February 9, 2014 |
The recent Congressional Budget Office report on healthcare reform has lots of good news. Insurance premiums are lower than anticipated, the Affordable Care Act will cost $9 billion less than previously estimated and the provision designed to buffer insurance companies from risk will actually raise revenue, not function as any sort of federal government bailout. But the good news has not gotten much attention because the CBO also projected that, within the next several years, healthcare reform may reduce employment and worker hours by the equivalent of about 2 million full-time positions.
December 19, 2011 |
I just received a letter from my cardiologist's medical group saying they will be charging a $350 annual fee for administrative costs. This is the first time I've seen a medical group charging an annual fee to its patients. Is this what the bad economy has come to? The fee appears exorbitant and discriminatory against less wealthy individuals. Though charging for administrative services isn't yet widely common, the practice is growing, says James Doherty, an attorney who works with physician practices in Columbia, Md. There are a variety of reasons why, adds Dr. Glen Stream, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians: the bad economy, a downward trend in physician reimbursement and a growing list of administrative tasks heaped onto physician practices by insurance companies.
June 28, 2012 |
The Supreme Court is shaking up the political chessboard today by ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act - a.k.a. "Obamacare" - and there is one player who will win no matter what the decision may be: the insurance industry. When Congress was debating healthcare three years ago, health insurers were no fans of reform. They were making gobs of money with the system just as it was. For years, their lobbyists managed to kill any attempt to tinker with the status quo, and major tinkering, like instituting a Canadian-style single-payer scheme, was out of the question because it would cut them out of the healthcare equation. Also, for sensible business reasons, insurers had never been especially keen on being forced to offer coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions or to pay for preventative care or various other benefits the Democrats and President Obama wanted as part of a healthcare reform package.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 18, 2014 |
SACRAMENTO - A protracted political battle over California's medical malpractice law may be coming to a new front: the voting booth. For decades, trial lawyers and consumer groups have railed against limits on certain damages in malpractice cases, arguing that such restrictions deny victims fair compensation for grisly medical mistakes. Insurance companies, doctors and other healthcare providers have been equally vigorous in defending the law, saying it is crucial to controlling costs and maintaining the availability of care.
March 13, 2014 |
When the Food & Drug Administration last November ordered the Mountain View, Calif.-based firm 23andMe to stop marketing its health-related genetic test kit to consumers, the ensuing debate took on a "rage against the machine" tenor. Entrepreneurs, patients' rights advocates and genetics geeks across the country argued that the plodding, risk-averse regulators of the FDA had neither the right nor the expertise to insert themselves between people wishing to own whatever mysteries their genes contained, and a company that promised to deliver such information.
January 21, 2014 |
Even billionaires like Warren Buffett think watching sports is more fun with a little money on the line. Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is insuring a Quicken Loans contest that will award $1 billion to anyone who can correctly guess the winners of all 67 games in this spring's NCAA men's basketball tournament. Buffett said the idea for the contest was his. He said he was talking sports with Quicken Loans founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert in November when he pitched the idea to insure a $1-billion prize for a perfect bracket.
March 24, 2006 |
A federal judge ordered Martin Frankel on Thursday to serve the same sentence he got in 2004 for stealing $200 million from insurance companies: nearly 17 years in federal prison. The former financier was ordered resentenced after a Supreme Court ruling last year gave judges more leeway in their use of sentencing guidelines. During a brief hearing in U.S. District Court, Judge Ellen B. Burns said she saw no reason to alter the sentence.
August 23, 2013 |
Victoria Barzilai opened her mouth wide so the doctor could look at her sore throat. Not exactly a remarkable event, except that Barzilai was at home and the doctor was hundreds of miles away. Feeling too sick to drag herself to the school health center, the third-year UC Davis student had opted for a cyber-doctor visit, the 21st century version of a house call. A number of websites offer face-to-face consultations of the virtual kind to anyone with a credit card and access to a webcam-equipped computer.
January 10, 2014 |
Obamacare's biggest problem isn't the troubled HealthCare.gov website anymore. Consumers are easing up on criticism of government exchanges and turning their frustration and fury toward some of the nation's biggest health insurers. All too often, new policyholders say, the companies can't confirm coverage, won't answer basic questions, and haven't issued identification numbers needed to fill prescriptions or get medical care. Day after day, people say, they contact insurance company call centers waiting hours at a time with no response.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 31, 1990
The supporters of Proposition 103 were foolish to believe that any action short of recalling insurance commissioner Roxani Gillespie would provide relief from rising insurance companies. Her lame-duck actions reveal that the system doesn't have checks and balances, rather it favors the checks that don't bounce and large insurance companies' account balances. J. BRIAN AMSTER, Newport Beach