Insurance Rates Poised To Skyrocket In 2021

New York-based insurance companies wish in hike premium rates on average of 11.7 percent for the 2021 year. Why? Because they say costs are growing due to the coronavirus outbreak. These projections were made public by the Department of Financial Services recently. Government authorities have yet to make a public comment to address growing concerns about already skyrocketing costs, especially since an increasing number of residents are uninsured after losing jobs.

One Manhattan-based insurer wants to increase rates a whopping 19 percent.

Shockingly, the rate hikes were called “reasonable and fair” by the New York Health Plan Association. According to the group, rate hikes would correspond to rising health care costs, most of which were do to COVID-19, a disease which has already resulted in 24,000 NY fatalities — nearly the number of deaths in a typical flu season, nation-wide. 

NYHPA President Eric Linzer said, “From the outset and throughout the continuing coronavirus crisis, New York’s health plans have made extraordinary efforts to meet the needs of consumers, businesses and our health care partners. This has included waiving copayments and cost sharing for COVID-19 testing, telehealth services and mental health services for essential workers, and providing cash advances and other support to hospitals, physician practices and others in the delivery system to address the financial uncertainty they’re facing.”

Nothing, as they say, comes free. The services recently offered without cost are the basis for most of the expected rate hikes in 2021. In 2019, eight companies with a public IPO made over $21 billion — which constituted a massive 31 percent increase in profit over the previous year. Basically, no one should believe that these companies actually need to increase their rates.

Do you believe you were taken advantage of by a health care company during the coronavirus crisis? Did you lose coverage at the most inopportune time? Insurance litigators want to hear your story — and we might want to build your case. You deserve compensation more than they do. Don’t forget it.

What Happens If You Don’t Have Insurance While In Quarantine?

There is a small amount of good news that has come out in the last few weeks: if you get tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, you won’t be charged. However, if you test positive — it’s bad news whether you have insurance or not. Those with insurance can expect to pay thousands in out-of-pocket premiums, deductibles, copay, etc. Those without insurance can expect to pay tens of thousands in medical costs.

In other words, failing to procure insurance during this dangerous viral outbreak could cost you your livelihood. With millions of Americans already filing for unemployment benefits, we can expect that the number of insured will plummet. If you haven’t already started to see the economic cost of COVID-19, then you will soon.

There’s another small piece of almost-good news. President Trump is considering opening Obamacare applications during the outbreak. Although he’s doing this even as his administration sends the ACA to the Supreme Court to rule on whether or not the law is constitutional. He’s doing everything in his power to dismantle one of the greatest financial remedies to this crisis. 

It’s almost as if the world is screaming for him to stop.

Coupled with the news that President Trump wants to lift restrictions for travel and businesses as soon as possible, and it’s not difficult to see the writing on the wall: America is in for a world of hurt.

There are few legal remedies available to you when you cannot afford insurance in this time of crisis, whether it be health, home, or car insurance. Do your best to find coverage. If you can’t, then apply for unemployment and wait for the government to send you a check or two. Give a qualified insurance or employment lawyer a call to see if there are any obvious legal resolutions for your individual situation.

Did your boss fire you because you were sick?

Did someone purposely infect you with the virus?

Do you blame your employer for failing to take the right safety precautions?

Were you forced to work while sick?

All of these provide you with limited options for compensation, but at least they exist. There will be tens of thousands — or potentially even millions — of lawsuits in the coming months and years due to the coronavirus outbreak and the likely global recession that follows. We will do everything in our power to make you whole again. But first we need to hear your story!

Insurance Litigation Expected To Surge Because Of Coronavirus

Many victims of coronavirus have been subjected to isolated treatment — and not always by choice. More often, quarantine situations are mandatory actions as a matter of course. But survivors of the novel sickness have begun to receive their bills. And when you were forced into isolated treatment, you might not actually expect a bill. This has left a lot of people asking whether or not insurance will cover treatment.

And for those of us who practice insurance law, different questions arise: will the number of new insurance cases skyrocket because people receive bills for treatment they didn’t actually want. 

Keep this in mind: the American system of medicine is steeped in choice. If you need treatment, you choose to go get it. Don’t have the money? Don’t want to risk a big bill? Many people avoid the hospital. But when someone screams “coronavirus” they don’t have a choice. They receive treatment whether they like it or not. Those who don’t have enough insurance are still subject to the insane costs of long-term care. That means new lawsuits are coming.

And that’s just health insurance!

A shocking number of Americans have already canceled international travel plans because of the spread of the virus, which is quickly spiraling out of control. Many didn’t have a choice in the matter, because of increased travel restrictions and bans to and from places like China. That means that people will also have questions and concerns about whether travel insurance will cover their broken travel plans. 

Most coverage isn’t absolute. That’s the point of insurance, after all. You’re paying a third-party to protect you from something, but that third party has only one job, really: to tell you no when you come calling.

That’s why it’s so important to read up on the insurance plan you want to buy. If you don’t see the word “pandemic” in the insurance agreement, you might be out of luck.

What’s covered? Generally, you won’t be covered by your travel insurance when the airline decides to cancel one of their flights. Usually, though, an airline will reimburse you whenever they remove a flight from the roster. It pays to check. Reimbursement might not include travel booked on the other end of the flight, though.

If you’re the one choosing to cancel your trip, then you’re almost never covered.

However, if you contract the virus or some other sickness, you’re almost always covered. If you’re put in quarantine, then you’re almost always covered — even if you never come down with the sickness. 

All insurance plans have limits and exclusions, so discuss them with the provider whenever something gets in the way of travel plans. All else aside, you might benefit from calling an insurance lawyer for help.

Can We Make Coal And Oil Companies Liable For Climate Change Effects?

Remember when we held tobacco companies who made millions off of an addictive product liable for the damage that product caused? Yeah, well, some people are trying to apply the same kind of liability to coal and oil companies. Although the debate rages on, there’s no secret: burning coal and oil releases carbon into our atmosphere. Carbon is a greenhouse gas. That means it heats our planet. The more of it up in the sky, the warmer it is down here on the ground.

But lawsuits that would hold coal and oil accountable for the disastrous effects of man-made climate change (in part, at least) have so far been unsuccessful.

They came to a head when Exxon Mobil recently won a lawsuit lodged by New York State’s attorney general, who wanted someone to take responsibility for the damage that had been done. After all, that damage will last for centuries — or perhaps, even, forever.

But don’t think that it’s over just because the one lawsuit failed.

Students in Florida have sued state government officials for doing little to nothing to combat the growing effects of climate change. One suit went down the tubes, but another is showing signs of momentum before heading to court. Part of the reason is publicity. Public outcry can change a judge’s mind quite fast. 

Relatively unheard of in the 80s and 90s, climate cases multiplied dramatically in 2007 and then again a decade later in 2017. We expect they will continue to multiply in the future as more and more people begin to understand the real consequences of releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere like it would never make a difference.

Director of the Rockefeller Family Fund Lee Wasserman said, “Through these cases, we will learn with great detail what the industry knew and when they knew it, and what they did to deceive the public about that knowledge. They are now leaving the public with an enormous bill.”

And in fact that might make all the difference: We already know that many big coal and oil companies did their own internal studies on the effects of releasing carbon into the atmosphere. Those studies came to the same conclusion as other climate scientists have in the decades since, i.e. that releasing greater amounts of carbon will result in catastrophic weather events, sea rise, and mass extinctions on a greater scale than anytime in the history of the world.

And these cases will eventually change the way insurance companies sell, say, flood or fire coverage. For example, you can’t find flood insurance down in Key West because everyone knows that it’ll be underwater sooner or later — and probably sooner. And is that fair? Courts will soon have their say.

Some Insurance Attorneys Forget They Are Held To A Higher Standard

There are plenty of cases in which attorneys fail to keep track of their clients’ actions — and are subsequently rebuked, sanctioned, or even slammed with contempt of court charges for not doing their job. But sometimes the tensions can run so high in important cases that a lawyer will start behaving like a rambunctious teenager. That’s what happened during an insurance litigation case against Allstate.

Attorney Christopher G. Hook wrote Allstate executives: “Pay up f—face.”

That was a somewhat inept attempt at persuasion for a lawyer trying to achieve a whopping nine-figure settlement on behalf of his clients, who may not have known that about his behavior at the time. Hook then wrote: “You are going to get [expletive] tattooed across the face.” Finally, “Tell Allstate I am going to water board each one of their trolls that show up for [depositions] without any mercy whatsoever.”

He then made personal threats to some of the Allstate attorneys, alleging that he knew where they lived.

Hook might have sounded like a shark had he managed to maintain some semblance of a professional attitude during the case. Allstate’s attorneys, not so surprisingly, decided to cut off correspondence when the cursing started.

When a judge decided Hook should stop practicing law, the reply was simple: it was all a part of smart negotiation!

United States District Judge Otis D. Wright II, who was appointed by George W. Bush, said, “Tell you what, slick, this profession does not need you. I am going to do what I can to remove you from this profession.”

Sometimes attorneys forget the far-reaching power of judges to make their lives — and the lives of their clients by association — an absolute nightmare. Hook refused to resign, prompting Wright to take up legal arms against him.

But resigning doesn’t matter if you have no more clients to represent. The homeowners quickly fired Hook when they found out about his backstage business with Allstate.

Hook seems to have pretended it didn’t happen, who wrote The Post: “I will continue to represent the interests of my clients and California consumers against the powerful interests of insurance companies.”

Hook defended his language by suggesting it was on par with what he experienced from insurance executives while defending them earlier in his career.

He said, “It’s a business that profits from risk and fear and human misery.” Having worked for such people a long time ago, he admitted, “I was kind of talking to myself.”

Officials Warn To Be Careful Where You Buy Insurance Outside Federal Marketplace

It’s that time of the year again — time to sign up for Obamacare! Those who are currently without access to healthcare can browse through a number of plans on healthcare.gov. But health experts have warned would-be buyers looking for plans outside of the federal marketplace to watch out for the so-called “junk insurance” plans that have popped up due to new laws signed by the Trump administration. 

Those plans don’t meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 

The Supreme Court will soon hear a case that will determine whether or not insurers are reimbursed $12.3 billion to which they believe they are entitled. We should have an answer before the Senate goes on recess in summer next year.

According to insurer Land of Lincoln Health, the company is down over $75 million that it should have been able to recover from the risk corridor program under the ACA. 

Risk Corridors are a provision of the ACA. They “limit the risk borne by qualified health plans on the insurance marketplaces. Risk Corridors are a mechanism to minimize the year-end losses of insurers who covered a disproportionate share of sicker, often older, insured customers. The federal government, through the Department of Health and Human Services, agrees to cover 50% of the excess costs borne to insurers if those costs exceeded premiums by 3-8%.”

Land of Lincoln Health says that their monthly premiums were set low due to the provision. In addition, insurers Moda Health Plan, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, and Maine Community Health Options are all suing as well.

A federal appeals court has already ruled that the Risk Corridor provision of the ACA was non-binding, and that it was more of a description of what an optimal system should look like. The Supreme Court has been asked and subsequently agreed to review the previous rulings.

America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) CEO Matt Eyles said, “The Supreme’s Court’s decision to hear this case recognizes how important it is for American businesses, including health insurance providers, to be able to rely on the federal government as a fair and reliable partner. Strong, stable and predictable partnerships between the private and the public sector are an essential part of our nation’s economy, and our industry looks forward to having this matter heard before the Court.”

Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP) CEO Margaret Murray said, “We’re pleased that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, as it gets to the heart of the concept of the full faith and credit of the United States government. We asked the appeals court in an amicus brief to affirm that the Federal government should be as good as its word in statute, and urge the Supreme Court to do the same.”

Do Undocumented Immigrants Really Get Free Health Insurance? What Does It Cost You And Me?

Many 2020 Democratic contenders for the presidency have endorsed plans to provide healthcare and insurance benefits to all Americans — and all undocumented immigrants who are already living in the country, legally or not. No, they don’t already have free health insurance. But the cost of providing them healthcare on the taxpayers dime would certainly be “expensive” depending on your frame of reference, what plan you’re using, and how many people enroll.

The Republican argument is simple: they’re against nearly all entitlements across the board regardless of whether they’re going to actual United States citizens or undocumented immigrants. According to them, giving out freebies will make people less likely to contribute in the future. They also contend that the free “handouts” will lure immigrants into the country who wouldn’t otherwise want to come.

Many arguments that can only be seen as scare tactics have suggested that our population could double or even triple if such laws were to go into effect, and of course they contend that America can’t possibly pay for it. But that’s not true, either.

For most Americans, the argument holds quite a lot of weight — but it’s never held much truth. There’s an incredibly strong stigma surrounding those who survive on handouts. In general, those who rely on help from the government really do need that help. Few people actually choose to live that way for no reason, and the government severely restricts handouts to further reduce the number of those who do.

But of course increasing the number of people who are entitled to free healthcare (no one is yet), would increase the costs of those programs. According to the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), there are about 4.9 million undocumented immigrants living “below 400 percent of the poverty threshold.” They don’t have access to insurance.

Were they given access to programs, taxpayers would pay at least $10 billion per year according to CIS. At the high end of the spectrum, it could cost $23 billion per year.

To put big numbers we cannot even comprehend into perspective, the 2019 U.S. federal budget requested expenditures of $4.407 trillion. Over $693 billion of that is discretionary spending that goes to the military. Much of all spending is mandatory, but well under half is based on discretion. Over half of that goes to the military (not including veterans’ benefits). Other big pieces of the discretionary pie are government, education, healthcare, housing, and international affairs.

But none of those programs come close to costing as little as what we would pay to expand what Democrats see as universal human rights toward undocumented immigrants. And here’s another aspect to consider: the amount we provide individuals and companies in tax breaks slightly exceeds all discretionary spending. Stop giving out tax breaks — and suddenly the United States would see a budget surplus once again.

Health Insurance Rate Drops Among Americans For First Time In A Decade

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the number of uninsured Americans has risen since Obamacare was introduced a decade ago. The number of uninsured went from 7.9 percent to 8.5 percent in 2017 and 2018. That means about 2 million more people are now without health insurance thanks to the Trump administration’s relaxed regulations and gutting of previous Obamacare laws.

Also relevant, this is the first time uninsured rates have increased since the recession hit hardest during 2008 and 2009. It’s important to note because the economy is continuing to grow, while the unemployed and poverty rates continue to fall. In 2018, about 27.5 million people went without health insurance. The number will likely grow during Trump’s presidency. Even with years of inflation, the median household income is staying the same.

Some have attributed the increasing rate of uninsured to the repeal of Obamacare’s health insurance mandate, which penalized those who went without with a stiff fine. Other critics say that the law didn’t really motivate anyone to seek health insurance anyway.

One of the more concerning aspects of this increased rate of uninsured is the children who fall within that statistic. According to Census data points, about a million young people aged 18 and younger are now without insurance compared to the same time two years ago.

Joan Alker, the executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, said: “Prior to the Trump administration assuming office, reducing the number of uninsured children was a national success story. Unless things change immediately, this progress is at risk — and our children and their families will pay the price.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “President Trump’s cruel health care sabotage has left two million more people without health insurance, forced to live in constant fear of an accident or injury that could spell financial ruin for their families.”

Some analysts believe that Trump’s “public charge” rule is also compelling immigrants to stop seeking coverage or drop coverage they already have, rather than risk being deported from the United States because they need help.

The Kaiser Family Foundation’s Rachel Garfield explained, “We’ve heard a lot of anecdotal reports and even started to see some data that either immigrant families are declining to renew their coverage or not enrolling.”

The Trump administration has sought to reduce Obamacare standards by approving Medicaid work requirements in nine states to reduce the number of people who are eligible. 18,000 people in Arkansas lost their Medicaid in 2018 as a result of Trump’s changes. More states will see the new regulations go into effect soon.

Latest Insurance Reforms Leaving Motorcyclists Vulnerable

As the four-door sedan struck Dave Ramirez on July 5, 2002, little did he and his wife, driving north to Traverse City know that their journey will be cut short. Their plan to spend the long weekend holiday with their friends ended up being in the hospital after the crash. Dave and his wife were riding in their custom-painted Harley Davidson when this mishap happened. Both of them were admitted to the nearby hospital where they required extensive medical care, not to mention the months of in-home nursing.

All this resulted in a staggering $1 million bill combined, but their medical bills were covered, thanks to their auto insurance policy of the respective driver who was the main culprit. But that was in 2002. Fast forward to 2019, and motorcyclists are worried that the new insurance reforms will not provide such benefits anymore.

According to the new law, there is a significant drive down in the auto insurance rates, which was supposedly one of the highest in the nation. The new policies will allow motorcyclists to buy insurances that come only with limited personal injury protection benefits. Republican-led Legislature pushed for this law, and it was eventually taken up by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer who signed it after considering the possibility of accidents in the city.

This insurance law will revoke the lifetime coverage guarantee for motorists who are involved in car accidents. Instead, their medical coverage decisions will be taken by the auto driver responsible for the crash. As per the reports of the Michigan State Police, there were over 2100 motorists who were injured in 2018 and more than 134 died in such crashes. Sadly, most of these accidents involved more than two vehicles.

According to Steve Sinas, a highly experienced estate planning lawyer, the new law cripples motorcyclists from controlling their destiny while riding. They will not be able to claim their deserved no-fault claims anymore. This will totally depend on the random nature of the accident and if the other vehicles involved in the crash has lifetime no-fault coverage or not.

While the motorists are literally being thrown down under the bus with this reform, supporters acknowledge that although this law is challenging, the main focus here is to cut down the insurance costs of the auto drivers. Since many people complain regarding the rise of auto insurance prices, this law comes as a necessary evil that leaves people divided in their opinions.

New Insurance Law in Florida Takes Effect On July 1

Over a hundred new laws made their way through the Florida House of Representatives and were implemented on July 1, 2019. One of those new laws overturned a controversial insurance rule that governed how insurance benefits are allocated to various parties and beneficiaries. The new law, HB 7065, will provide new definitions for several insurance terms like “assignment agreement.”

It will also revise old requirements for how insurance agreements were executed, and may change the validity of agreements already in place. In addition, even the effects of those agreements might change with the new law.

Insurers are now required by the new law to report new data about previously paid claims by January 30, 2022. One of the more controversial aspects of the law will allow insurers to reevaluate the way they assign benefits, or prohibit them altogether depending on the conditions. 

Another controversial measure of the old law was struck down, which will allow attorneys to potentially collect more in fees by implementing a new revenue structure dependent on overall awards after litigation is won. 

Barry Gilway, CEO of Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corp had this to say: “This is a consumer protection measure, not just in terms of impacting the overall premium they have to pay, but also giving them some protections they didn’t have before.”

These protections are the result of a battle fought for seven years between insurance companies and those advocating for change because of rising costs of all types of insurance coverage even as that coverage has diminished. 

According to Gilway’s Insurance Corp, customers who have policies already in place will likely see relaxed rates soon enough, as the savings from the new provisions are expected to be passed down. Then again, that sounds a lot like “trickle-down” economics, and we all know how that concept actually plays out when put in practice.

Gilway’s organization experienced a lot of abuse as a result of former policies where AOB lawsuits are particularly popular, the rates of which have risen out of control over the last decade. That led the organization to ask for a shocking 97% increase in its overall rates for 2019. 

If you are in the midst of insurance litigation in North Miami, then you might want to speak to a defense attorney about your situation.