Wednesday, October 19, 2016


It's a good news, bad news, good news, bad news story. The first good news is that Social Security recipients will receive a Cost of Living (COLA) increase for 2017, after no increase in 2016. The bad news is that next year's 0.3-percent COLA increase is the smallest in history. This means a retired worker who currently receives the average $1,350 per month benefit will see only $4 more per month from the COLA increase.
As promised, however, there is more good news. The tiny bump in COLA benefits is an indicator of an economy in which prices aren't increasing. This low inflation means Americans' purchasing power stays relatively the same, so dollars go as far as last year.
There is some additional bad news for those working and paying into the Social Security system. The COLA increase also means an increase in the maximum limit on which wage income is subject to Social Security payroll taxes, after no increase in the taxable maximum for 2016. For 2017, the taxable maximum increases from $118,500 to $127,200. For workers subject to the taxable maximum, that $8,700 increase in taxable wage income amounts to a tax increase of $539.40. For self-employed workers who must pay both the employee and employer share, this amounts to a tax increase of $1,078.80 for 2017.

Monday, June 27, 2016


Can you answer "Yes" to any of these questions?

1.    Have your benefits and faith been challenged by the Affordable Care Act?
2.    Did you miss the ObamaCare enrollment period and have no health insurance?
3.    Do you have health insurance but the monthly premium cost is eating you up?
4.    Are the deductible, co-pay and co-insurance gaps stopping you from getting health care?

Have you answered "Yes" to one or more of these questions?

Altrua HealthShare may be the answer for you. If you would like to learn more about this health care alternative you can visit our website, or call us at (678)464-8602.

Friday, April 22, 2016


Amid rising drug and health care costs and roiling market dynamics, the spokesperson for the nation’s health insurers is predicting substantial increases next year in Obamacare premiums and related costs.
Without venturing a specific percentage increase, Marilyn Tavenner, the president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), said in an interview with Morning Consult that the culmination of market shifts and rising health care costs will force stark increases in health insurance rates in the coming year.
 “I’ve been asked, what are the premiums going to look like?” she said. “I don’t know because it also varies by state, market, even within markets. But I think the overall trend is going to be higher than we saw previous years. That’s my big prediction.”
If Tavenner is right, Obamacare will jump dramatically—last year’s premium for the popular silver-level plan surged 11 percent on average. Although Tavenner didn’t mention deductibles, in 2016, some states saw jumps of 76 percent, while the average deductible for a 27-year-old male on a silver plan was 8 percent.

The warning to consumers from Tavenner, the former administration official who headed the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and oversaw the disastrous launch of, the Obamacare website, comes at a time of growing uncertainty about the evolving makeup of the Obamacare health insurance market. With many insurers struggling to find profitability in the program, the collapse of nearly half of the 23 Obamacare insurance co-ops and this week’s announcement that giant UnitedHealth Group intends to pull out of most Obamacare markets across the country, anticipating future premiums and co-payments is largely risky guesswork.

The Fiscal Times
April 21, 2016

Monday, February 22, 2016


The Federal Trade Commission is advising people to hang up on telephone calls that threaten a fine for not having health insurance. The calls direct the recipient to someone who claims to be enforcing the health insurance law and attempts to glean the consumer's full name, birth date, Social Security number and income.  People who work in the Marketplace don’t make cold calls, and they never ask for personal information. If you get a call like this, hang up.

The phone numbers showed up with a local area code. The recorded message sounded urgent: “You need to buy health insurance or face a fine. To learn more, press 1.” A person who works in the Health Insurance Marketplace got the call and knew it was fishy, so she pressed 1. The operator claimed to ‘work with the law,’ and asked for the person’s full name, date of birth, phone number, income information and Social Security number. The person who got the call knew it was nonsense, so she hung up and contacted the FTC.

If you get a recorded sales call, but you didn’t give the caller written permission to call you, the call is illegal. Don’t press 1 to speak to the operator or get your name taken off the list, and don’t give any personal information. If you respond, you’ll probably get more calls.

If you want information about health insurance in your state, visit or contact us here at  If you get a call like this, please report it to the FTC.


Thursday, February 4, 2016


After Martin Shkreli raised the price of anti-parasitic drug Daraprim more than 50-fold to $750 a pill last year, he said he wasn’t alone in taking big price hikes.

As it turns out, the former drug executive was right. A survey of about 3,000 brand-name prescription drugs found that prices more than doubled for 60 and at least quadrupled for 20 since December 2014.

Among the biggest increases was Alcortin A, a combination steroid and antibiotic gel to treat eczema and skin infections: The price soared 1,860 percent, or almost 20-fold, during the period. And a vial of Aloprim, a Mylan NV drug for cancer complications, more than doubled, according to the survey by DRX, a provider of price-comparison software to health plans.

Skyrocketing prices are getting increased scrutiny ahead of a U.S. congressional hearing this week: Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, ranking member on a committee that is probing drug pricing, said Tuesday that pricing “tactics are not limited to a few ‘bad apples,’ but are prominent throughout the industry.”

Even after soaring prices became an issue in the U.S. presidential campaign, the cost of many drugs has continued to rise at annual rates of more than 10 percent.  Drug makers raised the prices of products as wide-ranging as erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, heart treatments, dermatology medicine and even brands that long have lost their patents. While specialty companies have had the steepest hikes, giants such as Pfizer Inc. and GlaxoSmithKline Plc kept pushing through smaller rises.

“The data shows that price increases are an integral part of the business plan,” said Jim Yocum, executive vice president at DRX.

Pharmaceutical companies often boost prices around the end and the start of the year, and the scale of recent increases was higher than what Yocum has seen in the past few years. About 400 formulations of brand-name drugs went up at least 9.9 percent since early December, according to DRX.


Click here to read article: Bloomberg (02/02/16)

Friday, January 22, 2016



Cigna Corp. was banned from marketing its Medicare products to new customers, after the U.S. found deficiencies in how the health insurer ran its plans, citing widespread violations that the government said threatened patients’ health.
 “Cigna has experienced widespread and systemic failures impacting Cigna enrollees’ ability to access medical services and prescription medications,” the U.S. said in a Jan. 21 letter to the insurer outlining the sanctions. “Cigna has had a longstanding history of non-compliance with CMS requirements.”
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, suspended Cigna from marketing and selling Medicare Advantage and Part D plans to new clients, the insurer said Friday in a regulatory filing.
Cigna and other insurers offer a privately run alternative to traditional Medicare, which includes insurance coverage for hospital and doctor care, known as Medicare Advantage, as well as prescription drug coverage, or Part D. The agency found problems involving Cigna’s appeals and grievances process, as well as with its drug coverage.
Because of those deficiencies, the government said it “determined that Cigna’s conduct poses a serious threat to the health and safety of Medicare beneficiaries.” Cigna clients who are affected by the issues cited by CMS can drop their Cigna coverage and buy policies from other insurers.
 “Cigna is working to resolve these matters as quickly as possible and is cooperating fully with CMS on its review,” the health insurer said in the filing, adding that the sanctions don’t affect benefits offered to current enrollees. Matt Asensio, a company spokesman, had no immediate comment.