Thursday, December 17, 2009

Insurance news, including Tiger Woods-style "reputational risk insurance" and alleged death-by-oyster insurance fraud

Wow, it's a day for offbeat insurance news.

First, however, some local news: reports on a new study indicating that a big flood in southern King County could affect $30 billion in property (with $3 billion in potential damage).

In Hawaii, state officials are closing an insolvent insurer.

And in Michigan, the state House has approved a package of bills banning auto insurers from basing rates on a person's occupation, education or credit history, among other changes.

In other news:
  • The Associated Press reports that Georgia's insurance commissioner's under fire for a trip he took to the Oscars.
  • MarketWatch reports that "reputational risk insurance" may be introduced next year to protect against situations like the one that's arisen with the recent revelations about Tiger Woods.
  • And then there's a bizarre story of alleged life-insurance fraud out of South Dakota. The AP reports that a couple has been charged in federal court with faking the husband's death while on a family vacation in Malaysia. Purported cause of death? Bad oysters.

Data: How many people are on government health care?

A lot, it turns out.

Our office ran some numbers for Washington state, tallying the number of people getting health care under Medicare, Medicaid, the state's Basic Health Plan, and the state's General Assistance for the Unemployable program.

Medicare and Medicaid are the big ones, of course. Here in Washington, our office calculates that as of the end of 2008, some 917,000 Washingtonians get health coverage through Medicaid. Another 897,000 get it through Medicare. Add in BHP and GA-U, and it's about 1.93 million people, out of a total state population of about 6.67 million.

In other words, about 29 percent of the state's population is getting their health coverage under a government-run plan.

And these numbers don't include the people who get their health care through the military, state employees' Uniform Medical Plan, federal employees' health coverage, etc.