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More Reasons to Hate Government Bureaucracies

After 25 years helping people with HIV battle heartless bureaucrats, we’ve spent so much time pulling our hair that we’re all nearly bald.  At least metaphorically.  And this week we’ve been ripping at our follicles anew. Our client Robert is trying to get his federal student loan discharged because he is permanently disabled.  In fact, he’s been receiving Social Security disability benefits for about a decade.  He’s got host of medical problems that severely limit his ability to function, as his doctor detailed on the official government form used to request a disability-based student loan discharge.  We’ll call the doctor’s description Exhibit A: Exhibit A Pulmonary fibrosis … severe hypoxia … 24-hour oxygen support … AIDS … insulin-dependent diabetes … severe sleep apnea.  So of course you’re thinking, “Sallie Mae must have approved his request lickety split.”  Clearly you...

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Happy News in a Budget Crisis

Illinois is megasuperduper bankrupt.  That’s old news.  But we’re happy to report some megasuperduper good news when it comes to helping people with HIV afford their health insurance costs in the middle of a megasuperduper budget crisis.  The Illinois CHIC program, which pays certain insurance premiums for folks with HIV, has expanded its services.  We’ll say it again:  at a time when no one in Illinois government has two nickles to rub together, the CHIC program, which is run by the Illinois Department of Public Health, is able to help more people.  Can I get an ‘amen?’  Or at least a ‘woo hoo?’ OK, so here are the specifics: CHIC is now able to pay the premium for your Medicare Part D plan (that’s your prescription drug plan) CHIC will pay your COBRA premium up to $750 a month (the limit...

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ObamaCare is Good for People with HIV

Yeah, yeah, we know the term “ObamaCare” is often used to denigrate the Affordable Care Act, which the President signed into law on March 23, 2010.  But since Mr. Obama himself recently said he doesn’t mind the term — since it suggests that he cares about the health insurance needs of Americans — we’re going to use it, too.  The Affordable Care Act is one heck of a big piece legislation.  Understanding all of its intricacies is beyond most mortals.  But the nearly-immortal brainiacs at HIV Health Reform have as a good a handle on the law as anybody.   And they’ve just put out a fact sheet entitled, “Six Ways the Affordable Care Act Will Help People with HIV.”  Here’s perhaps our favorite of the six: 4. Private health insurance companies will have to play by the new rules. The health...

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What’s In It For You?

By now you’ve probably read a few new stories, several blog posts, many Facebook rants and a bazillion Twitter tweets about the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act.  We’re not going to add to the blogo-spew.  We’re just going to point you to a nifty little online tool that the Washington Post devised to help you figure how the Act might affect your personal decisions regarding your future health insurance. You just answer a few questions anonymously — Do you have health insurance?  How many people are in your household? —  and out pops a useful little explanation of how your options now compare to your options in 2014 (when the Affordable Care Act goes fully into effect).  Pretty nifty, we think.  Just click here and try it for...

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ADAP to the Rescue!

If you have private health insurance or Medicare, there are important changes in the Illinois AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) that may help you with some of your drug costs. Additionally, ADAP may make it possible for some people to afford comprehensive health insurance coverage under the new Illinois Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (IPXP). First and foremost: The income eligibility limit for Illinois ADAP is 500% of federal poverty. That means for 2011, your annual income must be less $54, 450 in order for you to enroll in any of ADAP’s programs. So let’s dig in and explain. For folks with private insurance: ADAP used to pay drug copays for people with private health insurance, but only if the copays were more than 20% of the drug costs or if a drug’s individual copay was more than $100. But...

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Health Care Reform Takes Effect Today … Sort Of

So you’ve probably heard lots of news stories telling you that many of the most important aspects of the Affordable Care Act going into effect today. For example, insurers can no longer deny insurance for children with pre-exisiting conditions. And insurers can’t put life-time caps on the benefits in their plans. That’s not quite the whole story. In fact, for any particular insurance plan these changes will go into effect on the date of the new plan year, on or after September 23, 2010. That means that the changes happen the next time your insurance plan renews. So for example, if your current insurance plan has a million dollar lifetime cap, that cap doesn’t disappear today. It disappears when your plan is up for renewal. The cap stays in place until that time. There, hope that clears things...

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