Can California Health Insurance Rate Reviews Stop Excessive Rate Hikes?

Last year, California was granted the power to scrutinize proposed health insurance rate increases by insurance companies. Insurance companies planning to increase their plan premiums by more than 10 percent are subject to rate reviews. Excessive premium increases would necessitate insurers to publicly justify the unjust rate hikes.Despite the implementation of rate reviews, little help is seen by millions of consumers. California health insurance premiums continue to skyrocket making it hard for Californians to afford health care coverage.Even though California can publicly shame and persuade insurers to prevent proposed increases, it still lacks the power to reject the proposed excessive rates by insurance companies. The state couldn’t even stop Anthem Blue Cross from increasing one of its coverage rates by 16.1 percent even though it was publicly declared that the planned rates were excessive.Consumers Demand California Health Insurance Rate RegulationsSince 2002, Californians have seen a 153 percent increase in employer health insurance. Because of this, the desire to regulate California health insurance premiums increased more than ever. Consumer groups want regulators to do more than embarrass and persuade. They want to put an end to excessive premium increases. A consumer advocate group even stated that they will begin gathering signatures from people to help set up real rate control.Even though the Department of Insurance was able to reduce, postpone and withdraw 50 out of the 300 rate changes last year, it’s not enough. According to Deputy Commissioner Janice Rocco, in order to adequately protect consumers, having the authority to reject excessive California health insurance premium increases is necessary. However, there are still ways that consumers can afford health coverage despite increasing premiums.How Can Consumers Afford California Health Insurance Plans?If you are living on a tight budget, you might be pondering whether to get health care coverage or not with premiums on the rise. There are still ways to help people afford the health coverage they need.A high-deductible health plan is an option for people who are in good health. Compared to co-pay plans, high-deductible plans offer lower premiums by as much as 40 to 50 percent. With the passage of the health care reform law, high-deductible plans are appealing more than ever. Preventive care services are 100 percent covered with no out-of-pocket costs even before meeting your deductible. Meaning, annual physical exams and screening procedures for health conditions can be enjoyed without worrying about co-payments, co-insurance and deductibles.You can use this added free benefit as long as you go with in-network providers. Constantly monitoring your health can help keep money in your pocket. Early detection of illness can significantly decrease your out-of-pocket medical expenses. As we all know, developing a chronic illness is harder to treat resulting in expensive medical bills.Now is the time to get a California health insurance plan. Once you have a pre-existing condition, insurance companies can charge you higher premiums or even deny you coverage. Without health coverage, you are financially exposed to huge medical bills when illness strikes. Luckily, insurers cannot deny children with pre-existing conditions health coverage due to the Affordable Care Act mandate. As for adults, you need to wait until 2014 when health care reform fully takes its course.While your health is good, get coverage now to keep rates low. You should also do some comparison shopping every year to get the most affordable health insurance rates from insurance companies in your area.

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Scholarships & Schools 101: Getting and Keeping References

You want to get into the best schools, and pay for your education, but to do both you need references. You begin applying for schools and scholarships, until you realize that you need to get 3 reference letters for each scholarship or application. What next?Finding RefereesIn order to find referees, you need to determine how many references you need. Do you need 18 reference letters? Do you need 7 online forms filled out? Do you simply need the contact information for 3 references?Once you have established how many references you will need, you can figure out how many people will meet that need. Often, to get 30 or more references, you will only need 3 or 4 people. Once your referee writes you the first letter, the hard work is done. It often doesn’t take too long to have your references tailored for each application.It is also important to establish what type of reference you need. Do you need to have all academic references from teachers and professors? Or can you have a few references from community sources? Take this into consideration when planning your references.Asking for ReferencesYou now need to ask for references. When you ask for a reference, be specific. Say, “Will you please be my reference for my application to X college? I need you to fill in an electronic application by November 12th.”Ask someone that you trust to give you a good reference, and someone that will be organized enough to complete the package properly. You don’t want your application to suffer because of another person’s mistakes.Reference PackagesYour referees are busy people. You need to make their lives easier by organizing as much of it as you can for them. You can do everything short of writing the letter itself.If you want them to do more than one reference for you, make it easy on them by giving them a sheet of paper with the references you need by when. Make sure that each one is clearly labeled with specific instructions (for instance: you might need some in duplicate and some in triplicate). If your reference is submitting the letter themselves, then give them a stamped, addressed envelope. If your reference is returning the letter to you, make sure that you pick up the envelope when you say you will. Be sure to have them sign across the seal!Your references want to write a good letter. Help them out by giving them a cheat sheet. On this sheet you should explain that you are jogging their memories. Write how long you have known them, what courses you have taken with them, and any accomplishments that you achieved with their help.Include your resume or curriculum vitae in your reference package. You want to keep everyone up-to-date on your accomplishments. You should also include any essays that you had to write for your scholarship or university application. This means that your referees will be able to make direct mention of your future plans and how well-suited you are to the program.Organizing your ReferencesYou need to keep master list of what applications are due when. You will want to have on this list who your references are for each subject. Check off each reference after you have received it or know that it has been sent.Give your references time to write the letter. You don’t want them to write a rushed letter. Give yourself time to finish the application. Letting them know early means that you can give them a deadline that is a few days before the actual deadline. This will ensure that all of your materials get where they need to be on time.Thanking your ReferencesEach person who writes you a reference should get a thank you card. This card will explain what you have chosen to do. Explain what school you are going to, what scholarships you have received, and acknowledge your referee’s part in the process. Even if you did not get what you applied for, let your reference know. For extra-helpful references, you might even consider getting a box of chocolates or flowers.Thanking your referees keeps them happy. If they are happy, then they will write you letters later when you need it. You never know when you will need another reference. And, who knows…one day you might be writing reference letters yourself!

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Education Divides Rather Than Unites Society

The quality of education being delivered varies across private and public schools. Private schools being more costly can only be afforded by the relatively affluent class, whereas, public schools aren’t a burden on the wallet and therefore preferred by the common man. Although some public schools do manage to impart education of a high standard, most pale in comparison to private schools. With more funds to invest in the education of its pupils, private schools enjoy a better reputation than public schools. The reputation of the school matters a lot when it comes to college admissions where once again public school students are at a disadvantage.

In some developing countries, such as Pakistan and India, women in general and the rural woman in particular, are discouraged from attaining education. Male children are given preference when it comes to sending children to school, particularly if the household has a limited budget. Even educated individuals make such absurd choices and such practices have secluded women not only from schools but also from the workplace.

The living conditions of an individual dictate whether he/she would be able to complete his/her education or not. Therefore, for a person, who can not even fulfill his basic necessities attaining education is a much more difficult objective than it is for a person living a relatively luxurious life. Children belonging to such impoverished families find it increasingly difficult to pursue education while trying to earn bread and butter for their families. Most of them are unable to complete their primary education, not because they chose to do so but because circumstances dictated so. In such circumstances education is not assisting such individuals from breaking through the poverty cycle and thus leading to a wider gap between the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated.

Education standards also differ across geographical boundaries, across continents and across poles. The West is generally envied by the East for its quality of education, the reason why a number of students from the East choose colleges in the West (only the rich are able to do so). Similarly those living in rural areas do not have access to the same quality of education as those who reside in urban areas. Improvements in technology have to a very limited extent countered this issue. However, the pace at which technology is improving is remarkable and soon enough location would not be an issue.

Attaining an education might be a difficult journey for some and indeed for others an impossible one, but education does play a pivotal role in guaranteeing higher chances of employment and better paying jobs. If education is made more accessible and the quality that is imparted more uniform such that the rich are not advantaged and the poor not disadvantaged and that gender does not determine one’s chances of becoming educated and that an individual’s location doesn’t dictate the quality of education he/she is to receive, then only can education unite society.

A surface level assessment rather than a deeper analysis suggests that education is bridging the inequality gap. Such an opinion is arrived at without considering the roles gender,class and ethnicity play in determining whether an individual will successfully complete his/her education or not.

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