Tag Archive: Mark Shuster UGA Health Insurance


 

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The Phoenix man involved in a murder suicide had lost his mother and brother to murder at the hands of his father.  Phoenix police say officers were doing a welfare check at a home on December 23rd at around 7:15 p.m. and forced their way inside after nobody came to the door.  Sgt. Tommy Thompson says they found 36-year-old Jocelyn Casdorph and 47-year-old Victor Issa dead.  A preliminary investigation indicates Victor Issa shot Casdorph and then himself.

Authorities say Victor Issa’s family had a history of domestic violence that resulted in the incarceration of his father and brother and the deaths of his mother and the same brother in California.  In 2010, his brother Amier Rocky Issa was convicted of slashing a former boyfriend’s face with a knife.  During jury deliberations, he fled to Las Vegas and was rearrested at the MGM Grand hotel with medications, large quantities of salt he had been eating, a rope and a tent, court records show.  Amier was sentenced to treatment at a state mental hospital and then to three years’ probation with further mental-health treatment and a domestic-violence class.

Six years later, between March 27 and 29, 2016, Shehada Issa fatally stabbed his wife inside their LA home and on March 29, 2016, fatally shot Amier Rocky Issa, 38 on the front lawn of the home.  The case drew national attention as family members said Shehada Issa wanted to kill his son because he was gay.

When police arrived at the family’s home, officers found the son’s body outside and the mother’s body was found inside a bathroom, according to evidence presented at trial.  Police said the father admitted to shooting his son with a shotgun, but said that it was in self-defense. His defense attorney argued that Amier Issa had killed his mother and threatened to kill his father with a knife, causing Issa to shoot his son in self-defense.   Detectives said Shehada’s story did not match with evidence at the scene, saying there was no knife found near his son’s body.

Prosecutors in the case told jurors that Issa thought he had committed the “perfect crime” by killing his wife and blaming it on his gay son, whom he claimed to have shot to death in self-defense.  According to prosecutors, Issa had a longtime gambling problem that caused him to have a constant need for cash and that Issa’s wife didn’t want to put their North Hills home up for sale.  The woman had told her husband that she would not sign home sale papers, and he responded by threatening her life and listing the home anyway.  During the trial, Victor Issa testified that his father was a troubled gambler who had a violent, abusive relationship with his mother Rabihah and an ever-increasing hatred for his gay son.  He told jurors about constant money problems and squabbles within the home as a result of his father’s gambling. He also said that when the defendant found out that Rocky was gay, “their relationship changed” and his father nursed a growing hatred for Amier Rocky.  He testified that his father detested the fact that his son was gay and was ashamed of him.  Victor said “He called him things like ‘whore of Babylon.’  It was constant for years. It was, ‘He deserves to die.’ ”   Shehada Issa was sentenced in 2017 to two consecutive life sentences plus 26 years in the murders.

Amier Rocky posted a message to Facebook ten days before the murder suicide saying he was worried that his parents, brother and sister were “literally controlling me in my sleep.  If there is a devil or evil spirit, I truly believe it manifests itself in my family.”

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The family of a New Jersey high school wrestler says racism drove a white referee to demand that their son, Andrew Johnson cut his dreadlocks before he could compete in a match. Video of the teen getting his hair cut with scissors in the gym sparked outrage.  The video was recorded just before the December 19th match and shows a sports trainer clumsily cutting the hair of the 16-year-old varsity wrestler, who’s dressed in a wrestling uniform and is visibly shaken to have his dreadlocks sheared off.  Johnson was told he had just 90 seconds to agree to the haircut or he would be forced to forfeit the match.  Andrew won the match in sudden victory in overtime.

Just out of the frame of the video—which has since gone viral—the referee, Alan Maloney, is directing the trainer to keep cutting Johnson’s hair until he was satisfied with its length.   Maloney had arrived late to the match and missed a weigh-in where referees would typically raise objections to a wrestler’s appearance.  Johnson was wearing his usual headgear and covering his hair when he stepped out to compete but the referee said his hair was not in compliance with state rules. The referee told Andrew his hair and headgear were not in compliance with league regulations.  Andrew told the referee he could push his hair back but the referee refused because Andrew’s hair “wasn’t in its natural state.”  He then gave the teen the ultimatum of cutting his dreadlocks or forfeiting the match with just 90 seconds to decide.  According to the NFHS wrestling rule book, a wrestler’s hair cannot fall below the top of a shirt collar in the back, below his earlobes on the sides, or below his eyebrows.  If it is longer than the rule allows, the wrestler has to braid his hair or hide it beneath a hair cover attached to his ear guards, the rulebook states.

New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Executive Director Larry White said in a statement that state authorities are investigating the incident.  The referee won’t be assigned to moderate matches until the incident “has been thoroughly reviewed,” White said.  “Finally, as an African-American and parent — as well as a former educator, coach, official and athlete — I clearly understand the issues at play, and probably better than most,” White added.  A spokeswoman for the office of New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said its civil rights division opened an investigation into the incident as part of a 2013 agreement with the NJSIAA “to address potential bias in high school sports.”

Charles and Rosa Johnson released a statement through their lawyer, saying they are overwhelmed with the unsolicited support their son has received – including from an Olympic wrestler, leading civil rights advocates, and elected officials.  They said their son has been dealing with the aftermath of the controversial incident.  “Wrestling has taught Andrew to be resilient in the face of adversity. As we move forward, we are comforted by both the strength of Andrew’s character and the support he’s received from the community. We will do all that we can to make sure that no student-athlete is forced to endure what Andrew experienced,” his parents said in the statement.

Dominic Speziali, the attorney representing the family, argued that the referee should have raised any concerns during the pre-match weigh-in.   Though the referee missed the weigh-in because he was late to the meet, he “failed to raise any issues with the length of his hair or the need to wear a head covering.”  The family defended the athletic trainer and their son’s coaches.  “As this matter is further investigated, the family wants to be clear that they are supportive of Andrew’s coaches and the team’s athletic trainer,” Speziali said. “The blame here rests primarily with the referee and those that permitted him to continue in that role despite clear evidence of what should be a disqualifying race-related transgression.”

 

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CBS announced it will withhold all of the $120 million severance package contained in the contract for Les Moonves, former chair and CEO of the media giant. Moonves resigned in September after The New Yorker published an article detailing a slew of previously unreported sexual assault and sexual harassment allegations.  The decision follows an investigation by two law firms into the allegations against Moonves which culminated in a graphic report that concluded that the company had ample of reasons to fire the television executive for cause, subsequently paving the way for it to withhold the payout.

The investigation was conducted by law firms Debevoise & Plimpton and Covington & Burling .  It determined that “harassment and retaliation are not pervasive at CBS.” Even so, the board claimed that the investigation uncovered past incidents of misconduct and “concluded that the Company’s historical policies, practices and structures have not reflected a high institutional priority on preventing harassment and retaliation.”

Among the investigations findings was that Moonves “destroyed evidence and misled investigators in an attempt to preserve his reputation and save a lucrative severance deal.” Investigators interviewed 17 women who had reported accusations of misconduct and cited them as credible sources.  The report also included several previously undisclosed allegations of sexual misconduct.  The report states that Mr. Moonves engaged in multiple acts of serious, nonconsensual sexual misconduct in and outside of the workplace both before and after he came to CBS in 1995.”

Investigators say Moonves’ also tried to keep a previously undisclosed claim of sexual assault quiet by an actress named Bobbie Phillips, and subsequently tried to find her employment with CBS projects after her manager approached him about the incident. Investigators say Moonves removed text messages with Dauer from an iPad in an attempt to keep hidden his efforts from the board’s inquiry. The report disclosed that Moonves had provided investigators with his son’s iPad, rather than his own.

Investigators found that Moonves received oral sex from at least four employees “under circumstances that sound transactional and improper to the extent that there was no hint of any relationship, romance, or reciprocity.”  The report also claims that CBS management was aware of allegations against Moonves for years. Former board member Arnold Kopelson, who died in October, was informed as early as 2007 about an attack in which a woman said “Moonves had masturbated in front of her and tried to kiss her during a doctor’s visit in 1999.”   There is no evidence Kopelson took any action to look into the allegations or inform other board members.

Moonves was forced to step down in September, following a New Yorker story in which a dozen women came forward claiming he had sexually harassed or assaulted them.  Multiple women have accused Moonves of sexual misconduct.  The story included allegations of women who accused him of forcing them to perform oral sex, exposing himself to them, and retaliating when they rejected him.  Moonves has denied the accusations.  Approximately $140 million was remaining in Moonves’ employment contract, but $20 million was designated for grants after he departed the television network in September due to sexual misconduct allegations. The $120 million left was then placed in a trust.

 

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A Missouri judge has ordered a serial poacher who illegally shot and killed hundreds of deer, to watch the Walt Disney film “Bambi” at least once a month over the course of a 1-year prison term.  Authorities say over a 3-year period David Berry Jr. left hundreds of bodies to rot after beheading the deer for hunting trophies.  Berry is one of three members of a southwest Missouri family that had been caught in a multi-year poaching case where authorities say hundreds of deer were killed illegally.

Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Don Trotter said the deer were trophy bucks taken illegally, mostly at night, for their heads, leaving the bodies of the deer to waste.  The southwest Missouri case involves David Berry Sr. of Springfield, David Berry Jr. of Brookline, and Kyle Berry of Everton. The trio were involved in a multi-year investigation by state, federal and Canadian law enforcement agencies and conservation officers involving suspects in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Canada.  Conservation agents are calling it one of Missouri’s largest cases of deer poaching.

David Berry Jr. received a 120-day sentence in Barton County Circuit Court for a felony firearms probation violation. On Dec. 6, he received a one-year jail sentence in Lawrence County Associate Court after pleading guilty to taking wildlife illegally on Oct. 11.  The 120-day sentence Berry Jr. received in Barton County Circuit Court will be served in addition to the one-year sentence he received in Lawrence County.  To date, the trio of poachers has paid $151,000 in bonds and $51,000 in fines and court costs and collectively served 33 days in jail.

David Berry Sr. and David Berry Jr. had their hunting, fishing and trapping privileges revoked for life by the Missouri Conservation Commission. Eric Berry and Kyle Berry had hunting and fishing privileges revoked for 18 years and 8 years, respectively.  Jerimiah Cline, of Republic, who took wildlife illegally and assisted the Berrys, had hunting privileges revoked for five years.  The family was caught and convicted through Missouri’s Operation Game Thief program.

Facts of the case were uncovered by several years of investigative work. On July 11, 2016, approximately 100 state, federal and Canadian wildlife officers simultaneously interviewed multiple suspects and other persons of interest in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Canada. Information gained from these and earlier interviews tied 14 Missouri residents to over 230 charges that occurred in 11 Missouri counties. Three suspects were tied to additional wildlife violations in Kansas, Nebraska and Canada. Two suspects were tied to Federal Lacey Act Wildlife violations that occurred in Kansas, Nebraska, and Canada.

Randy Doman of the Missouri Department of Conservation said ‘In situations like this, with serial poachers who have no regard for the animals, rules of fair chase or aren’t bothered by the fact that they’re stealing from others, it’s all about greed and ego.  Taking just the heads is their version of obtaining a ‘trophy,’ and leaving the carcass behind is merely an afterthought,” he continued. “While there are some cases where poachers go after the antlers for profit, with this bunch it was more about the thrill of the kill itself.”

 

 

 

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According to an investigation by the Reuters news agency, the U.S. pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that some of its talcum powder contained dangerous levels of asbestos, but covered up its findings about the deadly carcinogen. Investigative reporters found documents showing the company knew about traces of asbestos in some of its baby powder as early as 1971.  The report came as Johnson & Johnson faces thousands of lawsuits claiming its talcum powder led to cancer.

The examination of those documents, as well as deposition and trial testimony, shows that from 1971 to the early 2000s, the company’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos, and that company executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers fretted over the problem and how to address it while failing to disclose it to regulators or the public.  The documents also reveal successful efforts to influence U.S. regulators’ plans to limit asbestos in cosmetic talc products and scientific research on the health effects of talc.

The earliest mentions of tainted J&J talc come from 1957 and 1958 reports by a consulting lab. They describe contaminants in talc from J&J’s Italian supplier as fibrous and “acicular,” or needle-like, tremolite. That’s one of the six minerals that in their naturally occurring fibrous form are classified as asbestos.  Various reports by scientists at J&J, outside labs and J&J’s supplier yielded similar findings into the early 2000’s. The reports identify contaminants in talc and finished powder products as asbestos or describe them in terms typically applied to asbestos, such as “fiberform” and “rods.”

In 1976, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was weighing limits on asbestos in cosmetic talc products, J&J assured the regulator that no asbestos was “detected in any sample” of talc produced between December 1972 and October 1973. It didn’t tell the agency that at least three tests by three different labs from 1972 to 1975 had found asbestos in its talc – in one case at levels reported as “rather high.”

The World Health Organization recognizes no safe level of exposure to asbestos and while most people exposed never develop cancer, for some, even small amounts of asbestos are enough to trigger the disease years.  Many plaintiffs allege that the amounts they inhaled when they dusted themselves with tainted talcum powder were enough.  The evidence of what Johnson & Johnson knew has surfaced after people who suspected that talc caused their cancers hired lawyers experienced in the decades-long deluge of litigation involving workers exposed to asbestos. Some of the lawyers knew from those earlier cases that talc producers tested for asbestos, and they began demanding J&J’s testing documentation.

Johnson & Johnson is facing around 10,600 liability lawsuits across the United States over its talc products, most involving claims that they caused ovarian cancer, and that the company knew of and concealed risks associated with the products.  They have been fighting the lawsuits for several years with some wins and some loses.  In April, they lost the first trial when a jury in New Jersey awarded $117 million to a man suffering from mesothelioma and his wife.  In May, they lost another trial when a California jury awarded $25.7 million to a woman diagnosed with mesothelioma. Both decisions are under appeal.

 

 

 

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A Kentucky man was charged with two counts of murder and 10 counts of wanton endangerment for killing two African-American customers at a Kroger grocery store. He is being held in jail with bail set at $5 million. Police say 51-year-old Gregory Bush was captured on a surveillance camera trying to force open the doors of the First Baptist Church of Jeffersontown for several minutes, before turning his attention to a nearby Kroger supermarket. He was charged with killing Maurice Stallard, 69, and Vickie Lee Jones, 67, at the supermarket in Jeffersontown, Ky., a suburb of Louisville.

Bush allegedly walked into the Kroger, pulled a gun and shot Stallard in the back of the head, then shot him several more times. Then he went outside and killed Jones, who also died from multiple gunshot wounds.  Bush exchanged gunfire in the parking lot with an armed bystander who saw him shoot Jones.  Another armed bystander, Louisville resident Ed Harrell told reporters that as he crouched in the Kroger parking lot clutching his own revolver, the gunman walked by him and said, “Don’t shoot me. I won’t shoot you. Whites don’t shoot whites.”

Prosecutors are investigating the murders as a “possible hate crime” because Bush had no known connection to either victim, or to the store, and had tried and failed to enter a nearby black church moments earlier.  Any charges related to hate crimes would be federal charges and separate from the state charges against Bush.  Officials have said they believe the crimes may fit that definition. Hate crimes are defined by the FBI as a traditional criminal offense but with an added element of bias.

Gregory Bush has a history of mental illness and of making racist slurs.  He also has a long rap sheet of misdemeanor charges, including domestic violence, for punching his father in the face and lifting his mother by her neck.   Records show he attempted suicide in 2001 and convictions for menacing and making terroristic threats.  In 2009, a judge ordered Bush to surrender his guns and undergo mental health treatment, after his parents claimed Bush threatened to shoot them in the head. Bush’s father said his son “carries a gun wherever he goes.” It’s not clear whether Bush’s guns were returned when the court order expired in 2011.

Jeffersontown residents gathered to honor the victims of the senseless shooting.  Maurice Stallard had served in the Air Force and married his high school sweetheart.  He worked in the security department of GE Appliances.  He is survived by his wife, a son and daughter and four grandchildren.

Vickie Lee Jones was a regular churchgoer and breast cancer survivor who had retired from a veteran’s administration hospital to help care for her ailing mother.   She is survived by her mother, four children, 11 grandchildren and 5 siblings.

 

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Fox News host Laura Ingraham found herself in hot water for a tweet mocking outspoken Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor David Hogg.  Hogg survived the Florida shooting that left 17 people dead and 14 others wounded.  He is one of twenty founding members of Never Again MSD, a gun control advocacy group led by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) students.  After Hogg mentioned publicly that he had been rejected by four UC campuses, Ingraham taunted him about it on Twitter.  Ingraham tweeted, “David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it. (Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA…totally predictable given acceptance rates.)”

Ingraham was immediately criticized for taunting a 17 year old school shooting survivor; with many pointing out that she herself is a mother and an adult.  Hogg responded with the tweet “ Soooo @IngrahamAngle what are your biggest advertisers … Asking for a friend. #BoycottIngramAdverts”  He then compiled a listing of the top 12 advertisers on Ingraham’s Fox News program and urged his 722,000 followers to “contact” the companies.  He labeled Ingraham as a bully and before long, Hogg’s tweet was flooded with replies from his supporters, some of whom added images of their messages to the companies mentioned.

Several companies have responded to the boycott call.  Nutrish tweeted “We are in the process of removing our ads from Laura Ingraham’s program.”   TripAdvisor pointed to one of its company values — “We are better together” — in its decision to stop advertising on Ingraham’s show.  “We do not . . . condone the inappropriate comments made by this broadcaster,” TripAdvisor said in a statement. “In our view, these statements focused on a high school student cross the line of decency.”  Online home goods retailer Wayfair pulled their ads saying that Ingraham’s personal criticism of Hogg was “not consistent with our values.”  Nestlé and Liberty Mutual also stated that they had no plans to buy future ads on the show. Johnson & Johnson, Stitch Fix, Office Depot, Ruby Tuesday, Miracle Ear, Jenny Craig, Expedia, Nestle, Hulu and The Atlantis, Paradise Island resort have also joined the boycott.

Following the loss of advertisers, Ingraham apologized for mocking Hogg with a tweet the next day.  “Any student should be proud of a 4.2 GPA-incl. @DavidHogg111. On “On reflection, in the spirit of Holy Week, I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland.  For the record, I believe my show was the first to feature David immediately after that horrific shooting and even noted how poised he was given the tragedy.  As always, he’s welcome to return to the show anytime for a productive discussion.”

Hogg dismissed the apology as an insincere “effort just to save your advertisers” and continued to label Ingraham a bully.  “The apology . . . was kind of expected, especially after so many of her advertisers dropped out,” Hogg said on CNN. “I’m glad to see corporate America standing with me and the other students of Parkland and everybody else. Because when we work together, we can accomplish anything.”

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Haiti has suspended the British charity Oxfam as it investigates reports that it tried to cover up sex crimes by senior aid workers in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake. An internal Oxfam review concluded in 2011 that senior aid workers hired prostitutes at Oxfam properties in Haiti and then tried to cover it up. Prostitution is illegal in Haiti, but Oxfam refused to report the activity of its aid workers to Haitian police. Oxfam’s internal report also includes claims that three Oxfam staff members physically threatened a witness during the internal investigation.
The report confirms that Roland van Hauwermeiren, the country director in the Caribbean nation for Oxfam’s Great Britain arm, admitted to hiring prostitutes to his official residence. A news report revealed there had been at least one “Caligula orgy” with women dressed in Oxfam T-shirts. No public disclosures were made of the alleged abuse at the time, though the 2011 report shows that the director and six others were dismissed or resigned for misconduct, including three who did so because of “use of prostitutes.” All of the names in the document were redacted besides van Hauwermeiren. Oxfam said in a statement that the full un-redacted reports will be given to the Haitian government. The Charity Commission has said it was not told the full story when Oxfam first looked into the allegations in 2011.
The scandal around van Hauwermeiren, who also faced allegations about work in Chad in 2006 where he presided over an office with employees accused of hiring prostitutes. The history of alleged abuse, and the fact that he was allowed to go on to work for another charity in Bangladesh, prompted Oxfam to call for an independent review of itself by women’s rights groups.
An internal investigation by the charity into sexual exploitation, the downloading of pornography, bullying and intimidation is claimed to have found children may have been exploited by employees. The report also clarifies that the charity was aware of concerns about the conduct of two of men at the center of the Haiti allegations when they previously worked in Chad.
Oxfam has been hit with dozens more misconduct allegations involving a slew of countries, in the days since The Times of London revealed Oxfam tried to cover up the sex crimes by senior aid workers in Haiti. The charity now faces worries about funding from the British government and its ability to fundraise while multiple prominent ambassadors for the group have resigned.

 

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Suddenly uninsured?  If you think you’re eligible for a special enrollment period (SEP) for health insurance, be ready to prove it.  New regulations effective June 23, 2017, require 100 percent of consumers seeking an SEP in states served by the federal website platform to provide pre-enrollment verification.[1]Previously, about half of consumers requesting an SEP were required to do so.

The crackdown, which stems from a final rule issued April 18, 2017, aims to curb “misuse and abuse of special enrollment periods” by those who decided to enroll in coverage after they find out they need healthcare.[2]

Don’t Qualify for Special Enrollment?

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Need Coverage for 90+days?

Consider this Long-Term Solution[3]

 

To help you understand how health insurance special enrollment periods will be handled from now on, here are five key things to know:[4]  

1.  You must have a “qualifying life event” to become eligible for special enrollment. Click here for an in-depth look at qualifying life events from CMS

2.  Documentation will be required. If you have a qualifying life event, you will need to submit documentation that confirms it as requested by the exchange through which you enroll.

3. A deadline will apply. You will have 30 days to provide the requested information.

4. Roll-out of pre-enrollment verification will happen in two phases. The first phase starts June 23, 2017, and the second begins sometime in August.

On June 23, 2017, pre-enrollment verification begins for those who experience the following qualifying life events:

a.) Loss of qualifying health coverage (i.e., minimum essential coverage)

  • Job-based coverage – yours or someone else’s
  • Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage including pregnancy-related coverage and medically needy coverage
  • Some student health plans – check with the school to verify that the plan counts as qualifying health coverage
  • Individual or group health plan coverage that ends during the year
  • Dependent coverage through a parent’s plan

b.) A permanent move

  • Gained access to new health insurance plans due to a change in primary residence and
  • Had qualifying coverage for at least one of the 60 days preceding the date of the move or
  • Lived in a foreign country or in a U.S. territory for at least one of the 60 days preceding the date of the move

In August 2017, pre-enrollment verification will be added for those who experience the following qualifying life events (more details will follow later this summer):

a.) Marriage

b.) Gaining or becoming a dependent through adoption, placement for adoption, placement in foster care, or a child support or other court order

c.) Medicaid/CHIP denial

5. If you can’t prove you qualify for an SEP, you could remain uninsured. And, if you are not exempt from having minimum essential coverage, that means you could owe a tax penalty.

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Read the CMS Overview

What if I’m denied special enrollment?

It is possible to file an appeal. However, you could find yourself without health insurance coverage and, as mentioned above, may owe a tax penalty if you are not exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.

Find Temporary Coverage

You may need to consider short term coverage, a hospital indemnity plan or another type of health benefits to help pay for healthcare until you have minimum essential coverage.

How do I begin the special enrollment process?

Visit www.HI4E.Org to get started.   You will then be able to “Request-A-Free-Quote” or request extra guidance and assistance with finding coverage until your new Obamacare plan begins January 2018.   We can also help you shop and price-out the available plans that may be left within your state.

 

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Find A More AFFORDABLE Health Plan That Is Still Being Offered Within Your State, When You Shop At:  www.hi4e.org          HealthInsurance4Everyone & Health & Life Solutions LLC  –  Over 54,000 Combined Fans/Followers & We’re Growing Daily!!

 

 

The number of health insurers participating in the ‘Affordable’ Care Act exchanges has declined by 24 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

 

In 2016, there were 287 insurers who offered insurance on the Obamacare exchanges and in 2017 that number dropped to 218. There were 34 states that saw the number of insurers decline, 15 states have the same amount of insurers from 2016 to 2017 and only one state added an insurer in 2017.

Five states, ALABAMA, ALASKA, OKLAHOMA, SOUTH CAROLINA, and WYOMING, have only one insurer operating on the exchanges, leaving consumers with little choice.    

In one-third of counties in the United States, about one in five enrollees, or 21 percent, have access to only one insurer operating on the exchanges. This is a significant increase from the 2 percent of enrollees in 7 percent of counties that had access to only one insurer last year.

“In 2017, insurance company losses led to a number of high profile exits from the market,” the study explains. “In 2017, 58% of enrollees (living in about 30% of counties) had a choice of three or more insurers, compared to 85% of enrollees (living in about 63% of counties) in 2016.”

As larger commercial insurers such as Aetna and United Healthcare have dropped out of Obamacare, many areas will only have regional insurers to choose from, said Ed Haislmaier, an expert in health care policy at the Heritage Foundation.

                           

“The reality is that the individual market even pre-Obamacare was a very small part of their business,” said Haislmaier. “So those companies have basically dropped out and what that leaves are a couple of companies with broader footprints but not more than about 10 or 12 states.”

“What you’re down to is basically in most cases your dominant Blue Cross plan and then depending on the size and location you may have regional players and by regional it could mean either across two or more states or just within a state,” he said.       

Haislmaier and the Heritage Foundation, who originally created the methodology for this type of study earlier this year, said that the ‘Affordable’ Care Act has left consumers with less competition and choice than ever before.

“One of the stated aims of the ‘Affordable’ Care Act was to increase competition among health insurance companies,” said Haislmaier.

“That goal has not been realized, and by several different measures the ACA’s exchanges offer less competition and choice in 2017 than ever before. Now in the fourth year of operation, the exchanges continue to be far less competitive than the individual health insurance market was before the ACA’s implementation.”

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, said that Congress needs to repeal and reform Obamacare without delay. 

“The Obamacare death spiral is continuing,” she said. “As rates rise, healthy people drop out and the share of sick people rise, causing further increases in rates. Since these rates are capped then the insurance business becomes less profitable and companies leave the business.”   

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