Tag Archives: insurance premiums

Pure Insurance

Pure Insurance Caters to High Value Homeowners

Insurance has a new name and it’s PURE. PURE insurance is a young and expanding company that doesn’t model itself after standard insurance companies; it carefully selects its policy holders to keep premiums low and customer response high.

PURE Insurance

PURE insurance was created on three principles: expertise, alignment of interest and the green field.

“As experts in this niche market, the PURE team understands how to handle the very unique, demanding needs of the owners of high-value cars, homes or jewelry. The alignment of interest happens when you have a company that is predominantly run for the benefit of policyholders rather than outside shareholders,” says Ross Buchmueller, president and CEO of PURE.

“The third component is what we call green field or clean slate, where you combine a specialist company with a mutual commitment, and you have the benefit of starting from scratch with the most modern technology and the most contemporary approach to underwriting risk.”

According to Buchmueller, when PURE enters a market like Arizona the company grasps a full view of the possible risks including, but not limited to, potential wild fires. That way they ensure PURE can select the best agents for each client and case. But PURE also takes great care in selecting potential policy holders who demonstrate responsibility and high net-worth.When it comes to selecting a policy holder, PURE insurance looks for the most responsible owners of the finest built homes as well as homeowners who take great care in preventing loss, have alarm systems and have continuously maintained their homes even during the economic downturn where other homeowners may have cut corners.

“This group of people will likely have fewer claims and will likely enjoy lower premiums,” Buchmueller says. “The selectivity is an important component that makes the company so special, not because it is elite, more because it enables PURE to deliver a higher level of coverage and service at a lower cost.”

Artwork, Wine Collections and Jewelry

For priceless works of art or that vintage wine collection, replacing them isn’t an option. This is where PURE’s specialty liaisons can help with adjusting a claim and more importantly preventing that claim from happening. The company has experts in both evaluation and repairing damaged artwork.

“When it comes to artwork, one of the greatest risks relates to art in transit,” Buchmueller says. “So [PURE] helps coordinate the professional packing and shipping and managing of collections. If you wanted to move a piece of art from your Scottsdale home to your Chicago home, you don’t want to throw it in the back of a station wagon and start driving.”

PURE’s policy for covering fine jewelry is greater in breadth than that of standard insurance companies, Buchmueller says.

“We decided to become pioneers by increasing the amount of jewelry coverage available under PURE’s homeowner’s policy,” he says. “Many homeowners policies limit coverage for jewelry that is lost, misplaced or stolen to $5,000. We are the only company to increase that limit to $50,000 to better reflect the needs of successful families.  If one of our members  was to lose a valuable watch or earring, they have the peace of mind knowing that they have coverage that is not available anywhere else.”

 The PURE Promise

PURE insurance offers the PURE Promise, which tells customers that quality can cost less. PURE prides itself on doing it right the first time by hiring experts to work in each area, whether it be claim filing, assessing item cost or claims adjusting.

“The PURE Promise says, ‘if we do a great job, from selecting the right members, from working hard to prevent losses, exceptional quality can actually cost less,’ ” Buchmueller says. “That’s why we think this expert, policyholder-owned, fresh start company is uniquely positioned to produce quality.”

PURE Insurance in Arizona

PURE insurance came into Arizona at the beginning of 2011.

Tami Chartier, a local agent for PURE through the Farmer Leavitt Insurance Agency, has been writing policies for the company since its launch in Arizona, and enjoys the quality and the benefit that is provided to PURE policy holders.

“I like that [PURE is] a mutual company, and I like that our policyholders are actually owners in the company,” Chartier says. “I like the idea of keeping the premiums down and the [profits] going back to the PURE membership.”

PURE focuses on the personalized, stress-free and convenient services it provides its customers whether it starts out with consulting to get a policy quote or having to meet with a personal liaison to file a claim.

With an unfortunate event that results in making a claim, PURE will take the utmost care in ensuring their client is taken care of with an expert liaison. The liaison will handle the whole process for the client, which has gained PURE rave reviews from current policy holders.

“Going through a claims process is very, very stressful depending on the type of claim,” Chartier says. “It’s a very difficult ordeal, and having a personal Member Advocate to go between [the policyholder] and the adjustor and the carrier to resolve any issues that are involved, eases the burden for our members, and people are very excited about that.”

[stextbox id=”grey” caption=”For more information about PURE insurance, please visit:” color=”000000″ ccolor=”000000″] www.pureinsurance.com[/stextbox]

 

Good Samaritan Hospital at sunset

Massive Budget Cuts Have Arizona’s Hospitals And Health Care Industry Closing Ranks

As bad as 2009 was, the health care industry in Arizona is still bracing for the worst. So says John R. Rivers, president and chief executive officer of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA), whose organization, along with others, lobbied unsuccessfully against massive legislative reductions totaling $2.7 billion to the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) and Arizona Department of Health Services’ budgets for fiscal 2011.

The cuts were part of an effort by the Legislature to dig the state out of the deficit hole it finds itself in.

“I can’t predict who is going to do what in response to these cutbacks, but I can tell you that every person in Arizona will be affected by these cuts in some negative manner — either though higher insurance premiums, more overcrowding in hospital emergency rooms, reduced services provided by hospitals or even some hospital closures,” Rivers says. “The impact of these cuts will be far-reaching and long-lasting.”

Hospitals alone stand to lose $1.15 billion in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

“Our focus and energies must be on the daunting challenge of dealing with the negative impact on patient care as a result of the budget cuts recently enacted in Arizona,” says Peter Fine, president and CEO of Banner Health. “These cuts will result in reductions of $2.7 billion in health care spending, including scheduled cuts of more than $1 billion to Arizona hospitals in 2011. This will place tremendous pressure on the state’s hospitals.”

The AzHHA position is that the budget cuts not only will devastate Arizona’s health care community, but also cripple the state’s economy. Arizona’s hospital community employs approximately 73,000 people and contributes $11.5 billion to the state’s gross product. In a recent report, the Seidman Research Institute at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University estimated the budget cuts would result in a loss of 42,000 jobs across virtually every segment of the Arizona economy.

Those job losses, Rivers says, “will worsen Arizona’s economic downturn and flies in the face of legislators’ efforts to create new jobs and revitalize the state’s business climate.”

The health care sector would suffer the greatest loss of jobs, totaling an estimated 19,600 in 2011. Employment losses also would hit such categories as arts and entertainment, construction, finance, manufacturing, mining, real estate, retail, transportation and warehousing, according to the ASU report.

Other startling numbers from the report indicate that real disposable income would be reduced by $1.74 billion — approximately $200 per capita — and the state’s population would shrink by 10,000.

Even before the Legislature took final action, St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center already was dealing with the state’s budget implosion.

“Because we are the largest hospital in Arizona, and treat more AHCCCS patients than any other private hospital, these cuts have been devastating to us,” says Linda Hunt, service area president of Catholic Healthcare West (CHW) Arizona and president of St. Joseph’s. “The Legislature cut more than $14 million in funding to our hospital alone between mid-December and February. Part of these cuts wiped out funding for our graduate medical education program, which trains more than 200 medical residents in 10 different clinical specialties. We now have to make up the deficit. In addition, our charity care costs continue to increase, we are seeing more uninsured patients in our ER, and we are seeing more mentally ill patients in the ER because they have nowhere else to get help.”

Hunt’s concern for the most vulnerable members of society is echoed by Betsey Bayless, president and CEO of Maricopa Integrated Health System (MIHS), which operates the Maricopa Medical Center.

“About 65 percent of our patients are on AHCCCS, and we operate the Valley’s largest psychiatric inpatient hospital, Desert Vista, in Mesa,” Bayless says. “Furthermore, patients without coverage will seek care only when their conditions worsen, thus driving up emergency room demand — the most costly means of caring for illness and disease.”

Further putting a human face on the budget cuts, health care coverage is being eliminated for 310,500 low-income adults and 47,000 children, and mental health treatment ends for 36,500 adults and children.

Hospital officials fear their emergency rooms will be inundated by additional waves of the uninsured. Emergency rooms are federally mandated to screen and stabilize all patients, without regard to their ability to pay for care. In 2008, Arizona hospitals provided approximately $392 million in uncompensated care to uninsured patients. Hospitals make up the loss by absorbing or shifting costs to commercial health plans, which then charge businesses and individuals higher health insurance premiums, AzHHA maintains. The cost-shift, coupled with further cuts in AHCCCS hospital payment rates, amounts to a hidden tax on health care consumers, according to AzHHA.

The budget cuts also eliminate the KidsCare Program, which provides medical services and preventive health care for children of families who cannot afford insurance. Ending the program saves the state $22.9 million, but costs the state $95.5 million in federal matching funds, for a total loss of $119 million to the state’s health care system. Hospitals will lose $44 million in revenue, AzHHA says.

Of extreme concern to the medical community is a measure on the November ballot that targets Proposition 204, which was approved by voters in 2000. Prop. 204 expanded eligibility for AHCCCS, but the new ballot measure asks voters to deny eligibility to an estimated 315,000 individuals who benefited from the 2000 proposition. Under the ballot proposal this year, the state would save $765 million, but would lose $1.5 billion in federal matching funds, for a total reduction of $2.3 billion to the Arizona health care community. Hospitals alone would lose an estimated $851 million in revenue.

To cope with reduced funding, MIHS has limited new hires and is formulating plans to address these unprecedented budget cuts.

“Moreover,” Bayless says, “we recognize this is not our problem alone. Rather this is a community-wide issue, and I have been reaching out to other health care leaders about ways we can work together to best care for our Valley residents.”

Hunt says St. Joseph’s employees have provided dozens of ideas on how the hospital can operate more efficiently, while preserving patient safety and quality care.

“We are looking at a wide variety of community, academic and business partnerships, and are re-evaluating our strategic plan to add more focus on the service lines that are most needed in the region,” Hunt says. “We are a ‘destination hospital’ for many complex illnesses and will continue to bring patients in from around the country and around the world. We will also advocate strongly for the state to provide services for the most needy and encourage our leaders to see health care as a vital contributor to the state’s economic recovery.”

As for its next step, Rivers says AzHHA will work to guard the funds that escaped the budget axe.

“We will develop a proposal that protects these health care programs either through new revenue sources or requiring that existing revenue sources earmarked for these programs are used for their intended purposes — not just dropped into a black hole in the general fund,” he says.

Hidden Tax Revealed Chart

Hidden Health Care Tax Hits Workers

The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA) and the Arizona Chamber Foundation are joining forces to stop what we call a hidden health care tax on businesses and consumers. According to a study released by the Arizona Chamber Foundation, which is associated with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Arizona employers and the state’s 3.5 million privately insured consumers pay 40 percent above cost for hospital services, primarily because the state and federal governments significantly underpay hospitals for those same services.

“This study shines a light on what Arizona business and health care leaders refer to as the hidden health care tax,” says Suzanne Taylor, executive director of the Arizona Chamber Foundation. “The study demonstrates that when state or federal lawmakers reduce hospital payment levels to below their costs, Arizona businesses and consumers pick up the tab in the form of higher health insurance premiums.”

The study, An Analysis of Hospital Cost Shift in Arizona, was conducted by the nationally recognized Lewin Group. It found that in 2007, private insurance payments for Arizona hospital services exceeded costs by $1.3 billion in order to offset underpayment from:

  • State government — The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), Arizona’s Medicaid program that paid 79 percent of hospitals’ costs for providing services, underpaid Arizona hospitals by $407 million.
  • Federal government — Medicare, which paid 89 percent of Arizona hospitals’ costs for delivering services, underpaid Arizona hospitals by $481 million.

Uncompensated care — Arizona’s hospitals absorbed $390 million in 2007 — 4.4 percent of their total costs — for services they delivered, but for which they received no compensation.

Public insurance programs such as AHCCCS and Medicare are the primary drivers behind the hidden health care tax, paying hospitals below what it costs to treat patients. To cover these costs, hospitals shift the burden to private health insurers by negotiating higher rates to provide coverage.

“In this downturn, the hidden health care tax is particularly harmful to the economic well-being of our state,” Taylor says. “Employers throughout Arizona are grappling with incredible challenges ranging from declining revenues to shrinking credit. The hidden health care tax is another weight on businesses that want to continue providing employer-based insurance to their employees.”

Arizona employers and their employees typically share the cost of health insurance coverage, with employers paying an average of 81 percent of a single policy and 75 percent of a family policy for workers enrolled in their respective health plans. According to the study, in 2007 inadequate payment by AHCCCS and Medicare, as well as uncompensated care, increased private health insurance premiums in Arizona by 8.8 percent or $361 for every privately insured person.

The study revealed that public program underpayment in 2007:

  • Added $1,017 — $324 of which is due to AHCCCS underpayment — to the annual price tag of a typical family health insurance policy, bringing the cost to $11,617.
  • Increased by $396 — $126 of which is due to AHCCCS underpayment — the annual cost of a single health insurance policy, bringing the price tag to $4,519.

Underpayment by public insurance programs for hospital services exacts a steep price on employers, their workers and private purchasers of health insurance. In 2007, the cost shift due to AHCCCS, Medicare and uncompensated care cost: employers an additional $941.7 million, $301.3 million resulting from AHCCCS underpayment; employees an additional $292.8 million, $93.7 million of it due to AHCCCS underpayment; and private purchasers of health insurance an additional $41.4 million, $13.2 million of it resulting from AHCCCS underpayment
AHCCCS payment rate freeze.

  • Five percent AHCCCS payment rate reduction.
  • Disproportionate share hospital payments.
  • Graduate medical education.
  • AHCCCS payments to rural hospitals.
  • State savings of  $95 million.
  • Lost federal funds of $250.4 million.

Total dollar increase in private insurance premiums due to the cost shift of $1.48 billion in 2009 and $1.63 billion in 2010.
Individual increase in premiums of 19 percent for privately insured Arizonans due to the cost shift.