5 Health Tips for Your California Summer

It can get pretty hot during the summer here in California. In addition to purchasing health insurance to protect you financially should anything happen to your health, you should also take precautions against the summer heat in order to ensure that you don’t have to use your health insurance.

Source: iStock.com/andresrimaging

Source: iStock.com/andresrimaging

The following are five summer health tips that you should be sure to follow:

  • Protect your skin – Wear loose-fitting clothing to help keep cool and to protect your skin from being burned by the sun as well as from mosquitoes. You should also apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before you go outside and reapply it every two hours. Protecting your skin against the sun will help to prevent skin cancer, which is the number one type of cancer that affects Californians.
  • Don’t leave anyone in the car – Whether you’re running inside somewhere for a minute or just unloading groceries, don’t leave children, seniors or pets in the car without the air conditioning on. It can takes as little as ten minutes for the temperature to reach deadly levels in the heat.
  • Protect your eyes – Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection in order to prevent chronic exposure to the sun, which can cause cataracts and even lead to blindness in some cases.
  • Supervise your kids – If you plan on going to the beach or using the pool, do not leave your kids unsupervised. Drowning is the leading cause of injury-related deaths for children under the age of five.
  • Remain hydrated – Drink plenty of water throughout the day in order to stay hydrated. If you get thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.

Keep these five summer health tips in mind and be sure to contact us at The Benefits Store for helpful information concerning California health insurance.

Private-Sector Health Care Spending is Expected to Slow in 2016

While private-sector health care market growth is predicted to continue to increase throughout next year and will most likely still grow more quickly than the rest of the American economy, it is expected to slow down according to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report.

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Source: iStock.com/Esben_H

The report has predicted that spending in the private-sector health care market will go up by roughly 6.5 percent in 2016, which will be down from the 6.8 percent increase in health care spending that is expected this year. Private-sector health care spending increased by 10 percent back in 2008. The report also revealed that health care spending accounts for around 17.4 percent of the U.S. economy and that health care spending will still be growing at a higher rate than the overall economy of the country.

The report predicts that two of the factors that will drive down spending include the Cadillac Tax, which is a tax on costly health plans that will be implemented in 2018, as well as the increased use of new health advisers and telehealth. Not to mention that more employers are offering high deductible plans and shifting the costs of health plans to consumers, which will most likely result in many individuals becoming more aware of health care expenses, thereby resulting in lower spending. Average deductibles have grown by $500 since 2009, during which the number of employers that have offered such plans have tripled.

The signs of slow down in Private-Sector health care market growth are not something that most experts are worried about. In fact, the projected slow down is considered good news by many since the medical cost trend is roughly double the rate of overall inflation. For more information about the private-sector health care market, be sure to contact us at The Benefits Store today.

California May Extend Health Coverage to Illegal Immigrant Children

The California Senate recently approved a bill that would provide California health coverage for illegal immigrant children. This will make California the first state in the United States to provide health care coverage to kids who are in the country illegally, which means that they are requesting federal authorization to be able to sell private insurance to immigrants without requiring documentation.

Source: iStock.com/Dangubic

Source: iStock.com/Dangubic

There are between 195,000 and 240,000 children under the age of 19 from low-income families that would be able to benefit from state-funded Medi-Cal, which is the state’s version of Medicaid, even if they are illegal immigrants. The legislation will also seek a federal waiver that would allow the state to sell unsubsidized private health care insurance through Covered California, which is California’s health exchange. Now that the legislation has been approved by the State Senate, the bill only needs to be passed and signed by the Governor in order to go into effect. 

While many Senators believe that this is an important step in helping to expand access to health care throughout the state, some believe that the bill will amount to nothing more than an empty promise, believing that it won’t actually help illegal immigrants to obtain access to doctors since there already is a shortage of providers that accept Medi-Cal.

Although President Obama recently enacted an executive order that helped keep some immigrants from being deported because of a lack of comprehensive immigration reform, his action excludes any immigrants that came to the United States illegally from being able to qualify for federal health benefits. The cost to expand Medi-Cal to immigrant children could end up costing $135 million a year even without an executive action by the President.

For more about California health coverage for illegal immigrant children, contact us at the Benefits Store today.

Individual Health Insurance Trumps That of Small Businesses in California

According to a recent report by the California Healthcare Foundation, individual health insurance coverage in California has surged over the last few years, growing by 47 percent in 2014 and surpassing the coverage in the small-business market, which declined 11 percent last year.

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Source: iStock.com/shironosov

The data shows the impact that Obamacare has had on the state of California. The individual health insurance market has been booming over the last two years because of the Covered California marketplace, which was established in part to offer premium assistance to those with lower incomes. Not only is it easier for California residents to obtain individual health insurance, they also have a financial incentive to do so – not buying health insurance will result in a fee that they will have to pay under Obamacare law. This fee grows by the year – in 2014, it was 1 percent of your household income or $95 per person – whichever was higher. This year, it’s 2 percent of your household income or $325 per person – whichever is higher.

The number of small businesses that have dropped benefits in the last few years has risen substantially, although the number of businesses that have done this to let employees get their own health insurance through Covered California remains unclear. This is the first time that individual health insurance has surpassed small employer group coverage, although there is no old data to compare it to since it wasn’t until 2012 that legislation required the California Department of Managed Health Care and the California Department of Insurance to publicly release its end-of-the-year enrollment figures for the insurers and health plans that they regulate.

Individual health insurance coverage in California continues to grow while small employer group coverage has been declining. For more information about health insurance coverage in California, contact the Benefits Store.

One Important SC Case Could Influence California Health Care

There have been a lot of California health care reform initiatives over the last few years, and this doesn’t look to change any time soon now that another case looks to influence health care reform as it is brought before the Supreme Court.

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Source: iStock.com/iodrakon

There are actually several pending cases that could result in national healthcare repercussions. The one you may have heard about is King v. Burwell, which challenges federal subsidies for health insurance. However, a new case has popped up in Vermont that involves claims data reporting that could have a huge impact on the way the government collects and analyzes healthcare data.

Over the last ten years, 16 states have established mandatory APCD (All-Payer Claims Database Systems) that collect and analyze information from health insurers in order to guide payment reform efforts. Around 30 other states are either considering or pursuing some type of data gathering similar to APCD. The issue is that Liberty Mutual Insurance, an insurer in Vermont, which is one of the 16 states with mandatory APCD systems, is refusing to provide its information to the state. The insurer’s argument is that Vermont law is superseded by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. They are contending that self-insured plans require claims data reporting already and that the state’s laws are interfering. 

Experts believe that this case could have a huge effect not only on Vermont but the entire country as well. While the results of the case may not have a direct impact on California health care reform initiatives, all states will take the decision into account before they consider making a long-term investment in APCDs.

The Liberty Mutual Insurance case in Vermont could affect healthcare reform throughout the country. For more healthcare information, contact us at the Benefits Store today.