March 22, 2013 |
Ever tried to get a firm price tag before going to the doctor or the hospital? Good luck. Historically, the search for healthcare prices has been an exercise in futility. But that's starting to change. With healthcare costs rising and consumers on the hook for a growing share of their medical bills, doctors, hospitals and health insurers are feeling the pressure to make healthcare prices more readily available. "We expect consumers to cover more of their care and decide how to expend resources.
March 20, 2013 |
The Washington Post's "Wonkblog" page is up Wednesday morning with a flow chart showing how to determine eligibility for government help to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The Post describes the chart , which was prepared by the National Assn. of Insurance Commissioners and can be seen here or at the top of this item, as "insanely complicated. " It's not. Unless, that is, the Washington Post's reporters as a species are easily confused, which is doubtful.
March 19, 2013 |
Premiums for comprehensive health insurance are 47% higher than other policies without all of those benefits, a new industry study shows, but those higher rates also yield lower deductibles. The report issued Tuesday by eHealth Inc., the company behind online shopping website eHealthInsurance. adds to a steady drumbeat of predictions about "rate shock" when the federal healthcare law kicks in next year. Even some supporters of the Affordable Care Act have expressed concern that the federal requirement for richer benefits and new consumer protections will drive up premiums substantially.
March 15, 2013 |
State officials say they need 20,000 people for the job of signing up millions of Californians for health insurance in the coming months, but a battle is brewing over whether these workers should undergo background checks and fingerprinting. At issue is the level of screening these "assisters" should receive before they handle confidential information about the people they are enrolling this year in the state's new health insurance exchange, called Covered California. These enrollers, who will earn $58 from the state for every application completed, would have access to highly sensitive consumer information such as Social Security numbers, dates of birth, income data and tax returns.
March 14, 2013 |
Bernie Morse, 65, of Century City retired last year from the aerospace industry and joined the ranks of Medicare beneficiaries. The nearly $8,000 he used to spend annually on drugs for a liver condition now will be cut almost in half. Were a private insurer to take over his Medicare coverage, Morse believes, his drug bill would once again skyrocket - only he wouldn't have his aerospace income to pay the tab. "I'd be really scared about what could happen," he said. And he has reason to be afraid.
March 14, 2013
One criticism of the Medicare overhaul that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has championed is that it would shift more and more of the program's costs onto seniors. In the latest version of his plan, Ryan acknowledges that capping the growth of the program could, in fact, make health insurance more expensive for some retirees. But that's part of the point of the change, which would concentrate Medicare spending on the poorest and sickest seniors. This page has argued that Ryan's overhaul goes too far, threatening Medicare's fundamental promise of affordable health insurance for all seniors.
March 12, 2013 |
If it is done right, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) may well promise uninsured Americans a lot more than cheap, reliable medical care. It can also open the door to the democratic empowerment of millions of poor people, who are often alienated from much of the nation's civic life, by strengthening the organizations that give them a voice. This year more than 30 million uninsured Americans are to begin signing up for Obamacare, but the vast majority of those eligible for either the expanded Medicaid program, or for subsidized private health insurance through state health exchanges, have no idea how to enroll.
March 11, 2013 |
For the sixth consecutive year, Kaiser Permanente ranked highest in customer satisfaction for health insurance among California policyholders, according to ratings firm J.D. Power and Associates. Anthem Blue Cross, the state's largest for-profit health insurer, and Woodland Hills insurer Health Net Inc. scored the lowest on customer satisfaction among seven California health plans. Kaiser, the nation's largest nonprofit health plan and hospital system, also led the way in customer satisfaction in Colorado, the Mid-Atlantic states and the South Atlantic area.
March 6, 2013 |
Several hundred protesters marched in Austin on Tuesday to protest Texas Gov. Rick Perry's hard stance against expanding Medicaid coverage in the state. Perry has dismissed calls to follow two tenets of the federal Affordable Care Act: expand Medicaid, the government program providing health insurance for sick or low-income people, and set up a health insurance exchange where people can shop for coverage. He has called Medicaid expansion "an unsustainable program" that would cost taxpayers billions.
February 27, 2013 |
Same-sex couples who live together are more likely to judge themselves as being in poor or fair health than are married heterosexual couples, according to a new study. The paper, published Tuesday in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, examined data in the National Health Interview Surveys from 1997 to 2009. A total of 686,846 survey respondents between the ages of 18 to 65 were asked to describe their relationship status, as well as rate their own health as either poor, fair, good, very good, or excellent.