Health Plan News, Money Saving Tips & Updates

January 1, 2010

6/12/09 A new consumer brochure by Celtic Insurance explains the basics of individual health insurance. This basic consumer information comes at a time when an increasing number of people are likely to be considering individual insurance for the first time as an alternative to group coverage.

6/11/09 Pennsylvania passed a new law to increase the price of group health insurance for children of covered employees by extending guaranteed eligibility for non-dependent children up to age 29.

6/6/09 Celtic Insurance introduces the first immediate online underwriting for permanent individual medical insurance. Processing the application takes no longer than 90 seconds, according to company's marketing representative. Upon approval the policy certificate can be printed immediately. Celtic Insurance is best known for high deductible Health Savings Account insurance and other cost-saving coverage for healthy individuals and families. Coverage limits are often higher than other competing health insurance plans. To our knowledge, this is the first time any insurance company has utilized state-of-the-art technologies to issue such strong coverage in "real time".

6/5/09 Smart STM short term medical insurance underwritten by Markel Insurance is now available in Connecticut. This inexpensive but versatile insurance is one of the most popular short term health plans in the states where it is already offered. Connecticut CT residents have fewer low cost health insurance choices than residents of most other states, so this product is likely to be a welcome addition.

5/16/09 - UnitedHealthcare Collegiate Assistance Program - College students enrolled in UnitedHealthcare's health plans can access an around-the-clock support network that provides help for students experiencing stress and health-related problems. The free telephone service as part of UnitedHealthcare's Collegiate Assistance Program provides support for students experiencing family problems, work or school stress, financial troubles, legal worries, substance abuse and health concerns. "The Collegiate Assistance Program provides students with free comprehensive and expert behavioral health-related support to help them better cope with the issues and stress that affect their daily lives," said Daniel Krajnovich, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of Indiana.  UnitedHealthcare provides student health insurance to more than a million college students nationwide through its individual and group health plans and has built a reputation as a national leader in innovative low cost health plans. More information on affordable insurance plans available in each state, pricing and online enrollment is available through MedSave.com.

5/5/09 New low cost health plan in MA- Celtic Insurance plans to introduce individual health insurance in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts within the next three months. Celtic partnered with Caritas Christi Health Care to form CeltiCare Health Plan of Massachusetts, Inc. The MA managed care product will use the name "CeltiCare" that is well-known among consumers in other states as a high quality insurance coverage. The Massachusetts product will be available to lower income working adults who are not eligible for Medicaid. Since the state subsidizes the premium cost, the coverage is more affordable for consumers. Celtic Insurance currently offers online pricing and enrollment in 37 states and the CeltiCare product is available in 27 states. It is not yet known whether the new Massachusetts health insurance will be available for online enrollment. See www.celticenrollment.com for more details.

4/29/09 Affordable health insurance blog comments on a new California law and MedSave.com response in modification of operating policy for CA applications.

4/20/09 Celtic Insurance issued revised underwriting guidelines in response to the increasingly common medical problems of obese children. In the past most insurers, including Celtic, set rates for all children at the same. Now the premium reflects the increased medical risks associated with obesity in children. This move will ensure that Celtic remains one on the nation's premier low cost coverage choice for preferred risk applicants. See www.celticenrollment.com for more information.

3/23/09 Join us as we kick off Cover the Uninsured Week 2009 (March 22-28). It's not too late to get involved and support America's 46 million uninsured. Here are some ways you can participate today in the Week:

  • Use social media to pass on our five part article series focusing on insurance solutions for key components of America's uninsured. On part will be published each day, Monday through Friday, at MedSave.com and other online media.
  • Reach out to your local media. Download and customize Cover the Uninsured Week media templates to help you reach out to local media outlets, including a press advisory, letter to the editor, op-ed and more.
  • Tell us what you're doing. Register your events and activities which will be featured on the Cover the Uninsured Web site.
  • Order free materials. Place an online order and distribute free materials that raise awareness about the issue.
  • Stay informed. Keep up to date on the issue by subscribing to the Cover the Uninsured Weekly News Digest e-mail or RSS feed.

Check back here at MedSave.com for more information each day this week. Together, let's get America covered!

3/6/09 Utah endorses new low cost health plan - Utah's state legislature is in the final stage of approving HB 188 that will expand the availability of limited benefit low cost health insurance as an alternative to COBRA. This insurance will be exempt from many of Utah's state insurance mandates that drive up the cost of insurance. In the past, state governments have been reluctant to endorse short term medical insurance, limited benefit and "mini-med" plans because of the public perception that these "undid" the work of adding protection through insurance mandates. Now, in Utah at least, the tide has turned and limited coverage is favored by Utah's legislators over no coverage at all. Like Utah's present Core Health Insurance, the new NetCare program will allow employer to enroll employees through a company-sponsored health plan without the expensive obligations of other types of health insurance. Online enrollment for NetCare program is expected to be added in 2010 and will join the 10 currently available low cost limited health insurance plans currently supported by OnlineAdviser. There is still no requirement that Utah residents maintain health insurance and so about one person in six chooses to go "bareback" without coverage even when affordable insurance is available, according to the National Institute on Health Care Management.

3/4/09 MedSave.com sponsored the re-launch of COBRAplan.com a Web site dedicated to helping consumers distinguish between COBRA and alternative health insurance. This information is especially critical after the enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that helps subsidize the cost of COBRA coverage.

2/11/09 American Health Shield dental insurance will be available only through online application at MedSave.com effective March 1, 2009. Paper applications will no longer be available. The online application is already preferred by the large majority of applicants because it offers a higher level of security with fast and accurate processing - all available 24/7. AHS dental is underwritten by Renaissance Life and Health Insurance Company and is currently one of the most popular voluntary dental insurance plans available to individuals and small businesses. The complete product brochure will still be available for download without the application form from the product review page titled "A Review of American Health Shield Dental Insurance".

12/5/08 Golden Rule Insurance, a UnitedHealthcare company, introduced an insurance that guarantees insurability at a future date. See the press release for details.

12/3/08 Aetna reduces rates for January 2009 - Aetna announced rate reductions for its New York City Community Plan with the lowest individual rate now available at $243 per month. Two new low cost coverage options were also announced. It is not known whether this move signals possible rate reductions in other areas. Rates for other Aetna plans for individuals and families throughout the national are available through the Insureme online quote request service.

12/1/08 Insureme introduced at MedSave.com - MedSave.com launched a new quoting and enrollment service for individuals looking for managed care plans. The quotes are run by Insureme for popular health plans including Blue Cross / Blue Shield, Wellpoint, Aetna, Cigna, Kaiser Permanente and Pacific Life. Because these insurance companies do not offer direct online enrollment, Insureme sends the request to a local insurance broker who is familiar with the local procedures for enrollment in each of these health plans. This joint effort marks the first time that MedSave.com has supported enrollment in health plans that do not utilize an automated online enrollment system.

11/20/08 INTRODUCING "UnitedHealthcare" - Golden Rule insurance is now operating as "UnitedHealthcare". The name change reflects the affiliation with parent company UnitedHealthcare, one of the nation's largest health insurance companies. In step with the name change, the company announced a range of product enhancements and lower rates in: AL, AR, AZ, DC, FL, IA, IL, IN, MD, MI, MO, MS, NE, OH, OK, PA, SC, TN, TX, and WI. UnitedHealthcare logo

The enhancements now available include:
- preventative care, $35 doctor visit co-pay, and supplemental accident benefits available in Health Savings Accounts
- 24 month rate guarantee
- greater range of flexibility in deductibles and co-insurance to lower premiums
- dental insurance as an add-on to a medical insurance or as a stand alone coverage without medical insurance

Because of the wide range of innovative health insurance products available and strong provider networks, we believe that this company is likely to offer the best value for many Americans looking for affordable renewable health insurance in 2009. Product availability varies according to location. A secure online quoting system shows the rates available in each zip code.

10/17/08 GOLDEN RULE WEB SITE CLOSED FOR MAINTENANCE - Golden Rule Insurance Company, a national leader in innovative low cost health insurance, announced that its "E-store" will be closed for system maintenance over the weekend of Friday October 17, 2008 and will reopen at 8:00AM eastern time on Monday October 20. While direct "self-serve" online quoting, enrollment and some other functions may still be available during this weekend, MedSave.com will postpone customer service requests until Monday when all online functions are available to provide full enrollment support.

10/6/08 RECESSION-RELATED NEWS - In response to growing public concerns about the spreading economic recession and the stability of insurance companies, MedSave.com revised the article "Managing Health Insurance in a Recession" and published a short post titled "Safest Health Insurance Company"

9/22/08 NEW VALUE HEALTH INSURANCE - A new version of Value Health Insurance called "Value Health USA" was introduced in most states that combines low cost coverage for doctor's visits, hospitalization, surgery and emergency care all into one easy and affordable limited benefit type insurance plan underwritten nationally by the U.S. Life Insurance Company in the City of New York. This product is expected to gradually replace the formerly popular Value Health insurance plan underwritten by AIG.

9/12/08 GROUP HEALTH INSURANCE RATES FOR 2009 - Today's "Affordable Health Insurance" Blog covered the forecast of 2009 HMO and PPO group health insurance rates and why lower cost individual health insurance policies will buck the inflationary trend.

7/8/08 A new article titled "Health insurance customization creates savings" discusses the potential advantages and the increased challenges of offering more consumer choices in light of Celtic Insurance's recent decision to expand customization options for its popular "CeltiCare" insurance products.

7/1/08 CELTIC PREFERRED AND ENHANCED HSA - Continuing its bid to be the insurer of choice for discriminating and affluent individuals who buy their own health insurance, Celtic Insurance introduced two new "high end" health insurance plans with even more benefits than earlier forms. Both plans include preventative benefit coverage options and the CeltiCare Preferred includes a Healthy Lifestyle incentive. Highlights of the two new health plans are available at these links: CeltiCare Preferred and Enhanced CelticSaver HSA. Full details are included on the quoting and enrollment pages. The new policies are currently approved in AK, AR, AZ, CO, DC, DE, IL, IN, KS, LA, MI, MO, MS, OH, OK, SC, SD, TN, TX, WI, WV, WY for introduction this summer.  The plans will be introduced in additional states as they are approved. Follow the links above for highlights of coverage.

6/30/08 UNITEDHEALTHCARE DENTAL PLANS - Today Golden Rule Insurance (a United Healthcare Company) introduced "UnitedHealthcare Dental Premier" and "UnitedHealthcare Dental Value" plans in Alabama and Ohio that offer preventative care with no deductible or waiting period, access to a strong network that has over 73,000 dentists. Quoting and enrollment is available online with no health underwriting required. More information is available from links on the quoting page.

6/23/08 MEDSAVE NAME CONFUSION - MedSave.com receives numerous communications that are intended for one of the many other companies worldwide that use the term "Medsave" in their name. A least five other businesses in the U.S. and more worldwide use a similar business name. None of these other companies are related to MedSave.com. Especially disturbing recently is a pattern of consumer complaints about travel insurance issued through some relationship with Carnival Cruise Lines. MedSave.com is not affiliated with this line of insurance and MedSave.com has never been the subject of a consumer complaint. More information, including contact information for some of the other unrelated companies is posted in a short article titled "MedSave.com is not affiliated with any other "Medsave".

5/21/08 NEW VIDEO FOR GRADUATES - A short video titled "Protect Your Grad" shows the need to provide temporary health insurance to recent graduates. The new video links to the Secure STM enrollment Web site. Short term medical insurance is commonly used to protect high school and college graduates. College graduates are no longer covered under their parents' plan beginning on the first day of the month after they graduate. The video says that going without health insurance is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy among young adults. Bridge the gap until your grad starts coverage at a new job. The video confirms that it is easy, convenient and affordable.

5/17/08 INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL GROUP (IMG) announced lower rates for its Patriot Travel Medical Insurance for Americans travelling outside of their home country. This announcement comes after the company previously announced that it will not be raising rates on its other lines of business. IMG is one of the three largest and most popular providers of international medical insurance.

5/15/08 AMIGO MEDICAL INSURANCE is now expanded to 19 states (AL, AR, AZ, DC, IA, IL, KY, LA, MI, MO, NE, NC, NV, OH, PA, RI, SC, TX, WY) and anticipates additional state approvals this year. This short term major medical is available in English and in Spanish language formats to U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens, age 2-64, who are legally residing in the U.S. Unlike most other insurance plans, Amigo Medical has no length of residency requirement. Coverage from one month to 12 months.  Multiple re-apply opportunities for additional periods of coverage.

5/14/08 VALUE MEDICAL INSURANCE - Paper applications are replaced with online applications in all states where this plan is available.

5/7/08 VALUE EMERGENCY ROOM plan was re-introduced in AK, AL, AZ, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, LA, MA, MI, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, NM, OK, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, A, WI, WV, and WY after a temporary removal from the market. This is one of five Value Benefit plans that offer limited benefits at a low price. Online quoting and enrollment are now available in approved states.

5/1/08 COVER THE UNINSURED WEEK 2008 - MedSave.com participates in national Cover the Uninsured Week" with a series of new articles designed to educate and empower individuals to obtain health coverage. In the spirit of "getting the word out" each of these publications is available for reprint without charge.

"Be Part of the Health Care Solution"
"Cover the Uninsured Week: April 27 - May 3, 2008"
"Covering the Uninsured - 2008 Update"

4/17/08 CORE HEALTH INSURANCE APPROVED IN NEW YORK -  Core Health Insurance, a popular limited insurance benefit plan that can be used alone or in combination with a catastrophic health insurance plan is now available to New York Residents.

4/16/08 HEALTH INSURANCE IN A RECESSION - Two new articles titled "Health Insurance in a Recession" and "Health Insurance to Cover Anti-depressants" are published to help insurance consumers evaluate the choices available and make better purchase decisions. MedSave.com shares the concern of a growing number of consumer advocates that individuals may be making poor insurance decisions due to lack of adequate information and the influence of strong emotions connected with  health care issues.

4/1/08 CELTIC INSURANCE LOWERS RATES - Individual and family health insurance rates in many states are lower for new policies issued effective today. The rate reductions went into effect for AK, AL, AR, CA, CT, DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, LA, MO, MT, NE, NM, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, WV, WI and WY. The insurance company requested lowered rates for 2008 partly because claims were lower than expected in 2007.  Rate changes must be approved by each state's insurance department before they can be offered to the public. Celtic's most popular renewable health insurance plans are "CelticSaver HSA" with a high policy deductible that qualifies for a health savings Account and additional (and more expensive) health insurance are increasingly favored by affluent buyers who appreciate the company's stability and service reputation. More information on all plans is available at www.Celticenrollment.com

3/31/08 CALL MD - CallMD is now available to all members of Value Benefits 24 Hour Accident Coverage at no additional charge. This valuable service provides an alternative to a doctor office visit for 24/7 non-emergency routine consultation. CallMD may prescribe medications by telephone.

3/18/08 A new article titled Iowa's Prescription for Affordable Health Insurance addresses the concerns Iowans have expressed for affordable health coverage.

3/17/08 NEW JERSEY LEGISLATIVE WARNING - New Jersey residents are encouraged to contact their state Senator to express opposition to the health insurance bill by State Senator. Joseph F. Vitale to be introduced today according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. See more at New Jersey introduces harmful health insurance legislation.

3/17/08 SPRING BREAK COVERAGE - MedSave.com coverage was featured in a blog about medical insurance for spring break travel at http://short-term-medical-insurance.blogspot.com/2008/03/spring-break-travel-requires-medical.html

3/16/08 INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS - We are excited about the new features in Liaison Student insurance, a plan for students and faculty travelling outside of their home country for teaching or study. A few of the advantages are: dependent spouses and children are eligible, coverage is available for up to one year at a time, maternity is covered the same as any other medical condition, mental health coverage is included, liberal emergency medical evacuation coverage is included, low $50 deductible. This coverage is available to U.S. residents studying overseas or foreign students studying in the U.S.

3/13/08 RATES STABLE FOR 2008 - International Medical Group (IMG) announced today that it will keep its 2007 premium rates effective through October 31, 2008 for its International Medical Insurance. This is welcome news for  anyone who enrolls in longer term worldwide coverage now because the rate would be locked in until 2009. Medical costs have ridden steadily worldwide and insurance companies are expected to mirror the price increases. This news is both welcome and surprising.  IMG offers a wide range of international health insurance policies including:

3/7/08 MedSave.com joins with Michigan Attorney General's office, AARP Michigan, the Consumers Union, the Area Agencies on Aging, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the United Auto Workers and many Michigan newspapers in denouncing the unethical efforts of Michigan Blue Cross / Blue Shield to misinform the public and the legislature on the issue of health care reform. This organization is capitalizing on public interest in health care reform solely to fatten its own profits at the expense of Michigan residents. Read more at  http://short-term-medical-insurance.blogspot.com/

3/6/08 UNIVERSAL HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE - New polls indicate that Americans are Uncommitted on Universal Coverage. Details are discussed in this new article.

3/5/08 STUDENT MEDICAL INSURANCE FOR SPRING BREAK - Each spring millions of families with graduating high school and college-age children find that they must replace their student's health insurance. We updated the article "Tips for Buying Student Medical Insurance" just in time for 2008 families planning for their graduates.

3/3/08 UNIVERSAL HEALTH INSURANCE: MedSave.com launches a support campaign for universal health insurance. The first summary page titled "Universal Health Insurance" is published today.

2/23/08 NEW DENTAL INSURANCE: "Review of American Health Shield Dental Insurance" is published to introduce the highest level traditional dental insurance available to most individuals and families throughout the United States.. This policy includes orthodontic benefits after the policy has been in force for two years.

2/21/08 CONSUMER GUIDE: An Updated Consumer Guide to Buying and Keeping Health Insurance from the Health Policy Institute is available for download free of charge for all states and Washington D.C.  The guides were updated to reflect the 2007 changes in states including Massachusetts, Tennessee, Maryland, Washington District of Columbia, Mississippi, Ohio, Virginia and Wyoming.

2/19/08 CUSTOMER SERVICE POLICY: MedSave.com publishes a "Statement of Commitment to Excellence" as a result of our new joint management venture.

2/5/08 RATE REDUCTION: Celtic Insurance reduced premium rates for the Celtic Basic and CelticSaver HSA health plans in select states and zip codes. Two of the biggest age group markets for individual health insurance - those under 30 and over 50 years of age - will receive the steepest rate reductions.
Rate reductions will take effect on April 1, 2008 in AK, AL, AZ, AR, CA**, CT ***, DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, LA, MO***, MT, NE, NM, OH, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, WV, WI, and WY. Lower rates will be quoted after March 1, 2008 for effective dates of coverage beginning May 1, 2008 in CO, DE, KS, MI, MS, NH, and OK.
* Rx option only in MT.
** CelticSaver HSA is not available in CA.
*** Celtic Basic is not available in CT and MO.

1/28/08 POSSIBLE CONSUMER SCAM ALERT - MedSave.com received multiple reports of unauthorized bank charges using the name "MedSave" or "Medsav". Please be aware that MedSave.com does not process any customer transactions and would not make any charge to a customer's bank account under any circumstances. MedSave.com does not have access to private customer bank or credit card information.  There are two possible explanations for the bank charge: 1) the charge was initiated by one of the other legitimate companies operating under the name "Medsave". "Medsave" is apparently a popular term for a business name. There are at least five unrelated companies using that term in the U.S., including the largest of these known as Medsave International in the New York City area, and at least two similar companies in Europe, one in India and more in other countries. None of these companies are connected with MedSave.com in any way. Check to see whether the bank charge included a valid telephone number to identify the charge. 2) The second possibility is that the transactions are a scam, just using the Medsave name as a fake. An easy way to determine this is to call the telephone number associated with the bank transaction. If the phone number is invalid, then the transaction is probably a scam. If this is the case then you should report the transaction to your credit card company immediately.

In either case, there is no indication that any of these transactions are connected with MedSave.com in any way and we have no other information at this time. While each insurance company listed at MedSave.com has its own independent internal Web security measures and privacy policy, we have not received a report of any type of security breach with any of the online enrollment processing systems supported by MedSave.com in our 10+ years of operation.

1/27/08 EDITORIAL: MedSave.com makes the case against universal health care in "Americans Without Health Insurance"

1/17/08 BBB ONLINE RELIABILITY UPDATE: MedSave.com issues clarifying consumer guidance on the use of BBB OnlineReliability logo and BBB membership.

12/29/07 AFFORDABLE HEALTH PLANS FOR 2008: MedSave.com releases an article titled "Affordable Health Insurance for 2008" that summarized the factors that contribute to the availability of low cost health insurance throughout the United States. The article considers the political background, types of insurance available, state regulation, price trends, agents and brokers, insurance company trends and employer trends. MedSave.com was founded in 1997 to specialize in reputable low priced health insurance in all 50 states, including short term medical insurance, catastrophic insurance, limited benefit plans, and supplemental health insurance.

12/20/07 International Medical Group (IMG) announced that it will not raise rates for 2008 for its most popular "Patriot" line of international medical insurance products. Rates for 2007 remain effective until March 31, 2008. This is an unusual move in an industry that has become accustomed to frequent rate increases due to medical inflation. The lower rates can be "locked in" for up to a year for those who apply before the rate increase deadline. The full line of IMG products include:

12/16/07 Value Med adds options for higher coverage and is also now available in Indiana. The new and improved Value Med Plan offers limited hospital coverage of $100 or $500 per day and now offers coverage for dependent children.  Doctor Office Visit Benefit of $75 per visit, up to ten visits per year per adult or 5 visits for all children. Hospital OP expenses up to $250 per visit for Lab Tests, X-rays and Medical Supplies, up to $1,000 per insured person per year. Ambulance transportation benefit of $200 per sickness or injury  is included. Value Med is available for immediate online enrollment in the following states: AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, DE, DC, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, ND, NE, NM, NV, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI, WV, and WY. Brochures and forms are also available in PDF format to download and print in MT, NH and VT but these three states do not offer online enrollment. This insurance can be combined with high deductible major medical, including Health Savings Account plans, or along with another limited benefit plan, like Value Health Plan, Value ER and or VBA 24 Hour Accident Medical Expense & AD&D Plan to increase overall coverage.

This is truly a low cost insurance plan. The monthly rates for the new plan with $100 Daily hospitalization / $500 Daily hospitalization at various ages are:
18-39     $31 / $43.00
40-44     $31 / $45.40
45-49     $31 / $47.80
50-54     $49 / $69.00
55-59     $49 / $78.60
60-64     $70 / $110.00
The child's rate is $45 (covers any number of children)  / $49.80 (1st child, $4.80 each added child)
A $5 VBA classic membership monthly dues is also required.


12/15/07 Amigo Short Term Medical Insurance is now available in Louisiana and North Carolina.

11/10/07 Amigo Short Term Medical Insurance, a new low cost major medical insurance is available in most states in English and Spanish. "Finding a quality health insurance plan is sometimes a difficult thing. "We called the product Amigo because we felt consumers needed a friend in a health care plan. Amigo is for all Americans and will be available in 46 states by the end of the year," said Rob Williams, AVP of Marketing for MultiNational Underwriters. "As a company, we saw a growing need for this product. Some studies indicate over 46 million Americans under the age of 65 lacked health insurance coverage in 2005. That is an increase of almost 7 million Americans since 2000. I think we all have to make a contribution to help these individuals find a solution to the healthcare crisis in America." The Amigo Short Term Medical Plan allows consumers to select plan options based on what they can afford to pay on a monthly basis or all at once. They can select a lower premium by opting for a higher deductible, or a more moderate premium with less risk by selecting a lower deductible. Either way, the choice rests on the consumer. The Amigo Short Term Medical Plan is underwritten by Companion Life and administered by MultiNational Underwriters, both of which have marketed health care plans for many years. 

11/1/2007 Secure Dental One is the best value to date for low cost individual dental insurance with a $100 lifetime deductible per person, with rates starting as low as $5 per person per month. This insurance three plan designs - BasicOne, ClassicOne, PremierOne - with freedom to select your own dentist, optional OrthoCare Orthodontic Discount Program. The primary advantages of these plans are: 1) freedom to choose any dentist, 2) immediate coverage for preventative coverage, 3) pays based on the Reasonable and Customary Fees, 4) automatic acceptance, 5) Eligible for ages 18 through 64, and 6) premium payment can be made by automatic bank draft, Visa, MasterCard, or Discover. The plan is insured by Standard Security Life Insurance Company of New York, a carrier with a strong consumer reputation and proven track record in individual health insurance. This coverage is available in 43 states and D.C.

9/28/07 Secure DentalOne is now available in Georgia. This is generally considered by MedSave.com users as the highest quality dental insurance plan available to individuals throughout most parts of the U.S. and now Georgia residents may enroll in this same benefit plan. This insurance three plan designs - BasicOne, ClassicOne, PremierOne - with affordable rates starting as low as $5 per insured person, a a $100 lifetime deductible per insured person, freedom to select your own dentist, optional OrthoCare Orthodontic Discount Program, secure online enrollment. The plan is now available in 43 states and Washington D.C. Insured by Standard Security Life Insurance Company of New York

8/4/07 ValueMed now offers online enrollment. This is a low cost limited benefit insurance was previously available only with a mail or fax enrollment but now is available through secure online enrollment with immediate confirmation of application by e-mail.

8/2/07 Core Health Plans are now available in most states. This is a low cost limited benefit health insurance that is guaranteed issue (the application does not ask about prior medical conditions) and offered immediate online enrollment with next day coverage. The level of benefit may be selected to match budget and this coverage may be combined with major medical insurance to cover deductibles or overlap and provide additional supplemental protection.

6/14/07 Golden Rule Insurance introduced its new generation of health insurance plans for individuals and families. The changes in the products include: 1) an increase in the number and range of coverage options, 2) relaxed underwriting standards and 3) more competitive pricing. The additional coverage options include: additional high deductible options of $1500, $2500 and $5000, increased prescription drug coverage, doctors office visit coverage and increased lifetime maximum coverage to $5 million (except in Virginia). The new plans have no waiting period for wellness benefits and the co-payment for generic drugs is now $15. Liberalized underwriting changes are: 1) a 20% rate up for motorcycle drivers (this is no longer an exclusion rider), 2) variable rate up for tobacco use depending on age, 3) expanded height and weight allowances, 4) additional rate up class for medical history to accept more applications. Pricing changes can be found online at http://www.medsave.com/Golden-Rule-insurance.htm . Since these changes have just been announced, we have not had any specific case experience or customer feedback but updates will be posted here as they become available.

5/14/07 ValueMed insurance is updated to include coverage for children (where approved by state insurance departments) and optional expanded hospitalization benefits. These additions make ValueMed the most robust "mini-med" health plan available in most states. Premium rates range from $31 to $100 per month for adults and $$.80 to $49.80 for children. $5 per month membership in Value Benefits Association is required because this is a group insurance plan available only to VBA members.

1/2/07 Terms of service for OnlineAdviser are changed for 2007.  The intent of the change is to encourage more member to utilize the free e-mail subscription service and to redirect telephone support to the member services departments of the various health care companies.

10/6/06 MedSave.com discontinued the free first aid kit offer due to an increasingly disruptive volume of e-mail from spammers who were not eligible for the promotion.  The promotion was replaced by a customer feedback program with online and telephone response.

9/21/06 Secure STM announced the following changes effective October 1, 2006: 1) a weight limit for eligibility is added - 300 pounds for males and 250 pounds for females.  2) Applicants previously declined for coverage under any health insurance in the past 12 months are now eligible IF the medical condition for which they were declined is no longer present.  3) an overall rate increase of 4% is applied to all new polices issued after 9/30/06.

6/28/06 Rates will increase for most new student health insurance, all 36 month short term medical insurance and all Secure STM plans issued after June 30.  It is possible to lock in the current lower rates by enrolling online before 6/30/06.

10/1/05 The popular low cost health insurance plan known by the brand name American Health Shield is no longer available in Washington and Minnesota.  Buyers in these states are now left with fewer low cost health insurance choices.

9/12/05 IMG international medical insurance is no longer available in Florida.  International Medical Group (IMG) and Sirius International Insurance Corporation have agreed to cease and desist from issuing health insurance coverage to Florida residents. As part of the Consent Order issued by the Office of Insurance Regulation, the companies agree to pay administrative costs, pay all valid claims in the future, to comply with all licensing provisions of the Florida Insurance Code and other provisions of the Consent Order.  Currently, health insurance availability is controlled on a state-by-state basis.  Alternate plans for short term or long term international health insurance are available on the South Dakota page at MedSave.com.

8/2/05 MedSave.com launched enrollment support for RxPower, a prescription drug discount plan that includes money-saving mail order service from Canadian pharmacies.  The plan is priced at just under $60 for an entire family for a year and offers a money-back satisfaction guarantee.  RxPower is the first drug re-importation service supported by MedSave.com and was chosen because of its reputation for quality.

7/26/05 The marketing of Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) discount medical and prescription drug plans are regulated by state laws in FL, ND, IL, NH, KS, SC, AR, SD, UT, MT and OK.  The laws are outlined at http://www.medsave.com/articles/regulation-of-PPO-discount-plans.htm.

7/22/05  MedSave.com expanded health insurance support for non-U.S. citizens with the addition of the "Inbound Immigrant" insurance policy. Health Insurance , owner of MedSave.com estimates that 1 in 4 of the 20+ million U.S. residents without health insurance are not U.S. citizens and many have recently entered the country. Many of these uninsured people have the financial ability to purchase reasonably priced health insurance protection but do not have access to information about such coverage. MedSave.com provides live enrollment assistance and secure online enrollment for this low cost insurance that is available in all states without regard to health history.

This low cost coverage can be purchased for as little as one month or can be renewed for up to five years. Monthly premium rates range from $51 to $145 depending on age and total amount of coverage. The policy deductible ranges from $75 to $250 per injury or sickness and covers pre-existing medical conditions after the applicant has been insured for six months (12 months if over age 70) and also provides maternity coverage. "In many states this insurance offers better coverage and better value than is available to regular U.S. citizens" says Morrison. At this time the enrollment support is available only in English language. Other details about rates, features, benefits, exclusions and live enrollment support are available online.

6/8/07  MedSave.com introduces a new online tool called "Policy Picker" that helps users find the best short term health insurance policy for their specific situation.  Policy availability is based on location of residence, citizenship, health history, length of coverage and other factors.  This online tool simplifies the online selection and enrollment process to three easy steps.

2/1/05 HSA-qualified long term health insurance plans are now available through Celtic Insurance at www.CelticEnrollment.com  to healthy individuals and families online in Georgia, Indiana, and New Mexico.  Applicants may be age 18 to 64 1/2.  This plan covers 100% after the deductible with no co-insurance including prescription drugs and doctors office visits.  Most applicants selects the national Preferred Health Care Systems (PHCS), one of the nation's most popular preferred provider organizations for lowering costs and managing patient billings.

12/26/04 A listing of benefits available to the members of the National Dog Groomers Association of America Inc. was added today.

12/23/04 OnlineAdviser support was added for Medical Savings Insurance Company.  Applications and quoting procedures will be added within the next few days.

10/8/04 OnlineAdviser support was added for Assurant Health Short Term Medical Insurance at MedSave.com.Direct online enrollment for Assurant Short Term Medical Insurance without OnlineAdviser support is still available at FreedomBenefits.net

8/30/04 Assurant Health online enrollment Web site will change to a different server on 8/31/04.  The new server can be accessed from FreedomBenefits.net.  The change should be invisible to users. 

6/16/04 - Assurant Health is making substantial improvements to its short term medical plans effective for policies issued on or after June 26.  Not all of the enhancements will be immediately available in all states.  An article detailing the changes is published at  http://www.KymberlyMorrison.com/ARTICLES/changes%20to%20short%20term%20medical%20plans.htm .  Enrollment forms and specific product information are available at www.FreedomBenefits.net .

5/8/04 - BASIC HEALTH INSURANCE FORMS NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE - Lower group insurance rates and application forms are now available at www.basichealthinsurance.net  This plan may be offered as a supplement to existing employer-sponsored coverage or as an optional voluntary enrollment. Since there are no deductibles or co-payments, this is an up-front benefit. All applicants are accepted regardless of health history. Pre-existing conditions are covered after six months. Unlike most group health insurance plans, there are no employer participation requirements and no requirement that the employer contribute to the cost of coverage. This is a low cost limited benefit health insurance plan available in only 21 states now. The benefits are limited to the items in the online proposal and brochure; this plan is not intended to cover every possible health expense.

4/29/04 A short article titled "Health Insurance for Diabetics" was published on this Web site today.

4/28/04 Comparing Discount Drug Cards - The Medicare discount prescription drug cards offered through AARP, Blue Cross and others is priced at $30 or less per year but is only available to those on Medicare and covers the single beneficiary.  The commercial cards offered by Ehealthdiscountplan.com cost about $98 for the year but are available at any age and one card covers all members in a household.  As far as we can tell, the benefits are the same.

4/27/04  Two new articles are available: "Student Medical Insurance Tips" and "Who is Your Employee?"

4/25/04Four significant items emerged this week affecting health insurance for those over age 65:
1) A federal ruling allowing Medicare to be the primary payer for employees covered by Medicare, making their group health insurance much less expensive. This change affect 12 million workers and is welcome by employees and labor unions. AARP opposes the change. Employers seeking to change their group health plans should consult an independent adviser - this change will not be automatic and insurance companies may not be helpful at this time.
2) Federal employees over age 65 who enroll in a qualified high deductible health insurance plan and would be eligible for a health savings account (HSA) except for the federal age 65 limitation on HSAs will be offered an equivalent option under a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). This decision is not binding on private industry employers, but is likely to set a precedent, especially for labor union negotiations. A chart showing the differences between HSAs and HRAs can be found at FreedomBenefits.net.
3) Suspicions are beginning to be confirmed by health industry sources that the benefits offered under the Medicare discount drug card are not better than the benefits in the (usually) free discount drug cards already available in the market. This comment does not apply to low-income Medicare beneficiaries who receive an extra $600
4) Problems with availability and pricing of Medicare
supplement insurance is pushing some to consider the supplemental basic health insurance plan like at BasicHealthInsurance.net.  Unlike most Medicare supplement plans, this insurance is available
regardless of health history but disappears after age 70.

4/23/04 A new type of low cost limited health insurance plan will debut today at BasicHealthInsurance.net.  "Basic Health Insurance" as the name implies, covers a specific list of common medical expenses like doctors' visits, lab tests and hospital charges.  It is not designed to cover every medical expense and does not protect from catastrophic bills.  This type of coverage is growing in popularity because of its liberal eligibility standards and low price.  This coverage provides first dollar protection with no deductibles.  Everyone under age 70 is eligible regardless of medical history.  Pre-existing conditions are covered after six months.  This coverage may be used to overlap and supplement other health insurance or might be used alone as a plan of last resort.  The primary advantage is the low cost - usually just a fraction of the cost of traditional health plans.

This plan is available now in about half of the states and more states may approve the plan over the coming months.  In dependent OnlineAdviser professional enrollment support is also available at www.MedSave.com.  (Look in the alphabetical listings by state for "Basic Health Insurance".

3/31/04 The Medicare Reform Act introduced Health Savings Accounts and discount prescription drug cards.  New information about both plans was published this week.  See "Health Savings Account Mark 3 Month Birthday" at KymberlyMorrison.com/articles.htm for more information.

3/18/04 A new article titled "Short term Medical Insurance for Special Situations" at KymberlyMorrison.com/articles.htm gives tips on finding the right insurance plan for applicants who have special concerns or have been declined for other coverage.

3/16/04A new article title "New Warnings About Fraudulent Health Plans" at KymberlyMorrison.com/articles.htm gives tips on how to avoid problems.

3/4/04 Several new low cost 12 month short term medical insurance plans were added at MedSave.com this month.  The 12 month option costs more than the more common 6 month insurance plans, but offer the advantage of continuous coverage and only one deductible for the entire year, just like longer term health plans.  Six month short term medical insurance is priced at about half of the cost of renewable only term coverage while an average 12 month short term medical insurance plan is priced at about a 25% discount.  Of course, prices vary so it makes sense to compare several of the choices listed on your state page at MedSave.com 

3/2/04 WellPoint and Anthem health networks will merge, creating the largest health insurer in the United States.

2/18/04  Freedom Benefits Association offers a free trial membership that includes 30 day access to OnlineAdviserTM service.  The free membership included the same benefits as paid membership except that it does not include access to the members only toll-free telephone line or offer the ability to schedule appointments in advance.  The free trial membership may be converted to a regular paid membership at the end of the 30 days trial for $150 for a year.

2/14/04  Fortis Health Introduces New Name and New Product  Fortis Health was legally reorganized as Assurant Health this week but continues to use the name Fortis in consumer publications during the transition period. New marketing and enrollment materials will be distributed over the coming months.

Fortis also announced a new 12-month medical insurance plan available through most of the country February 28.  Fortis was formerly the leading provider of 6-month medical insurance but lost market share in recent years as competitors employed more aggressive marketing Internet-based marketing.  The new product might help the company rebuild market share.

Industry data shows that over 80% of individuals who buy their own health insurance change plans after a year, so paying for coverage that includes an option to renew appears to be a waste of money for many customers.

The primary advantage of this plan is the ease of obtaining coverage.  The policy can be purchased at FreedomBenefits.net by answering three simple medical questions and making secure payment online.  Mail or fax enrollment is also available.  Most people qualify for coverage.  Coverage is effective at midnight following enrollment.  Policies and ID cards can be downloaded at the time of enrollment or can be mailed the next business day.  Overnight delivery of policies and ID cards is available at an additional cost.

Price is dependant on age and other factors.  The least expensive plan is about $40 per month for a young adult to about $500 per month for the most expensive plan for a 60 ear old.  On average, this plan is about half of he price of prevailing long term health insurance plans.

These plans, like most other individual medical insurance policies, do not cover the cost of pre-existing medical conditions.  Customers who do not understand this limitation will likely be disappointed with the coverage.  Unfortunately, many consumers who are attracted to the low price, especially the large number of young adults who use this type of coverage, may be naïve about health insurance contracts.  Fortis received over 700 consumer complaints in 2002, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.  It appears that a large number of these complaints were based on excluded coverage.

The older 6-month plan included coverage up to 185 days, $2 million maximum benefit, and transplant benefit of $100,000.

The new plan 12-month plan offers coverage up to 365 days, $1 million maximum benefit, transplant maximum benefit $50,000, a co-pay of $150 for an emergency room and $500 co-payment for an in-patient hospital stay.

Both plans offer the freedom to choose any doctor or hospital in the country, coverage for prescription drugs and preserve the right to be eligible for full takeover of pre-existing conditions under future group insurance plans because they ensure continuity of coverage rights under federal HIPAA laws.  Both plans allow a member to re-apply for a new policy as long as they continue to meet the eligibility requirements.

These plans are not available in Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Vermont.

2/12/04 The IRS issued instructions this week to state governments on how to qualify certain health plans called "qualified health plans" for a 65% tax credit for early retirees covered by the pension benefit guarantee pension corporation.  This advice was misunderstood by some advisers and taxpayers.   It is important to recognize the term "qualified health plan" used in this context has nothing to do with the "qualified high deductible health plan" with regard to a health savings account and that very few people are eligible for the tax credit.

2/10/2004 The OnlineAdviser toll-free telephone number has been changed and will be sent directly by e-mail to current clients.

1/15/04 - MSAbank has been renamed as HSAbank in accordance with the applicable new law.  Everything else remains the same, including the enrollment forms at Healthsavingsaccount-HSA.com  Separately, the FAQs at this Web site were updated to address the numerous confusing tax issues surrounding Health Savings Accounts.

12/20/03- International Medical Insurance Improves for 2004- The nation's leading provider of medical insurance for overseas travelers, International Medical Group (IMG), announced substantial improvement of its plans for 2004. This type of coverage is available for citizens of any country traveling outside of their home country. International coverage is not provided by most U.S. health insurance plans. The two most significant changes are: 1) The shortest period of coverage is now 10 days and coverage is proceed on a daily basis. This makes coverage for short overseas trips and vacations less expensive. 2) Coverage for treatment of sudden recurrence of preexisting medical conditions is increased to $5,000. This is a significant improvement over prior plans. The 2004 medical insurance plans reflect a modest 6% rate increase over prior year rates.
12/12/03 Enrollment in the new health savings accounts (HSA) starts today.  Most stated have a handful of HSA-qualified health insurance plans available accompanied by free HSA account administration.  The insurance must be started by 1/1/0 in order to qualify for the maximum tax-deductible deposit for 2004.  HSA plans are currently not available in Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington state.  See Healthsavingsaccount-hsa.com for more information.

12/9/03 Effective yesterday, the Banker's Life flexible term medical insurance coverage for up to 36 months is no longer offered in Texas or Missouri.  This plan is replaced by a flex term policy that may be extended for up to 12 months before a new enrollment is required.  The plans are listed under the "Freedom / Flex-Term" link on each state's benefit plan page at MedSave.com.  The longer 36 month Flex-Term coverage remains available in most other states.

11/26/03 The Web sites Fortisenrollment.com and FortisHSA.com were closed and the materials were incorporated into the new FreedomBenefits.net web site.   All OnlineAdviserTM support for Fortis Health products (soon to be known as Time Insurance) will be offered at FreedomBenefits.net .

11/25/03 A new article titled "MSAs, HRAs, HSAs: Which Health Plan Is Right for My Small Business?" was published at  Healthsavingsaccount-hsa.com.  The article lists the primary advantages and disadvantages of Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs), Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

11/24/03 MedSave.com has joined efforts with Freedom Benefits Association to offer tax-deductible Health Savings Accounts  (HSA) and HSA-qualified health insurance plans for 2004.  Details are available online at Healthsavingsaccount-hsa.com 

11/21/03 Last week the IRS updated Publication 502 dealing with tax-free medical benefit plans and tax-deductible medical expenses.  There are substantial changes for 2003.  Those with substantial medical expenses may want to download a copy from www.irs.gov .

11/19/03  Passage of the Medicare reform bill is all but certain following yesterday's endorsement by the AARP.  The new law will include immediate discount prescription drug cards for all Medicare beneficiaries and additional subsidies for prescriptions to be phased in over several years.  Tax-deducible Health Savings Accounts are likely to be available to all next year.  For those who do not want to wait for the new law to kick in or are no Medicare beneficiary, a free discount prescription drug card is available to everyone at MedSave.com now but it does not come with user support.  See the link in the FAQs under the topic "What happened to the free discount drug card at MedSave.com?".  Also, a better prescription discount drug card that costs under $100/household/year, is available to everyone, and comes with exceptional user support can be found at www.healthdiscountplan.com.  

11/18/03 FortisHSA.com was closed yesterday at the request of Fortis' parent company in Europe and all requests are being referred to www.healthsavingsaccount-hsa.com .  Fortis short term medical insurance and individual/family medical insurance are available at www.FreedomBenefits.net.  Fortis group health insurance is available through the small business benefit plans at www.FreedomBenefits.org 

11/11/03  Fortis is changing its name to Assurant in conjunction with an initial public offering of shares in its United States division.  We may use either name interchangeably during the transition period in references or enrollment materials.

11/10/03 A new article titled "Finding Health Insurance to Cover Pre-existing Medical Conditions" was posted at www.KymberlyMorrison.com. 

11/5/03  A controversial legal proposal positioning Medicare vs. private insurance is holding up passage of the Medicare reform law and attached provisions that would allow Health Savings Accounts in 2004.  The joint House and Senate committee is reported to be holding marathon negotiating sessions this week in hopes of resolving the issue.

11/1/03  An composite of all articles published by Health Insurance during October 2003 is available.  Articles may be reproduced with credit, except as noted.  The article list includes:

Employee Benefits:

"412(i) Pension Plan Update - Suitability Issues"

"Comparing Health Discount Plans"

"Today's Variable Annuities"

"Healthcare Reimbursement Arrangements for Small Businesses" (may not be reproduced until 4/04)

"HRA Plans Help Owner/Employees"

"25 Reasons Small Businesses Love HRA Plans"

"Health Plan Statistics for Small Businesses"

"Validating Small Business Health Plan Claims"


"Top Ten Tax Saving Opportunities"

"Tax Saving Opportunity with 2004 Pensions"


"Eight Things You Should Know About Short Term Medical Insurance"

"Understanding a "Certificate of Creditable Coverage""

"Health Insurance for Large Americans"

10/31/03  A copy of "Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) Design Worksheet" is available from the MedSave.com Forms page.  Full details on Freedom Benefits HRA and other plans can be found at www.freedombenefits.org.

10/30/03  www.CelticEnrollment.com is updated with enrollment links for all of Celtic Life's individual medical insurance plans including the new Celtic Care 3.0 long term renewable health plan.  The complete rating and application process is now handled online.

10/25/03  The enrollment fax number has been changed in an effort to control junk faxes.  Please use the new number (801) 684-9789 for all enrollment applications.  Enrollments are confirmed by e-mail within one business day.

10/15/03  www.CobraPlan.com is updated with fresh resources on COBRA health coverage and alternatives in Question & Answer format.

9/26/03  Fortis of Belgium and the Netherlands announced that it will divest its U.S. life and health insurance operations operating as Fortis Inc. in a series of public offerings in 2004 in order to focus on its core business of banking and insurance in Europe.  The rating agency A. M. Best Company immediately reaffirmed the financial strength and rating of the U. S. Fortis companies, stating that the operations will be financially unaffected by the transition.  (reposted from Fortisenrollment.com)

9/9/03 The IRS will allow non-prescription drugs and some over-the-counter medical purchases as tax-free benefits under employer-provided health reimbursement or flexible spending plans.  Previously IRS disallowed such deductions.  Further detail is likely to be provided close to the end of this year.

9/7/03 A new article titled "Twelve Ways to Get More From Your Short Term Medical Insurance" was published at (NO LONGER AVAILABLE).

9/8/03 Free First Aid Kit Offer - A special promotion for the use of online enrollment for Fortis Health Short Term Medical plans is offered through the end of September.  Mail-in and fax application do not qualify.  Details are available by submitting a pricing request at http://www.cobraplan.com. 

8/29/03  A.M. Best reports that four of the largest unauthorized health plans in the U. S. have left nearly 100,000 people with about $85 million in unpaid medical bills and without health coverage since 2001.  The Commonwealth Fund that released the research, calls the increase in illegal health insurance plans alarming.  MedSave.com emphasizes that all health plans must be licensed in each state where the plan is offered.  If in doubt, consumers should check directly with their state insurance department.

8/20/03 Health costs rose an average of about 15% nationwide in 2003 for small business employers, and a similar jump is expected in 2004, according to a new report by the Philadelphia-based Freedom Benefits Association.  Some businesses actually recorded decreases in costs, while others notched increases of more than 30%.  Businesses most likely to minimize cost increases are those that use uninsured health benefit plans like Health Reimbursement Account or Medical Savings Account plans, use high deductible insurance and those that are able to take advantage of preferred-risk rating plans.

8/12/03  North Carolina Senator and Presidential Candidate John Edwards has proposed making health insurance mandatory for everyone under age 21.  This is the first time mandatory heath coverage has been part of a presidential platform.

7/31/03  Medical Savings Accounts are scheduled to expire December 31, 2003.  No further extension is anticipated by the IRS.  These plans will be replaced by Health Savings Accounts that offer the same benefits but are far more liberal in terms of eligibility.  More information is available at www.healthsavingsaccount-hsa.com.

7/27/03  The IRS approved a new design for providing health benefits through a HRA plan that is likely to be well-received by small business owners employers and key employees because it allows considerably higher employer-paid tax-free health benefits - other than health insurance - to be paid to owners and key employees..  An article titled "IRS  approves New HRA Health Plan Design" on the Articles & Publications page at www.KymberlyMorrison.com provides more information.

7/16/03  Adobe Acrobat problems - Most financial Websites, including the IRS Websites, MedSave.com and all of the Freedom Benefits network websites use PDF format (an abbreviation for Portable Document Format) to deliver documents to the Website user.  These documents are read by a free third party program called Abobe Acrobat, which occasionally does not operate properly.  While the OnlineAdviser service does not provide technical support for PCs, it is my observation that most Adobe errors are caused by the browser integration feature.  To fix it, open your Adobe program and uncheck the "Web browser integration" box.  In Adobe Acrobat 4.0, you find this by clicking File | Preferences | General.  In other versions, the keystroke series may be different. 

7/10/03 Maryland and DC residents are seeking affordable health insurance alternative amid growing bad news about CareFirst Blue Cross / Blue Shield.  The DC Insurance Commissioner made a loud complaint on 7/5 and the MD Insurance Commissioner announced that civil charges would be made against the company and some of its executives on 7/8.  DC residents will likely find plenty of alternate high quality affordable health plans but Maryland residents may be limited to short term medical plans since few low cost permanent health plans are available under current MD insurance laws.

7/3/03  An article on the new IRS guidelines for debit cards in small business health plans was published at www.KymberlyMorrison.com.  We do not recommend the use of debit cards in any MSA or HRA plan.

7/1/03  The board of the Washington State Health Insurance Pool will vote July 10 on a measure that will allow health insurance carriers to reject individual applicants.  If passed, this measure will help bring the state of Washington into conformity with most other states that have more health plan choices available to residents and significantly lower health insurance rates for most customers.  Current Washington laws have caused most low cost health insurance companies to leave the state.  Self-employed persons and small business owners in Washington who have a long-term interest in the outcome of this action are urged to express their views to their state representatives.

6/25/03 Healthcare Inflation Update - A major benefits consulting reported that rates for managed care health plans had risen by an average of 18% in the first five months of 2003.  The study conducted by Hewitt Associates and reported today by A. M.  Best Inc. shows that health care inflation is worse than many had expected.  The survey also indicated that the cost increases may be leveling off.  Separately, two other health insurers who had previously announced rate increases for new coverage starting July 1 have now announced rate decreases in selected areas starting August 1. 

6/23/03 A new article titled "How To Break Up A Group Health Insurance Plan" was published at www.KymberlyMorrison.com that gives tips on saving time, money and avoiding problems when changing from group coverage to a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) plan or Flexible Benefit Plan.

6/16/03 "Ten Ways to Get More from Your Flex-Term Medical Insurance" - A new article is available free online at www.KymberlyMorrison.com with money-saving tips for anyone with a short term medical plan or a flex-term medical plan.

6/5/03 "AARP Health Insurance" - OnlineAdviser service has received many calls about "AARP health insurance" as a result of an advertising campaign currently running on a major television network.  AARP is not a health insurance company nor an insurance agency and there is really no such product as "AARP health insurance".  AARP is not affiliated with MedSave.com or OnlineAdviser services.  AARP has been influential in the marketing and promotion of affordable health insurance plans for individuals in their 50s and 60s.  It appears that the TV campaign is having the effect of making the AARP brand affiliation a synonym for "affordable health insurance".  But we clarify the low cost health plans listed at MedSave.com are available online to anyone at the same price, regardless of AARP membership.

6/2/03 Co-payments - Individuals switching insurance coverage from big HMO plans like Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Kaiser, Humana, Oxford, Unicare, Lifewise, and Aetna are accustomed to using "co-payments" to pay for office visits, prescriptions and emergency room visits.  It is important to recognize that private individual medical insurance plans, like the health plans at MedSave.com, do no use co-payments.  Instead, all covered medical expenses are lumped together and covered under the policy deductible and co-insurance.  This issue frequently causes confusion for individuals who only familiar with the HMO approach.  More details are available on the FAQ Page at MedSave.com.

5/26/03 Prescription Birth Control Pills - Oregon became the 6th state this year to reject a legislative proposal to require birth control pills to be a covered expenses under health insurance plans.  Generally birth control pills are not covered by a health insurance plans and does not seem likely to change.

5/21/03 Notification of Outdated Enrollment Materials - We notify users when an enrollment form or rate sheet is out-of-date.  These announcements are always sent by e-mail under the terms of the user agreement.  Of course, no MedSave.com user is required to maintain a current e-mail address but if we do not have a valid e-mail address, then no other notice will be sent.

5/15/03 HIPAA Compliance - The MedSave.com group medical proposal request form is updated for compliance with new medical privacy laws.

5/14/03 Student Medical Rate Increases - Most student medical plans rates will raise by 15% or more on June 1.  Polices issued before that date will remain at the same rate until the next renewal date.  It is possible to save $100 to $200 on a typical student policy by paying for a year's coverage before June 1.

5/10/03  Online Pharmacies - OnlineAdviser services and MedSave.com receive frequent inquiries about online pharmacy services.  Our clear and consistent position is that online pharmacies that sell prescription drugs to U.S. customers are governed by the same consumer protection laws that control other pharmacies and are not exempt from these laws simply because the Website or the pharmacy is located outside of the United States. We certainly do not dispute the fact that many prescription drugs that do not comply with FTC standards are less expensive.  See http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2003/03/onlinepharm.htm for detail on the Federal Trade Commission's policy and scope of authority on this issue.  Several of the largest online pharmacies are currently facing legal charges by the FTC.  For these stated reasons, we do not provide advice or enrollment support for the numerous extra-territorial prescription drug plans.  To our knowledge, all prescription drug plans included with any of the OnlineAdviser network Websites are fully compliant with FTC standards and are not the subject of any FTC complaint.

5/8/03 Two new articles "25 Reason Small Businesses Choose HRA Plans" and "HRA vs. MSA: Which is Best for Me?" are published online at www.KymberlyMorrison.com .

5/7/03 Medical Savings Accounts are not reaching most people who want to take advantage of these plans with less than 1 plan issued for every three who apply.  The plans are generally not available in New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Jersey and North Carolina.  Those with pre-existing medical conditions may not be eligible.  Employees are not eligible unless the employer make changes to its existing group benefit plan.  Federal and state legislation will be required to make MSA plans available to more people.  Meanwhile, an alternate is an HRA plan that offers similar benefits with fewer restrictions.

5/6/03 "Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) Start-up and Administrative Guide" was just published by Freedom Benefits Association as a reference for small businesses and is included with all HRA start-up kits at www.FreedomBenefits.org .

5/2/03 Health Insurance Complaints - OnlineAdviser services occasionally compiles an informal list of complaints received about health insurance plans from among the thousands of inquiries nationwide each month.  In the first four months of 2003, Mega Life was named unfavorably by more people than all other health carriers combined.  A distant second problem carrier was Kaiser, serving primarily California residents.  Interestingly, almost as many callers mention Kaiser in a positive context, where over 80% of those mentioning Mega Life had bad experiences.  Both the frequency and the serious nature of many of the problems reported by Mega Life members seem to warrant investigation by health insurance departments nationwide, but we have no knowledge of complaints or investigations by the various state insurance departments.  OnlineAdviser services does not serve as enrollment adviser for either Mega Life or Kaiser plans, but does field inquiries from members of any US health plan.  The complaints list is compiled annually by Health Insurance primarily for the purpose of writing publications for other financial advisers and includes life and health insurance companies, mutual funds and retirement plan service providers.  

4/28/03 Coverage Orthodontic Expenses - Discount savings plans provide more coverage for orthodontic expenses, provide it sooner, and at a much lower price than individual dental insurance plans.  See the article titled "Coverage for Orthodontic Expenses" at www.KymberlyMorrison.com

4/22/03 Clarendon/HPA - Additional information has been requested about the popular three year ( 36 month) short term medical plan approved for issue in most states.  This relatively new health plan is insured by Clarendon National Insurance Company (rated "A" by A. M. Best Reports) and administered by Health Plan Administrators, Inc.  (HPA) in Rockford, IL at (800) 397-5800 (x3 for customer service).  We think this plan has grown in popularity with self-employed individuals because: 1) it is typically about 1/3 less expensive than permanent insurance coverage, 2) most self-employed individuals shop for new health insurance and change plans more frequently than the 3 year limit on this plan allows, 3) it includes a nationwide prescription drug card that covers pre-existing prescriptions and is not subject to a policy deductible, 4) the company offers a 30 day satisfaction guarantee (other medical insurers typically offer 10 days), and 5) policies are issued "instantly" online with ID cards and policies available for immediate printout at time of enrollment.

4/21/03 Clarification on Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs) - HRA plans are generally regarded as the best way for an employer to provide tax-free reimbursements to employees for health expenses not covered by insurance.  But HRAs are not effective if the employees are making voluntary salary deductions for the uninsured expenses.  If voluntary salary deductions are uses, a Medical Savings Account plan may be a better option when available.  Alternately, a HRA can be funded by the employer instead of an increase in wages.

4/18/03 Health Insurance Scam in Florida - The principals of an unlicensed health insurance plan in Florida are facing felony charges and thousands of Florida residents are facing millions of dollars in unpaid medical claims.  MedSave.com reminds users that the insurance companies on this Website deals are fully licensed with the Insurance Department in each state where they offer coverage.  Whenever in doubt, a consumer should check the validity of any insurance plan with their state insurance company.

New Washington State Health Insurance - Until now, Washington residents had only one inexpensive private medical insurance plan with a 6 month coverage period with a maximum of 12 months total coverage allowed under two consecutive policies.  Now a new short term medical insurance plan is available at MedSave.com that allows Washington residents to maintain this type of coverage for as long as they need.  This is still a short term plan that requires a new online application at the end of every 6 month term.  There are still no permanent or long term private health insurance plans available in Washington state, but legislative reform initiatives are underway to allow more insurers to offer affordable health insurance plans. 

4/17/03  Telephone Health Insurance Enrollments - With an increase in the use of telephone enrollment interviews, health insurance companies are reminding members that any medical condition mentioned to an insurer in a telephone application may be considered a pre-existing medical condition subject to restricted claims coverage.  For Oklahoma health insurance plans, state law may override this definition of pre-existing medical condition.  

4/16/03 The South Dakota Insurance Department made an inquiry to International Medical Group (IMG) this past month regarding the legal status of their products.  IMG is a market share leader and generally regarded as a leader in customer service and quality of care in their market niche.   IMG is working closely with the Insurance Department to submit requested materials and resolve this matter quickly.  MedSave.com has suspended the offering of IMG plans in South Dakota pending the outcome of the inquiry.  Alternate plans for short term or long term international health insurance are available on the South Dakota page at MedSave.com.

4/15/03 Fortis Health Rate Decreases - Fortis Health announced lower premium rates for individual medical insurance plans issued for an effective date of May 1, 2003 or later in the states of Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky and Wisconsin.  The lower rates apply to Medical Savings Account (MSA) plans, Preferred Provider Plans (PPO) and their popular "Value Plans".  These plans are available to individuals up to age 63 1/2 with no significant medical history who need long term coverage.

4/14/03  John Alden Announces Health Insurance Rate Reductions - The following rate reductions will apply to new individual health insurance and group health insurance plans issued effective May 1, 2003 or later: 

    Arkansas health insurance - 10% reduction on Medical Savings Account (MSA) medical insurance and some other high deductible health insurance plans.

    Indiana health insurance - Up to 15% reduction (depending on age and location) on all health insurance plans.

    Nevada health insurance - 13% reduction on Medical Savings Account (MSA) medical insurance and some other high deductible health insurance plans.

    Tennessee health insurance - 15% reduction on PAC health insurance plans.

    Virginia health insurance - 15% reduction on PAC health insurance plans and 10% reduction on Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Saver plans.

4/13/03  Health Net withdraws from Pennsylvania - Health Net will withdraw its commercial health insurance plan from Pennsylvania because of a competitive market and unprofitable business.  MedSave.com was not an enrollment adviser for Health Net but will offer expanded enrollment support for former Health Net insurance members who switch to other private short term medical or permanent health insurance plans.

4/12/03  Health Insurance Premiums in Colorado, Texas and Florida - When applying for individual health insurance in Colorado, Texas and Florida, state law requires that the initial premium payment check may not be a business check.  This is to avoid any impression that the benefit is "employer provided health insurance" that would be subject to additional and more costly provisions.

4/11/03 New Enrollment Materials for NDGA - New health insurance plan enrollment materials are being printed for members of the National Association of Dog Groomers.  The forms will be available from the association administrator by the beginning of May.  The health insurance plan is available in Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.  Members considering this health insurance plan are encouraged to enroll before June 1 because the rates may be higher for those enrolling after June 1.

4/10/03  Clarification of Availability of Health Savings Plans - Generally the PPO discount medical, discount dental and discount Rx savings plans are available nationwide in all states with the following exceptions.  The MEDICAL SAVINGS plan is NOT available in:  AK, ME, ND, NE, SD, VT, WA and WY.  The DENTAL-VISION SAVINGS plan is not available in:  AR, AK, DE, ID, ME, MT, ND, NH, SC, SD, VT, WA, WY, and WV.  The PRESCRIPTION SAVINGS plan is not available in WA, but will be added soon.

4/9/03 Group Health Insurance Available in NJ - Group insurance from Horizon Blue Cross is now available for small businesses with 2 or more full-time employees in New Jersey.

4/8/03 Expanded Online Long Term Care Policies - Long term care nursing home and home health care insurance policy summaries are now available by email to residents of all states and include a side-by-side comparison of major features and cost of each of the major insurance plans.

4/7/03 New Toll-free Fax Number - MedSave.com has a new toll free fax number: (800) 609-0683

4/6/03 Short Term Medical Insurance production report for the month of March 2003 shows that American Health Shield is the most popular plan with more than 75% market share, followed by Fortis Health, and then HPA and Celtic each selected by less than 10% of MedSave.com customers.

4/5/03 Clarification of Texas Assigned Risk Health Insurance Program - Texas residents with significant medical history are ineligible for most health insurance plans and must seek coverage through the state assigned risk pool.  The state assigns each health insurance applicant to a private medical insurer.  The price is set by the state program and the coverage is the same regardless of the health insurance company assigned.  Sorry, MedSave.com can not offer any assistance in this procedure since it is completely controlled by the state of Texas.  All Texas residents are eligible for the various health savings plans regardless of medical history and these plans do cover all pre-existing medical conditions.

4/4/03 Discounts on Texas Health Plans - Three of the insurance carriers listed at MedSave.com reduced rates for residents of Texas who do not need to have coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.  The low cost health plans are available to healthy individuals seeking permanent coverage.  (Short term health insurance is still less expensive for coverage of a year or less).


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