Archive for November, 2010

Cost of Cancer

// November 9th, 2010 // Comments Off on Cost of Cancer // General Benefits Information

Now more than ever it makes sense to ensure maximum coverage in the event of catastrophic illness with Aflac supplemental Cancer Policy. Can you afford the cost of getting better?

Report finds even cancer patients with insurance may incur severe medical debt.

The CBS Evening News (2/5, story 10, 2:25, Couric) reported, “The economic crisis in this country is affecting people in so many ways. It’s even affecting their health. More than a million cancer patients are forgoing care because of the cost, even though 70 percent of them have health insurance.”

ABC News (2/5, Brownstein) reported on its website that a report by the American Cancer Society and the Kaiser Family Foundation “outlined the serious financial consequences families face when a member is diagnosed with cancer. In addition to dire statistics and figures, the report featured the stories of 20 patients who have faced severe debt and other challenges in their struggle to get treatment for their disease.”

Specifically, the report found that “hefty out-of-pocket expenses, high cost-sharing requirements, caps on benefits and lifetime maximums on some policies are among the factors that can contribute to financial problems and lead many people to resort to bankruptcy,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle (2/6, Colliver). Of the 20 patients profiled in the report, “nine had coverage through an employer, one paid for employer coverage, seven had individual insurance, two received coverage through a state high-risk pool and one became uninsured.” Debt, stress, and “delays in treatment” are among the problems the patients experienced, despite insurance coverage. “People who become too sick to work usually can continue their employer’s coverage for up to 18 months by paying the full premium, but the added expense of that coverage can pose a hardship because patients often are living on a reduced income,” the Chronicle noted.

Additionally, “many private insurers…have exclusionary policies and reject applicants with pre-existing health problems,” the Detroit Free Press (2/5, Anstett) added. And, according to the report, titled “Spending to Survive: Cancer Patients Confront Holes in the Health Insurance System,” there are “long waits and delays for Medicaid and Medicare.” Moreover, “high risk pool insurance coverage that cancer patients can purchase only is available in 35 states,” with most policies costing “so much, many can’t buy” them.

WebMD (2/5, Zwillich) noted that a separate survey by Kaiser in 2006 found “one in five cancer patients who had insurance throughout their illnesses still used all or most of their savings. Nearly one in 10 were contacted by collection agencies.” Ohio’s Plain Dealer (2/5, Townsend) and HealthDay (2/5, Gardner) also covered the story.

Top Trends in Voluntary Benefits for 2009

// November 9th, 2010 // Comments Off on Top Trends in Voluntary Benefits for 2009 // General Benefits Information, Health Care Reform & You, Trends in Disability Insurance

In addition to the legislative efforts currently taking place in Washington D.C. to nationalize the health care industry. The industry itself has shifted in several different ways in the past several years.

  • Health care costs are continuing to increase forcing more cost shifting to the employees
  • Benefits managers are moving more towards allowing the employees to be decision makers rather than acting as a parental unit
  • Employers are looking for technology to assist with enrollment and benefits management
  • More and more employers are moving to voluntary benefits as a supplement.

Voluntary benefits complement an employers core benefits program by offering employees choices to help fill coverage gaps in major medical, disability or life insurance.

An employer may be able to reduce major medical premiums by increasing the deductible and adding a voluntary supplemental health prgram like Aflac that helps employees cover the higher out of pocket costs. As a voluntary supplemental plan, the employee who feels they need additional coverage, or who want to fill in some of the gaps can elect additional coverage and those that are secure in their base medical plan can opt out. The plans offer the employees a way to manage major medical costs and to fill gaps if necessary.

Selling voluntary benefits to the employer and employee requires a consultative approach where the broker understands the major medical benefits being offered, the gaps that may exist, the make up of the employee base. Voluntary benefits are best sold in a one on one environment where a broker can work with each individual to custom fit a program to fit not only their pocketbook but correctly assess the gaps in coverage.

Voluntary benefits fit with high deductible plans, with Health Savings accounts and can even supplement the Flexible Spending Accounts.

Voluntary benefits are typically sold to employees on a pre-tax basis thus saving both the employee and employer some Federal and FICA tax monies.

Half of All Employees Don’t Understand Cancer Coverage

// November 9th, 2010 // Comments Off on Half of All Employees Don’t Understand Cancer Coverage // General Benefits Information

Half of Working Amercians with health insurance say they dont’ have a clear understanding of whaty their health insurance covers for medical expenses related to cancer treatment. A recent nationwide survey of 1,067 full-time employees covered by health insurance conducted online by Harris Interactive found that:

  • 51% of employees surveyed say they don’ have a clear understanding of what their health insurance covers for cancer realted treatment
  • When asked if their health insurance would cover most of the expenses if they or a family member were diagosed with cancer, six percent said “no” and 40% said they didn’t know.

The survey also found thahe lack of understanding is relatively the same amoung both gender and age groups.

These answers show that most employees don’t have an accurate understanding of what their benefits will cover because statistics show more than half of cancer treatment costs are not covered by major medical insurance.

Cancer costs the American public more than $219 billion a year and only 41% ofthese costs are direct costs covered by most major medical plans…The remaining 59% are indirect costs the consumer pays for things such as lost wages or salary, deuctibles, travel expenses to and from treatment centers, child care, lodging and meals, experimental treatment, second surgical opinions, etc Statistics also say one in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetimes. Early detection can ensure a better survival rate.

Source Cancer Facts and Figures American Caner SOciety 2008

Aflacs Cancer coverage pays for experimental treatments, travel, lodging, private nursing, second surgical opinion, hopsital stays, annual wellness exams and much more. For the cost of approximately one Starbuck per week, or a pack of cigarettes, can you afford not to have the extra protection.

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