The Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries calls on Biden Administration to enforce the hospital pricing transparency law
Katy Talento: ‘Hospitals are required by law to post their prices for easy comparative shopping, so why aren’t they complying?’
Health care consumers and patients can hope the fourth Hospital Price Transparency Compliance Report will be much better than the recently-released third semi-annual Hospital Price Transparency Compliance Report. The new report, issued in August, makes it all too apparent that the vast majority of hospitals are ignoring a number of requirements of transparency law that would make an enormous difference to patients suffering from out-of-control medical bills. The insufficient enforcement by the Biden Administration is obvious, as the report shows that more than 17 months after the rule took effect, only two hospitals were fined for noncompliance. The administration has also issued a number of warning letters to non-compliant hospitals but has not disclosed to the public that list of warned hospitals. The compliance report also has a list of local hospitals that are either compliant or noncompliant with the rule.
“Federal price transparency rules require hospitals to post all negotiated rates with every single commercial insurance plan that they’ve contracted with, a list of cash prices for the uninsured or self-pay patients, and even rates for government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare and the Veterans Administration — including contracted rates with managed care organizations delivering those federal programs’ benefits,” said Katy Talento, executive director of Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries (The Alliance, ahcsm.org).
The hospital compliance report concludes that only “16.0% of the 2,000 hospitals (319/2,000)” are in compliance with the transparency law. This means that there is an 84% likelihood any given hospital is still hiding many or most prices, or at least making comparison shopping as difficult as possible for patients.
“The goal of the law was to make comparison shopping easier for health care consumers, but what this study found is appalling evidence that there has been no enforcement of the hospital pricing transparency rule since it became law in January 2021,” Talento said. “Hospitals are required to post their prices clearly, so that even the most unsophisticated among us can have credible information to compare costs of other providers, but too many hospitals use hidden pricing as a way to take advantage of patients.”
Over a recent six-year period, medical costs have doubled. Striving to find a better way to handle rising medical costs and obtain price transparency for medical services, more than a million Americans have turned to Health Care Sharing Ministries, according to the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries. Since 2019, $1.3 billion of medical expenses have been shared by the members of Health Care Sharing Ministries for care in all 50 states.
Talento concluded, “This kind of commonsense market reform is long overdue. For far too long, medical costs have been shrouded in secrecy as insurance costs have skyrocketed. It’s one of the reasons why many Americans of faith have turned to Health Care Sharing Ministries, which facilitate sharing costs among their members and help their members lower their medical bills.”
Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries is a 501(c)(6) trade organization representing the common interests of Health Care Sharing Ministry organizations which are facilitating the sharing of health care needs (financial, emotional, and spiritual) by individuals and families, and their participants. The Alliance engages with federal and state regulators, members of the media, and the Christian community to provide accurate and timely information on medical cost sharing.
Vaughn Lowery, founder and publisher of 360 MAGAZINE, pens poignant prose. Move Like Water × Be Fluid is a stunning memoir documenting the author’s journey from a childhood in the Detroit’s subsidized, section 8 housing to a successful career in fashion and media. The arc of this remarkable passage twists and turns in surprising ways, ensuring readers will believe in the concept that this life truly is what you make it. The text will debut as an exclusive multi-volume installation within 360 MAGAZINE and marks the inception of the brand’s foray into publishing.
This provocative coming-of-age story explores the power of branding strategy, a technique the writer developed at an early age and carried with him throughout his lifetime. Lowery, from the time he was a young child, is able to comprehend that one’s innate, individual self is their greatest commodity in life. Through the highs and lows that inform his experience, he stays true to that ideal. Lowery puts forward a raw and compelling narrative of a child, and later a man, who repeatedly picks himself up, reimagines his life, and finds innovative ways to move forward. The self-empowerment so emblematic in Lowery’s character and story promotes readers to adopt the author’s tactics in their own lives.
The influence of prominent civil rights leader Joseph Lowery, the writer’s grandfather, is prevalent in this work. A beacon for both hope and progress during the Civil Rights Movement, the legacy of Joseph Lowery weighs heavily on the narrator. This, along with his upbringing and existence as a black man in America, make Lowery both introspective and contextually aware when it comes to race. Moreover, draws parallels between the movement his grandfather championed and led, and the Black Lives Matter movement of today, exposing the failures of our system and calling for meaningful, systemic change. Both Joseph and Vaughn Lowery are members of the first intercollegiate historically African American organization Alpha Phi Alpha. Lowery simultaneously considers the work he can do, as a singular human being, to forward social justice causes in his day-to-day life and interactions with others.
In 1920, his grandmother, Agnes Christine Moore Lowery (the little girl in the blue dress, also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha), came with her grandmother to become the first black to vote in Tennessee. The kids’ book, The Big Day, depicts their journey the day she voted, now available on Amazon here.
360 Magazine is also now selling one of a kind home goods via Chairish, a curated marketplace for the best in vintage and contemporary furniture, decor and art. Check out this piece designed by 360’s founder Vaughn Lowery.
In the year 2020, which has been afflicted with an overwhelming amount of change, there has never been a timelier moment for insight from a man like Lowery. As mentioned, Lowery’s deep ties and connections to racial justice in America feels incredibly relevant, as do his thoughts on digital media, something Lowery pioneered years before COVID-19 forced the world hurriedly online. Constantly at the forefront of social change, Move Like Water × Be Fluid offers an understanding of the current moment, yet looks forward to the possibility of an evolved, cosmopolitan world. One that Lowery aspires to through all his works, including this installation and 360 MAGAZINE.
As we follow the author through grade school, high school and on through Cornell University, we collect advice from a myriad of powerful secondary characters. From all walks of life, these secondary support systems offer Lowery the push he needs to continue on striving towards something better. We watch Lowery model the work ethic of his admired older sister, gain confidence from an encouraging teacher, change the trajectory of his life due to a neighborhood mentor, and learn from the critique of a Residential Advisor. This self-help-book stands apart for never failing to appreciate the importance of an individual’s support system. Fittingly, while the book catalogues Lowery’s journey to success, it inspires and encourages readers in the same way Lowery’s community uplifted him – to take action towards a meaningful life.
Comparable titles to Move Like Water × Be Fluid include other stories of individuals who later turned to publishing their experiences in self-help books. Numerous celebrity examples include Becoming by Michelle Obama, Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, or The Path Made Clear by Oprah Winfrey. These titles, as well as Lowery’s first book, all feature introspection and explanations regarding the course of the authors’ lives.
The following descriptions outlines the chapter-by-chapter journey within Move Like Water × Be Fluid.
Chapter 1: The beginning of Lowery’s journey is marked by his complicated childhood in Detroit, distinctly connected to his sense of place and community. Financial struggles and surroundings reminiscent of the song “Gangsta’s Paradise,” as well as the author’s early experience with assault contextualize the course of Lowery’s life.
Chapter 2: A childhood mood, coupled with the realization of his intelligence, swiftly changed the direction of Lowery’s life. Following a move to New Jersey to live with his older sister, Lowery’s early experiences of racism shine a light on his passion for racial justice today. The opportunity to participate in an honored education program again changes the trajectory Lowery follows.
Chapter 3: This chapter offers insight into the ups and downs of high school, a narrative many are familiar with. Yet, Lowery’s poised observations throughout the chapter reflect his early understanding of the world.
Chapter 4: After a remarkable yet complex journey through high school, Lowery achieves the first of many dreams by gaining the chance to attend Cornell University in New York. At Cornell, he is able to expand his understanding of self and what he hopes to accomplish.
Chapter 5:Saks Fifth Avenue recruits Lowery to work in their corporate office, marking Lowery’s first foray into the world of economics and fashion. The advice he gains from mentors in the field prompts him to shift towards a career in acting and modeling, supplemented by working in the Medicare Department of U.S. Healthcare.
Chapter 6: New York, in all its hectic nature, pointed Lowery west towards California where he could further capitalize on his talents in the entertainment industry.
Chapter 7: This chapter details one of the events in Lowery’s life for which he is best known: his commercials as “Joe Boxer Guy” that overwhelmed the nation. Following ups and downs in Los Angeles, this success cemented Lowery’s understanding of his own talents as well as his ties to L.A.
Chapter 8: Following an offensive home invasion, Lowery pivots to continue embracing what life throws at him with appearances on NBC’s “Scrubs” and “America’s Next Top Model.”
Chapter 9: With plenty of capital and the space to complement his next steps, Lowery founded 360 MAGAZINE in 2008, powering through the tidal wave that was the recession all due to his own brains and the belief in his product and brand.
Chapter 10: After another painful reminder of the inadequacies of the justice system in America due to an unjust prison stay, Lowery’s comprehension of what is truly important is once again realigned. Despite his negative experiences, his magazine is able to be on the cutting edge of the Los Angeles scene.
Chapter 11: The number 360 is ubiquitous to Lowery – one embodies the other. His appreciation for both his own capabilities and expertise, as well as the ones of others, assures his magazine and brand are constantly evolving.
Chapter 12: Thinking on the future following the tragic death of a friend, Lowery is nowhere near finished and is more than ready to continue is many metamorphoses. He now exists in a space where he strives to empower others, all around the world. 360.
Additionally Vaughn has an audio book titled, “Say Uncle: The Story of Vaughn Lowery” which loosely based on his childhood. It is available for here on Amazon Music. For additional info on Vaughn Lowery visit Wikipedia and IMDb.
Alongside all the wonders that old age brings, including wisdom, freedom, and an extended family, there are also some setbacks. You might look at a picture from when you were young and wish you had the same radiance of adolescence, or you might wish you could dance the way you used to. Aging happens to everyone, and while people are taught that youth is more beautiful, that isn’t the case. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and confidence is prettier than any facial feature.
If you are struggling with confidence as you get older, here are some ways to help you feel beautiful once more:
Wear that Outfit
If you find yourself looking at an outfit you would have snapped up ten years ago but now tell yourself that you’re too old for it, then shut out that voice! There is no age limit on clothing, so buy that outfit and wear it with pride. It might be scary at first, especially if it’s different from your usual wardrobe, but after a while, wearing it will fill you with confidence.
Find the Right Lipstick
Lipstick is timeless; it looks great on twenty-somethings right up to the oldest seniors. Nothing gives a face a glow up like a pop of color on the lips, so find the right shade for your complexion and wear it with pride.
Makeup sometimes becomes more difficult as you grow older, as many brands cater to youthful skin more often than mature skin, but lipstick isn’t this way. Talk to beauty consultants to match you up with the perfect color.
Treat Your Vision
One of the most disheartening symptoms of aging is the deterioration of vision. It can make you feel lost as well as affect your confidence, so it’s important to treat it as soon as possible. If you are affected by cataracts, which is extremely common in old age, then have a look at a cataract lens implant for a life-changing treatment that gives you clear vision.
Your body weakens with age, and one of the ways to prevent this is to keep moving. You don’t have to work out five days a week to reap the benefits – a gentle swim a few times a week or simply walking more is enough! Not only will it improve your body, but it will bring you tons of positivity, making you feel confident in yourself once more.
Up Your Skincare Regime
What your skin needs varies from person to person, so figure out your skin type and match your routine to that. Mature skin tends to need plenty of moisturizing products to bring out that glow and prevent the deepening of wrinkles and fine lines, so avoid any product that says ‘oil-free’.
Grow the Gray
Many people obsessively attempt to cover up their gray as they get older, but this often results in dry, damaged hair. Gray is a beautiful color and there’s no reason to cover it up! Grow it out and embrace your hair’s natural beauty. Without all the chemicals that come with hair dye, you’ll find your strands will thank you with extra thickness and health!
As the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period approaches (AEP, also called the fall Medicare Open Enrollment Period), some Medicare beneficiaries may think the enrollment period for private Medicare plans is not relevant to them because they can’t afford a private Medicare plan. I’m here to tell you otherwise. It may actually be Original Medicare that you can’t afford.
There are at least four reasons why Original Medicare — Part A and Part B — may actually be harsher on your wallet than private Medicare plans like a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan or a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.
1. Original Medicare doesn’t have an annual out-of-pocket spending limit
Original Medicare offers a lot of benefits. But one thing you won’t find is an out-of-pocket spending limit for all those benefits.
Neither Medicare Part A nor Part B contain an annual out-of-pocket spending limit. That means there is no limit to the amount of money you can spend on Medicare deductibles, copayments and coinsurance over the course of the year. Depending on what types of health care services you need, these costs can add up quickly. Meanwhile, privately sold Medicare Advantage plans are required by law to include an annual out-of-pocket spending limit. For 2021, this limit is $7,550 for the year. And due to market competition, some plans may feature limits that are less than that amount.
Once you spend $7,500 on deductibles, copayments and coinsurance for qualified care, your plan pays for 100% of your out-of-pocket costs for covered care for the remainder of the year.
2. Many Medicare Advantage plans feature $0 premiums
90% of Medicare Advantage plans in 2020 include prescription drug coverage. These plans are called Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MA-PD) plans. In 2020, nearly half (49%) of all MA-PD plans came with no monthly premium. If you have a $0 premium Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan, the only monthly premium you likely have to pay is your Medicare Part B premium, which you would still have to pay anyway if you stick with Original Medicare. (Most beneficiaries aren’t required to pay a Part A premium. If you are, you’d still have to pay those premiums if you have a $0 premium Medicare Advantage plan).
So with a $0 premium MA-PD plan, there’s no extra monthly premium for you to pay. Your premiums are the same as they would be in Original Medicare.
3. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits
For as much as Original Medicare covers, it has several glaring holes: it doesn’t typically cover routine dental or vision coverage, and it doesn’t typically offer prescription drug coverage.
But dental, vision and prescription drug coverage are three extra benefits that some Medicare Advantage plans may offer. As mentioned above, 9 in 10 Medicare Advantage plans covered prescription drugs in 2020. If you are enrolled only in Original Medicare, how — and how much — are you paying for things like routine dental care, vision care and prescriptions?
A Medicare Advantage plan that bundles these benefits into one plan may be more cost effective for you.
4. Medicare drug coverage can help you save money
I mentioned drug coverage above, but given the skyrocketing cost of medications, it’s worth repeating. Paying for your prescription drugs entirely out of pocket can put you at a substantial financial risk. Medicare beneficiaries have two choices for Medicare drug coverage: enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage, or enroll in a standalone Medicare Part D plan. Both offer prescription drug coverage with typically low copayments for generic drugs.
Depending on the plans available where you live, you may be able to find a plan that offers more benefits at the same monthly premium cost with annual spending protection. If you think the Annual Enrollment Period doesn’t apply to you because Original Medicare is all you can afford, you may want to think again.
When you retire, your whole life changes. Or, at least that’s how it feels. For most of us, our careers are a huge part of our entire identity, and you will probably feel a lot different once you hang it up.
That can be good and bad. For some, it is fully and undeniably a great feeling on day one. A dream come true. For others, the transition is difficult. And that can lead to some negative effects — both mentally and physically.
The best way to make sure you can adapt quickly and avoid any severe downside is by staying active and staying healthy. The more you can do to remain physically, mentally, and emotionally fit, the better it all will go. The following represent three great ways to maintain your physical and mental health after retiring.
1. Pick Up Something New
By the time you hit retirement age, you are probably pretty set in your ways. The last thing that might seem like a good idea is even more change. But it really can help. It doesn’t have to be something major. Replacing the hours you normally spend at work with something else, however, will do you a lot of good. Join a new club, pick up a new hobby, or get involved in your community in a new way. It can really help you adjust — you won’t be just losing something but adding something as well.
2. Embrace the Water
One of the difficult parts about getting older is that it’s harder to exercise and stay in shape. Even people who have always been fit and love to run or play sports have trouble maintaining their routines because it can be so hard on the joints. The solution? Jump in the pool! There’s a reason that even pro athletes rehab in the water. You can continue using you body and strengthening your muscles — plus your lungs and heart — without risking injury.
3. Get Top Coverage
Of course, no matter how fit you stay, there will always be some health concerns. That’s just inevitable as people age. So you need to make sure you have the best possible healthcare coverage. For most seniors, this means going with some type of Medicare Advantage plan. This allows you to expand upon the coverage of the traditional program at a very affordable rate. There are many different types, but it’s hard to go wrong with a Medicare Advantage PPO plan that includes benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t. Make sure you have access to all the medical care you need.
Staying Mentally and Physically Fit
After you retire, there will be an adjustment period. But you can minimize the negative parts of this transition by implementing the right strategies. The goal for everything should be staying healthy — and improving your health.
After all, you don’t have to grind away at a 9-to-5 anymore. You might even be able to strengthen your body and sharpen your mind with more free time and more energy to devote to yourself.
Start by replacing your work hours with some new hobbies. Stay fit with low-impact activities like swimming. And make sure you have the best healthcare coverage possible. This alone will help so much. You can embrace retirement head on and start loving your life more and more every day.
Medicare parts and plans are almost always mistaken for one another. There are only four main Medicare parts which are Parts A, B, C, and D. These parts offer hospital coverage, outpatient services, and prescription drug coverage. Part C, on the other hand, is considered to be an alternative solution for the original parts along with other services that aren’t usually covered in Part A and B such as vision and dental care.
Other than the Medicare main parts, there are other available plans to purchase as an added help to your Original Medicare such as Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans. However, they only work alongside your Original Medicare. That’s why enrolling firstly in Original Medicare is one of the most important requirements to be able to qualify for any Medicare plan. Different Medigap policies are sold across all states, including Plan F which is considered to be one of the most extended-coverage plans out there. Read on to discover more information on Plan F so you can determine whether it is a good fit for you.
What Are Medigap Policies?
Medicare Supplement -also known as Medigap- insurance plans are essentially available to help in covering certain out-of-pocket costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover. If you are thinking about enrolling in Medigap, especially Plan F, then you must read everything you need to know and understand what exactly this plan has to offer. It’s important to educate yourself regarding the plan you are considering to ensure it is suitable for your needs. While Medigap Plan A is mandatory to be offered by insurance companies that sell supplement insurance plans, there are other plans such as C and F that are sold upon the desire of every consumer.
What Is Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan F?
There are ten different Medigap policies that are available. Plan F is considered to be the most comprehensive plan available in most states. People who seek broader assistance with out-of-pocket costs benefit from the extensive coverage that this plan offers. Plan F offers a great advantage for beneficiaries who often use Part A and B which is that it reduces hospital and medical expenses significantly; most of the time, you won’t need to pay for any additional costs. For these reasons, it’s only logical that premiums might be more expensive. Since this plan, and other Medigap policies, is offered by private insurance companies, it might not be available. Plan availability varies from one state to another, so it’s always a good idea to research the availability of the plan in your region. However, Plan F is highly desirable due to its extensive coverage which pushes most insurance companies to offer it.
What Are Plan F’s Presented Benefits?
Most Medigap plans are standardized across all states. This means that regardless of your location or the insurance company you choose to purchase the plan from, you will be able to get the same benefits that are offered by Plan F in any state. However, Plan F premiums may vary from one insurance company to the other. There is also another high deductible version of Plan F that is different from the original plan.
Here are some of the benefits that you get when you purchase Medigap Plan F:
•Plan F offers additional benefits that reach up to 365 days after the exhaustion of Medicare Part A benefits.
•Plan F offers Medicare Part A deductibles, copayment, and coinsurance. The difference between copay and coinsurance is that the first is a set rate you pay for hospital services you have benefited from. The latter is a percentage of the costs you pay after you have already met your deductibles. Deductibles, on the other hand, are the set amount of charges you pay for medical services before coinsurance is activated.
•It covers the excess charges that come with Part B that specializes in outpatient services and deductibles.
•It covers the cost of the first three pints of blood needed. Yet, the medical procedure must be approved and it only covers three pints of blood annually.
•Trained nursing facility coinsurance.
•It covers 80% and up to the Plan limit of emergency foreign travels.
While a Medicare advantage plan offers different Medicare benefits that aren’t usually covered such as dental and vision care, Medigap policies are considered to be an Original Medicare’s sidekick. Plan F offers coverage for most deductibles, coinsurance, and copayment for Part A; it also covers excess charges for Part B. Investing some time and effort into educating yourself on the differences between Medicare parts, plans, and policies will help in cutting costs and saving money while you are taking care of your health in the long run.
In an exclusive op-ed for ESSENCE.com, Sen. Bernie Sanders explains why Black women will benefit from medicare for all. He talks to ESSENCE about:
AMERICA’S DYSFUNCTIONAL HEALTHCARE SYSTEM:“It is impossible for any rational person to deny that our current healthcare system is dysfunctional and cruel. As a nation, we spend more than twice as much on healthcare as the people of almost every major country on earth while achieving worse outcomes. Even worse, Black Americans see only a fraction of those sub-par returns. In America today, Black babies are more than twice as likely to die in infancy than babies born to white mothers, and Black women are three or four times more likely to die from pregnancy-related complications than their white peers. To change those unacceptable outcomes, it’s important to recognize that maternal health disparities don’t start at pregnancy. They start before mothers are even born…”
HOW THE “MEDICARE FOR ALL” BILL WILL BENEFIT BLACK MOTHERS: “In my view, any plan that targets Black maternal health that doesn’t include unequivocal support for a universal healthcare system that is free at the point of delivery is not good enough. The “Medicare For All” Bill I’ve introduced will help prevent Black mothers from being discriminated against as they’re poised to give birth — left laboring in hallways because of their perceived inability to pay. It also means that large numbers of Black Americans who live in southern, Republican-controlled states like Mississippi will no longer have to suffer because local legislators rejected President Obama’s Medicaid expansion. Medicare For All will provide long-term home health care and community-based services for everyone…”
HOW AFRICAN-AMERICANS ARE DISADVANTAGED BY AN EMPLOYER-BASED INSURANCE SYSTEM: “In America today, Black employment rates remain disproportionately low due to well-documented employment discrimination, unequal public education, and other systemic biases. While 65 percent of white families receive insurance through their employer, only 46 percent of Black families do, which in part explains why the uninsured rate for Black Americans is 11 percent – over 50% higher than that of white Americans…”
Next week, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will be automatically mailing new Medicare cards to more than 3.5 million people with Medicare in New York State.
People with Medicare inConnecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermontwill also be receiving their new card. People with Medicare in these states and New York, should receive their new card by the end of August and can begin using it right away.
Key features of the new card and rollout process:
Social Security Numbers have been replaced with new unique identifying numbers.
Social Security numbers are no longer on the new Medicare, helping protect people with Medicare from identity theft and CMS fight fraud.
The new Medicare card isfree. Avoid scammers by knowing that CMS willnotcall people with Medicare asking for any personal information, your Social Security Number, bank information, or to pay for the new Medicare card.
People with Medicare can sign up for email notifications on when the new cards will be mailed to their area by going towww.medicare.gov/newcard.
There are no changes to Medicare benefits. Once you receive your New Medicare card, you should destroy your old Medicare card by shredding or cutting it up with scissors.
You can also access new Medicare card fact sheets, graphics, b-roll, images and other resourceshere.
As the GOP is recruiting candidates ahead of the 2018 midterms, most of the potential candidates for Senate look more like the 16 other Republicans in last year’s presidential primary than the populist anomaly who took the White House. On ViceNews.com, Alex Thompson examines how the GOP is looking for more conventional Republicans and is not recruiting candidates who share full political views with Trump.
Publicly, the GOP from the national to the local level is loyal and supportive of the president, but their actions suggest that they see Trump’s surprise victory as a one-off rather than a sign of a fundamental shift in the American electorate. Some Republicans are actively fighting Trump’s recent injection of populism, while loyalists see him as the beginning of a new era of politics.