Couple Watching Sunset

Insurance Premiums Likely To Rise; Firefighter Death Not Local; Holiday Shopping Admonition

Today is the deadline for getting enrolled in a Marketplace plan at healthcare.gov.  If you do not currently have health care, missing this date could leave you without coverage for 2018 . but maybe even more alarming is that the big tax bill now nearing passage in Congress would raise health-insurance premiums and force millions of people to lose access, according to one analysis of federal figures. Health economist Emily Gee with the Center for American Progress estimates that nearly 180-thousand Oregonians would lose coverage over ten years. She says that’s because the bill repeals the individual mandate, which now requires people to have insurance or pay a tax penalty. Gee says without it, estimates are that annual premiums will rise.

“If healthy people leave the insurance markets, that means that overall, the average person is sicker. Insurers would need to raise premiums. The Congressional Budget Office thinks that would be about a 10-percent increase over the next decade.”

 Congressional Republicans argue that repealing the individual mandate would permit people who want to, to go without insurance. Gee counters that some of them would end up costing the system more, by showing up uninsured in emergency rooms when they need medical care. Gee says that kind of uncompensated care decreased under the Affordable Care Act, but could climb again if the tax bill passes. She adds it’s an especially serious problem for smaller hospitals. 

“Particularly in rural areas or areas where the hospitals are under a lot of financial strain, a big increase in demand for uncompensated care could be tough, or even devastating.”

The Center also estimates that the bill would trigger 180-million dollars in cuts to Oregon Medicare payments next year, because of Congressional spending rules

Firefighter Dies in Thomas Fire

Reports rang out yesterday of a firefighter being killed in the line of duty fighting the Thomas fire in southern Californis.  Siuslaw Valley Fire Chief forwarded a statement from the Deputy Chief State Fire Marshall, Mariana Ruiz-Temple. That it was not one of the responders sent from Oregon and that was all the information they had received from the director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Chief Ken Pimlott.  Pimlott asked that people keep the firefighters and their families in prayer while they continue to work in extremely dangerous conditions.

Be Careful While Holiday Shopping

Although the search for the perfect gift at the mall can be vicious during the holiday season, the parking lot outside the mall actually is much more dangerous. Parking lots already are dangerous, leading to more than 50 thousand crashes and 500 deaths around the country each year, according to the National Safety Council. With increased traffic from holiday shoppers, accidents rise this time of year. Russ Rader with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety sets the bustling scene.

“They may be distracted, thinking about the person they forgot to get a gift for. Maybe they’re on the phone, maybe they’re eating while driving as they’re rushing around to do their holiday shopping. All of those things can lead to crashes.”

Rader says when pedestrians are added to the mix, the scene becomes even more dangerous. He advises drivers to stay focused on the task, don’t mess with devices in the car and watch their speed. He says people also should space out their holiday shopping to avoid the stress of a last-minute rush. Rader says new technologies in vehicles are making them safer.

“Every new vehicle now will have a standard rearview camera, for example, which can help you in backing situations in parking lots. But you shouldn’t overly rely on backup cameras because they don’t always show you the full picture.”

 Rader says objects in the shade may not show up on backup cameras, for instance. He says many new vehicles include another safety feature known as automatic emergency braking. This feature helps prevent a crash if the driver doesn’t see an object in time to stop.