You can now open your Obamacare Account online

You can now setup your obamacare account on the exchange
Ihealthcare Updates
| Written by IHU staff writter
Filed under Healthcare Reform,In the News

You can now open your Obamacare Account online

The Health Insurance Market place does not open up officially until two months from today. However in addition to a draft of the paper application you can now take a sneak peak at the online system, and open your own personal obamacare account on the health insurance marketplace.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today consumers could now go establish personal accounts by going online and creating a username and password. Selection of plans will not be available until September when additional details on insurance plans and premiums offered in local areas will become available through the online marketplace.

The new personal account feature unveiled today will only be available in English for the time being. HHS said personal accounts will be coming soon to the Spanish-language marketplace, at cuidadodesalud.gov.

This Monday’s announcement by Sebelius made clear the Market place is on track “We are on target and ready to flip the switch on Oct. 1.”

Here are the steps to create Health Insurance Marketplace/Obamacare account

Provide some basic information like your name, address, and email address
Choose a user name and password
Create security questions for added protection
While you are able to create an account, you will not be able to start shopping through the Marketplace for insurance until October 1. But by creating an account now you’ll be one step closer to applying for coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace, comparing plans side-by-side, and enrolling in a plan.

Remember that you can apply for coverage and enroll as soon as October 1, 2013.

If you have any questions you can call 1-800-318-2596, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325.

Top 10 Best Foreign Countries for Retirement: 2013

Top 10 Best Foreign Countries for Retirement: 2013 By Dan Berman, ThinkAdvisor | July 9, 2013 Many groups and publications offer help in finding the best place to spend those retirement years. Obviously, everyone has an idea of what makes for paradise, but there are criteria that can help with the decision. Two years ago, we looked at the Top 7 Cheap, Easy Foreign Cities to Retire as enumerated by International Living magazine. This year, we are revisiting the idea of foreign locales, this time by country. International Living has rated countries on eight categories: real estate, special benefits, cost of living, ease of integration for foreigners, entertainment and amenities, health care, retirement infrastructure and climate. The magazine looked at cost for a variety of things from Internet connections to food and talked to foreigners who have made the move to measure out more subjective parameters like how easy it is to make friends. Of the 22 countries rated, the Dominican Republic finished at the bottom with an average score of 71. To find out which countries were highly rated, check out the Top 10 Best Foreign Countries for Retirement: 10. MALTA: 80.1 Real Estate: 87 Special Benefits: 72 Cost of Living: 81 Integration: 100 Entertainment & Amenities: 68 Health: 82 Retirement Infrastructure: 77 Climate: 75 Boasting a climate typical of the Mediterranean, the 415,000 residents of the Maltese islands enjoy warm winters and hot, dry summers. Malta became independent in 1974, ending nearly two centuries of British rule. The nation joined the European Union in 2004. The economy is driven by tourism, industry and services. 9. THAILAND: 82.3 Real Estate: 82 Special Benefits: 57 Cost of Living: 97 Integration: 87 Entertainment & Amenities: 96 Health: 81 Retirement Infrastructure: 77 Climate: 81 Equal in size to Spain, Thailand is the only nation in Southeast Asia not to be colonized by the European colonial powers. Its 65 million citizens live by constitutional monarchy. Temperatures range from 66 to 100 degrees, and the year can be divided into two seasons: hot and cool. Exports account for 60% of the country’s GDP. 8. SPAIN: 82.5 Real Estate: 87 Special Benefits: 57 Cost of Living: 80 Integration: 83 Entertainment & Amenities: 96 Health: 80 Retirement Infrastructure: 93 Climate: 83 Spain, home to 50 million citizens, has three distinct climate zones: Mediterranean, semiarid and oceanic. This diversity offers weather to suit everyone. With nearly 5,000 miles of beaches, the country, ruled by parliamentary monarchy, has plenty of places to kick back and relax. 7. COLOMBIA: 83.0 Real Estate: 94 Special Benefits: 75 Cost of Living: 70 Integration: 90 Entertainment & Amenities: 82 Health: 84 Retirement Infrastructure: 83 Climate: 86 One thing Colombia has in common with the U.S. is that it has coasts on both the Pacific and the Atlantic, the only South American nation that can claim that distinction. Situated near the equator, Colombia has five climate zones inluding steppes, tropical rain forests, savannahs and mountain climate. The country lives under republican rule. 6. URUGUAY: 83.7 Real Estate: 87 Special Benefits: 72 Cost of Living: 69 Integration: 83 Entertainment & Amenities: 94 Health: 91 Retirement Infrastructure: 82 Climate: 86 Located on the east coast of South America, Uruguay is the size of Oklahoma. The country has 120 miles of Atlantic coastline, low plateau and a rolling plain. The constitutional republic has 3.3 million residents and variable weather with cool winters and warm to hot summers depending on location. 5. COSTA RICA: 84.4 Real Estate: 89 Special Benefits: 85 Cost of Living: 87 Integration: 90 Entertainment & Amenities: 94 Health: 86 Retirement Infrastructure: 73 Climate: 71 With a population of 4.6 million in an area slightly bigger than the combined area of New Hampshire and Vermont combined, Costa Rica includes a coast on the Pacific Ocean with good surfing and a coast on the Caribbean Sea with a rain forest. The democratic republic has a rainy season that runs from May to November, which consists of sunny morning and rainy afternoons. Trade winds in January and February make for cooler days. 4. MEXICO: 85.1 Real Estate: 92 Special Benefits: 71 Cost of Living: 82 Integration: 100 Entertainment & Amenities: 100 Health: 84 Retirement Infrastructure: 74 Climate: 78 With a population of 112 million, the United States’ large neighbor to the south (it’s one-fifth as big) offers beaches, big-city life and mountains. And, except on the peaks, you won’t have to worry about dealing with snow. 3. MALAYSIA: 87.6 Real Estate: 89 Special Benefits: 77 Cost of Living: 92 Integration: 90 Entertainment & Amenities: 100 Health: 93 Retirement Infrastructure: 85 Climate: 75 Slightly bigger than New Mexico, Malaysia sits on the Malay peninsula and is home to 26 million people. The nation is heavily forested and a mountain range runs its entire length. Ruled by constitutional monarchy, the citizens enjoy year-round temperatures in the mid-80s during the day and upper 60s at night. 2. PANAMA: 89.0 Real Estate: 83 Special Benefits: 100 Cost of Living: 86 Integration: 93 Entertainment & Amenities: 95 Health: 85 Retirement Infrastructure: 81 Climate: 88 About 3.5 million people call Panama home. The country, about the size of South Carolina, is ruled by constitutional democracy and boasts its namesake canal, the passageway between the Carribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The weather varies by region, but the humidity and temperature are often lower than in Florida. Be aware, the Panamanian winter and summer seasons are reversed from their U.S. counterparts. 1. ECUADOR: 91.9 Real Estate: 99 Special Benefits: 99 Cost of Living: 90 Integration: 90 Entertainment & Amenities: 95 Health: 83 Retirement Infrastructure: 79 Climate: 100 On the Pacific coast of northwest South America, Ecuador is home to 15.2 million people in an area about the size of Nevada. The Andes, with tall volcanic peaks, cross the nation in two ranges. The Galapagos Islands have been a part of Ecuador since 1832. Being directly on the equator means the country has 12 hours of daylight every day of the year. However, temperature can range from temperate at the beaches to cold in the mountains. —— Check out these other Top 10 lists on AdvisorOne: Top 7 Cheap, Easy Foreign Cities to Retire Top 10 Countries for Economic Growth Top 10 Countries With Best Retirement Systems 10 Best Cities for Jobs in Financial Services Related Articles Employees Turn Focus to College Planning in Q2: Financial Finesse Top 20 Companies for Annuity Sales: Q2 Are We Headed to Mandatory Retirement Savings Accounts? How Investment Gurus Are Fixing Fixed-Income Portfolios Fiduciary Fate of Millions of Retirement Accounts Soon to Be Decided More from ThinkAdvisor Contact About Video Subscribe Twitter eNewsletters LinkedIn Facebook Advertise Privacy Desktop Site Back to top

Affordable Care Act Health Insurance Plans

| Written by IHU staff writter
Filed under Basics,Healthcare Reform

Affordable Care Act Health Insurance plans , tiers and Standards

Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum Health Insurance plans. These are names that will soon become very common to every individual purchasing a health care plan. Insurance is something that is often very difficult and challenging for individuals to understand; additionally due to the complexity of the subject individuals often have a very hard time comparing insurance plans. This article focuses on the Affordable Care Act Health insurance plans tiers and standards.

As part of the Affordable Care Act, starting in January 2014 all health plan providers will be required to meet new federal requirement with regards to the standardization of health insurance plans. The law hopes that standardization of health insurance plans will provide consumers the ability to make better decisions when it comes to comparing difference between health insurance plan options and also help guard against insurance company efforts to cherry pick the healthiest people.

What does standardize health insurance plans means and why will it help consumers?

As part of the Affordable Care Act, all health insurers will be mandated to offer plans to consumers that fit within four tiers of coverage: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Any insurer selling plans within one of the health insurance market places must offer at minimum a silver and gold plan as part of their product offerings.

Each plan being offered must offer the minimum essential health benefits. Hence ensuring the scope of benefits provided by the plans are the same. However, as the plan tiers change so will the cost sharing requirement. The amount an individual consumer or family will pay out of pocket will change from tier to tier. For example, a Bronze Health Insurance plan will have an individual pay more out of pocket expense for the same scope of benefits compared to a Silver health insurance plan.

Note: No health insurance plan will be allowed to charge a deductibles, co-payments, or co-insurance – greater than the limits for high-deductible plans. Additionally health plans for small businesses are barred from charging deductibles greater than $2,000 per year for individual coverage or $4,000 per year for family coverage. Through the Affordable Care Act health plans can not charge a deductible or any cost-sharing for certain. preventive health services.

Each Health plan tier will provide four different level of coverage. The level of coverage will be based on the actuarial value. The actuarial value according to healthcare.gov is

“…the percentage of total average costs for covered benefits that a plan will cover.” For example, if a plan has an actuarial value of 70%, on average, you would be responsible for 30% of the costs of all covered benefits. However, you could be responsible for a higher or lower percentage of the total costs of covered services for the year, depending on your actual health care needs and the terms of your insurance policy. This is very different than your monthly premium you pay for your plan; a monthly premium and individual pay.

While the actuarial value for each health insurance plan that falls within one of the tiers will be the same, the premiums (The monthly fee a person pays a health insurance company to maintain their health insurance coverage) will vary for plans within the same tier level. Variation in price will change from one insurer to another, based on multiple factors such as overall use of services, the prices of health care services negotiated by the insurer, and how the plan controls its services.

Affordable Care Act Health Insurance plans: Bronze In the chart illustrated above a bronze health insurance plan would cover 60 percent of all health care costs for an individual. Enrollees of that plan would be responsible for paying 40 percent of the costs.

Affordable Care Act Health Insurance plans: Silver In the chart illustrated above a silver health insurance plan would cover 70 percent of all health care costs for an individual. Enrollees of that plan would be responsible for paying 30 percent of the costs.

Affordable Care Act Health Insurance plans: Gold In the chart illustrated above a Gold health insurance plan would cover 80 percent of all health care costs for an individual. Enrollees of that plan would be responsible for paying 20 percent of the costs.

Affordable Care Act Health Insurance plans: Platinum: In the chart illustrated above Platinum health insurance plan would cover 90 percent of all health care costs for an individual. Enrollees of that plan would be responsible for paying 10 percent of the costs.

While this chart represent an average view of the tiered plans an individuals with high-cost health conditions could possibly end up paying more than the average person, based on their health conditions.

Please feel free to contact 123insurME.com with your questions.
Or call us Toll Free 1.855.664.2771. We will be able to assist you, your family or small business enroll in a health care plan that’s right for you. October 1, 2013 starts “Open Enrollment”,
You then can chose a health insurance plan, and on January 1 2014 your plan will be effective and you would start using your health insurance. Be sure to book mark our blog so you can keep up with all of the changes to come.

Lock in today’s lower Premium Rates before its to late.

Did you know that due to the Affordable Care Act premiums for health Insurance are set to increase by as much as 200% ? Did you know that TODAY health insurance premiums are the LOWEST that they will ever be? Free Instant Insurance Quotes available now at http://www.123insurME.com. Did you know that children can stay on their parents health insurance plan up to age 26 and they don’t have to be enrolled in school or even live with you? Find out more about all of the Health Insurance Changes taking place due to the ACA, by visiting us regularly here at Blog 123insurME.com

The cost of critical illness would probably crush your finances

By:Bill Coffin of Life Health Pro
May 7,2013

An overwhelming majority (90%) of middle-income Americans say they are not financially prepared for a critical illness diagnosis, according to a new study released by Washington National Institute for Wellness Solutions (IWS).

The study, Middle-Income America’s Perspectives on Critical Illness and Financial Security, which surveyed 1,001 Americans ages 30 to 66 with an annual household income of between $35,000 and $99,999, found that only one in 10 feels strongly confident they have enough savings to cover family emergencies and handle the financial implications of a critical illness,such as cancer, heart disease stroke, or Alzheimer’s disease.

If diagnosed with a critical illness, most middle-income Americans say they would be forced to draw on savings to pay for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by insurance. But according to the study, many have little, if any, savings to fall back on:

75% have less than $20,000 in savings
50% have less than $2,000 in savings
25% have no current savings
To pay for critical illness costs, middle-income Americans say they would need to use credit cards (28%) or loans from family/friends (23%) or financial institutions (19%) to offset expenses not covered by health insurance. Another one-fourth (23%) say they simply “don’t know” what resources they would use to help offset their expenses. Millennials and Gen Xers anticipate greater reliance on credit cards and loans to pay for critical illness expenses.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents said they would probably never recover financially from a cancer diagnosis. Forty-five percent said that they would not recover financially from an Alzheimer’s/dementia diagnosis.

Despite this, only 12 percent of respondents said they have explored care-giving options. Sixty percent have not discussed financial planning for critical illness. And eighty-eight percent have not broached the topic with loved ones or a financial advisor.

Hospital Prices No Longer Secret As New Data Reveals Bewildering System, Staggering Cost Differences

This Article was written by: Jeffery Young & Chris Kirkham and appeared today in the Huffington Post. It’s a long article but you need to read it completely.

Comments (7,512)
When a patient arrives at Bayonne Hospital Center in New Jersey requiring treatment for the respiratory ailment known as COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, she faces an official price tag of $99,690.
Less than 30 miles away in the Bronx, N.Y., the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center charges only $7,044 for the same treatment, according to a massive federal database of national health care costs made public on Wednesday.
Americans have long become accustomed to bewilderment and anxiety when confronting health care bills. The new database underscores why, revealing the perplexing assortment of prices for medical care, with the details of bills seemingly untethered to any graspable principle.
Even within the same metropolitan area, hospitals charge prices that differ by staggering degrees for the same procedures. People without health insurance pay vastly higher costs for care when less expensive options are often available nearby. Virtually everyone who seeks health care winds up paying inflated prices in one form or another as these stark disparities in price sow inefficiencies throughout the market.
While this basic picture has emerged as the consensus reality among health care experts, their evidence has been primarily anecdotal. Hospitals have protected their price lists — documents known as charge masters — as closely guarded secrets.
Their prices are secret no more.
The database released on Wednesday by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services lays out for the first time and in voluminous detail how much the vast majority of American hospitals charge for the 100 most common inpatient procedures billed to Medicare. The database — which covers claims filed within fiscal year 2011 — spans 163,065 individual charges recorded at 3,337 hospitals located in 306 metropolitan areas.
The Obama administration shared the data in advance with The Huffington Post, The New York Times and The Washington Post. What emerges through a preliminary analysis is a snapshot of an incoherent system in which prices for critical medical services vary seemingly at random — from state to state, region to region and hospital to hospital.

These price differences impose a uniquely punishing burden on the estimated 49 million Americans who have no health insurance, experts say. They are the only ones who see on their bill the dollar amounts listed on these official price lists. Yet these same prices effectively shape what nearly everyone pays for health care, because they determine how much private health insurance companies must surrender in reimbursement for services. That in turn influences the size of the premiums that insurance companies charge their customers.
Obama administration officials declined to characterize the causes of these gaping disparities in price, leaving unclear whether they reflect some form of malevolence — profiteering by some institutions or price-rigging — or rather more nebulous factors, such as varying estimates about the underlying costs of providing services.
[Click here to search the database.]
Administration officials said they offered up the data with hopes that its release would administer a market corrective, forcing hospitals to take greater heed of competitors while arming ordinary people with information they could use to seek a better deal. The data could also spur health insurance companies to negotiate with hospitals to seek lower prices.
“Our purpose for posting this information is to shine a much stronger light on these practices,” said Jonathan Blum, director of the Center for Medicare. “What drives some hospitals to have significantly higher charges than their geographic peers? I don’t think anyone here has come up with a good economic argument.”
The very fact that prices are now public may bring change, he added. “Hopefully, it will cause hospitals themselves to take a hard look at their charge-master practices and to ask hard questions of themselves as an industry why there is so much variation,” he said.
Within the nation’s largest metropolitan area, the New York City area, a joint replacement runs anywhere between $15,000 and $155,000. At two hospitals in the Los Angeles area, the cost of the same treatment for pneumonia varies by $100,000, according to the database.
Public access to this data on hospital charges pulls back the curtain on one of the most troubling characteristics of the American health care system: Medical providers set their prices in ways that seem arbitrary, with little oversight and practically no market incentive to reduce them, because almost no one actually pays the official rates.
The data lands as unexpected health care bills continue to be a leading cause of financial ruin for American families. Uninsured and low-income people are often subject to aggressive debt collection by hospitals and their agents when their illnesses result in bills they cannot pay.
Even among people of means, skepticism about American health care is common and with reasons based in data: Americans typically pay higher prices for health care than people in other countries, without gaining higher-quality care or superior health.
The new trove of billing data seems certain to amplify calls for a solution to rising medical costs — not only for ordinary people, but for the economy as a whole. Health care spending continues to grow faster than the economy, though the rate of increase has slowed in recent years, prompting hopes that a fix may be materializing.
In 1999, average charges billed to Medicare were equal to 104 percent of the cost to provide medical care, according to a report issued last June by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, an expert panel that counsels Congress. By 2010, the ratio had more than doubled to 218 percent.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services long has had access to hospital charges via the cost reports facilities must submit to the agency, said Blum, the Obama administration official. Before now, few had given a thought to making the data public. His agency’s actions were inspired in part by a sweeping Time magazine article on hospital charges by author Steven Brill published in March, Blum said.
The newly released data covers facilities that were collectively responsible for 90 percent of inpatient claims to Medicare while excluding certain institutions, such as children’s hospitals and cancer centers.
The Huffington Post reviewed the two dozen types of services billed to Medicare at least 100,000 times in fiscal 2011 in 13 metropolitan areas spanning the U.S. The locations varied in population from less than 1 million to the largest three metro areas: New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Portland, Ore.; Austin, Texas; Jacksonville, Fla.; Richmond, Va.; Birmingham, Ala.; Tucson, Ariz.; Honolulu; Madison, Wis.; Provo, Utah; and Chattanooga, Tenn.
How is it possible that two hospitals in close proximity would set prices as differently as Bayonne Hospital Center in New Jersey and the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in New York? It’s partly a relic of how hospitals used to operate and partly reflects their strategies to maximize revenues in ways that don’t have a direct connection to the cost of the care they provide any individual patient.
“The charge masters are totally irrational,” Robert Laszewski, a former health insurance company executive who consults for health care companies as president of Alexandria, Va.-based Health Policy and Strategy Associates, wrote in an email to The Huffington Post.
Hospitals used to base prices on health care costs and on the need for profit that would, among other things, enable them to make investments in their facilities, Laszewski explained. “They became the baseline from which the hospitals started,” he wrote. But over time, hospitals raised charges in anticipation of negotiating discounts with private health insurance companies while maintaining their revenue streams, he said.
Prices have continued growing over decades to the point where there is no plausible justification for them, according to Laszewski: “Over the years, the charge masters have become more and more disconnected from reality.”
The charges are the prices hospitals establish themselves for the services they provide. Although Medicare and Medicaid don’t base their payment rates on these figures, private health insurance companies typically do, which means they usually pay more for the same health care than the government does. That translates into higher premiums for people with insurance. And uninsured people are expected to pay the full list price or a discount from that number, which tends to mean they pay more than anyone else.
When a hospital doesn’t get paid as much as it wants from one source, it tries to make up the difference in other ways, such as billing so-called self-pay patients — almost always the uninsured — for the full list price of a service, said Robert Huckman, a health care expert at Harvard Business School. Even when hospitals agree to huge discounts for patients who can’t pay the bill, those discounts are taken from inflated prices much higher than those the government or private insurance companies pay, he said.
“The charge master is complete nonsense that really doesn’t matter — unless you are an uninsured person and you’re getting these huge bills driving you toward bankruptcy,” Laszewski wrote. “The biggest irony of the U.S. health care system is that only the uninsured — often people who don’t have a lot of money — are the only ones the hospital expects to pay these incredibly inflated list prices!”
Hospitals also inflate charges to raise money for things that aren’t related to treatments, said former Sen. David Durenberger (R-Minn.), who is senior health policy fellow at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.
“The biggest factor by far, in my experience, is what are you trying to cross-subsidize,” he said. Hospitals will increase charges to finance things like technology upgrades and education and research and to compensate for their operational efficiencies, Durenberger said.
Myriad reasons legitimately explain how a health care service may be priced much differently from area to area, including labor costs and other local economic circumstances. But such factors fail to explain price discrepancies among hospitals in close proximity, Huckman said. “There’s no doubt that the variation in charges is significantly larger than the variation in the underlying costs for these hospitals,” he said.
The new Medicare database is replete with examples of inexplicably high prices and wide variations between hospitals in the same geographic area. The peculiar disorganization of the American health care system is evident by looking at just a few instances.
In the New York metro area, Bayonne Hospital Center — part of a chain called CarePoint Healthcare — charges the highest prices for several types of procedures, including COPD treatment, among the regional hospitals reviewed by HuffPost. Its price for that treatment runs four times the average in the New York area, according to the database. Medicare — the government health care program for older people and people with disabilities — paid an average of $6,826 for these same treatments within the New York area — or less than 7 percent of Bayonne Hospital Center’s charge.
Major joint replacement surgery at the hospital comes in at $155,769, which is almost three times the local average and more than nine times the price at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx. Medicare paid an average $18,944 in that area.
Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, Calif., outside Los Angeles, charges $241,654 to take care of a patient undergoing renal failure with major complications, which is almost 10 times the price at Beverly Hospital about 5 miles away in Montebello and more than three times the regional average.
And Birmingham’s Brookwood Medical Center has the highest charges in 14 of the 24 Medicare billing categories in area facilities HuffPost reviewed, including a $156,958 price for simple pneumonia and inflammation of the lung. That’s almost 12 times what the same treatment costs at Russell Hospital about an hour away in Alexander City, Ala., and about four times the local average.
Loyola Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, Ill., outside Chicago, charged the highest prices for 16 of the 24 procedures reviewed by HuffPost. For kidney failure, Loyola Gottlieb charged $97,926, more than twice average cost of 59 hospitals in the Chicago area. The price is more than five times what John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, 12 miles to the east, charges.
Those numbers reflect data from fiscal year 2011, and an official from Loyola University Health System, which runs the Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, said the hospital has reduced charges by an average 25 percent since then. “Loyola University Health System closely monitors charges and conducts reviews regularly to ensure that the health system is competitive in the Chicago market,” said Chief Financial Officer Jay Sial, in a written statement.
The other hospitals named in this article did not respond to or declined requests for comment.
The public availability of hospital charges is unlikely to bring swift and radical change to pricing or spare uninsured patients from exorbitant bills, said Huckman, the Harvard health care expert. Still, he added, it’s a good start.
“It would be hard for a hospital — unless there’s a justified reason — to be able to preserve a large margin over what its otherwise equal competitors charge,” Huckman said. “If someone knows the amount that even the most advantaged payer reimburses a hospital for a particular service and they can take that in with their own bill, I think that gives a pretty powerful opportunity for that customer to interact with the organization and say, ‘Why is my number so different?'”
Jay Boice, Aaron Bycoffe and Andrei Scheinkman contributed to this report.

The Most Expensive Cities For Health Care

Hotze to File Suit Over Federal Health Reform by Emily Ramshaw and Becca Aaronson May 7, 2013

Updated May 7, 2013:

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that penalties under the Affordable Care Act qualify as taxes has opened the door to another constitutional challenge, Dr. Steve Hotze, a Houston physician and prominent Republican donor, said at a Tuesday press conference announcing his lawsuit against the federal government.

“What we were promised was a new health care policy and change that could be good for all Americans,” Hotze said at the state Capitol, flanked by more than a dozen Republican legislators. “Really, all it’s turned out to offer us is higher premiums, higher taxes and a government that will allow its bureaucrats to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship.”

Hotze plans to file a lawsuit in Houston district court on Tuesday to prevent enforcement of the federal Affordable Care Act in Texas.

The lawsuit presents two constitutional challenges: First, it argues that the ACA violates the rule that requires revenue-raising bills to begin the U.S. House, because the original bill began as a tax credit bill for veterans —not a revenue-raising bill. Second, the lawsuit argues that the ACA violates the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution by essentially requiring citizens to pay money to other citizens by compelling employers to pay private insurance companies for health coverage.

Because Hotze’s business, Braidwood Management, has more than 50 employees, the law requires him to purchase employee health insurance or pay a $2,000 penalty for every full-time employee above a 30-employee threshold.

“This is going to be a huge expense. I’m grateful that Dr. Hotze is stepping forward,” state Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said at the press conference. “I think he’ll have the support of many business owners and people around the state.”

Hotze said Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Attorney General Greg Abbott were made aware of his intention to file a lawsuit, and none objected. Dewhurst was originally scheduled to speak at the press conference but did not attend.

The state of Texas will not be involved in pursuing or paying for the lawsuit. Hotze plans to cover the costs of the suit and has established a legal defense fund for other individuals and businesses to donate to his cause.

Original story:

Steve Hotze, a Houston-area physician and major Republican campaign donor who has built his career around alternative medicine, says he is filing suit against the federal government to try to prevent the enforcement of the Affordable Care Act in Texas.

He’ll announce the suit, to be filed against U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, on Tuesday morning in a press conference hosted by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

Hotze, the president of Conservative Republicans of Texas, said his suit will address “new and unconstitutional problems that stem from Obamacare.”

“It is imperative that Texas challenge this unwarranted federal overreach and ensure that Texans maintain the most innovative and economically viable health care system in the country,” he wrote in a statement.

Hotze has built a lucrative practice in suburban Houston around nontraditional therapies and treatments for allergies, thyroid problems and yeast infections. He’s best known for promoting natural progesterone replacement therapy for women, a treatment the FDA has questioned the effectiveness of. As recently as 2011, he had a daily health and wellness show on Republican Sen. Dan Patrick’s Houston radio station, KSEV.

Hotze contributed at least $60,000 personally and at least $640,000 via his PAC, Conservative Republicans of Texas, to GOP House and Senate candidates in the 2010 election cycle. In 2010, he contributed $15,000 to Dewhurst’s campaign.

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.