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Archive for the ‘Insurance’ Category

This is Your Auto Insurance on Slowdown

Monday, October 20th, 2008

The debate about how high gas prices might affect auto insurers has been supplanted by concerns over how their balance sheets may look in light of investments that have turned sour in recent weeks. How individual companies will be affected by the economic slowdown will vary in the short term, but it seems likely that overall they will have some difficulties. The credit crisis comes at a particularly bad time for the auto insurance industry as their prices have fallen in recent years due to competition pressures. The government seizure of AIG also portends some upcoming shifts in market dynamics. AIG has indicated it is likely to sell off assets to repay federal loans, and with no announced buyer, the degree to which this will affect market concentration remains to be determined.

Bush shelves children’s insurance compliance concerns

Friday, August 15th, 2008

The President has backed off threats to impose financial penalties on states that have enrolled too many children in a State Federal insurance program. Fifteen states were threatened with penalties to take effect Monday if they failed to remove children from families with incomes of 250% of the poverty line from the program. Legislators argued that the new guidelines, including a requirement that children go uninsured for one year prior to being enrolled, were too stringent and would result in too many children going uninsured. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program, or SCHIP insures 6.6 million people, an overwhelming majority of whom are children. Compliance concerns haven’t evaporated, but for the immediate future, their enforcement and resulting fines and loss of Federal funding have been taken off the table.

California makes another attempt at reforming the insurance industry

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Efforts to pass a universal health plan failed earlier this year. But the issue is still alive in the hearts and minds of legislators. They are keen to avoid fully scrapping the two years of work they put into wholesale health care reform.
If government requires that certain services are included in insurance policies, it drives up the cost of these policies and leaves people who can’t afford them uninsured. When the government doesn’t stipulate the details of insurance policies, cheaper plans come available, but these cheaper health plans aren’t made available to elderly or infirm, who need them most.
There is an equal but opposite reaction within the insurance industry for every bit of regulating the government does.
California is trying to chart a third course that limits the insurers’ profits on individual health care plans, as well as limit the annual spending of the insured.  Governor Schwarzenegger opposes stipulating specific services to be included in policies, but proponents of such limits suggest that it’s the only way to provide consumers with meaningful healthcare reform.