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 →
Vaccine education programs may not work as hoped | Reuters – “Education campaigns that aim to inform people about the benefits of vaccines do little to increase the intent of parents to vaccinate their future children, according to a new study. Furthermore, researchers found that among a group of parents who were least likely to vaccinate their future children, some education campaigns actually added to their reservations.”
Nearly 1 in 5 had mental illness before enlisting in Army, study says – latimes.com – “Nearly 1 in 5 U.S. soldiers had a common mental illness, such as depression, panic disorder or ADHD, before enlisting in the Army, according to a new study that raises questions about the military’s assessment and screening of recruits. More than 8% of soldiers had thought about killing themselves and 1.1% had a past suicide attempt, researchers found from confidential surveys and interviews with 5,428 soldiers at Army installations across the country.”
One-in-three patients in skilled nursing facilities suffered a medication error, infection or some other type of harm related to their treatment, according to a government report released today that underscores the widespread nature of the country’s patient harm problem.
Doctors who reviewed the patients’ records determined that 59 percent of the errors and injuries were preventable.
More than half of those harmed had to be readmitted to the hospital at an estimated cost of $208 million for the month studied — about 2 percent of Medicare’s total inpatient spending.
Patient safety experts told ProPublica they were alarmed because the frequency of people harmed under skilled nursing care exceeds that of hospitals, where medical errors receive the most attention. Continue reading →