Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Important Money-Saving Accident and Health Insurance

The number one thing that you can do to make sure that you get the best price for your health care insurance plan isn't to shop around or to select the right plan. The most important thing is to stay healthy. If you don't meet the health qualifications for a plan with a good rate, the other important things become moot.

Your present health and accident insurance company cannot cancel your health plan simply because your health took a turn for the worse after you applied. However, chances are, you will need another medical insurance plan at some point in the future. If you do and if that insurance policy is underwritten the will look at your state of health and medical history very carefully before they decide whether or not to insure you.

Every medical insurance company has price increases, but not all the price increases are equal. The health plan you have at the present time may have a larger percentage increase than the plan of another carrier. At some point you may want to switch to a cheaper health and accident insurance policy, but may not be able to because of your health.

Every few years insurance companies will retire certain policy series to new clients. With no new healthy clients coming in to offset the older clients who are starting to develop medical problems, these retired plans go up in price faster than plans open to new clients.

Those clients who want to get another policy that is experience less steep price increases will need to be healthy in order to switch to a new policy.

The second most important thing is to shop around. You can compare policies from different companies by visiting multiple medical insurance websites or you can find one that works with all or most of the health insurance carriers in your area.

When shopping around, the financial strength of an insurance company is more important than whether or not the company is well-known. Many of the high profile companies are excellent, however, you shouldn't rule out lesser known companies that are financially stable and if they offer good plans and have a network of doctors and hospitals that will serve you well.

Very often there is a major difference in price for similar policies offered by different carriers. Some of the cost difference may have to do with the method they use to calculate their rates. For example a company that charges a flat rate for families may offer a better rate to a large family than a carrier that charges more for each person. In many instances a difference in price is not caused by a difference in quality.

The third most important thing is to understand how each insurance policy works so that you can compare them. You should know what a deductible is and what deductible each health plan has. You should also know if there are co-pays or coinsurance and how each works with each medical policy.

Unless you understand the major parts of a insurance policy, you cannot compare them well. Also it is important that you consider moderate deductible and possibly high deductible plans. Often these policies are priced low enough that it makes sense to pay the higher deductible.

Do what you can to stay in good shape. This can mean halved premiums if you ever need to switch policies. Shop around for coverage either by looking at different options on your own or by working with a broker who will check your rates with various companies. Make sure you know how your policy works before you get it. Stragies like the above may allow you to keep some of the money otherwise spent on medical care and medical insurance.

ranks 4th in child-abuse death rate

A national report released Wednesday shows 16 Nebraska children died from abuse or neglect in 2007, placing the state fourth in the country in the rate of those deaths.

Between 2001 and 2007, 86 Nebraska children died from abuse or neglect, according to a report from the nonprofit Every Child Matters.

The report also showed Nebraska ranked 13th in per capita spending to address abuse and neglect, with a $166 million child welfare budget.

The report said the state substantiated 4,108 cases of child abuse and neglect in 2007, although the state put that number at 2,894.

Todd Reckling, director of Children and Family Services, couldn't verify the accuracy of the Every Child Matters report.

But he said any child death is one too many. They are all heartfelt, he added, and the state tries to learn from each one to prevent future deaths.

Recent records from the state Department of Health and Human Services showed the state sometimes has prior contact with the parents of children who die.

In a six-week period this year between June 21 and Aug. 2, for example, there were at least seven deaths in which Child Protective Services was previously involved. In some cases, families had more than 10 prior reports filed with CPS.

The children in the six-week period ranged in age from 2 months to 14 years. Three were infants, two were toddlers and two older children.

One was Michael Belitz, 12, whose decomposed body was found in the bathtub of his north Omaha home, his hands and feet bound with duct tape.

Family members had reported their concerns to HHS before his death, and his mother, who has been charged with his murder, had left messages with a state caseworker earlier in the year seeking help.

In one of the infant deaths, co-sleeping with an adult was a factor. One toddler died in the family's pool, and a 14-year-old was killed in a rollover crash in a truck he had taken without permission.

In June, the state's Child Death Review Team issued a report of deaths in 2005 and 2006. During that time, 16 children died from child abuse or neglect. Ten were infants.

Among those deaths, four infants died from shaken baby syndrome. Nine died from blunt force trauma.

Five additional deaths were attributed to caretaker neglect, including three cases resulting from guardians' lack of supervision and attention to a child in a bath or pool.

To address abuse and neglect, Reckling said, the state teams with other agencies for such programs as home visitation by public health nurses or social workers, and Project Harmony, which coordinates child abuse assessment and investigation with law enforcement and the courts.

The state also sponsors public service campaigns to alert people to recognize and report abuse.

And the state Legislature this year expanded the child health insurance program to cover more children.

Kathy Bigsby Moore, director of Voices for Children in Nebraska, said everyone should pay attention to child safety, to ensure agencies are responding, that there are sufficient mental health programs for parents and that lawmakers and state administrators are reacting.

The economy will drive spending decisions in the upcoming special session of the Legislature and in the regular session that begins in January, Moore said.

Policymakers should connect the state's child deaths to the need for good decisions about child welfare reform and spending, and programs to prevent deaths, she said.

Richard Wexler, director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform who spoke recently in Omaha, criticized the Every Child Matters report, calling it hype and hysteria, even if well-intentioned.

Seventy-seven percent of child abuse allegations already turn out to be false, and many more involve cases in which poverty is confused with neglect, he said.

And yet, Every Child Matters wants to start still another campaign urging every American to turn in his or her neighbor based on the slightest suspicion of maltreatment.

States Move to Defend Individual Health Care Choice

Regardless of what the U.S. Congress decides about health care reform, a growing number of states are standing up for individuals’ freedom of choice when it comes to purchasing – or not purchasing – health insurance.

Several Kansas Republicans have introduced a state constitutional amendment that would protect the right of Kansas residents to make their own health care choices. That makes Kansas the 19th state where legislators have introduced, or will introduce, such legislation.

The proposed Kansas amendment preserves the right of individuals to pay directly for medical care -- something that is not allowed in single-payer countries such as Canada. It also prohibits any individual from being penalized for not purchasing government-defined insurance.

Under the amendment, any state attempt to require an individual to purchase health insurance--or forbid an individual from purchasing services outside of the government-established health care system--would be rendered unconstitutional.

The legislation is modeled after a bill written by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a membership association of state lawmakers.

"Federal health care reform efforts may include a requirement that individuals purchase health insurance, and a so-called 'public option' which will result in less choices for consumers and new government mandates," said Iowa State Rep. Linda Upmeyer, who chairs ALEC's Health and Human Services Task Force.

"Americans don't need more government mandates, we need real consumer choice. ALEC's Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act is designed to protect individual rights and our freedom to purchase health insurance of our choice, or not," she added.

Kansas now joins legislators in seven states (Alaska, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Utah) that have publicly announced their intention to file legislation to protect their citizens from any government health-care mandates.

Another 11 states have already filed or pre-filed similar legislation (Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Mexico, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wyoming). Arizona's measure, which passed the legislature in June, will be put before voters on the 2010 ballot.

Democrats in the U.S. Congress are now finalizing legislation that will make major changes to the nation’s health care system, and they are doing so without Republican input.

Republicans say they’re all for health-care reform, as long as it’s the result of true bipartisanship. Republicans say their ideas – including medical liability reform, tax credits to help individuals buy private insurance, and allowing families and businesses buy insurance across state lines – are a better approach than adding a huge new government-sponsored insurance plan into the mix.

slow down health reform train

A Washington Post poll this week showed that Americans have warmed to a public option in health insurance overhaul (57 % supported it) and liberal lawmakers are pressing to insert a government-run plan in legislation being hashed out.

But the message was much the opposite this morning on the U.S. Capitol lawn from a trio of Missouri physicians, accompanied by a fearful patient, aligned with the Coalition to Protect Patient Rights.

The coalition, which calls itself a nonpartisan grassroots organization and claims 10,000 members, has delivered a consistent anti-public option message and urged a deliberate pace in altering the health insurance system.

“This sure looks like a fast train to nowhere,” said Dr. John Krause, an orthopedic surgeon from Chesterfield, noting that his nine years in the military (Air Force) left him aware of potential problems of more government involvement in health care.

Echoed Des Peres dentist Dennis Munson: “The government wants you to step aside from your personal responsibility and they will take care of you.”

Concern about care is what prompted Michelle Burke, of St. Louis, a heart patient for nine years, to join more than 100 physicians and nurses, many clad in their professional whites.

“I have a great relationship with my doctor,” she said, adding her worry that deeper government involvement in medicine could end it.

Dr. Geoffrey Beale, a radiologist from Columbia, said he understood one of the speaker’s exhortation for Congress to start all over in crafting a new health insurance system.

“So what?” he asked. “Isn’t it more important to get it right than get it fast? We know that if we don’t get it right, government is not going to turn right around and fix it.”

Beale and the others planned to take their messages to offices of Missouri senators and several House members.

Negotiations are underway that could lead to legislation with a public option — an as-yet undefined government entity that would compete with health insurers. A much-publicized Senate bill that passed the Finance Committee earlier this month did not contain a public option.

But a move is afoot to add the public provision in negotiations, and moderate Democrats are being pressured to accept a version of a public plan perhaps with a provision allowing states to opt out.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Are You Ready to Win?

Like most dog players, I struggled at first to pick winners. It didn't take me long to learn the basics of handicapping. They haven't changed in centuries. But even when I got to where I could pick winners some of the time, I didn't make money.

Luckily, I had the guidance of an older handicapper, a man who cashed tickets on a regular basis. He gave me some little tips and hints and they helped but I was still in the dark for the most part. It seemed like I'd just get a handle on how to pick dogs and some other dog would surprise me by being better than it looked like it was.

Then, one day, my friend asked me if I was serious about making money at the dog track. I told him it should be pretty obvious that I was. He laughed and said, "Well, answer this question and I'll be able to tell if you're a good handicapper or not. Can you eliminate four dogs in at least 3 races on each program and then handicap the race so that you make money?"

I didn't even have to think about my answer. It was "NO." For one thing, I didn't handicap that way. I looked for winners; I didn't look for losers. What the heck way was that to handicap a dog race? I thought the guy was losing it.

Then I started thinking about how often he went to the window to cash while I tore up my ticket because my best bet hadn't come in. Maybe he wasn't so crazy after all. Maybe I'd better start thinking, at least, about trying to handicap his way. So I did.

At first, it was weird. I mean, who wants to look for losers? But I did it and after a while, it started to make sense. Not that I could make money with it at first. I still lost my shirt.

But after a few weeks, I realized that I was going home with more money than I came to the track with. And, better yet, I was getting good at picking four dogs to throw out and then betting the rest in a quiniela box or a trifecta key and having it come in.

Within six months, I was going to the window to cash almost as often as the guy who told me to handicap by throwing out dogs, instead of looking for winners. Now, it's automatic. If you want to win at the dog track, you might want to think about handicapping this way.

Do it on paper first with old programs, where you know the results. Then try it for real, but only with small bets. Don't bet every race on the program. Only bet when you feel that you really have an idea of who the first four dogs over the finish line are going to be. If you can figure that out, you're ready to win.

To win at the dog track, you need a winning system. You can learn the basics of handicapping from a program or online, but to really make good money at the dog track consistently, you need proven Greyhound Handicapping Systems.