Health Insurance Rates Decrease by $81 Million in 2016, Insurance Department Announces

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 15, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller today announced 2016 rates for individual and small group health insurance plans offered in Pennsylvania under the Affordable Care Act. Open enrollment for these plans begins November 1.

“With the announcement of these rates, Commissioner Miller is continuing my administration’s push for consumer protection across the commonwealth,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “We are working to guarantee that Pennsylvanians can continue to shop for their best coverage options in a competitive insurance marketplace, while still paying reasonable prices.”

Commissioner Miller said the approved rates will save Pennsylvania consumers nearly $81 million compared to the rates proposed by insurers in June.

“We consider many factors when making final decisions on health insurance rates, but the impact on Pennsylvania consumers is always our top priority,” Commissioner Miller said. “Six insurers in the individual market proposed rate hikes of more than 25 percent, but we were concerned about how these increases would affect consumers. The Insurance Department ultimately approved final rates that are significantly lower than were originally proposed.”

Other factors considered by the Insurance Department when determining final rates include claims paid over the past year, as well as estimates of future costs, such as medical and prescription drug costs and administrative expenses and the insurers’ current surplus. For all six companies that proposed rate hikes above 25 percent, the commissioner requested the companies phase in increases over additional years if necessary. The commissioner noted these companies are sufficiently strong financially to accommodate this request.

Commissioner Miller noted there are 19 companies offering individual health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act in Pennsylvania, and 23 companies offering plans for small groups, which are businesses with 50 or fewer employees. Of the 19 companies offering individual health plans, 12 have increases under ten percent. All 23 companies offering small group health plans will have increases under ten percent.

“I encourage all consumers to take advantage of Pennsylvania’s competitive market and shop around to see if there is a better plan which offers benefits better suited to their needs,” Commissioner Miller said. “All Pennsylvanians have the choice of at least four individual plans in their area, and most have multiple plans from which to choose.”

When looking at the percentage increase for a given health plan’s rate, it is important to understand what the current rates are for that plan, and whether the rates actually cover the insurer’s costs. When the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2014, insurance companies had no claims history with which to estimate how many claims the newly insured population would file, or how much those claims would cost insurers. In many cases, insurers underestimated the cost of the claims individuals newly insured would file, and the premiums charged to cover these costs are now being set at a level to more accurately reflect insurers’ anticipated costs.

“Pennsylvania consumers overall enjoy lower rates than consumers in nearby states and the nation as a whole,” said Commissioner Miller. “For example, when comparing the lowest cost silver plans in each state for 2015, Pennsylvania’s average monthly premium of $222 is $66 below the average for states in the northeast region, and $42 below the national average.”

In addition, more than 80 percent of Pennsylvanians buying individual health insurance through plans offered on the federal government’s Marketplace, www.healthcare.gov, receive subsidies to help pay their premiums. Individual health plans are offered both through this federal Marketplace and directly from private insurers, but consumers are eligible for subsidies only for plans bought through the federal Marketplace.

Current health plans are in effect through December 31. In order to have coverage under new or continuing plans begin January 1 and avoid any lapse in coverage, consumers must enroll for 2016 by December 15.

To help consumers find their best plan, the Insurance Department has provided information on rates by area of the state, an explanation of the process for approving rates, and a shoppers’ guide to help individuals navigate the process of buying insurance on their website, www.insurance.pa.gov. On the main page, click on “2016 Affordable Care Act Rates by Rating Area” to see examples of rates in specific regions, and under the Consumers tab, click on “Health” to find the shoppers’ guide. When open enrollment begins on November 1, a list of all plans available on the federal Marketplace in Pennsylvania and the cost of each will be available on www.healthcare.gov.

MEDIA CONTACT: Ron Ruman, Insurance Department, 717-787-3289

View the original version on PR Newswire
SOURCE Pennsylvania Insurance Department

Fattah speaks at West Philly High School

WASHINGTON, Oct. 14, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Tomorrow, Thursday, October 15, Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA) will speak to high school students at West Philadelphia High School as part of his outreach efforts to local schools in the community. The Congressman will deliver remarks focused on citizenship, government, and the importance of higher education to juniors and seniors in the school’s AP Government classes. Fattah, who is the architect of GEAR UP, has made college access one of his primary policy priorities.

West Philadelphia is one of 11 high schools in the School District of Philadelphia that receive GEAR UP funding. In addition, 35 feeder elementary schools in the district are GEAR UP participants. Last month, Fattah addressed GEAR UP students at Roxborough High School, and will continue visiting area schools this fall.

GEAR UP, which has helped more than 12 million students nationwide, prepares students from high poverty backgrounds for higher education. Focusing on entire classes or cohorts, the program includes mentoring, academic preparation, financial education, and college scholarships.

WHO: Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA-02)

WHAT: Address students at West Philadelphia High School

WHEN: 11:30AM, Thursday, October 15, 2015

WHERE: West Philadelphia High School
4901 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19139

Should I Move to Whitman in South Philly?

Jennifer P. asks:

Where should two young adults move to in Philly? Is Whitman a good and safe neighborhood for us? My friend and I are both young professionals that are planning to move to Philadelphia for work and school. Do you think the Whitman neighborhood would be a good fit for us? We are looking at a few houses near 3rd street, off of Oregon Ave. I would like to live around Passyunk Ave as there are more nightlife activities for us within walking distance, but the houses are smaller and we were hoping to have some grass. I have seen a few houses around Whitman that are really beautiful with a good asking price, I just don’t know how well we would fit in as there are a lot of families and we are single young adults.

Carol answers:

Jennifer, Whitman would be a great option for you and your friend. The homes are definitely affordable, with many homes offering lawns and gardens. City living is tough, but Whitman offers the best of both worlds when it comes to safety and convenience. The neighbors keep an eye out for each other, making the area one of the safest in the city. The grocery stores and Whitman Plaza shopping center is within walking distance. The bus routes run all throughout.

David answers:

The neighborhood will welcome you with open arms. They love young adults who have energy and something to bring to the neighborhood. You will be invited to events, meetings, watch groups, etc if you are only willing to interact with the neighbors. The only downside I can see is that the parties and clubs are definitely lacking. There are taverns and bars, but all small and old school traditional. The newest thing they have in the area is the bowling alley which boasts two full service bars. Other than that, you’ll find mostly grocery and retail shops. You’ll have to trek a little further south for your party needs. On the bright side, the neighborhood keeps it’s peace and tranquility.

Armed Robbery on Temple University’s Health Science Campus

An armed robbery was reported at the Metro PCS at 1402 W. Allegheny in North Philadelphia earlier this afternoon. This robbery took place right off Broad St at Temple University’s Health Science Campus, where the Dentistry, Pharmacy, and Medical school classes are held. Most must students walk by the area daily to get to their classes.

According to sources, many armed robbery, mugging, break ins, stolen vehicles and crimes are reported on Temple’s Health Science campus. Rarely are they publicized or addressed by the school.

Temple makes an effort to police the campus, but clearly not enough.

Nominations: Best Coffee Shop in Philly 2015

Best in Philly 2015 is officially accepting nominations for the best coffee shop in Philadelphia! There are few rules. Readers simply suggest their favorite coffee shop within the city limits, whether the shop be local, chain, or foreign brew. Nominations will be accepted until the end of October.

Did you know? Probably. Coffee shops serve coffee and perhaps other beverages and small bites. If it takes lunch or dinner reservations, it’s probably a restaurant and you should reserve the nomination for a food category. If more than a handful of people get drunk in it daily, it’s probably more suiting of the brewery bar category.

Public Transport: Subway or Bus to Whitman and Oregon Ave

Whitman Plaza

The broad street orange line most southern stops are at the intersection of Broad st and Snyder Ave, Oregon Ave, and Pattison/AT&T Station. All of the stations are within walking distance of the Whitman neighborhood, including Whitman Plaza.

Traveling east and west throughout the numbered streets of Oregon Ave is simple too. Simply wait at a bus stop on any corner of Oregon Ave and wait for the G bus or 7 bus. Either will take you west or east on Oregon Ave. For example, you can take the subway Broad Street line to Oregon Ave and wait for the 7/G bus in front of the subway station. Ride the bus east towards Whitman Plaza on 3rd and Oregon, or a little further towards the South Bowl bowling alley.

Women in Transition Hosts Free Self-Defense Class

WAVE Self-Defense has been selected to partner with singer Brandi Carlile’s Looking Out Foundation to offer a FREE self-defense workshop as part of the Fight the Fear Campaign! The free self defense class takes place Saturday, October 17th from 1:30pm-4:00pm at 21 S 12th Street, 6th Floor, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107.

Philadelphia Free Self Defense Class

WAVE is a practical and empowering safety and self-defense program open to women, girls, transgender and gender non-conforming individuals (ages 14+) throughout the Philadelphia region.

WAVE classes teach safety strategies that students can use in situations ranging from verbal harassment to physical assault. We emphasize awareness, trusting your instincts, boundary setting, verbal assertiveness, and easy-to-learn physical techniques. Students of all skills, abilities, sizes and body types are strongly encouraged to participate in our classes.

Join the event and learn safety & assertiveness skills in a safe and fun environment. For more information, visit the Facebook event page.

Best New Restaurants Coming to South Philly

Philadelphia is quickly becoming the best city for foodies. It is only a matter of time before it is declared the food capital of the country. These newly opened and soon to open restaurants are must tries for any food enthusiast.

South Philly Eatery

Los Jimenez Mexican Cocina
Whitman: 2654 S. Sixth St.
Vetri chef Justino Jimenez specializes in the al pastor, succulent bits of pork shaved from a pineapple-marinated spit and served with chopped onion, cilantro and avocado. This new South Philly eatery is a hidden gem on the dated streets of Oregon ave. Arguably the best taco eatery in Philadelphia, Los Jimenez Mexican Cocina is disguised as a small, hole-in-the-wall corner store.

Stargazy
East Passyunk: 1838 East Passyunk Avenue
Opening this Friday, August 28 on East Passyunk is chef Sam Jacobson’s Stagazy, featuring traditional English dishes. The menu will include savory pies, along with other specialty baked goods, puddings and house-made breads. Look for the doors to open Friday, August 28.

Coeur
Bella Vista: 824 S. 8th Street
The latest restaurant to spring from the team behind Memphis Taproom, Local 44 and other superior spots, Coeur is a Montreal-style bistro with approachable, easygoing fare that features options for everyone from meat eaters to vegans. The doors open with a party on September 18.

Neuf
Bella Vista: 943 S. 9th Street
It’s so difficult getting a table at Joncarl Lochman’s popular Noord that he opened up this new restaurant to share more Nordic cuisine with South Philadelphia.

Buckminster’s
Point Breeze: 1200 S. 21st Street
Buckminser’s “neo-bistro” menu will be available later this fall.

Fourth and Cross
Pennsport: 1527 S. 4th Street
South Philly’s Pennsport and Whitman neighborhoods have been sorely lacking on the brunch department up until now. Newly opened Fourth and Cross features a farm-to-table menu that focuses on simple and fresh items like pancakes, burgers and sandwiches.

Hungry Pigeon
Queen Village: 743 S. 4th Street
Chef Scott Schroeder’s creativity knows no limits and soon, with the opening of Hungry Pigeon on Fabric Row, he’ll add an all-day café with dinner service to his restaurant portfolio.

Kanella Queen Village
Queen Village: 757 S. Front Street
Kanella’s previous location in Washington Square West closed down, but chef Konstantinos Pitsillades plans to open a new edition of this famous eatery in Queen Village this fall.