Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The federal health-care reform law: Where to find answers to your questions

It took some time, but there's a fast-growing amount of well-sourced information out there about the effects of federal health-care reform: What takes effect when, who's affected, how, etc.

Here's an updated look at some of the best places to find information:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is doing a lot of the implementation work and rulemaking now, has an excellent page of questions and answers, from the general to pretty specific. (You can also email them at, and they'll try to post an answer online.)

This morning, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners posted a long list of frequently asked questions, focusing particularly on consumers, employers and seniors. They tend to be big-picture questions.

We've also posted a substantial amount of information on our own website, handily arranged by when things take effect. Want to know what kicks in in the first 90 days, or by the end of the year? Start here.

The New York Times' Tara Parker Pope and Michelle Andrews have been answering a lot of specific questions about the reform law on their "Prescriptions" health blog. The answers tend to be more in-depth than the FAQ approach. Questions include "Will generic drugs be delayed?", "Will the law increase coverage of mental health services?" etc.

If you really want to drill deep, take a look at FamiliesUSA's "Health Reform Central," where the pro-reform group has a large collection of white papers, explainers and stats.

Similarly, the Kaiser Family Foundation has a health reform page, which includes a handy online tool to illustrate how premium subsidies will work, an implementation timeline, etc.

Study: Motorcycle theft, ranked by state (WA is 14th highest)

We mentioned this in this morning's news clips, but it's worth another post. The National Insurance Crime Bureau says that "motorcycle thefts in 2009 are continuing their downward trend."

Some 56,093 motorcycles were reported stolen last year, the NICB says, down from 64,492 in 2008. That's a 13 percent decrease.

But the group also notes that part of that trend may be due to the fact that there are fewer bikes available to steal. Motorcyle manufacturers reported sales declines of about 41 to 47 percent last year, compared to 2008.

The most stolen makes:
  • Honda: 13,688
  • Yamaha: 11,148
  • Suzuki: 9,154
  • Kawasaki: 5,911
  • and Harley-Davidson: 3,529.
(Bonus round: the study identified a total of 593 different motorcycle makes among those stolen.)

Biggest states for theft: California, Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Georgia, which combined accounted for nearly 40 percent of the thefts. (Washington ranked 14th, Oregon's 35th, and Idaho's 41st.)

The decline reflects a similar trend in lower thefts for passenger cars and light trucks, the group says.

And how likely are you to get your bike back? The report says that the average recovery rate over the past three years was about 36 percent.

Here's the press release, which includes a link to the full report at the top.

Insurance news: Motorcyle thefts drop, FL orders company into receivership, and study finds that heart attack victims w/o health coverage put off going to the hospital

LA Times: People suffering heart attacks put off going to the hospital if they don’t have insurance, study finds

NY Times: GA insurance commissioner balks at request on new health law: The insurance commissioner of Georgia has chosen not to comply with a federal request to create a state pool for high-risk insurance plans, opening a new front in the resistance by state Republican officials to the new federal health care law.

Miami Herald: Fla orders receivership for Northern Capital Insurance

Claims Journal: Report: Motorcycle thefts dropped 13 percent in 2009

Nashville Tennessean: Smart Data Solutions and American Trade Association accused of $21 million fraud: “Very few of the members’ health-care claims were ever paid…(Bart) Posey siphoned off much of the money from members’ premiums for his personal and family expenditures, including real estate, cars, boats, recreational vehicles and donations of about $140,000 to the University of Alabama Crimson Tide Foundation.” $7 m in unpaid claims stacked up, with only about $2m in SDS’ bank accounts, according to the story.