as well as qualifying small businesses looking to offer coverage to their employees through the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP).

With the implementation of SHOP there is now the opportunity to offer choice when it comes to plan selection for employees, along with a more simplified administrative process (single bill for coverage) for employers. Open enrollment for both small businesses and individuals through Covered California began October 1, 2013. Though open enrollment for the individual marketplace recently closed on March 31, 2014, we feel this is an appropriate time to refocus education and enrollment efforts for small businesses, the marketplace for which (SHOP) has no open enrollment deadline.

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