Need new health insurance NOW?

If you experience certain life changes, you don’t have to wait for Open Enrollment in November to enroll in affordable health coverage on or your state’s marketplace. You have 60 days after the following events to apply for a Special Enrollment Period and enroll:

• Moving to a new zip code or county
• Getting married or divorced
• Having a baby, adopting or becoming a foster parent
• Becoming a U.S. citizen or getting a green card

You have 60 days before or after the following to enroll: 

• Losing your health insurance from your job
• Turning 26 and aging off your parent’s health plan

And if you are experiencing domestic violence and want to apply for your own health plan, you can do so at any time.

Learn more about Special Enrollment Periods at or call 1-800-318-2596.


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Publicly funded family planning clinics provide contraceptive services to approximately seven million women each year. Without these services, the annual number of unintended pregnancies and abortions in the United States would be almost 50% higher. In other words, 1.4 million unintended pregnancies and 600,000 abortions are averted each year because of these services, according to a new Guttmacher Institute analysis.

Twenty percent of the pregnancies averted would occur among teenagers. In the absence of publicly funded services, there would be nearly 50% more teen pregnancies (or 290,000 more); these additional pregnancies would result in about 150,000 unplanned births and 100,000 abortions.

In addition to the clear benefits for individual women and their families in helping them avoid the pregnancies they do not want and plan the pregnancies they do, the analysis finds that these services save $4.3 billion in public funds. Nationally, for every $1.00 spent to provide services in the nationwide network of publicly funded family planning clinics, $4.02 in Medicaid expenses on births are averted.


Health insurers restricted from dumping customers

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday signed a bill that bars health insurers from creating financial incentives for employees to dump customers from health plans after they become sick. The bill by South Bay Assemblyman Ted Lieu grew out of a lawsuit against Health Net, a major insurance carrier based in Woodland Hills. A judge found earlier this year that Health Net had created a bonus system that rewarded employees who rescinded health plans after claims were filed. Health Net was ordered to pay $9 million to Patsy Bates, a Gardena hairdresser whose plan was canceled while she was undergoing cancer treatment. Lieu's bill, AB 1150, passed unanimously in the Assembly and the Senate. "Before, when Health Net did it, it just smelled bad and looked bad," said Lieu, an El Segundo Democrat. "Now it would be a violation of state law." After the allegations came to light, Health Net voluntarily changed its practices and turned all rescission procedures over to a third party.


Health savings accounts haven't caught on

Four years ago, the hot new idea for reining in health costs was the health savings account, a savings vehicle tied to a high-deductible insurance policy and designed to make patients more responsible for – and more aware of – the expenses involved.  The thinking was that such accounts would slow spiraling medical costs for both employers and consumers.

Today, with only 5 percent of the 114 million Americans covered at work opting for such health plans, their future is in question. In Texas, regarded as the birthplace of the HSA, only 387,000 people have signed up out of the 12 million with employer-provided insurance.  Proponents point to small companies – including some in Texas – that have used the lower-cost plans to offer coverage for the first time.

Meanwhile, critics argue that the plans benefit only the healthy and wealthy, with sick patients who can't afford deductibles of more than $2,000 doing without care.  Under the 2003 federal law that established them, HSAs must be coupled with high-deductible health plans carrying at least a $1,050 deductible for an individual or $2,100 for a family.

Read more on the topic here.

Home health aide union steps up campaign

The union that represents home health aides—one of the fastest growing occupations in the city—is intensifying its drive to secure higher wages and benefits for 30,000 workers.
Members of 1199 SEIU will hold a rally inside the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden on Aug. 7 and have threatened to strike if contracts are not agreed upon with 25 New York City-area home care agencies by the middle of September.
Some 8,000 aides never had contracts and the rest are working under expired deals. Negotiations have begun with a few employers, but the union says the majority have not come to the table.
“When you look at the work they do, even the standards we’re fighting for aren’t enough,” said 1199 SEIU president George Gresham, whose mother worked as a home health aide. “But you have to start somewhere.” The union is looking to raise the minimum pay for a unionized home health aid above $8 and to maintain health benefits that have already been cut over the last few years.


Black AIDS epidemic rages in NYC

The rate of HIV infections among African Americans in New York City is higher than that of several third-world countries, including Nigeria, according to a report issued this week by the nonprofit Black AIDS Institute.

About 3.3% of the city’s black population is infected with the virus, compared with 3.1% of blacks living in Nigeria. In Manhattan alone, one in six African American men between the ages of 40 and 54 are infected.

“People think the AIDS epidemic is over, but it’s not,” said Phill Wilson, chief executive of the nonprofit institute. “We’ve known that African Americans have been disproportionately impacted by AIDS for a while, but what’s distressing is that this trend is continuing.”

The report comes at a time when the state Department of Health is preparing to make the controversial move of shifting HIV/AIDS patients who receive Medicaid into managed care plans. Some nonprofit officials have decried the move because many of the best doctors specializing in AIDS care do not participate in managed care plans.