Monthly Archives: May 2017

Phoenix Tops US in population growth!

Phoenix Tops US in Population Growth

 Article originally posted on Phoenix Business Journal on May 25, 2017

Phoenix is tops in the U.S. for population growth, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Phoenix added 32,113 persons to its population between July 2015 and July 2016. That’s more than any other city in the U.S.

Los Angeles added 27,173, San Antonio 24,473 and New York 21,171 persons during the same time frame, according to the Census data. The population data is for cities and not metro areas.

That is good news for the real estate industry, home and apartment builders and business recruiters. It also shows the Phoenix market is getting back to pre-recession norms after the last real estate and economic crash.

Population growth stalled during and right after the recession.

The Phoenix metro area and Arizona as a whole have long depended on population growth to fuel construction, retail and restaurants and business services. A larger population also means Phoenix is in line for more federal funding for transportation, infrastructure and security dollars for programs based on population.

The city of Phoenix is expanding its Metro light rail system and also wants to bring more residents to its downtown core. A growing population can help convince developers and builders to do that.

The city of Phoenix’s population now totals more than 1.6 million persons. That ranks fifth among U.S. cities and ahead of Philadelphia (1.57 million).

New York is the largest U.S. city at 8.5 million followed by Los Angeles at 3.98 million and Chicago with 2.7 million.

The Phoenix metro area has 4.66 million persons. That ranks 12th nationally.

Maricopa County also topped the list of U.S. counties for population growth during the same time frame.

Lee McPheters, an economist with Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business, is projecting 2 percent population growth for the Phoenix metro this year. That comes after 2.1 percent growth in 2016 and 2 percent in 2015. A growing population certainly shows economic attractiveness and strength and appeals to employers looking for workers, home and apartment builders as well as real estate investors.

The Valley’s large labor pool is attractive to back-office and call centers and distribution hubs.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) and Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE: WMT) all have large operational footprints in the Phoenix market.

The West Valley city of Buckeye also ranks as one of the fastest growing U.S. cities posting 4.8 percent growth between July 2015 and July 2016. Buckeye has 64,629 residents, according to the Census Bureau.

That growth ranks Buckeye seventh nationally. Conroe, Texas near Houston had the highest growth at 7.8 percent. Frisco, Texas near Dallas was second with 6.2 percent population growth.

Overall most of the population growth in the U.S. is in the South and West.

“Overall, cities in the South continue to grow at a faster rate than any other U.S region,” said Amel Toukabri, a demographer with the Census Bureau. “Since the 2010 Census, the population in large southern cities grew by an average of 9.4 percent. In comparison, cities in the West grew 7.3 percent, while cities in the Northeast and Midwest had much lower growth rates at 1.8 percent and 3 percent respectively.”

Arizona Senate approves bill to fight surprise medical billing!

The Arizona Senate approved SB 1441 on Wednesday, which would allow patients to challenge an unexpected medical bill after an emergency room visit, according to the Arizona Daily Sun.

Under current Arizona law, patients do not have any type of support to fight insurance companies that refuse to pay for procedures or services a patient received from out-of-network physicians.

SB 1441, authored by Sen. Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria), would allow patients to ask the Arizona Department of Insurance to intervene in cases where patients feel they are being unfairly charged, according to the report.

State intervention, however, would only be available in cases where patients could not check prior to the procedure whether a physician was in or out-of-network.

Arbitration will be available if a healthcare provider does not disclose upfront whether it is considered in-network, charges more than the estimated total cost and does not give the patient a chance to waive their rights to dispute the bill, according to the report.

Sen. Lesko said under SB 1441, patients would only be responsible for the normal co-pay amount and the deductible, in most situations. If the patient agrees ahead of time to a specific out-of-network cost, the legislation will not be applicable, according to the report. However, if the medical bill ends up being more than the agreed upon amount, the patient will have access to the procedure outlined in the legislation.

The Department of Insurance will have until 2019 to create the procedure for the review process if the legislation passes.

Eric Walters Insurance Services

Scottsdale, Az 85260

CELL: 602-616-1660

WEB: www.ewconsultant.biz

Obamarcare vs Trumpcare-now we know!

The major differences between the 2 health plans before the Senate has reviewed the Trump proposals.

Individual Mandate: (X Repeal)

Obamacare: All Americans are required to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty.

Republican plan: The mandate is repealed, but individuals who forgo health insurance for more than 63 days must pay a 30% surcharge on their insurance premiums for a year.

Employer mandate (X Repeal)

Obamacare: Companies with more than 50 employees are required to offer health insurance or pay a penalty.

Republican plan: This mandate is repealed.

Taxes (X Repeal)

Obamacare: Raised Medicare taxes on the wealthy and imposed new taxes on medical devices, health insurers, drug companies, investment income, tanning salons and high-end health insurance plans.

Republican plan: Repeals most Obamacare taxes and delays implementation of the tax on high-end health insurance plans to 2026.

Insurance for dependents√ Keep)

Obamacare: Requires insurers to allow children under age 26 to be covered by their parents’ policies

Republican plan: Maintains this requirement.

Essential health benefits (… Change)

Obamacare: Requires all insurance plans to cover certain health conditions and services, such as emergency room visits, cancer treatment, annual physical exams, prescription drug costs and mental health counselling.

Republican plan: Allows states to define what benefits are mandated or opt out of the requirement entirely.

Pre-existing condition coverage… Change

Obamacare: Prohibits insurers from denying coverage or charging more to individuals who have pre-existing medical conditions.

Republican plan: States can let insurers charge as much as they like to sick people. Allocates $8bn to help subsidise those patients.

Medicaid (… Change)

Obamacare: Expanded Medicaid health insurance for the poor to cover more low-income individuals.

Republican plan: Phases out Medicaid expansion to reduce federal funding on the programme by $880bn over the next decade, and gives states greater flexibility in administering the programme in exchange for fixed federal spending.

Women’s healthcare (… Change)

Obamacare: Insurance companies prohibited from charging women more than men for the same health plan and must provide core services including maternity care and contraceptives.

Republican plan: Insurance companies still banned from charging women more, but states could allow insurers to drop maternity care and contraceptives from basic benefits. Also bans women from using federal tax credits to buy a plan that covers abortion.

Older Americans (… Change)

Obamacare: Insurers can charge older Americans no more than three times the cost for younger Americans

Republican plan: Insurers can charge older Americans five times as much as younger Americans. States would also be able to set their own ratio.

Subsidies (… Change)

Obamacare: Provided refundable tax credits for low-income individuals who purchased their insurance on government-run marketplaces and support for some out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Republican plan: Alters formula for tax credits, which will expand the benefit to more middle-class Americans but probably raise the costs for some elderly and less-affluent individuals.

05/08/2017

All types of individual and group (employee benefits) health plans available  including alternative coverage with new innovative plans with and without employer contribution!

**********************************

 Eric Walters

 Insurance Services

 Scottsdale, Arizona

CELL: 602-616-1660

 WEB: www.ewconsultant.biz/

ACA Blog: www.azhealthinsuranceblog.com

2018 Health Enrollment period- changed!

CMS Officially Shortens 2018 Individual Health Enrollment Period(before an GOP changes)

A new final rule also includes tougher enrollment eligibility screening
President Donald Trump’s administration has formally adopted regulations that could help increase the stability of the individual major medical insurance market, and the Affordable Care Act exchange system, in 2018.

One big change in the new package of regulations will move the end of the open enrollment period for 2018 individual major medical coverage to Dec. 15, 2017 from Jan. 31, 2018.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that put out the packet of regulations, also has made a final decision to:

• Require all consumers who apply for “special enrollment periods,” or exceptions to the usual individual major medical open enrollment period deadline, through HealthCare.gov to provide documents showing they qualify for SEPs before they get health coverage in place.

• Let states that have shown they take evaluating health provider networks seriously continue to set provider network adequacy standards for the exchange plans in their states.

• Give exchange plan issuers a little more wiggle room when it comes to meeting ACA health plan actuarial value standards.
CMS began formal work on the new regulations after Trump took the oath of office, but they appear to reflect changes that CMS officials began to develop while Barack Obama was still president.

CMS assumes in the regulations that existing laws, regulations and batches of informal guidance related to the ACA exchange system and ACA individual major medical rules will stay in place.

The ACA has blocked health insurers from considering personal health factors other than age and location when issuing coverage, pricing coverage or designing benefits since Jan. 1, 2014.

Regulators, insurers and ACA exchange plan managers developed the open enrollment period calendar, or limits on when people can buy individual health coverage without showing they have what the government classifies as a good reason to do so, to discourage healthy people from waiting until they get sick to pay for coverage.

In the past, health insurers and patient advocacy groups have clashed over whether some consumers were abusing the system in ways that helped those consumers wait until they got sick to pay for coverage.
CMS officials said in the introduction to the new final regulations that they believe the shorter 2018 enrollment period and tighter SEP eligibility verification rules will improve the quality of the risk pool and help persuade insurers to stay in the individual market.

Seema Verma, the newly confirmed Trump CMS administrator, said in a statement included with the CMS announcement about the new final regulations that CMS is “committed to ensuring access to high quality affordable health care for all Americans.”
The changes made in the new regulations “will help stabilize the individual and small-group markets,” Verma said. “They are not a long-term cure for the problems that the Affordable Care Act has created in our health care system.”

CMS officials acknowledged in a discussion of the new regulations that the SEP verification requirements could cause problems for some consumers who cannot obtain the documentation required.

“Therefore, we will permit consumers to send us the details about their qualifying event with an explanation of why they are unable to submit requested documentation, and we will take their letters into consideration when deciding whether to exercise reasonable flexibility,” officials said.

5/3/2017

NOTE: These changes are before any GOP changes/repeal of Obamacre.

Eric Walters – Insurance Services.
Scottsdale, Arizona
Cell: 602-616-660
Email: eric@ericwaltersinsuranceservices.com
ACA Blog: www.azhealthinsuranceblog.com
WEB: www.ewconsultant.biz