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2013 Pa health insurance news stories have been very informative and entertaining. Most of these stories impact what you pay (or will pay) for your current or future medical coverage. We’ll highlight a few of the most relevant items and provide our professional opinion on how they impact you and your family. We will start with the most relevant topics in 2013 and end with the popular topics of 2012.

“Pennsylvania elects not to choose “essential health benefits”

A total of 22 states (including Pa) decided not to elect a benchmark policy that will form the basis of minimum requirements for all individual and small business plans issued in 2014. Instead, a pre-selected policy will be used.  OK. Let me decipher that. Any policy purchased through the Exchange must have specific benefits included, whether requested or not. An Aetna plan with a $1,500 deductible will be the “benchmark” to be used.

Currently, you can elect a stripped-down policy or a Cadillac option with every imaginable feature. But that will change when the Exchanges are created and running in 2014. We will provide our typical unbiased advice and help you find the least expensive options. But, you may have to accept a few benefits that you really don’t want. It’s the law now. But maybe a tax-break will help out.

“Assurant cited for excessive medical insurance premiums”

Surprise! We actually have been informing customers for many years about Assurant’s rates. They typically have been very very high. Although recently they have lowered their premiums, we only find a few situations where we can recommend their plans to clients. Their HSA rates for higher deductibles are often fairly attractive. But most of their other policies are very expensive.

“Highmark wants to raise prices again”

While it’s true that Highmark did increase their rates not that long ago, when comparing their prices to other Western Pennsylvania insurers, such as UPMC, Aetna  and UnitedHealthcare, their prices are still very good. They have one of the least expensive plans that covers maternity and  their Advance Blue policy has been very popular since it was released earlier in the year. So yes…they are asking for more, but you still may pay less with them!

US House Of Representative Mike Kelly from Western Pennsylvania called recent provisions in “The Affordable Care Act” an attack on our “religious freedom.”

Kelly was referring to some of the new Obamacare benefits that became effective, including contraception, breast-feeding support, domestic violence counseling and sexually-transmitted disease counseling. I believe that Representative Kelly was most alarmed at the contraception being included without any out of pocket expense to the consumer.  And who pays for that? You do!

I suppose I see both sides of the equation on this one. Most forms of contraception don’t cost that much (under $15 per month) so why is it so important to get rid of a small copay? Then again, will paying for contraception save money on other medical expenses down the road? It’s hard to tell.

Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania sues the city of Scranton.

Well, I can’t say I blame them! More than $2 million is owed to the insurer and that’s not in dispute. To be fair, we are fairly certain that Scranton will be paid, although, not on time. That may be the reason why Blue Cross is adding an extra 5% to their bill. Scranton has major budget problems, and hopefully they’ll come up with a solution. It may take some sacrificing from everybody to accomplish that. The alternative would not be pretty.

“Will Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan affect Medicare for Pa residents?

It may actually help. Congressman Ryan’s proposed plan (we don’t know if it will be implemented) does not change Medicare for anybody under age 55.  In 2023, anyone over the age of 65 would choose between Medicare and private coverage. Eligibility would slowly raise to age 67 by 2034. Essentially, it is a system that lowers costs to seniors by letting free market forces compete. We believe this will be a positive step towards saving Medicare.

Pennsylvania not big on breastfeeding.

OK. What does this have to do with health insurance? Actually, under the new health care reform changes, many breastfeeding-related expenses are now covered. And across the country, breastfeeding is gaining in popularity. But not here in Pa, where we rank 40th in the state comparisons. The Center For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) also states that we rank very low in the support that is given from hospitals and birth centers. Quite simply, less mothers breastfeed in Pennsylvania (only 68% of mothers have ever breastfed).

Perhaps it’s just a matter of  getting the word out. We believe breastfeeding encourages and promotes good health and there are certainly other positive factors that result. Hopefully, these numbers will gradually increase.

We hope you enjoyed the most current news received for this month. We’ll continue to update our website so you stay informed. And you’ll always find the lowest Pa health insurance rates on our site.


Time flies! It’s hard to believe it’s almost 2015 and the second Open Enrollment is just around the corner. Prices will be increasing for 2015 although not substantially. The 20% bumps from the last decade are gone…for now. And of course, no legislation was repealed, and we feel regardless of the results of the Senate elections next month, the ACA  is safe, although some changes are expected.

Naturally, all of these stories are quite old. Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) has merged with Highmark, Assurant no longer offers individual medical coverage, and Mitt Romney didn’t win the Presidential election. Obamacare continues to provide healthcare coverage for millions of Americans, although rates continue to substantially increase each year.