Q&A about immediate outpatient costs

Many people think they can buy insurance for immediate medical expenses. It doesn’t work that way. But there are still other things to consider. Insurance is mandatory (even if it excludes pre-existing conditions) to gain entry into some treatment programs. It isn’t mentioned in this post but in severe cases Medicaid issues need to be discussed.

Q: Hi, I’m looking for a plan that will help cover some of the cost for an Intensive Outpatient Program at xxxxxxxxx, I start the program on Monday January 8 and I’m looking for an insurance plan that will help with some of the coverage because since I don’t have insurance the program is 125 per day and that’s expensive. Is there any way you could point me to the right direction for a plan to help?

A: Hi xxxxxxxxxx. Sorry you are facing this situation. There is no U.S. insurance available right now that pays for what you are asking so I suggest two things:

1) Be careful of advertising or sales agents who say this is covered

2) Consider whether it is better to have some other insurance rather than none at all. Some facilities will treat patients where the specific procedure is not covered but won’t treat them if they have no insurance at all.

Then next time you have access to open enrollment, you can get covered for these types of expenses. Meanwhile the available insurance plans you are considering do not cover this immediate planned medical expense.

Tony Novak

www.freedombenefits.org

Summary of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act

(Reportedly by Kathy Pickering – Executive Director, The Tax Institute, December 20, 2017, reproduced here after it was widely circulated on social media where I found it). Some portions related to small business employee benefit plans are highlighted.

Three highlights you need to know:

Virtually all taxpayers are impacted by the changes in the tax reform legislation
Those who itemize will have fewer expenses to deduct and a higher standard to cross
Changes to child-related tax benefits impact families
In the weeks to come, we’ll dive into each of these sections and help you identify how you will be impacted on your 2018 return.

How does tax reform affect you?

Virtually all taxpayers are impacted by changes in the tax reform legislation. Find out what could be changing on your return.

Congress just passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). Next, it will go to President Trump to be signed into law. The TCJA makes changes that affect all kinds of taxes – individual, corporate, partnership and other “pass through” business entities, estate, and even tax-exempt organizations. This article looks at tax changes for individuals.

Most changes take effect on January 1, 2018. Tax returns filed during the spring of 2018 (for the 2017 tax year) are generally not affected. But knowing about these changes now will help taxpayers plan and understand how the TCJA could impact their take-home pay and their 2018 tax refund.

Tax brackets and tax rates change for most taxpayers

Most tax filers will pay tax using a new tax bracket and tax rate structure. However, the tax rates remain progressive, meaning tax rates rise as income increases.

In comparison to previous tax brackets and tax rates, the new rates due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are slightly lower and the brackets are generally slightly broader.

Rates under the TCJA Pre-TCJA rates
10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, 37% 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35%, 39.6%
View the 2018 tax rates and brackets for each filing status

Under the 2017 tax brackets and rates, a single taxpayer with $40,000 of taxable income would be in the 25% tax bracket and would have a tax liability of $5,739.

Under the 2018 tax brackets and rates, a single taxpayer with $40,000 of taxable income would be in the 22% tax bracket and would have a tax liability of $4,740.

Going forward, the brackets will be adjusted based on a different inflation measure – the Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (C-CPI-U) – that is expected to grow more slowly than the previous inflation measure.

While most taxpayers will pay less, some taxpayers will pay a slightly higher tax rate under the TCJA. This is most likely to impact an upper-middle class individual with a marginal tax rate of 35%, up from 33%.

Tip: Tax brackets, rates and credits play a big part in how much tax a taxpayer will pay, but the amount of taxable income plays perhaps an even bigger role.

Personal and dependent exemptions are eliminated

In 2017, taxpayers claimed a personal exemption for themselves, their spouse (if married filing jointly) and each qualifying child or qualifying relative. Each exemption reduced taxable income by over $4,000 in 2017. Under the TCJA, personal and dependent exemptions are eliminated from 2018 through 2025.

In 2026, taxpayers can claim personal and dependent exemptions again.

Child tax credit increased through 2025

Through 2025, the TCJA increases the maximum child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per qualifying child. The refundable portion of the credit increases from $1,000 to $1,400. That means taxpayers who don’t owe tax can still claim a credit of up to $1,400. The higher child tax credit will be available for qualifying children under age 17, as under current law.

Also, the child tax credit begins to phase out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of over $200,000 or $400,000 (MFJ). This phaseout more than doubles the phaseout range under current law. Taxpayers can’t claim a child tax credit for a child who does not have a Social Security Number (SSN) by the due date of the return.

In 2026, the child tax credit will change to the rules used in 2017, with a maximum credit of $1,000 per qualifying child, and lower phaseouts.

New credit for non-child dependents available through 2025

The TCJA allows a new $500 nonrefundable credit for dependents who do not qualify for the child tax credit. Taxpayers can claim this credit for children who are too old for the child tax credit, as well as for non-child dependents. There is no SSN requirement to claim this credit, so taxpayers can claim the credit for children with an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) or an Adoption Tax Identification Number (ATIN) if they otherwise qualify.

Taxpayers cannot claim the credit for themselves or their spouse (if MFJ).

In 2026, the credit for non-child dependents will no longer be available.

Standard deduction increases through 2025

The standard deduction will increase. In 2018, the standard deduction amounts will be:

$12,000 (single)
$18,000 (head of household)
$24,000 (married filing jointly)
Because of the increase and because of changes to the rules for itemized deductions, many taxpayers who previously itemized deductions will now claim the standard deduction instead. This means they may not have to file Schedule A. However, taxpayers may want to continue to track their expenses so they have the information to make the comparison and choose the tax benefit with the bigger value.

Many itemized deductions eliminated, limited or modified

 

Before the tax reform bill takes effect, about 30% of taxpayers itemized deductions on Schedule A, instead of taking the standard deduction associated with their filing status. However, the TCJA has a large impact on itemized deductions, as several itemized deductions have been eliminated or modified.

 

Fully eliminated

Miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2-percent floor
Employee business expenses
Tax preparation fees
Investment interest expenses
Personal casualty and theft losses (except for certain losses in certain federally declared disaster areas)
Limited

State and local income taxes (SALT) or state and local sales tax, plus real property taxes, may be deducted, but only up to a combined total limit of $10,000 ($5,000 if MFS)
Home mortgage interest has several modifications:
Interest on a home equity loan is no longer deductible
Interest on a new home mortgage is limited to interest paid on a maximum of $750,000 ($375,000 if MFS) of a new mortgage taken out after December 14, 2017.
Taxpayers with a mortgage taken out before December 15, 2017 can continue to claim home mortgage interest on up to $1 million ($500,000 if MFS) going forward; the $1 million ($500,000 if MFS) limit continues to apply to a refinanced mortgage incurred before December 15, 2017.
Modified

Charitable contributions: The deduction for charitable contributions is expanded so that taxpayers may contribute up to 60% of their adjusted gross income, rather than up to 50%.
Gambling losses remain deductible, but only to the extent of gambling winnings. The definition of losses from wagering transactions is modified.
Medical expenses remain deductible. For 2017 and 2018, medical expenses are deductible to the extent they exceed 7.5% of AGI. In 2019, the threshold will increase to 10% of AGI.
The overall limit on itemized deductions (often called the Pease limit) is also eliminated by tax reform under President Trump.

Most of the changes to itemized deductions will remain in place through 2025. In 2026, itemized deductions will generally follow the rules in place before the TCJA.

Many “Above-the-line” deductions eliminated, limited or modified

 

As with itemized deductions, many “above-the-line” adjustments have also been eliminated or limited:

Fully eliminated

Alimony deduction for payments made under orders executed after December 31, 2018. For new orders, the TCJA no longer allows payors to deduct alimony payments or requires the recipient to report income for alimony received. (Payments under existing orders are grandfathered and may continue to be deducted by the payor and should be reported as income by the recipient.)
Tuition and fees deduction expired under previous law and was not renewed by the TCJA.
Domestic production activities deduction (DPAD)
Mostly eliminated

Moving expenses are disallowed (except for the expenses of active members of the military who relocate pursuant to military orders).

Stays the same

Educator expense deduction (K-12 educators can deduct up to $250 per year for unreimbursed classroom supplies.)
Student loan interest of up to $2,500 can be deducted by qualifying taxpayers for interest paid on student loans.
Health savings account (HSA) deduction
IRA deduction
Deductions for self-employed taxpayers (SE tax, SE health insurance, SE qualified retirement plan contributions)
Some education benefits remain the same, others modified

Taxpayers can continue to claim the American Opportunity Credit, a credit of up to $2,500 per year for the first four years of college education, and the lifetime learning credit, a credit of up to $2,000 per year for qualifying education expenses.

 

Taxpayers can continue to use savings bonds for education, educational assistance programs provided by employers, 529 plans and Coverdell education savings plans to save for college. Some scholarships and tuition waivers can continue to be treated as tax-free if certain conditions are met.

 

529 plans can now be used for K-12 expenses.

Plans can distribute up to $10,000 each year for tuition incurred for enrollment or attendance at a public, private, or religious elementary or secondary school.
The $10,000 limit for elementary and secondary school is applied on a per-student limit.

Taxpayers whose student loans are cancelled because death or total and permanent disability may be eligible to treat the cancellation of debt as tax-free.

Health care penalty eliminated

The penalty for failure to obtain health insurance coverage (the “individual mandate”) will be eliminated beginning in 2019. Taxpayers who did not have coverage in 2017 or 2018 will continue to owe a penalty for those years, unless they qualify for an exemption.

Self-employed taxpayers may claim a new deduction for qualified business income

Self-employed taxpayers can deduct up to 20% of qualified business income from a sole proprietorship, partnership, or S corporation. There are a few limitations placed on the deductions, but many small businesses will be able to benefit.

Example: A self-employed taxpayer has taxable income of $60,000. All of the income is from the business. The qualified business income deduction is $12,000 ($60,000 × 20%).

Taxpayers may benefit by adjusting withholding and estimated taxes

Because of all the changes made by the TCJA, taxpayers should consult their tax professionals for next steps.

Tax professionals can help with Form W-4 planning by verifying they have the correct income tax withholding set up with their employer.

Taxpayers who are self-employed and others who make quarterly estimated tax payments should check with a tax professional and determine whether they need to adjust their estimated payments.

Taking the time to make changes now will help ensure a smooth transition from year to year and eliminate refund surprises.

Interesting trends in individual health insurance

This past week the individual health insurance open enrollment period for 2018 closed in 39 states using the federally controlled insurance exchange called Healthcare.gov.  We think that the trends favor growth in services like Freedom Benefits. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is charged with reporting on the results of that enrollment period. Associated Press dug into the enrollment data further and published some surprise results. Taken together with other previously released information, these are the trends in individual health insurance:

Overall, enrollment was unexpectedly strong considering the actions that factions of the federal government took to sabotage its own program. Without enrollment support, without advertising and with a short enrollment period almost 9 million signed up for coverage.

This insurance exchange is exclusively for working people with a suitable income. In most states, those who do not meet minimum earnings levels are not allowed to enroll through Healthcare.gov but instead are referred to state Medicaid programs.

Most applicants (about 4 out of 5) qualify for a reduced premium based on their earnings that keeps their total expense at or below 16% of household income.

The total enrolled is far less than the projections made by the Department of Human Services before the Trump administration took actions to sabotage the insurance program.

The Trump administration shortened the enrollment period and cut off advertising funding so that fewer people would sign up for their benefits. The strategy worked to some extent. Fewer people enrolled for health insurance in 2018.

Most Healthcare.gov enrollees (about 7.3 million of the total 8.8 million enrolled) live in rural working class areas that voted for Trump and Republicans in 2016. Political observers predict that the government’s efforts to cut the health benefits of the working class will hurt their chances in future elections.

Yesterday President Trump said that he hopes and expects that his party’s success in eliminating the tax penalty known as the ‘individual mandate’ will ultimately result in a collapse of these federally funded health benefits for working-class Americans.

The number of people in the U.S. without health insurance is rising again. This was the impetus that pushed us into health care reform from the 1960s through 2010.  It’s difficult to believe that the problem will fester for another 50 years before the government takes action again.


The takeaways that are important for us at Freedom Benefits:

There is opportunity for year-round enrollment outside of the exchange open enrollment period.

The elimination of the individual mandate penalty means that it is no longer important that insurance meet federal legal requirements. Consumers are free to pick the insurance they want.

There will be demand for the lower priced insurance called skinny plans, short term medical, supplemental plans and limited benefit medical insurance.

The Trump executive order to promote the sale of insurance across state lines means that citizens in locations without low priced insurance may soon have other options.


I predict that most of the individual health insurance market will return to the private sector enrollment within a year.

ID cards not issued to dependents

I received this question from a health plan member today regarding ID cards for covered dependents. The information may be worth sharing because this is a common question:

MEMBER QUESTION:  I got two I.D card both have my name, i want to ask where is my daughter’s I.D card

MY RESPONSE: I am responding as the independent adviser and not as a representative of your insurance company.

To the best of my knowledge, ID cards are always issued in the name of the policyholder. I am not aware of any legal authority which allows and insurance company to issue an ID card in the name of a covered dependent. Duplicate ID cards may be issued and these may, include the names of covered dependents. The actual content of printing on the ID card varies among plan administrators.

For more information, you may wish to contact the members services office by telephone as listed on your insurance ID card.


The point is that:

  1. ID cards are typically not issued in the names of dependents.
  2. Some, but not all, health plan administrators list the names of covered dependents of the card.
  3. ID card printing and issuance practices vary between insurers but this practice of issuing cards only to the policyholder is consistent.

User Q&A: Insurance for doctors visits

This type of question highlights an issue that has risen to near crisis level lately apparently because of the combination of: 1) people with low levels of information look for cheaper coverage, 2) The lack of doctor visit coverage in high deductible Obamacare policies, 3) misleading sales practices of health insurance by boiler room telephone call centers, 4) an increase in skinny policies and the number of inexperienced agents selling them.


Q: “CAN I GO TO A FAMILY DR OR PRIMARY DR FOR VISIT, I HAVE A LOT OF MEDICAL PROBLEMS”*

A: It sounds like you need a policy that provides a payment for doctor visits without a large deductible.  Some of the health insurance plans you looked at provide that, others do not. Please pay attention to the coverage and limitations that are printed in the summary of coverage. If you want, we can arrange for an enrollment agent to call you to discuss and explain it further.

*I reproduced the question exactly as it came to me in this format and wording that seem to indicate a consumer lacking sophistication for buying insurance.

Disclosure of VBA Accident ADD Insurance

This content is provided for educational purposes only and is not an offer of coverage and is not intended to represent a communication from an insurer.

This content describes Accidental Death, Disability and Dismembership insurance.

Insurance is underwritten by Federal Insurance Company, a member
insurer of Chubb Group of Insurance Companies.

The coverage described in this literature may not be available in all  jurisdictions. This is descriptive only. Actual coverage is subjective to the language of the policies as issued. Exclusions & Limitations apply. This policy provides ACCIDENT insurance only. It DOES NOT provide basic
hospital, basic medical or major medical insurance as defined by the New
York State Insurance Department. The expected benefit ratio for this policy is 85%. This ratio is the portion of future premiums which the company expects to return as benefits, when averaged over all people with this policy.

IMPORTANT NOTICE — THIS POLICY DOES NOT PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR
SICKNESS.

Chubb, Box 1615, Warren N.J. 07061-1615.

The benefit amount shown is your accidental death benefit amount. The benefit amount for accidental dismemberment is a percentage of the
accidental death amount. The benefit amount for your spouse/domestic
partner is 50% of your amount and for your dependent children is 20% of your amount. If you have no dependent children, your spouse / domestic partner’s
benefit is equal to 60% of your amount. If you have no spouse/domestic
partner your dependent children’s benefit amount is equal to 25% of your
amount.

 

Highlights of coverage of VBA accident insurance are listed here.

A summary of benefits is here.

The source of this content is the product brochure.

VBA Accident Insurance Summary of Benefits

This content is provided for educational purposes only and is not an offer of coverage and is not intended to represent a communication from an insurer.


2The Benefit Amounts shown above for Dental, Physical Therapy, Orthopedic Appliance, and Transportation are part of, and not in addition to, the Maximum
Benefit Amount for Accident Medical Expense. Payment of these Benefit Amounts reduces and does not increase the Benefit Amount for Accident Medical Expense.

If an insured person has multiple losses as the result of one accident, the policy will only pay the single largest benefit amount applicable.

24-Hour AD&D Insurance:
covers you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, anywhere in the world while at work or at play.

Accident Medical Expense:
This benefit will reimburse up to the maximum amount if accidental bodily injury causes you to first incur medical expenses for care and treatment within 90 days after an accident. The benefit amount for accident medical expense is payable only for medical expenses incurred within 52 weeks after the date of the accident causing the accidental bodily injury. The benefit amount is subject to the deductible and the maximum benefit amount. Payment of the benefit amount for accident medical expense is subject to the sub-limits for dental, physical therapy, orthopedic appliances and transportation expenses shown. In no event will total payments for your dental care and treatment, physical therapy, orthopedic appliances, transportation and medical expense exceed the benefit amount for Accident Medical Expense. For residents of CT, ID, IN, MD, NJ, NY, and SD, this benefit is payable on a primary basis. For residents in all other jurisdictions, this benefit is payable on an excess basis; we will determine the reasonable and customary charge for the covered medical expense. We will then reduce that amount by amounts already paid or
payable by any other plan and will pay the resulting amount less the deductible. In no event will we pay more than the maximum benefit amount. The deductible will be deducted from any benefit amount for Accident Medical Expense that is paid. This Deductible applies separately to each Insured Person and each Accident.

Limitation on Accident Medical Expense: This benefit does not apply to charges and services 1) for which you have no obligation to pay; 2) for any injury where worker’s compensation benefits or occupational injury benefits are payable; 3) for any injury occurring while fighting, except in self-defense; 4) for treatment that is educational, experimental or investigational in nature or that does not constitute accepted medical practice; 5) for treatment by a person employed or retained by the Policyholder; or 6) for treatment involving conditions caused by repetitive motion injuries, or cumulative trauma and not as the result of an accidental bodily injury. This insurance applies only to medically necessary charges and services.

Extensions of Insurance: Exposure
– If an accident causes you to be unavoidably exposed to the elements and as a result of such exposure you have a loss, then such loss will be insured under the policy.

Disappearance
– If you have not been found within 1 year of a disappearance, stranding, sinking, or wrecking of any conveyance in which you were an occupant at the
time of the accident, then it will be assumed, that you have suffered loss of life insured under the policy.

Exclusions:
Insurance does not apply to any Accident, Accidental Bodily Injury or Loss when the United States of America has imposed any trade sanctions or there is another legal prohibition to providing the insurance, or when caused or resulting from:

1) an Insured Person acting/training as a pilot or crew member. (unless temporarily performing duties in a life threatening emergency.);

2)an Insured Person’s emotional trauma, mental or physical illness, disease, pregnancy, childbirth or miscarriage, bacterial or viral infection (unless the bacterial infection is caused by an Accident or by Accidental consumption of a substance contaminated by bacteria.), bodily malfunctions or medical or surgical treatment thereof. ;

3) an Insured Person’s commission or attempted commission of any illegal act, including but not limited to any felony;

4) an Insured Person being incarcerated after conviction;

5) an Insured Person being intoxicated, at the time of an Accident.;

6) an Insured Person being under the influence of any narcotic or other controlled substance at the time of an Accident. (unless taken and used as prescribed by a Physician.);

7) an Insured Person’s participation in active military service (except for the first 60 consecutive days of active military service);

8) an Insured Person’s suicide or intentionally self-inflicted injury;

9) a declared or undeclared War.

Description of Coverage: Once you are enrolled in the plan, you will receive a description of coverage.

WARNING: It is a crime to provide false or misleading information to an insurer for the purpose of defrauding the insurer or any other person. Penalties include imprisonment and/or fines. In addition, an insurer may deny insurance benefits if false information materially related to a claim was provided by the applicant.

Insurance is underwritten by Federal Insurance Company, a member insurer of the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies. The coverages described in this literature may not be available in all jurisdictions. This literature is descriptive only. Actual coverage is subject to the language of the policies as issued
(Policy # 9907-05-81 & 9907-05-82). Exclusions Apply. This policy provides ACCIDENT insurance only. It does NOT provide basic hospital, basic medical or major medical insurance as defined by the New York State Insurance Department. The expected benefit ratio for this policy is 85%. This ratio is the portion of future premiums which the company expects to return as benefits, when averaged over all people with this policy.

IMPORTANT NOTICE—THIS POLICY DOES NOT PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR
SICKNESS.

Chubb, Box 1615, Warren, N.J. 07061-1615

Highlights of coverage are listed here. 

The source of this content is the product brochure.

 

Value Benefits of America Terms and Conditions

This content is provided for educational purposes only and is not an offer of coverage and is not intended to represent a communication from an insurer.

1. Member understands that VBA is not an insurance company or program. Accident Benefit Payments are made by the insurance company issuing the blanket coverage to Members.

2. VBA provides savings to its members on services through a number of sources. The current list of benefits may be modified through additions or deletions. A quarterly newsletter, posted on our web site or sent via e-mail, will keep Members up to date on benefits and other pertinent information.

3. Payments for the VBA Program are due in advance. Payments will be drafted on or about 15 days before the due date. If you choose to cancel your program, it is your responsibility to make sure that your membership card and a written request for cancellation are sent to VBA at least 15 days prior to the anniversary of your effective date in order for your account not to be
charged for additional fees.

4. Member hereby appoints Value Benefits of America (VBA) President, or failing this person, a VBA Director, as proxy holder for and on behalf
of the member with the power of substitution to attend, act and vote for and on behalf of the member in respect of all matters that may properly come before the meeting of the members of VBA and at every adjournment thereof, to the same extent and with the same powers as if the undersigned member were present at the said meeting, or any adjournment thereof. Annual meetings are to be held in Arizona the second Tuesday of August.

5. VBA reserves the right to terminate any enrollment or deny eligibility in
the program for lack of payment to VBA. Returned checks, insufficient notices on bank drafts or denial by the member’s credit card company for payment of the membership fee is deemed to be evidence of non-payment by a member. There will be a $10.00 charge to be reinstated in the program after such denial. If reinstatement for non-payment happens more than once, a $20.00 reinstatement fee will apply.

6. In the event of any dispute, member agrees to resolve said dispute solely by binding arbitration that shall be governed by the laws of the state of Arizona and enforceable at Scottsdale, Maricopa County.

7. Membership canceled within the first 30 days of the enrollment date may be eligible for refund if the membership card and written cancellation request are sent to VBA. The administrative fee is not refundable. Approved refunds will be processed approximately 30 days after the cancellation.

8. Membership is effective on the 1st of the month following enrollment acceptance by VBA.

Member Agreement:
By signing your enrollment form, Member expresses desire to become a member of Value Benefits of America. Member acknowledges that the
discount plans ARE NOT INSURANCE, but membership includes certain limited supplemental insured coverage’s. Membership benefits are not a replacement for health insurance coverage nor are they intended as a substitute for health insurance coverage. Membership fees may change for all members, but not individually, with notification.

The source of this content is the product brochure.

Highlights of VBA Accident Medical Expense Insurance

This content is provided for educational purposes only and is not an offer of coverage and is not intended to represent a communication from an insurer.

 

Value Benefits America (VBA) Accident Medical Expense Plan Highlights:

VBA Including Accident Medical Expense
VBA Membership With Accident Medical Expense Plus AD&D
Accident Coverage – Best in Class – Great complement for High Deductibles
Issue ages 18-64 – Guarane Issue – Fast/Easy Issue
For: Individuals, Families or GROUPS (EFT or List Billing)
AME Benefit levels: $2,000 to $25,000
No social security number required
No Occupational, Activities Or Sports Excluded
VBA Association Group Membership includes: 24/7 Telemedicine (telephonic or video) – No Cost consultations with Board Certified Physicians,  Unlimited Use
$35/month for a Family – $2,000 AME benefit – each covered person, each accident

Who purchases this coverage?
Anyone that has a medical plan with high deductibles or can’t afford other coverage.

A summary of benefits is covered here.

The source of this content is the product brochure.

Caution about ‘skinny’ health plans

NBC News published a detailed investigative report on “skinny health plans” this past week. Their conclusion is that consumers are confused about health insurance and that the Trump administration is adding to the confusion. As a guy who has handled more than 50,000 consumer communications about health insurance over many years, I agree with the published report’s analysis and conclusion. Yet this this consumer confusion existed back in the years before the Affordable Care Act so we can’t blame it all on Trump just because he has pushed the ‘skinny’ health insurance approach by executive order.

I tend to react furiously to false advertisement claims by health insurance marketers, often untrained telephone sales boiler rooms that notoriously mislead consumers. Recent claims that insurance plans are “ACA compliant” or “promoted by President Trump” are the most confusing to consumers lately.

Yet these alternate health plans do have their place in the market. Whether we call them “skinny health plans”, “short term medical insurance”, “limited benefit health insurance” or “core health insurance”, my position has always been that some coverage is better than none at all.

Most people who pay for their own insurance are not adequately covered by any single health insurance  plan, including the ACA health insurance policies. Whether an ACA plan or another plan works better for a normally healthy person is a function of the type of medical bills they will incur in the future; something we can seldom predict in advance.

In a perfect world, we would be covered by a government-influenced basic coverage and a supplemental policy through our employer or purchased individually. Although we are far from a perfect world, Freedom Benefits can help small business employers redesign their health plans to maximize the benefits to employees that are offered through a combination of public and private health plans.