Monday, November 30, 2009

Basic tips for buying homeowner’s insurance

By Jonathan Tse

It is very important to understand what is covered by a certain health insurance policy before purchasing it. Many people are often surprised to find that certain things are not covered by their homeowner’s insurance, so it is very important to take note of these small details. Here are just a few things to consider before purchasing a certain insurance plan.
Amongst the several levels of insurance there are two basic types of insurance: actual cash value and replacement cost coverage. Actual cash value coverage is the cheapest, but the least desirable because it only takes into account the face value of the policy and ignores the amount it would take to rebuild the home. The second type, replacement cost coverage can be categorized as either “true replacement cost coverage” or “functional replacement cost coverage.” “True replacement cost coverage” replaces an item with an equivalent item, but “functional replacement cost coverage” only replaces it with an item of similar function. The best type of coverage is one that provides replacement for a home regardless of the cost. These often cost around 25% more than the less comprehensive plans. Even though a plan has true replacement, it is still important to read what types of items the plan covers.
For the most part, the home insurance does not cover expensive items such as jewelry so if you want those things to be covered, it is recommended that you consider buying insurance for them. Home owners’ insurance pays very little to replace stolen objects and does not take into account the actual value of the item. Insurance often costs only $10-$25 per $1000 of jewelry, and most claims are often because of theft.
If you already have home insurance, it is often good to also purchase car insurance from the same insurer since insurance companies often reward discounts for customers who purchase more than one insurance plan from them. Once you have purchased the plan, it is best to stay with the insurance company for a period of time since discounts are also given to long-time customers.

Auto Insurance Reform

By Minjune Kim

State House Democrats announced a plan today to cut auto insurance rates with tighter restrictions on insurance companies – a plan insurers said would result in higher costs for motorists.The legislative plan would require insurance companies to offer low-cost auto insurance to low-income drivers with good driving records. Democrats, joined by state Insurance Consumer Advocate Butch Hollowell, accused the insurance industry of unfair pricing practices that result in excessive profits at the expense of motorists. They say Michigan has the second-highest auto insurance rates in the United tates, behind New Jersey, while Michigan accidents and auto thefts have declined.

Kurt Gallinger, vice president and legal counsel with Farmington Hills-based Amerisure Mutual Insurance Co. and chairman of the Michigan Insurance Coalition, described the press conferences, planned for across the state and in Lansing today, as a political stunt in the run-up to the 2010 elections. Gallinger said the bills were written with no input from the industry, and are based on what he described as a false assumption that auto insurance companies are raking in profits. He said the industry was denied requests to view the legislation before it was introduced.

Under the proposal, the state auto insurance commissioner would have the power to veto rate increases. It would also prevent insurance companies from basing its rates on factors such as credit scores, occupation and education. The Michigan Insurance Coalition says it will do nothing to help consumers because it would stifle competition, create new payouts for trial lawyers or shift costs from the largest cities to the suburbs and outstate. “Michigan has more than 55,000 employees working directly for the industry and supports more than 100,000 jobs indirectly,” continued Shields. “These types of political stunts just might result in insurance companies deciding to expand their operations in other states or leave Michigan altogether."

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Dubai Debt Insurance Cost Falls

Posted by Minjune Kim

LONDON -- The cost of insuring Dubai's sovereign debt against default fell Monday as investors' concerns about the region were allayed after the United Arab Emirates central bank pledged support for the country's local and foreign banks.

It now costs $576,000 to insure $10 million of Dubai sovereign debt against default for five years, down from $647,000 at Friday's New York close, according to data provider CMA.
The cost of insuring neighboring Abu Dhabi's sovereign debt also fell Monday. It now costs $146,000 to insure $10 million of Abu Dhabi's sovereign debt against default for five years, down from $175,600 at Friday's close.

The drop in cost comes after the U.A.E. central bank said Sunday it is offering an additional liquidity facility to local and international banks in the U.A.E. and stressed that it "stands behind" them. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are two of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.

Last week, Dubai World's restructuring announcement also affected countries such as Greece, as investors became increasingly concerned about financially stretched countries. However, the cost of insuring Greece's sovereign debt also fell Monday as it benefited from the improved tone in financial markets. It now costs $192,000 to insure $10 million of Greece's sovereign debt against default for five years, down from $200,000 at Friday's close, according to CMA.

Meanwhile, the five-year credit default swaps for Dubai-based port operator DP World tightened Monday to 6.425 percentage points compared with its closing level Friday of 7.44 percentage points, CMA said. The port operator's CDS moved as wide as 8.10 percentage points during trading on Friday.

Dubai World owns 77% of DP World, which is the fourth-largest ports operator in the world. The port operator will be excluded from its parent's debt standstill talks and restructuring.

CDS are tradable, over-the-counter derivatives that function like a default insurance contract. If a borrower defaults, the protection buyer is paid compensation by the protection seller. Wider spreads show the cost of default insurance is going up, suggesting investors are less confident in a borrower's ability to repay debts.

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Extra Insurance Can Protect Those Diamonds and Pearls

Posted by Jonathan Tse

ASK almost anyone about insurance on jewelry and you hear, “Oh, it’s covered by my home insurance policy.”

Not exactly.

True, nearly every home insurance policy in America comes with a provision that pays for stolen jewelry. But that provision is very small. Many policies pay up to $2,500 for a stolen item, regardless of how expensive it may be. Some pay as little as $1,000, and a few provide coverage of up to $5,000.

People often forget about inflation when they think about the value of jewelry. The price they paid sticks in their mind. But almost every year, the cost of that same piece of jewelry rises, so the value of even a few items could be higher than the minimal coverage. The sharp rise in gold and silver prices lately has increased the likelihood that replacing jewelry would cost more than expected.

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Health care lessons from Europe

By Carolyn Lochhead, Chronicle Washington Bureau
Posted by Alma Zhumagulova

As Congress struggles to reform U.S. health care, critics point to Canada and Britain as the poster children of what could happen here with a "government takeover" of health coverage.

But three other wealthy nations - the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany - offer much closer parallels, as well as lessons.

Health care systems in the three nations more closely resemble the U.S. system of insurance-based coverage. Holland and Switzerland rely exclusively on private insurance, and all three rely on private doctors. The three European nations deliver universal coverage and world-class quality at a fraction of what Americans spend.

All of them require that everyone purchase insurance, make sure everyone can afford it and ban insurers from such practices as refusing to cover the sick that are common in the United States.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

How to get best rate on auto insurance

Posted by Shawn Gao

How do drivers get their best rates on auto insurance? There are many factor can vary rate on auto insurance. For examples, your age, car make, GPA, even car’s color would change the rate. The best way for drivers to get the best rate is to shop around, and go to (helps drivers to get more information on auto insurance).
Usually, insurance companies will check driver’s driving history first. The more tickets and accidents the driver has, the higher rate would be charged. However, law states that driving history can affect insurance premiums for only three years, most companies will look back at a drivers’ history five years or more.
Another factor that would cause additional money is lapses in coverage. When driver wants to switch from one insurance company to another, he should purchase the new one before cancel the old one. Even lapses in a few days may make potential driver look irresponsible and risky, which will make premiums much higher.
Location makes a difference when shopping for insurance as well. Living in a city will cost drivers five times more than living in suburban. Especially, those people who drive in NYC. It is important for driver to have more information when they shop around.

U.S. Drivers Dropping Auto Insurance Coverage at Alarming Rate

posted by Shawn Gao

U.S. Drivers Dropping Auto Insurance Coverage at Alarming Rate
Despite the high rate of dropped auto insurance coverage, most Americans are finding a better way to respond to worsening economic conditions. reports increased usage as drivers seek lower auto insurance rates as a safer alternative to canceling their policies in response to the economic downturn

Lexington, Kentucky (Advertiser Talk) 28-Nov-2009 — Thinking about dropping your auto insurance coverage as a means to cut expenses in these recessionary times? Let’s face it, such actions are risky.

When asked if they were to drop their car insurance coverage due to economic conditions, 15% of respondents of a 2009 comScore survey¹ indicated that they didn’t think their insurance company would increase their rates when later reinstating their policy. And 72% of the respondents were not sure. Though most were not likely to go without auto insurance coverage due to the economy, few consumers understand the consequences.
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Tips on Health Insurance

By Jonathan Tse

It is very important to have health coverage, especially for college graduates who may have a lot of debt from school and not much income. Although health insurance is very expensive, it is an investment that must be made, otherwise on top of college loans, one could also be paying thousands in health bills. For those who already are covered by their own health insurance, it would be best to max out the use of your current health insurance plan. Do not take for granted the services that your health insurance plan covers for the current year because they may not be covered next year.

It is important to max out on your current deductible and get things checked out before the end of the year. It is important to also look ahead and try to take care of any issues that may come up in the future and make use of your health policy. Make appointments to see your doctors or get extra refills for next year. Also make sure to use all of the money in your flexible savings accounts before the money disappears. Take advantage of any free or low cost preventive tests or screenings because these services may not always be free.

For those who are new and have never purchased health insurance before, it is very important to keep in mind that the location has a great influence on the price of health insurance plans. Larger cities often have lower-priced health insurance programs because there is more competition between insurance companies. Plans with higher deductibles mean that there will be lower payments later on. Insurance brokers are also very helpful in helping to find health insurance plans with the best rates and can help you compare the options that are available. Often they will have a larger network to work from that will make it easier for them to find the right plan for you. If you are not sure what plan to purchase quite yet, there are often trial periods for health insurance as well. These can be cheap coverage or coverage with a limited period money-back guarantee for a short period of time in which you can try out the plan to see if it is right for you. These often only cover for major incidents such as car accidents and major injuries. It is also important to negotiate for services not covered to reduce the amount you have to pay out of your pocket.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Chinese Life Insurance Market

By (On under Insurance no author given)
Posted by Adam Lindheim

China's life insurance sector is becoming crowded. Just seven years ago there were no more than a dozen companies active in the market. At the end of 2006, this had risen to 46, over half of them foreign joint ventures.

At least 10 more foreign names are likely to be added to this list over the next three years, according to the majority of overseas insurers interviewed for a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey. A similar number of respondents said they expect the foreign firms' share of the overall insurance market to hit 10% by 2010. Last year, this share stood at 5.9% in the life sector and 1.2% in the property and casualty sector.

"Some companies are projecting premium growth of 200-300% in 2007 thanks to the wider geographical market, the wider range of products and the opening of new branches," said David Campbell, PwC's Asia Pacific insurance practice leader.

The bullishness is understandable. In 1996, China's total life insurance premiums came to US$3.76 billion. In 2006, it was US$53.8 billion, according to the China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC). Financial services consultancy Celent has predicted that China will become the fourth-largest life insurance market in the world by premiums in 2008, after the US, Japan and the UK.

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Private Health Insurance

By Adam Lindheim

It is estimated that close to 46 million Americans don’t have health insurance coverage, and with today’s economy that number is expected to increase. If your job doesn’t provide health coverage, or you’re jobless, private health insurance is the only option. Private health insurance is very expensive, and depending on your age and health will determine the type of coverage you are eligible for. Premiums typically range from $100-$1000 dollars, it is important to note the lower the premium the higher the deductibles, and smaller range of coverage that your plan is likely to cover. For those citizens who have recently lost their jobs, and have pre-existing health issues are more likely to run into a tougher situation.

If you are looking to secure private health insurance and you have heart disease, asthma, diabetes, cancer, or even AIDS the chances of getting health insurance dramatically drop. Those who have been let go by their company (with at least 20 employees) will be covered by CORBA. This means that you will be covered for up to 18 months following your departure from your company, which is especially good news for those who have pre-existing illnesses. Some states wont even allow discrimination when it comes to acquiring health insurance. A lot of American citizens such as Don Hall, a manufacturing supervisor from Ohio has seen a $500 dollar increase in his health insurance premiums per month. The American government is scrambling to find a solution to this growing problem that is hitting many homes in the U.S. Some citizens who belong to worker unions can apply for health insurance through a group health plan through their unions. It is important financial decision to pick an affordable but secure plan when evaluating private health insurance plans.

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Forget Car Insurance, Does It Have Medicare?

by Jacques Steinberg
posted by Jameel Murray

MY son, Jordan, who is 9, desperately wanted a pet that might be more interactive than the fish in his aquarium. But I am severely allergic to most animals with fur. I am so asthmatic that, unlike the Obamas, who went with famously hypoallergenic Bo, our family wound up choosing something less huggable though no less lovable: a gecko.

And so last fall, a white lizard no longer than a BlackBerry and no heavier than a stack of Post-it notes took up residence in Jordan’s bedroom. He called him Belzer, after a character in “Rotten School,” a series of children’s books. Before long, Jordan had coaxed Belzer to climb from his palm to his elbow. We also noticed that when Jordan put a Yankees game on the radio, Belzer would emerge from his cave to listen. To assure that his gecko would be the last thing he saw at night, Jordan positioned Belzer’s glass tank, illuminated by a red heat lamp, within sight of his pillow.

So it was with some concern that I noticed earlier this fall that Belzer appeared to be “blocked,” as my grandmother might have said. In other words, he was no longer littering his sand with the remains of whatever worm or cricket he had consumed the night before.

As far as I know, Metamucil makes no product for a gecko. Which meant that this situation called for a specialist. My journey to the cutting edge of veterinary care would ultimately cost me more than $500, I am embarrassed to say. That was what I spent on an X-ray that revealed a major intestinal blockage, from Belzer’s consuming too much sand bedding with his meals.

Those fees also covered the potential cure: the delicate administration of laxatives formulated for a reptile — Procter & Gamble, the maker of Metamucil, take note — as well as so many injections of fluid into Belzer’s backside that he must have felt like a baseball player on steroids.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Safest Cars for 2010

Posted by Quang Nguyen

Every year, car companies constantly work to innovate and make their cars better and safer for the driver. These five 2010 cars are at the top of the list for being the safest on the road.

The Volvo XC60

The Volvo XC60, new to Volvo in 2010, has many safety features that don't even compare to their other cars. The car is equipped with new preventive safety, protective safety, and child safety features. Some of these features include an anti locking brake system with hydraulic brake assist, ready alert brakes, collision warning with auto brake, and city safety. The car is well lit with daytime running lights, dual xenon gas discharge headlights with active bending lights, side marker lights, rear fog lights with auto off and front fog lights. In case of a crash, the car comes with a whiplash protection system, an energy absorbing interior, dual stage airbags, a side impact protection system, and an energy absorbing frontal structure.

The 2010 Volkswagen Polo

This car is not only one of the safest of 2010, but one of the safest cars world wide. The airbags in the car include the combined head-thorax airbag. The seat belts come with belt force limiters and seat belt tensioners that that prevent whiplash and therefore injury. For children, there is a three rear head restraint and isofix child seat.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Max out your health insurance now

Next year, your plan's benefits may not be as generous as they are now. Here's some steps to take before 2010.

By Gerri Willis
Posted by Jonathan Tse

NEW YORK (CNN) -- With the year rolling to a close, make sure you don't leave ANY health-insurance money on the table. Here's how to cash in now.

1. Schedule your appointments now

Chances are, your health care insurance this year is a whole lot more generous than your options next year. Check to see if you've hit your deductible and then take advantage of the remaining weeks to get your doctors appointments in. Think ahead to what health needs you might have in the future -- maybe you want an extra set of glasses or maybe you want to check out that nagging clicking in your jaw.

Now is the time to maximize your health care policy. And while you're at the doctors -- think about asking for an extra refill on medicine or some samples to take home.

2. Max out your FSA

If you have a flexible spending account, make sure you check the balance. A flexible spending account lets you set aside pretax money to use on health-related expenses. It usually has to be used by the end of the year, otherwise, the leftover money vanishes. But a lot of employers will give you a grace period so your money may be accessible until March 15.

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Let the debate begin

CBS news
Posted by Alma Zhumagulova


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Public option vs. public opinion

By Alma Zhumagulova

With the US health care system being changed, many people are not sure whether the new health care system proposed by Barack Obama is better than the existing system and whether the Government should adopt it or not. According to the results of the poll conducted by Associated Press, when told that the new health care plan would be much cheaper since it is a government run program 52% favored it and 35% opposed it, while when told that with the new plan the government will get to decide which medical treatments to cover, only 44% favored it and 38% opposed. Clearly the general population does not have a strong opinion about the new plan. However, in general, 75% want the plan to be available nationally and 25% think that the individual state governments should decide on whether to offer the plan to the residents or not.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590) provides that in the upcoming decade the US economy will be better off with the plan. It will cut the federal deficit, and increase federal spending and revenues. At the same time the insurance industry is aggressively lobbying and campaigning against the new plan. America’s Health Insurance Plans group states that “bill would increase costs for individuals, families and employers, reduce benefits for older Americans, and threaten employer coverage.”
In general, though, CBO estimates that since the low-income population is covered by Medicaid, the majority of working force is covered by their employers and the older population is covered by Medicare, only those who have preexisting conditions, approximately 2% of the US population under age 65, will sign up for it.

Is it legal to force people to buy insurance?

Posted by Shawn Gao

Is it legal to force everyone to buy insurance? Can Congress force you to buy insurance?
As part of health reform, Democrats want to require all Americans to purchase insurance or face a fine.
However, by Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, say Congress has no constitutional authority to tell people what to buy with their money.
I agree with the Sen. Orrin Hatch. America is a country where people are free to do anything under its laws. The Congress should not have the power to force people to do anything.
Despite any benefits from the health reform to the country, “ individual mandate” cannot be taken at this moment. Even though, each individual could be covered under insurance, and each state economy, it is unreasonable for people to be urged to purchase require insurance.
I mean people have their own right to purchase anything they want. Or, Congress may simply ask each individual to purchase America- made cars that easily help American economy.
The key is people shall decide whether they need to purchase insurance or not. Also, required insurance should be considered as substantial.

Health care reform good for state

Posted by Shawn Gao

In the past year, I’ve communicated with thousands of constituents throughout Colorado’s Third Congressional District, many from the Steamboat Springs area. Most of them have asked for more affordable health care for their families and their friends. With these marching orders, I’ve been in the trenches in the nation’s capital fighting for health care reform that actually will create a real, noticeable benefit in all of our lives.

Recently, the House passed HR 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act. The bill holds great promise for the nation as a whole, and it offers particular benefits for rural areas like Colorado’s Third Congressional District and northwest Colorado.

As drafted, this bill would immediately end discrimination for pre-existing medical conditions, prevent Americans from being dropped from coverage if they become sick, eliminate co-pays for preventive care, place yearly caps on what someone pays, and eliminate waste, fraud and overpayments to private insurance companies.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

New car safety requirements influencing safer driving

By Jameel Murray

The 2010 safest cars list have just been released by the private insurance industry. Compared to 2009’s 90 winners, 2010 only produced 27 highly rated safety cars. Among the highest rated safety cars were Ford, Subaru, and Volkswagen. Other winners included Chrysler, GM, and Honda. One big surprise was the exclusion of Toyota, who received eleven awards in 2009. Because the private insurance industry added new test requirements this year, many cars did not receive high safety ratings. One new requirement that was made this year was the durability of car rooftops to withstand rollovers. Many cars such as Toyota did not pass the rooftop durability test .
Innovative safety requirements such as the electronic stability control which allows drivers to maintain control of the car during a skid would encourage automakers to provide the safest and most technological features in their models. Consumers are able to benefit from the new test requirements implemented by the private insurance industry. The increased safety of future cars would eventually increase the welfare of drivers and hopefully keep insurance costs at a standstill.

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Health Reform Bill is coming our way

By Jonathan Tse

Senate just unveiled a new health care bill that is supposed to expand health insurance coverage to 30 million more Americans. This is expected to cost about $849 billion over the course of 10 years. It was stated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that this will not add to the current deficit but will instead reduce federal deficit by $130 billion over the next 10 years. On Saturday, November 30th, debates on amending the bill will begin if Senate decides to take up the bill. This bill is expected to be the largest revision of the US health care system since the creation of Medicare health insurance program in 1965.
The goal of this reform bill is to offer affordable and reliable coverage for those who are not insured and also help to lower costs for individuals, families, businesses and governments. It seeks to reduce long-term costs of health care for governments, businesses, as well as individuals and families, while also increasing the efficiency and quality of health care services provided by reforming how health care is provided. The bill is expected to introduce many new taxes and fees. A new feature of this bill is that it would require all individuals to purchase health insurance and would be fined if they do not comply with this rule. Parents are also liable for covering their children who are under 18 years of age. Another new feature is the Medicaid coverage will be expanded from the poor to everyone.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Protect yourself against liabilities

By Quang Nguyen

We learned in class that in order to protect ourselves against any liability, it is best to purchase an umbrella insurance. But what really is an umbrella insurance? It makes sense for adults to start taking responsibility for their own lives, much has to be taken into account. One of the hardest parts to be able to plan for, however, is the possibility of unexpected expenses. It’s not only a good idea to have cash or another form of liquid asset in order to cover for this, but it’s a great idea to have insurance, as well. And, one of the best and easiest ways to cover all your bases is having umbrella insurance.

By definition, the umbrella insurance refers to an insurance policy that protects the assets and future income of the policyholder above and beyond standard limits set on their primary policies. It provides coverage beyond the typical auto or home insurance and can include coverage for claims such as false arrest, libel, slander, and invasion of privacy.

It is very likely for any person to get sued in America. With so many lawsuits being filed today, purchasing umbrella insurance is almost a must. According to Bobbie Sage of, with an umbrella policy, one can add an additional 1-5 million in liability protection. The umbrella kicks in when the amount that the other policies cover has been depleted. Some might think that with this extra policy that adds so much more liability protection that it would cost an arm and a leg. On the other hand, for the protection that one receives, the additional cost is fairly low.

You should learn your lesson from so many famous court cases that resulted in millions of dollar in damage reward. Some of the examples include the McDonald hot coffee case. In this case, Stella Liebeck purchased a hot coffee from McDonald. She then spilled it on her lap on her own fault and causing herself third degree burns. She then sued McDonald and was awarded $2.9 million in damage.

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It's a start: Health-reform bill will help 30 million Americans

Posted by Quang Nguyen
By Dr. Joe K. Gerald - Arizona Daily Star

The Affordable Health Care for America Act (HR 3962) that was recently passed by the House of Representatives is an imperfect solution to a difficult problem. However, waiting for a perfect solution may be laudable but is unreasonable as well.

While most developed countries have already adopted universal health care, the United States has struggled throughout the 20th century to provide affordable access to health care to all. Medicare and Medicaid provide health insurance to the elderly, disabled and poor, but roughly 20 percent of Americans under age 65 are without insurance.

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Trauma Especially Deadly for Uninsured

by Anne Harding
posted by Jameel Murray

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - As the U.S. continues to watch Congress thrash out a plan to try to cover those without health insurance, a new study shows that people admitted to the hospital for trauma are almost twice as likely to die from their injuries if they are uninsured.

A co-author of the study said she and her colleagues weren't surprised at the disparity they found, but they were surprised by how large it turned out to be. "Our hope is that people recognize that the results from this study are to be taken seriously," Dr. Heather Rosen of Harvard Medical School in Boston told Reuters Health via E-mail. "Being uninsured is a major detriment to one's health, which has been shown in multiple studies addressing hospital admission, treatment, screening, outcomes, and aftercare."Adults with no health insurance are at 25 percent greater risk of dying from any cause in a given time period than are their insured peers, Rosen and her colleagues note in their report in the Archives of Surgery. Even though the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act-also known as the "anti-dumping law"-mandates that no hospital or ambulance service receiving federal funds turn away patients based on their ability to pay, Rosen and her team still suspected that mortality would still be higher after traumatic injury for uninsured patients.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

US banks prepaying $45B in insurance fees

Posted by Jonathan Tse

U.S. banks will prepay about $45 billion in premiums to replenish a federal deposit insurance fund now in the red, under a plan adopted by federal regulators.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. board voted Thursday to mandate the early payments of premiums for 2010 through 2012. Amid the struggling economy and rising loan defaults, 120 banks have failed so far this year costing the insurance fund more than $28 billion.

To address concerns of small banks in weak financial condition, the FDIC also set up an exemption process for those that prove the prepaid fees would be a hardship.

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Would passage of health reform require quick changes in insurance plans?

By DAVE HELLING The Kansas City Star
Posted by Alma Zhumagulova

Millions of Americans are now engaged in a familiar ritual: signing up for next year’s health insurance coverage.

Pick a plan. Pick a premium. Make sure choices are submitted and approved on time.

But roughly half of those millions, according to a recent survey, are worried. They think the health care reform plan now working its way through Congress may force them to make major changes in their health plans quickly — perhaps within weeks — if it passes.

With one important exception, they can probably relax. Many of the major components of health reform won’t take effect until 2013.

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