Insurers Say New Health Benefits Will Raise Premiums

"Starting next week, your insurance company can no longer put dollar limits on essential benefits such as hospital and lab services. Dependent children will be covered to age 26. You'll get preventive care with no deductible or co-pay. But there's a price" -- some insurers are saying they will have to raise premium prices, CBS News reports in this video. That has brought a stern response from the Obama administration, which threatened that insurers who misrepresent the reason for premium increases may not be allowed in the insurance marketplaces being set up in 2014.

"And insurers are firing back, asking how can they be forced to increase benefits, then be prevented from telling customers why costs are on the rise? 'We strongly believe that our policy holders have a right to this information,'" said industry spokesman Robert Zirkelbach (Attkisson, 9/17).

The New York Times: "Just over one-third of Americans work for small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. If you're one of those workers, you know that very few small companies offer comprehensive health insurance — or for that matter, any health insurance at all. Even when they do, premiums can be prohibitively expensive, because small businesses can't negotiate the discounts given to large group plans. To help close that gap, the government this year is offering a tax credit to companies with fewer than 25 full-time workers and average wages of less than $50,000 a year. To qualify, employers must pay at least 50 percent of their employees’ health care premiums." The story offers a guide to small business owners and employees about the tax credits.(Konrad, 9/17).

The Hill: "The Department of Health and Human Services on Friday awarded $130.8 million to strengthen the nation's healthcare workforce. The funds target six key areas: primary care workforce training, oral health workforce training, equipment to enhance training across the health professions, loan repayments for health professionals, health career opportunity programs for disadvantaged students, and patient navigator outreach and chronic disease prevention in health disparity populations" (Pecquet, 9/17).


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