Q. My pre-Affordable Care Act individual health policy runs from May 2013 to May 2014. Will I be able to sign up for an exchange policy to begin May 1, 2014?
A. Yes, when your individual plan comes up for renewal you have a limited window starting 30 days before your policy year ends to sign up for a marketplace plan, says Sabrina Corlette, project director at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms.
But you don’t have to wait to switch until your policy year ends, say experts. Continue reading →
Federal efforts to strengthen inspections of the nation’s nursing homes are gaining momentum after a government probe uncovered instances of substandard care.
The March 3 report by the HHS Inspector General found that an estimated one-third of residents suffered harm because of substandard care and that the chances of nursing home inspectors discovering these “adverse events” are “slim to none,” said Ruth Ann Dorrill, a deputy regional director for the inspector general and the manager of the investigation. Continue reading →
Demand for doctors – whether in person or via a computer screen – is expected to surge as millions more Americans become insured under the Affordable Care Act. About 10 million people already rely on telemedicine, often from doctors who live in another state.
As a result, more physicians are applying for medical licenses in multiple states – a costly and time-consuming proposition for some.
Without a license to practice medicine in the patient’s state of residence, both doctors and patients may be at legal risk.
Many states are embracing telemedicine by encouraging it in their Medicaid programs and requiring private insurers to pay for it. Continue reading →
Allergies Are Everywhere – NYTimes.com – “People hoping to find an allergy-free haven may be out of luck. A new study has found that no region of the United States is allergy-free, but the kind of allergy people are likely to suffer from varies by region, race and socioeconomic status. “
The Obama administration on Wednesday released a broad set of regulatory changes to the health law that would give some consumers additional time to stay in plans that do not comply with all its coverage requirements and all consumers more time to enroll in coverage come 2015. Continue reading →
The Obama administration’s decision to allow non-compliant or previously cancelled health plans to continue for another two years will not apply to Washington state, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner said Wednesday.
Here are details from the commissioner’s office.
The Obama administration first made the offer to extend non-complaint or cancelled plans for one year last November, but left the decision up to individual state insurance commissioners and the health insurers.
Washington state’s insurance commissioner decided that allowing cancelled health plans to continue would not be in the best interest of the health insurance market and would ultimately harm consumers.
Since this announcement last fall, all of the health insurers in the state have confirmed that they support this decision.
Today’s announcement applies only to those non-compliant or cancelled plans that were given extensions into 2014. Since Washington state did not allow the first extension of these plans, the additional two years also do not apply here.
“The decision I made in November was done in the best interest of the health insurance market in Washington,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “Advocates and health insurers continue to support my decision. They understand that allowing previously cancelled plans to continue would only raise premiums for everyone and would greatly disrupt the competitive market that we are building in Washington.”
Like Washington, many states decided against extending non-compliant plans, which had large out-of-pocket costs and no coverage for maternity care or prescription drugs.
Kreidler urged individuals to consider all of their options for new plans that have increased benefits, such as maternity care, coverage for prescription drugs and no rejection because of a pre-existing condition, among others.
It’s crunch time for Obamacare: With less than four weeks left to sign up for coverage this year through the health law’s insurance marketplaces, consumer groups, insurers, hospitals and state and federal officials are ratcheting up their enrollment campaigns to deliver more people — particularly young adults.
Enroll America, a nonprofit group with ties to the Obama administration, is sending buses to Texas and Ohio to talk up new coverage options.
Tenet Healthcare Corp., a large national hospital chain, is reaching out to people without insurance who frequent their emergency rooms.
The federal government will air ads during the “March Madness” college basketball playoffs that start March 16, and during shows popular with young people, such as Family Guy, The Vampire Diaries and The X Factor. Continue reading →
There’s a new drug regimen being touted as a potential cure for a dangerous liver virus that causes hepatitis C. But it costs $84,000 – or $1,000 a pill.
And that price tag is prompting outrage from some consumers and a scramble by insurers to figure out which patients should get the drug —and who pays for it.
Called Sovaldi, the drug is made by California-based Gilead Sciences Inc. and is the latest in handful of new treatments for hepatitis C, a chronic infection that afflicts at least 3 million Americans and is a leading cause of liver failure. It was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in December. Continue reading →
Study: Healthy school lunch standards don’t waste fruit and vegetables – Health & wellness – The Boston Globe – “When the federal government imposed updated standards for school lunches at the beginning of the 2012 school year, many critics claimed that the new requirement for kids to take at least one vegetable or fruit serving would just be a waste of money leading to more produce winding up in the trash can. But Harvard School of Public Health researchers proved these critics wrong by measuring the amount of waste left behind on more than 1,000 elementary and middle school students’ lunch trays both before and after the standards were imposed.”
Some of the nation’s largest pharmaceutical companies have slashed payments to health professionals for promotional speeches amid heightened public scrutiny of such spending, a new ProPublica analysis shows. Continue reading →
Most women give birth in hospitals and are attended by obstetricians, but a growing number choose to deliver their babies at birth centers.
The centers, typically staffed by midwives, offer women who are at low risk for complications an alternative to traditional hospital labor and delivery, eschewing common medical interventions such as drugs to induce labor and electronic fetal monitors, among other things. Continue reading →