Latest Trends in Health Insurance

health insuranceMost Americans are beneficiaries of healthcare coverage in multiple ways which include private insurance coverage arranged by their employers, coverage purchased on their own and public insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. It is believed that about 160 million Americans enjoy employer-sponsored health insurance, and another 13 million have bought insurance directly from an insurer or HMO. Total spending for health care services continues to steeply rise - from $1.4 trillion in 2001 to an estimated figure of $3.1 trillion in 2012.

Insurance premium for people with private insurance have risen drastically in recent years. At the same time, consumers are also suffering because their out-of-pocket costs for deductibles and other cost sharing have gone up significantly over the same period.

While coverage availability has somewhat declined for those having employer coverage, a lackluster economy and high unemployment rate have intensified problems faced by those seeking individual coverage. The economists have to find ways to control increases in health care costs and to provide coverage for the uninsured.

Paying contributions, however small, towards health insurance policies discourage workers from joining the insurance scheme. Statistics reveal that about 20 percent of all uninsured people live in families where a worker has declined employer-sponsored insurance coverage. The refusal to avail employer-sponsored insurance is mostly because of the cost involved. For many, the health insurance is less of a priority compared to food and housing.

It must also be stated that the costs of private health insurance have risen steeply particularly in relation to a workers average earnings and general inflation. In the past three years, insurance premiums have increased between 10.9 and 13.9 percent annually, while workers' wages have grown only between 2 & 3 percent.

The cost of health care is certainly burdensome for most Americans but it those with limited means are hit the hardest. Nearly 75% of low-income group adults reported some difficulty obtaining health coverage.

Consequently, 44 percent of low-income group adults remain uninsured at compared with only 13 percent of moderate- and higher-income adults in the non-insured category. Despite the fact that the United States is spending nearly $200 billion every year on tax incentives for health insurance, 46.6 million people still lack health coverage.

The one redeeming news is children-especially those in low-income families have somewhat gained in insurance coverage. Even with regard to uninsured children, more than 50% of them are eligible for Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)-the two public insurance programs responsible for providing coverage to low-income group children.

Established in 1997, the State Children's Health Insurance Program provides states the authority and funding to expand health insurance coverage to low-income children by broadening Medicaid eligibility, developing new child health programs, or a combination of both.

While Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program has effectively covered low-income group children, the same cannot be said for children in middle-income group families, for whom access to Medicaid and SCHIP is not easily accessible. Yet the unfortunate fact remains that racial and ethnic disparities in children's health insurance coverage persist, despite all gains.

As public coverage is generally not available to adults, almost 50% of the increase in uninsured adults belong to the low-incomes group leaving their families at great risk for being uninsured.

Are Auto Insurance Rates Better for Older Vehicles?

Are Auto Insurance Rates Better for Older Vehicles?Should the age or value of my vehicle have any impact on what I pay for car insurance?

This question is asked quite often in the insurance world because a lot of people consider auto insurance as protection for their car! I guess it's easy to see why, most commercials and advertisements emphasize damage done to vehicles (I'm currently thinking of the one where guy hits his car with a hammer). But, there is a lot more to auto insurance than what meets the eye, so let's look at some reasons why insurance premiums are not as dependent on the value of your car as you may think.

For example, liability coverages are probably one the most important reasons to purchase car insurance. This is the part that comes in to save the day (or at least your assets) when you're involved in an at fault auto accident. For example, say you get into a small fender bender, your liability coverages will pay the other party (if you're at fault) for property damage done to their vehicle. This may add up to around $1000 to $5000, depending on the amount of damage. Not a huge loss for an insurance company but let's say the person inside suffered a whiplash injury that resulted in hospital bills and even followup care. So what started out as a simple fender bender is now a $90,000 claim! What if someone died in the accident? Survivor benefits can be astronomically high, they could even enter the $1 million territory.

Now, it's rare for something like that to happen but the insurance companies are aware the risk they take when insuring a driver, especially one with high limits of liability. In cases like these, it doesn't matter if you were driving a new Lexus or an old Honda.

Other coverages, such as Underinsured and Uninsured Motorists, Medical Pay, etc are also not subject to the value of your car. The reason is because it makes no difference if people are injured in a 2012 Cadillac or 2008 Cadillac, the loss would be the same regardless.

Ok, if my rate is not dependent on how much my vehicle is worth, how can I get it lower?

Great question, if you're not interested in doing some shopping, you could consider increasing your deductible. Going from $250 to $500 can put some extra money in your pocket. If you already have $500 deductibles, you could go to a $1000 but remember that you're going to have to pay that before any claim can be processed. Also, if your vehicle is financed, there may be a requirement to keep the deductible below a certain point (typically $500).

If you own your vehicle outright, you could always consider self insuring it. Find out how much your vehicle is currently worth at today's market value, and calculate how much additional premium it takes to insure it. So, if you pay $600 for six months with physical damage, and only $450 for liability, that comes to $300 a year to insure the car. Before making that decision, ask yourself: "Could I afford to replace this car if it gets stolen or in an accident?". If the answer is no, you probably don't want to remove physical damage coverage.

Other than increasing deductibles, it's not a bad idea to look at getting a comparison quote. This is an insurance estimate that compares various companies and their rates to see which one offers the best value. Company A might quote $700 for six months while Company B offers a rate of $400 for six months. Change cars and you may see Company A offer a better deal, this why it's good to ask a local independent agent for "what if" comparison quotes while shopping for new vehicles!