Monthly Archives: September 2017

"Painful pill to swallow": Richmonders prepare for rising insurance cost, shrinking provider …

Westy Byrd buys the cheapest health insurance plan she can. And next year, even that might be too much.

Kate Vehrs has already struggled to find a doctor, and as insurers drop out of the individual market, her search for someone who can provide her with long-term, consistent care has become nearly impossible.

About 51,000 others in the Richmond area – and more than 400,000 across the state – have a million other worries.

They all boil down to one key question: Will I be able to get the care I need next year?

In Richmond and Henrico, Hanover and Chesterfield counties, there will be only one option on the Affordable Care Act’;s marketplace next year, through the national insurer Cigna. Its premiums are set to increase by an average of 50 percent, or an extra $400 on an $800 plan, for example. 

And unless there’;s a change in the next couple of months, 2 of the 3 largest health care providers in the region, Bon Secours and VCU Health, could be shut off from those patients.

Cigna’;s plan is an HMO, which means it only pays for visits to doctors in a pre-approved ne2rk of doctors and hospitals. And Cigna historically has contracted exclusively with HCA Virginia. 

In a statement, a Cigna spokeswoman confirmed that the insurer is still planning to work with HCA for its 2018 individual market plans.

VCU Health saw more than 5,300 individual patients last year through the 2 largest plans sold on the exchange, from the insurers Anthem and Aetna. Of those, 3,350 reside in counties or cities that will only have Cigna as an option next year.

The health system anticipates that the loss of revenue would be more than $28 million, according to a spokeswoman.

Aetna was the primary way patients gained access to Bon Secours through the individual market, said Tony Herbert, Bon Secours’; vice president for managed care.

There were about 18,000 individuals under that plan assigned to a Bon Secours primary care doctors, he said.

Herbert called the loss of those patients “the normal course of events in business.” He said his greatest concern is the rise in uncompensated care as the insurance markets continue to teeter on the verge of collapse.

“The more concerning piece is whether or not the coverage that is going to be available is going to be affordable for members that are losing plans,” he said. “Will they be able to pick up and afford the Cigna coverage?”

If they can’;t, all 3 hospital systems across the region will almost certainly see an increase in uncovered and uncompensated care, and more people in the Richmond area will find themselves shouldering medical debt.

As premiums skyrocket, plenty of people in Richmond are considering dropping their individual market plans, crossing their fingers and hoping their good health protects them from unexpected medical bills. It’;s an especially appealing choice to those who are approaching age 65, when they will qualify for Medicare.

Among those individuals is Byrd, a 61-year-old Richmond resident.

Byrd is retired and has a fixed income. As rates steadily rise, she sees before her a time when she simply will not be able to afford the premiums. Now she pays $550 a month, with a $7,000 deductible.

“If it goes up to $800 a month, which is what it looks like it might do … at that point it definitely doesn’;t make any sense to buy, I’;ll just wait until I turn 65,” she said.

Byrd considers herself very healthy, and has no chronic health problems to concern her. Still, going without insurance makes her uneasy.

What if something were to happen?

“Actually, I’;m trying not to think about it, but of course it’;s scary,” she said. “But I feel like they have you by the jugular, and they keep squeezing and squeezing and squeezing, and at some point, I feel like I have to say enough is enough.”

Many people in the Richmond area see only headlines that the average premium increase across the individual market is almost 60 percent. They don’;t know yet how that will impact them individually until is updated closer to the start of open enrollment on Nov. 1.

Cigna’;s filings to Virginia’;s Bureau of Insurance say the minimum increase for a health plan will be around 24 percent, while the maximum is 168.6 percent. For a payment like Byrd is making, that would mean an extra $132 to $924 dollars a month.

Chris Lynch, a local insurance broker specializing in health insurance, pointed out that Cigna’;s plan could be a good option for some people. An HMO can be affordable for some and allow members to access their desired care. The trouble starts when it becomes the only option available, and when the premiums rise so drastically.

People who want specialized care at VCU Health, Richmond’;s only academic medical center, won’;t be able to if they buy a plan on the individual market next year.

“There are some services that are pretty unique to VCU Health, and we think about the patients that we’;ve served who have chronic conditions and serious illnesses, and we worry about how they will find care,” said Sheryl Garland, vice president of health policy and community relations at VCU. “We are very concerned about patients who may need very specialized care, having their services disrupted and their relationship with their providers interrupted.”

As an academic medical center, VCU Health offers care of some rare cancers and pediatric diseases, among other disorders, that community hospitals frequently do not.

Both VCU and Bon Secours, though, expressed a hope of being able to come up with some sort of plan that will help patients who face a changing provider ne2rk next year.

“Our biggest concern is, if we are not in the ne2rk, then how can we ensure that patients, many of whom have received services from us in the past, maintain access to those services, which may mean having some out of the box, innovative conversations with HCA,” Garland said.

VCU Health and HCA have partnered in the past to offer care, such as when VCU providers worked in the neonatal intensive care units at HCA’;s Chippenham and Johnston-Willis hospitals. The work allowed patients who want to give birth at one of the community hospitals access to care with an academic focus.

It is unclear if more such partnerships could be created next year.

In a prepared statement – Tim McManus, president of the HCA Capital Division and senior executive with HCA Virginia – said HCA has been “working in partnership with Cigna’;s clinical and business leaders in advance of the upcoming enrollment period,” and that the system “stands ready to coordinate” with other providers to ensure a smooth transition of care.

Herbert expressed the same concerns for Bon Secours patients. He said some prefer to receive care from a faith-based organization, and now that choice is being taken away from them.

He said the health system hopes to work with Cigna to transition care for patients who will no longer have Bon Secours as an in-ne2rk provider. 

“I think common sense will prevail here, that we will formulate some kind of arrangement,” he said. “For example, one idea would be that patients that are in the facility on the 31st of December are not going to be expected to transfer the following morning to another facility. We would have an arrangement that would work with Cigna to have some kind of ongoing treatment.”

In its statement, Cigna indicated that it does intend to work not just with HCA but also “other local providers to provide support for customers who will be moving to Cigna coverage on January 1st.”

But even if both health systems are able to develop arrangements for continuity of care, thousands of people in the Richmond area will have a great deal of choice taken away from them.

Few people understand the gravity of that like Kate Vehrs, a 22-year-old Henrico County resident. She deals with anxiety and depression, and knows that it takes time to build up strong relationships with mental health providers that can lead to meaningful treatment.

This year she bought Anthem coverage on the individual market. Next year, when Cigna is the only insurer in town, she worries about having to start searching for a new doctor. 

“It’;s terrifying,” she said. “Some doctors I’;ve been to, they don’;t know what all I’;ve been through, they don’;t know how far I’;ve come and what I still need.”

Some of the rhetoric promoting the ACA’;s marketplaces from the federal government and advocates, from the beginning, was that it would improve choice and affordability for millions of Americans. But in Virginia, and a large swath of the rest of the country, choice has been all but eradicated.

“This year, it looks like many counties throughout the whole state are going to have only one insurance company to choose, and that’;s really making people very nervous,” Lynch said. “It just feels like they’;re getting hung out to dry.”

Lynch has been working as a health insurance broker since 2010, so he’;s seen it before and after the ACA. He said when the marketplace was started, everybody was nervous but they at least had options that allowed them to find what they needed.

This year, Lynch and his clients know that is not the case, but they won’;t know for sure what their options are until about a week before Nov. 1, when open enrollment begins.

The individual market’;s problems of too few insurers and high premiums have persisted for years, since it was enacted during President Barack Obama’;s administration. From the beginning, the market faced the major problem that not enough healthy people were signing up to balance out the cost of sick people.

But this year, the issues with the market are only growing more stark due to action – or inaction, in some cases – from the federal government.

President Donald Trump – who has openly stated that his administration will “let Obamacare fail” – has refused to promise to pay insurance companies cost-sharing reduction payments. Insurers are required to offer those reductions to low-income members buying on the exchange. But with no guarantee that they will be compensated, offering plans on the marketplace has become far less attractive.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has done little to make it easy for people to sign up for plans. It announced earlier this year that the enrollment period will be half as long as it usually is, lasting from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.

“If we’;re lucky, we get notification on finalization of what the plans are going to be, maybe a week before Nov. 1,” Lynch said. “So you’;re under the gun from Nov. 1, I’;ve got a very short time frame to figure this out, and I have basically no advanced warning of what things are going to look like for 2018.”

And to further complicate the situation, CMS recently said that the marketplace website,, will be shut down every Sunday of the open enrollment period except Dec. 10 for maintenance. It will also be shut down overnight on the first day of open enrollment.

Making it more difficult for people to sign up for a plan will only enhance the individual market’;s problems, Lynch said.

“What you’;re going to see is continuation of the death spiral,” he said. “There’;s not going to be the push out there to get all the healthy people in the plans, to help offset some of these costs for the sicker people. Without the push, without the advertising, without the notification, people won’;t be aware they need to get health insurance, and only the people that really are driving the cost up, the people with chronic conditions, will sign up.

“It’;s just going to further the acceleration of the collapse.”

Lynch buys his family health insurance plan on the individual market. He expects his premiums will be $817 a month next year, with a deductible of $6,400. That deductible is per person, up to a maximum of double for the family, he explained, which basically makes it a $12,800 deductible.

That means he has a lot of money he has to spend before his family could benefit from coverage should something catastrophic happen.

But the other option – to go without insurance – wouldn’;t make sense for him either.

“It’;s there for me just because, if something happens to somebody in my family, and you go into a hospital and sneeze, basically, it’;s fifty grand, easily,” he said. “That’;s a bill that would just destroy the work that I’;ve been doing trying to build a financial future for my family. So you can’;t take that risk. But it’;s a painful pill to swallow.”

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RICAN gets a $5000 donation from Safeco Insurance Company

CHARLESTOWN – The Rhode Island Center Assisting Those in Need has welcomed a financial gain of $5,000, thanks to a generous incentive from Safeco Insurance Company. A member of the national insurance company, Liberty Mutual Group, Safeco annually recognizes independent agents who demonstrate extraordinary volunteerism to non-profit organizations in their community, in areas such as health and safety, education, veterans services, animal welfare, homelessness, and civic engagement.

Of the twenty-3 agents scheduled to be chosen for the 2017 Make More Happen Award, Woodmansee Insurance was recently selected based on their fifteen years of support toward RICAN.

The local insurance company employs 2 individuals who serve on the Board of RICAN and the majority of the staff volunteer on a weekly basis, assist in food drives, help with the food pantry and participate in fundraisers. The monetary award will be used toward the company’s work with RICAN, which serves the needs of Rhode Islanders, particularly those in Washington County, in providing emergency food, clothing and other necessities. 

RICAN maintains the largest food pantry in Southern Rhode Island, located at 805 Alton Carolina Road in Charlestown, as well as an impressive community thrift shop at the same location. Outreach programs and events for those experiencing financial hardships are also offered regularly.

Currently, residents can read about how Woodmansee Insurance was chosen for the Make More Happen Award, and how it will benefit RICAN at

If the story receives at least fifty shares, likes or comments on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, an additional award of $5,000 will be presented to the American Cancer Society. Previous winners for 2017, and their causes, include: Cumbre Insurance of California, child welfare; Selco Insurance Company of Oregon, cancer research; Hub International Mountain States Insurance of Wyoming, child welfare; Bazemore Insurance Group of Ohio, homelessness; Al Torstrick Insurance Agency of Kentucky, youth services; Insurance Pro of Utah, search & rescue; Phil Richard Insurance of Massachusetts, cancer support; Insurance Services Group of Washington, childhood hunger; Anderson & Associates Insurance of Florida, education; Alliance Financial & Insurance of Michigan, childhood hunger; CavnarSmith Insurance Agency of Texas, Meals On Wheels; Huggins Dreckman Insurance of California, domestic abuse; Bancfirst Insurance of Oklahoma, mental health and addiction; Boise River Insurance of Idaho, adaptive communities; and Mosiac Insurance Alliance of Arizona, domestic violence.



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Police stopped kidnapper's car for no insurance and found a woman in his boot

Police stopped kidnapper's car for no insurance and found a woman in his boot
Shafak Abbas has been jailed for 15 months after police found a woman in his boot (Picture: SWNS)

A kidnapper who was pulled over for driving without insurance has been jailed after police found a woman locked in the boot of his car.

Londoner Shafak Abbas, 24, was quizzed by police who grew suspicious due to his evasive answers.

Armed police evacuate Old Street tube station

They then found a BB gun in the footwell of his car and then he admitted what was in the boot.

When officers opened the gold Mercedes boot they found the 26-year-old victim, who Abbas knew, crying and distressed.

However, Abbas still denied the kidnap in court despite the officers wearing bodycams.

Police stopped kidnapper's car for no insurance and found a woman in his boot
Abbas had already been disqualified from driving at Brighton Magistrates Court last year (Credit: PA)

He was jailed yesterday for 15 months after a jury found him guilty of kidnap following a 4-day trial.

Detective Constable Chris Bailey said: ‘Body Worn Video evidence has greatly assisted us in securing this conviction.

Sergeant husband of police detective found dead in lake ‘arrested on suspicion of murder’;

‘We will not tolerate violence and will do everything in our power to secure a prosecution and to ensure that justice is done.’

Abbas, of Wickford Street, Bethnal Green, had already been disqualified from driving by Brighton Magistrates’ Court on June 10, 2016 for 2 years.

Specialist firearms police after they spotted his stationary vehicle in a residential street in Canary Wharf, east London, at midday on April 18.

More: UK

He was arrested on suspicion of kidnap, firearms offences, and driving offences and later charged with kidnap, driving whilst disqualified, no insurance and possession of a firearm.

Abbas has been also disqualified from driving until June 8, 2021.

MORE: Heart-stopping video of near miss will make you want to throw up

MORE: Boris Johnson made a gaffe when he visited a Burmese temple

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Alleged leader of auto insurance fraud scam to be sentenced

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut man who federal prosecutors say was the ringleader of an auto insurance scam involving as many as 50 staged car crashes is set to be sentenced.

Mackenzy Noze filed court documents saying he should receive less than 3 years in prison, while prosecutors are seeking at least 6 years behind bars. Sentencing is scheduled for Monday in federal court in New Haven.

Authorities say the 33-year-old Norwich man and several other people staged the crashes in southeastern Connecticut between 2011 and 2014. After each accident, they fraudulently collected $6,500 to $30,000 in insurance payouts.

A jury convicted Noze of several counts of fraud. 5 other people pleaded guilty, including 3 who await sentencing. 2 others were sentenced to prison time already served and 100 days in jail.

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Cook honored as top insurance agent

CARY — The Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina recently presented a Lumberton resident it highest award.

IIANC named Danny Cook, principal of Cook Insurance Services of the Southeast Inc. in Lumberton, its 2017 Agent of the Year.

The award, presented annually by the association, recognizes the North Carolina agent who has demonstrated outstanding service to his or her agency, professional association, the insurance industry, community and family. The award was presented to Cook during IIANC’s 120th annual convention held Sept. 24, 25 and 26 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

A 24-year veteran of the insurance industry, Cook has been a longtime active member of IIANC. He has served on the board of directors since 2015 and previously served as vice chairman of the Young Agents Committee. Cook was named IIANC Young Agent of the Year in 2002. He also is involved with IIANC’s Education program, serving on the Education Committee since 2008. Cook received the Southeastern Insurance Institute Education Award in 2009 and has been an instructor for IIANC and a member of the National Alliance CISR Faculty for nearly 10 years.

Cook has been a member of the Lumberton Rescue Service for almost 20 years and currently serves on its board of directors. He is an EMT and financial director for the organization. Cook is a past president of the Kiwanis of Robeson County, past chairman of the Lumberton Area Chamber of Commerce and board member of Robeson Community College Foundation. He currently serves on the board of trustees for Southeastern Health and NC Pre-K Committee for Robeson County.

A deacon with First Baptist Church of Lumberton, Cook was named the 2005 Kiwanian of the Year, Kiwanis for Robeson and received the 2009 Marvin Walters Award from the Lumberton Rescue & EMS.

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NEW YORK Times columnist’s dispatch through N. Korea is like a good audition to get DPRK condition media

**Written by Doug Powers

After the inauguration of Jesse Trump, the brand new York Occasions updated the slogan in order to “The the fact is more important today than ever. ” That saying apparently will get suspended when somebody in the paper is within North Korea — when this occurs, just bird DPRK propaganda:

New York Moments columnist Nicholas Kristof upon Friday echoed North Korean propaganda that will says droves of its people are registering to join the particular military right after President Jesse Trump’s presentation before the Un General Set up last week.

Kristof published on Instagram that “every kid” in a high school within North Korea “supposedly registered to join the particular army following the Trump presentation to the Oughout. N, ” referring to Trump’s address upon Sept. nineteen when he or she said the particular U. Ersus. will “totally destroy Northern Korea” in the event that forced to protect itself or even its allies.

This will depend on what your own definition of “signed up” is definitely. From the Day-to-day Mail within 2014:

Mandatory assistance in the country’s 1 . 19-million-strong military currently stands on 10 years, and it is the greatest conscription time period in the world.

Also, within North Korea, there are theme parks and lots of nachos (for pleasant visitors just — a specific journalist may have earned an additional slice recently if he is able to wrestle this away from Betty Jong-un).

**Written simply by Doug Power

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

Posted within: New York Occasions, North Korea
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Satisfy Evans attorney, Ogungbeje, reputed for ‘unpopular cases’

Lagos – Just whenever Nigerians believed no attorney will walk out to defend well known billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike a. nited kingdom. a. Evans, Voice Olukoya Ogungbeje provides proven very.

Ogungbeje exactly who heads Lawflex Chambers and it is the Chief of Tone of voice Vanguard, walked out Wed.

Tone of voice Olukoya Ogungbeje

This individual grabbed the particular headlines when he filed a significant rights fit on behalf of Evans, by pulling the Inspector General associated with Police, plus 3 other people before analysis High Courtroom in Lagos over Evans alleged unlawful detention.

Joined up with as participants are the Nigeria Police Force, Office of Law enforcement Lagos Condition, and the Exclusive Anti-Robbery Team, Lagos Condition Police Order.

In his basic rights the particular confessed kidnapper is searching for a courtroom order leading the participants to instantly charge your pet to courtroom if there is any kind of case towards him.
He is within the alternative, looking for an purchase, compelling the particular respondents in order to immediately launch him unconditionally in the lack of any offence warranting the charged.

Within the suit designated, FHC/L/CS/1012/2017, Evans is fighting that their continued detention by the participants since 06 10, with no charge, or even release upon bail is definitely an infringement in the fundamental legal rights.

He contended that the participants ought to have got charged your pet to courtroom in accordance with the particular provisions associated with Sections thirty-5 and thirty 6 of the Cosmetic.

It was additional argued that this alleged offence committed from the applicant (Evans) are correspondingly intertwined using the constitutional shields as supplied under Areas 35 plus 36 from the Constitution.

Inside a 27-paragraph affidavit in support of the particular motion deposed to simply by Evan’s dad, Stephen Onwuamadike, it was averred that the candidate has been exposed to media test without any court’s order with the respondents.

Onwuamadike further averred that the mass media trial plus news orchestrated by the participants have carried on to generate responses in both print out and digital media with no his child being provided fair listening to before the court associated with law.

The particular deponent furthermore averred that will since their son’s detain, all their family members were denied entry to him whilst media professionals have been given unfettered entry to him.

The newest suit is not assigned to the judge with no date continues to be fixed for your hearing.

Evans lawyer, exactly who identified themselves on Fb as Tone of voice Olukoya Ogungbeje had been associated with controversial situations in recent times.

Within April, this individual filed the suit wondering the Federal government High Courtroom to stay process on the injury of dollar 43, 449, 947 (about N13billion), N23, 218, 1000 and £27, 800 (about N10. 6 million) present in a flat within Ikoyi, Lagos.

He furthermore sought a good order leading the Financial and Monetary Crimes Payment (EFCC) in order to furnish the particular court having a report from the preliminary or even final analysis on the supply of the money, the owner, and exactly how the foreign currencies got into home.

Ogungbeje, inside a motion upon notice inquired the courtroom not to purchase a permanent injury of the cash since there are statements and countertop claims regarding its possession by the Streams State government as well as the National Cleverness Agency (NIA)and since the Government had setup the Osinbajo panel to get the truth concerning the ownership from the money.

“This honourable courtroom has the natural jurisdiction below Section 6 (6)(b) from the Constitution in order to order plus direct comprehensive investigation in the sources of the particular monies, their own owners, the particular owners from the Osborne Systems where the funds were discovered and how these people got into house.

The case failed to get anyplace as the cash was afterwards permanently given up to the Government.

Ogungbeje furthermore once submitted a match in Lagos in 2014 asking for the particular reinstatement associated with Murtala Nyako as chief excutive of Adamawa state. It was after Nyako was impeached by the condition assembly within July from the same season and the loudspeaker of the condition assembly experienced taken over.

Once again, the case strike the stones.

Ogungbeje stated the Assembly’s alleged failing to assist Nyako individually with the impeachment notice broken his basic right to reasonable hearing because enshrined below Section thirty 6 of the 99 Constitution.

Following the court noticed arguments through parties plus judgment time fixed, Fintiri, through their lawyer, Key Wole Olanipekun (SAN) advised the assess not to provide the judgement.

The former Nigerian Bar Organization (NBA) chief executive prayed the particular court to put aside all of the proceedings carried out in the fit so far due to the fact his customers were not offered with the match in accordance with legislation.

According to your pet, the courtroom should hit out the whole action because the due procedure for law had not been followed.

Olanipekun, who was furthermore representing Mammadi and the Home of Set up, argued that this originating procedures were not correctly served in the clients.

Image: A correctional officer inspects one of the more than 2,000 cell phones confiscated from inmates at California State Prison,

The southern part of Prisons Possess a Cellphone Smuggling Problem

Mobile phones smuggled in to prisons — enabling inmates to purchase murders, strategy escapes, offer drugs plus extort cash — are becoming a scourge in a bloc of declares where modifications officers each year confiscate up to one for each 3 inmates.

Contraband products snuck within by guests or jail staff really are a problem on lockups over the nation, yet an NBC News overview of data through 44 declares shows that 9 of the 10 states with all the highest mobile phone seizure prices are in the particular South.

Within South Carolina, jail officers have discovered and used one cell phone for every 3 inmates, the greatest rate in the nation. In Ok, it’;s a single phone for each 6 criminals, the nation’;s second-highest rate. Additional states within the top 10 are usually Georgia, The state of alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Florida plus Arkansas plus Louisiana; the only person outside the area was Ca. NBC dependent its ranks on information provided by their state corrections sections.

Image: A correctional officer inspects one of the more than 2,000 cell phones confiscated from inmates at California State Prison,
The correctional official inspects one of the most than 2, 000 mobile phones confiscated through inmates with California Condition Prison, Solano in Vacaville, Calif.