Archive for the ‘Health Insurance Reform’ Category

Just had a lunch of carrot sticks and hummus.  Good.  I’m motivated to get to a healthy weight and stay there, and it’s the season to make resolutions. 

My key motivator?  The impression I will leave with a certain 2 ½ year old.  My oldest grandbaby is halfway through his 2’s and on his way to 3, and I realized that he will have long-term memories through his life, starting about now.  My first memories were from about that time, and I realize that he is now gathering the first impressions that he will carry through life.

I want him to remember a healthy Grandpa.  I want him to have me as a health role model, not a cautionary tale.  Why?  Because I have been too heavy lately, and I see a lot of big people around me.  I want to be a good example to Christopher.  Also, if I’m doing a lot of work in organizational wellness, I need to walk the talk.  Pun intended – I wear a pedometer.

Also, I am angry that nearly 1 in 5 of our children ages 6 to 19 is obese. That’s up from approximately 1 in 20 in 1980. The hospital costs associated with childhood obesity are in the mega-millions.  That scares me, enough to change my own behavior.

And now, a brief rant.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says “the causes of childhood obesity are multi-factorial.” No, they’re not. Our children are obese because they consume too much bad stuff and move too little. Their diets are high in bad carbohydrates (i.e., junk food) like french fries, sodas and sweets, and low in fresh vegetables, fruits and healthy sources of protein. They spend entirely too much time in front of televisions, video games and computers and not enough time in physical activity.

The best physical activity for a child is free play. A child enrolled in a micromanaged sport is not getting half the exercise I got playing sandlot games in the 1950s and ’60s. I recently did 2 hours in hand-to-hand care of Christopher in a park, and I liked what I saw.  He is certainly aerobic.

The solution?  Parents must  make their children’s weight a high priority. Yes, schools need to eliminate carbo-load lunches along with soda and snack machines, but in the final analysis, childhood obesity is going to be prevented and solved at home.   This is not tough.   Eat at least 90 percent of your meals at home, around the table instead of in front of a television set.  Prepare meals that are heart-healthy. When your children are hungry between meals, offer apples, cheese and raw vegetables. When they’re thirsty, direct them to the faucet.   Christopher’s mom is doing a fine job of this.

Exercise with them. Take daily walks and bicycle rides with your kids. Play catch. Throw Frisbees. When they say they’re bored, point to the back door.   

Okay, I’m off the soapbox for now.  But, learn from this.  Find out what you should weigh, get there and stay there. Having an overweight parent (and grandparent) greatly increases a child’s chances of being overweight.  As my friend Suzanne Metzger says – “The greatest gift you can give another is the example of your own life working, and working well.

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Welcome back!  Now, for the next drop in the bucket…

Rhetorical question – wouldn’t you love to have a quick guide to what is happening and when in health insurance reform?  I just found exactly that – click here.  It just takes some time and distance to make complex things clear…which is anther reason I am glad I work at Gregory & Appel.

Looking forward to a very interesting 2011.

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Just got news that a Federal District Court Judge( Henry E. Hudson, a George W. Bush appointee) has ruled the individual mandate in the PPACA unconstitutional.

So, why does this not matter?

He is the third district court judge to rule, and is the first to rule against the PPACA as enacted.  Ah, but here is the catch – He ruled against the government, but he didn’t stop the reform bill from going into force.  He refused to grant an injunction against the legislation’s continued implementation. The construction of the bill’s infrastructure will continue.

The plaintiffs in this case were asking that the entire bill be struck down, which the judge did not do.  He only ruled against the individual mandate, which is a helpful part of the bill but not the core operational issue.  I am not a legal type, even though I work in Insurance, but it appears clear that the language the judge chose to use sharply limits the scope of the court’s action.

The last word on all of this will be in the big marble building just East of the Capitol – the Supreme Court. The fact that the various courts are sniping at each other ensures that the Supreme Court will be the final decider.  As of now, if you are keeping score, the range of opinions is from “the law is fine” to “the individual mandate is not fine, but the rest of the law is.”   Who knows.  It may get partially repealed and Republicans may  block any attempts at a fix, but it’s a far cry from a world in which the Supreme Court strikes down the whole of the health-care law. 

Stay tuned – in about two years…

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I confess that I’m a grammar junkie.  I proofread billboards as I drive and let servers know when menus are misprinted. 

So there I was in a waiting room yesterday, and there was a cookie warmer in the corner.  Nice.  I noted the big red warning sticker, and assumed it would say something like “Warning.  These cookies are warm”.  Not so.  In urgent capital letters, it said “Warning.  Intended for use with potentially non-hazardous foods only”   

Wow.  So, clearly, there are hazardous foods out there that take the shape of cookies?  Or, foods that have the potential to be hazardous?  Is this a part of OSHA?

Put me down as speechless on this one.  For a start, I think we need better critical thinking skills in the warning label writing department…

Vaguely threatening but makes no sense. Kind of like many of the federal regulations on HR.

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The new normal has begun – and the first scraps of new ideas in delivering health insurance are emerging.

I spotted an interesting story from the Carolinas.   You can read it here.  They are setting up state-wide cooperatives to offer group buying of health insurance.  Exchanges, anyone?  Where many states are filing lawsuits to challenge the constitutionality of the new law, others are moving forward and getting new structures in place. 

This is a time where the early adopter has an advantage.  The first states to figure out the recipe for affordable health insurance will have a real competitive advantage.  Time to act!

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I promised to keep you posted on the frontlines of the challenges to health insurance reform.  Yesterday, the first lawsuit that I know of was ruled on by a judge – and the basic constitutionality of the law was upheld.  It happened in a federal courtroom in Detroit – you can read the full story here.  As you may know, the State of Indiana has filed it’s own lawsuit challenging the law, so this first ruling is of special interest to our Attorney General…

I’ll keep you posted.

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In today’s trifecta of Webinars on Health Insurance Reform, the overall theme is handicapping the political scene in general, and the mix of the Republicans vs the Democrats in congress when the smoke clears in early November.

It really doesn’t matter, as the outcome will certainly not be a complete repudiation of everything Democratic.  There will still be gridlock.

What really does matter this week is California taking the first steps on setting up the first state Insurance Exchange, with legislation signed by a moderate Republican governor to get the basics in place.  Many other states are watching this carefully.  Others are taking another, more confrontational approach – suing the constitutionality of the whole affair. 

What REALLY matters in all of this is that the early leanings in California exclude the use of Brokers and Licensed Agents from participation in the exchanges.  I’m here to tell you that the idea of non-licensed advisors involved in something as complex as health insurance is a bad idea.  Kind of like a non-licensed financial advisor running your 401k.  Bad (or unethical) things might happen.

A good blog post on the overall subject can be read here.  I’ll be following this issue in coming months and reporting back…

Webinar survival kit - soda, smartphone, speakerphone, and a notepad. If only there was a better answer than "Yes and No"...

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