February 5, 2014 |
SACRAMENTO - A deadly accident involving a California ride-sharing driver has brought to light a potential downside to this new high-tech carpooling: Who pays when something goes wrong? Companies such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar have long insisted that the insurance they provide their drivers is sufficient to cover accidents. But a recent tragedy shows the murky legal terrain in which these new taxi-like services operate. On New Year's Eve, an Uber driver struck and killed a 6-year-old girl who was crossing a San Francisco street with her family.
February 4, 2014 |
WASHINGTON - President Obama's healthcare law will reduce the ranks of the uninsured by about 13 million this year and 25 million once it is fully phased in, but will prompt some people to work less because of the availability of insurance subsidies, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday. The latest projections by the nonpartisan budget analysts inspired new talking points for both sides in the deeply polarized debate over the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.
January 31, 2014 |
Ever since the housing market collapse, nothing stokes the flames of public outrage quite like the phrase "government bailout. " It's become the condemnation of choice for both parties when faced with a policy they don't like. Lately, conservatives have been arguing that an obscure provision of the 2010 healthcare law would provide a taxpayer bailout to insurance companies that don't charge high enough premiums. Funny, but they didn't have a problem with that concept when it was used to help launch Medicare's prescription drug program under (Republican)
January 21, 2014 |
Even billionaires like Warren Buffett think watching sports is more fun with a little money on the line. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is insuring a Quicken Loans contest that will award $1 billion to anyone who can correctly guess the winners of all 67 games in this spring's NCAA men's basketball tournament. Buffett said the idea for the contest was his. He said he was talking sports with Quicken Loans founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert in November when he pitched the idea to insure a $1-billion prize for a perfect bracket.
January 10, 2014 |
Obamacare's biggest problem isn't the troubled HealthCare.gov website anymore. Consumers are easing up on criticism of government exchanges and turning their frustration and fury toward some of the nation's biggest health insurers. All too often, new policyholders say, the companies can't confirm coverage, won't answer basic questions, and haven't issued identification numbers needed to fill prescriptions or get medical care. Day after day, people say, they contact insurance company call centers waiting hours at a time with no response.
December 20, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Despite the problems plaguing the rollout of Obamacare, the “core of the law” is working and “more than half a million Americans have enrolled” in health plans so far in December, President Obama said Friday. “I'm in charge, obviously, we screwed it up,” Obama said at a White House news conference, referring to the public's introduction to the new law. But, he said, “the bottom line also is that we've got - several million people are going to have healthcare that works.” Obama's statement that half a million people had signed up for health plans so far in December was the first accounting the administration has provided of figures for this month.
December 17, 2013 |
When will the insurers revolt? It's a question that's popping up more and more. On the surface, the question answers itself. We're talking about pinstriped insurance company executives, not Hell's Angels. One doesn't want to paint with too broad a brush, but if you were going to guess which vocations lend themselves least to revolutionary zeal, the actuary sciences rank slightly behind embalmers. Still, it's hard not to wonder how much more these people are willing to take. Even an obedient dog will bite if you kick it enough.
December 6, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Roughly 10% of the enrollment forms the federal health insurance website submits to insurance companies include errors, an administration official said Friday, claiming progress on fixing a critical piece of the troubled online marketplace. The error rate for the so-called 834 forms, which relay consumers' personal information to the insurance company they have selected, may have been as high as a quarter of all transactions in October and November, before a flurry of repairs to the HealthCare.gov website, said Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
December 2, 2013 |
After a nasty storm ripped through the East Coast on the busiest travel day of the year, you might think that buying travel insurance for holiday travel would be a no-brainer. Not so much. The 114-year-old National Consumers League concluded recently that travel insurance is usually a bad deal because most policies are riddled with exceptions that allow insurance companies to reject claims for payoffs. Most insurance companies won't disclose their track record for paying out claims, making it nearly impossible to judge whether insurance is worth the money, the league points out. "The unfortunate reality is that these protection policies bring in big bucks for the airlines each year but offer very little real value for customers," said Sally Greenberg, executive director of the National Consumers League.
December 1, 2013 |
WASHINGTON - Two months after its disastrous debut, the federal website for enrolling Americans in health insurance under President Obama's healthcare law has improved markedly, and many consumers are now likely to be able to use it to select insurance plans. Enrollment in health plans - the most important measure - has been accelerating. But the performance of the troubled HealthCare.gov website, which consumers in 36 states are supposed to be able to use to sign up for health coverage, still falls well short of basic standards for Internet-based commerce.