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We’ve known about the catastrophic health affects cigarettes have on our bodies for years, and with older generations passing well before their time due to decades of smoking, even more attention is being paid to Big Tobacco. 

 

U.S. regulators have now officially mandated that cigarette makers add graphic warning labels to their packages, the most significant change to warning labels in 25 years, according to the Wall Street Journal. Images of a man smoking through a hole in his neck and other scare-tactic graphics will occupy the entire top half of the pack of cigarettes, with messages like, “Smoking can kill you.” 

The mandate will go into effect in October 2012. But where there’s a billion dollar industry, there’s litigation. In 2009, Big Tobacco sued the FDA, arguing that the “graphic-labeling rule and other marketing provisions in the federal tobacco law violate tobacco companies’ constitutional rights to free speech,” WSJ reports. Although the judge ruled mostly in the FDA’s favor, the mixed verdict invited appeals from both sides. 

Spokesmen for domestic and international cigarette makers are predictably planning to fight back, mostly citing the goal of the images to evoke negative mental reactions instead of providing objective, factual health information. Regulators “project the U.S. will have 213,000 fewer smokers in the first year after the new labels are introduced,” WSJ reports. 

As the battle between free speech (in this case, deceptive marketing) and government health concerns rages on, we remain hopeful spectators that the number of smokers will decrease in the future, by whatever means possible. 

Whether or not you’re a smoker, regular physicals are the best plan for maintaining optimal health. Having quality individual health insurance can help to ease the financial burden of doctor visits during challenging economical times. MHG Insurance Brokers also offers group health insurance, life insurance, disability income protection and even commercial insurance. For more information, contact us at the location nearest you.

FDA Mandates New Graphic Labels on Cigarette Packages

In a victory for the Obama administration, the 6th U.S. Circuit of Appeals, based in Cincinnati, “upheld a key provision in the health care reform law that will require most U.S. residents to enroll in a qualified plan or pay a fine,” this past Wednesday, reports Business Insurance

 

Experts expect the issue to be examined by the Supreme Court either later this year or next year, around the time when President Barack Obama will seek re-election. The proposed provision, which aims to extend coverage to over 30 million uninsured Americans, will require U.S. residents to enroll in a health insurance plan beginning in 2014 or face a fine. 

Opposition is implied, as Republicans have sought to have the law repealed in Congress, state legislatures and federal courts. In addition, two federal judges have ruled the law unconstitutional and The Thomas More Law Center in Michigan previously argued that Congress could not regulate how U.S. residents pay for health care or insurance. However, a federal judge in Michigan ruled that the law was legal and the group repealed. 

The implications of the insurance mandate spell trouble for health insurers, hospitals, drugmakers and device companies. As government explores different avenues in which to improve the current health care crisis, millions of Americans continue to search for affordable health care services.

MHG Insurance Brokers employs passionate and knowledgeable insurance experts who provide sound advice on the most appropriate health insurance plan for individuals and families according to their unique financial situation.  Contact us today at the location nearest you for more information.

U.S. Appeals Court Upholds Health Care Reform Mandate

Buying individual healthcare insurance can be a stressful experience for anyone who has always been covered by their employer’s group plan. The following is a guideline that you can use to find the best insurance plan to cover yourself and your family. 

 

The 3 areas to focus on are 1) Affordability 2) Quality of coverage and 3) Strength of the insurance carrier. 

Company- Your health insurance carrier should be stable and have a good record of paying claims. 

Coverage – The health coverage must meet your needs. It should cover doctors, hospitals, labs plus drugs. It should also have physicians and hospitals in their networks that are near your home or place of work. 

Price – Your health plan must be priced competitively relative to the benefits provided. 

The basic process to use is to: 

Determine which individual or family medical companies are worthy of being considered. 

Determine which insurance plans offered by those companies offer proper coverage for you. 

Determine which insurance plans have the lowest overall cost relative to the health insurance coverages provided. 

A private insurance provider should have good financial ratings and be in good standing with your state’s insurance department. You may also want to do a search for complaints. Every insurance company has some complaints just by virtue of the volume of clients they have. However, a red flag should go up in your mind when there are too many complaints. This is especially true when the insurance company in question is small. 

One more issue to look at is how much they pay in benefits as a percentage of the premium they take in. 

Benefits – What does your medical plan cover? There are two aspects of coverage.1) Is the treatments that are paid for by the plan? 2) Is the network’s list of doctors that the insurance policy includes. 

Covered Healthcare Procedures: Your policy should cover you well and the hospital and should have a good lifetime maximum benefit.You should read through your insurance plan’s outline of coverage or official brochure to see how doctors, hospitals and prescriptions are covered. Most, if not all, insurance plans will have a list of treatments and services that are not covered. Most of the excluded or limited items in this section are reasonable and are included in the plans of most carriers. Plans typically will not cover plastic surgery, for example. There are are often exclusions that you may discover in one company’s plan but not in another plan. 

Coverage for preexisting conditions is one example of this. Most plans will not cover the costs of a normal pregnancy. The ones that do will usually be more expensive when compared to otherwise similar plans that do not cover pregnancy. The exclusions and limitations section of your policy or its outline of coverage should be read carefully before you make your decision. 

Insurance Networks: Knowing which physicians and hospitals are in your medical insurance carrier’s network is an issue to address. You might be able to find a list of doctors who accept a given insurance plan by calling your insurance broker.

Price – Finding the best affordable health care coverage. It’s easy to compare personal health insurance costs, but it is much harder to be certain you’re getting good value for your money. Selecting which policy is best for you; Not until you have crossed the plans on your list that have bad coverage and/or a lousy list of doctors should you start comparing the prices of the plans. 

The best health insurance coverage, may not be the best plan for you. Make sure that any plan you purchase will cover your health care needs well and fits your budget. Many continue to search for affordable health care services.

MHG Insurance Brokers employs passionate and knowledgeable insurance experts who provide sound advice on the most appropriatehealth insurance plan for individuals and families according to their unique financial situation. Let MHG Insurance Brokers help you find the best individual or group health insurance policy for you, your family and/or your business. Contact us today to find out more about group and individual health insurance

Guide to Understanding and Buying Individual Health Insurance

You’re a member of a yacht crew because you love travel, challenge and adventure. From setting sail to exotic destinations and scuba diving in some of the most beautiful oceans in the world, to the innumerable perks of a great salary, life as a crew member comes with countless benefits. But with every incredible job comes some degree of risk, and for yacht crew, it’s being without the proper insurance to protect against on-the-job injuries and to help pay for doctor visits when overseas. 

 

Many first-time crew members mistakenly assume that their existing native health insurance plan will cover them when they’re at sea. More often than not, your home country’s policy will not protect you in international waters. 

If you become sick or injured during your time at sea, you will need to secure marine crew insurance to help ease the financial burden of doctor visits. Avoid expensive hospital bills in foreign countries by choosing the right yacht crew insurance policy for your unique circumstances. 

Not sure which marine crew insurance policy to buy? One of the most important factors to consider in this decision is which nation you’ll be working in.

There are two main types of marine crew insurance plans: one that covers workers in U.S. and Canadian waters, and another that covers every other country’s waters.

MHG Insurance Brokers offers a wide range of yacht crew insurance plans and international medical insurance for expatriates. Our customizable plans offer coverage for European crew members, those wishing to avoid the fees associated with maternity coverage, those seeking portable international medical insurance, members looking for dependent coverage and many more. Life as a crew member offers many glamorous perks. Take advantage of the benefits while being aware of the risks and protect yourself before you board ship with a quality marine crew insurance plan.

Marine Crew Insurance: Staying Safe at Sea

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 70 percent of people over the age of 65 require long-term care services. Most Americans mistakenly believe that their Medicare coverage will pay for most of their long-term care, or that they will qualify to receive Medicaid – but most do not. 

 

There are also other federal public programs like the Older Americans Act or other state-funded programs, but as with many federal aid programs, they target those with the greatest functional and financial need. 

So how can you start planning for long-term care services now? There’s a good chance you will have to supplement the payments for long-term care with your personal income and resources, and this can be particularly difficult – “Even if you have a modest need for assistance at home with personal care, say a visit from a home health aide 3 times a week, based on 2008 average costs, you would have to pay about $18,000 a year for those services,” says the HHS long-term care website

To formulate the best strategy for planning, you need to know what services cost, what public programs you’re eligible for and what they cover, what private financing options are available and which ones work best for you and your unique circumstances. Costs for personal care beyond what family can provide, disability support, and more extensive services in a facility can add up quickly, and vary based on the type and amount of care you need, the provider you use and where you live. “Home health and home care services, provided in two-to-four-hour blocks of time referred to as "visits," are generally more expensive in the evening, or on weekends or holidays,” reports the HHS. 

The cost of adult day service and other community programs are often provided on a per-day rate, and can vary based on overhead and programming costs. Although some care facilities offer “all-inclusive” fees, many charge extra for services rendered beyond the basic room-and-board charge. 

For more information, like what care costs bases on where you live, visit the National Clearinghouse for Long-Term Care Information website. MHG Marine offers a variety of comprehensive long-term care insurance plans to help you finance care services. Medicaid covers a fraction of these costs, and many people cannot afford to draw from their personal income or resources to cover the remainder. Securing quality long-term-care insurance is a great way to ease the financial burden of long-term care costs. Contact an expert at the location nearest you to learn more about long-term care medical insurance.

Planning for Long-Term Care: Why You May Need More than Medicaid

Healthcare reform continues to make headlines, as new mandates make their way to the Supreme Court. Although the Affordable Care Act became law on March 23rd of 2010, it is still waiting to be reviewed by the Supreme Court. On Wednesday, the Obama administration said that the review is slated to happen either late this year or early in 2012, just in time to influence voters in the next presidential election. 

 

The Justice Department has announced that it is petitioning the Supreme Court to overturn a ruling in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the requirement for American adults to obtain health insurance starting in 2014 is unconstitutional. Various appeals panels have issued contradictory rulings on the mandate, while two threw out lawsuits brought by the attorney general of Virginia and a group of New Jersey doctors on procedural grounds. 

The most controversial mandate has the 11th Circuit and the public alike concerned: “If the federal government has the power to require the public to buy coverage from private insurers, where does its power over the citizenry end?” asked Jon Healey for the LA Times. Luckily for “Obamacare” supporters, there are several answers to this question; however, “The bad news is that none of them is likely to make the law more palatable to the public.” 

Since everyone is an existing consumer of healthcare and the Supreme Court recognizes it as a form of interstate commerce that Congress can regulate, it is clear that critics of the measure are taking it out of context. “The individual mandate simply regulates how people pay for what they buy.” Essentially, this means that people who get sick must cover their costs, instead of forcing someone else to pay the tab. 

In addition, the mandate requires insurers to offer coverage to everyone, regardless of any pre-existing conditions. “If you can't bar insurers from discriminating against those with preexisting conditions, millions of Americans won't be able to buy coverage.” If citizens are not required to carry insurance, most will wait until they get sick to secure coverage, “triggering a vicious cycle of cost increases.” 

The final answer lies with the perceived power of the federal government. Historically, lawmakers have made conservative decisions regarding healthcare due to fear of voter backlash. The problem can be boiled down to the divisive subject of how big the government should be, and how much power it should be permitted to exercise – “That's why the administration needs to come up with not just a good legal answer to the question about the limits of government power, but also an answer that makes sense on Main Street.” 

As we wait and see what happens with healthcare reform, MHG Insurance Brokers is here to keep you informed and up to date on any new developments.  As an insurance broker, MHG provides health insurance plans to meet the needs of individuals and groups from all financial backgrounds. MHG also offers yacht crew insurance, international medical insurance, disability insurance ,long term care, life insurance and business insurance. Our staff applies years of industry knowledge to find the best plan for each individual client, and is always a phone call or email away to answer any questions. For more information, contact MHG today.

Healthcare Reform: Will Fight Over “Obamacare” Come to an End?

This weekend, the Sjømannskirken (Seamen’s Church) Scandinavian Church and Center will have its grand opening at 2950 Flamingo Road in Davie, Florida. The church will be named after Norway’s Crown Princess Mette-Marit, and its official name will be “The Seamen’s Church/ Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s Church – Scandinavian Church and Center.”

 

MHG Insurance Brokers is honored to have our name on the Scandinavian Center lobby! Princess Mette-Marit will be attending the consecration on Sunday, a huge honor for the Scandinavian community in Florida. 

Church facilities include a chapel, fellowship hall (reading room), offices, state-of-the-art conference room and center, banquet hall and staff residences.

The main donors for the event include: Royal Caribbean International, Eidesvik Invest AS, Norwegian Shipping Club and Norwegian American Chamber of Commerce, Sigurd Jensen, MHG Insurance Brokers, DnB Nor and Buyandreach.com. “We are beyond thrilled about the opening of the Scandinavian center,” said John Haagensen, President of MHG Insurance Brokers, proud Norwegian citizen and former seafarer. “I remember when the center was merely a trailer at the Port of Miami. I feel so honored to be here in South Florida to witness the opening of the new center, which will serve as a place for all members of the Scandinavian community to gather and honor our heritage and culture.” 

The center will serve as a welcome “home away from home” for the entire Scandinavian community in Florida. The grand opening event begins Saturday, November 19th at 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with tours of the facilities, activities and swimming for kids. The opening of the MHG Insurance Brokers lobby will take place at 1:30 p.m. The church consecration will be held on Sunday, November 20th at 11 a.m. with the Crown Princess. An evening reception event will follow. 

 MHG Insurance Brokers specializes in health insurance plans designed specifically to meet the needs of marine officers, crew and contractors, expatriates, and US residents.  Whether you are looking for travel insurance, group insurance plans or business insurance, MHG has solutions to fit every budget.         

MHG Insurance Brokers Lobby Unveiling at the Scandinavian Center

The only constant in life is change. You’ve heard it and are intimately familiar with the dynamic quality of life. Whether you’re starting a family, going on a trip to a foreign country or moving to a new city, life’s milestones can also put you at risk of being underinsured. 

 

Although insurance can be confusing and overwhelming, it’s important not to dismiss the responsibility of understanding your coverage and when and why you need it. Instead of tackling this task on your own, the best way to ensure that your insurance coverage is keeping up with the events in your life is through periodic reviews with your insurance provider. Adequate coverage is essential to your financial security, and without it, you could be unwittingly putting your hard-earned money at risk. 

MHG clients are fortunate to have access to knowledgeable insurance representatives to help translate the convoluted to comprehensible, helping to make sure that the things that matter most are protected. Our reps offer round-the-clock support – whether you’re curious about the benefits of life insurance, are wondering whether or not you need commercial insurance or need to understand your health insurance co-pay policy, MHG is always just a phone call or email away. 

All MHG clients receive this free service from our experienced, credentialed professionals. We are committed to helping you map out your financial future as a full-service insurance provider

Remember, MHG’s 24/7 service comes free of charge, but the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you took the time and action to protect your family and belongings is invaluable. MHG Insurance Brokers has set up phone numbers around the world for your convenience. We welcome you to call us any time to learn more.  

The Right Amount of Coverage for Every Stage of Life

Earlier this year, reports were issued that showed that the rise in life expectancy of Americans has been much slower than that of other wealthy nations. In a country where one in three adults are overweight and smoking deaths from the Baby Boomer generation reached unprecedented numbers, it’s no wonder the U.S. spends more on health care than any other country.

 

Americans may indulge in unhealthy habits more than other rich nations, but that doesn’t mean bad eating habits and cigarettes aren’t major health risks in other countries all together. As time and society progresses, we’re spending more time working and less time looking after our health – whether it’s cooking nutritious meals or finding healthy ways to manage stress. 

The global decline in health has caused millions of people to miss work due to serious health conditions. A disabling injury occurs every 1.5 seconds, and debilitating illnesses like cancer or a stroke are even more likely than a disabling accident. With stats like these, you very well may want to consider securing disability income protection

Financially, a disability can be even worse than death, since living expenses continue and typically increase due to the need for specialized care. Disability income insurance is designed to replace the majority of your income in the event that you are disabled by an injury or illness. 

While popular health documentaries like “Food Inc.” and “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” urge us to make our health a priority, it simply isn’t realistic for the majority of people to make a complete lifestyle overhaul. Whether it’s a condition caused by habits that are under our control, or a life-threatening illness or accident, any disabling condition can result in extended periods of time out of work. 

Protect yourself by securing individual disability income insurance today. MHG Insurance Brokers offer many different plans for individuals in varying circumstances. Contact your local MHG expert today for more information.

Disability Income Insurance: More Necessary Now Than Ever Before

You need to plan for everything, not just the fun portion of your vacation. For many, the idea of a cruise may be the ultimate in luxury. Like any trip though, things can go wrong, so travel insurance is a sensible precaution. 

 

When you travel abroad, you are unlikely to be entitled to the same medical coverage as in the United States. Even with a European Health Insurance Card, you will typically only be entitled to the same care as the locals receive. If your cruise takes you outside of the EU, you may have to prove that you can pay for required medical treatment in advance of receiving it.  

One of the main benefits of cruise insurance and travel insurance in general, is that it can often provide you coverage for emergency medical expenses which may include transfers to hospital and even repatriation, if so advised by the medical staff. You may also appreciate travel insurance that can provide financial help if: 

• you lose your travelers checks or money you had on hand for your trip

• your baggage is lost or stolen

• you have to cancel or cut short your cruise because of the death or illness of a family member

• compensation for travel delays or missed connections

• circumstances happen just before you are due to set off on your cruise and decide that, in the circumstances, canceling you cruise is the only option. 

It may make sense to check the small print to ensure that you understand what your cover includes, as not all will offer the same policy features and benefits. Knowing that you have taken all the precautions you can to ensure the success of your cruise by taking out travel insurance may mean that you can concentrate on looking forward to, rather than worrying about, your upcoming trip. 

MHG Insurance Brokers employs passionate and knowledgeable insurance experts who provide sound advice on the most appropriate health insurance plan for individuals and families according to their unique financial situation. LetMHG Insurance Brokers help you find the best individual or group health insurance policy for you, your family and/or your business. Contact us today to find out more about group and individual health insurance.

Before You Set Sail On Your Cruise...