health care | KUOW News and Information

health care

Courtesy of Washington Healthplanfinder

State and local officials are celebrating the robust number of people who signed up for health care through Washington’s exchange over the open enrollment period.

Between last October through the end of March, more than 164,000 Washington residents bought private health plans through the state exchange. In addition, more than 423,000 people got coverage through Washington Apple Health, the state’s Medicaid program. 

The Challenges Of Medicaid Expansion

Apr 17, 2014
Flickr Photo/kindagetmego

Steve Scher talks with Washington state Medicaid Director MaryAnne Lindeblad about how the state plans to accommodate more than 250,000 newly enrolled residents who qualified for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Is Resigning

Apr 10, 2014

Health Secrerary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning after a five-year term that will no doubt be remembered for the calamitous implementation of President Obama's signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act.

If you remember, when the federal government unveiled HealthCare.gov, where Americans could buy health insurance mandated by Obamacare, the site was essentially useless for weeks after it launched in October.

Courtesy of Christine Lange

One of the goals of the Affordable Care Act is to give access to people who currently don’t have health insurance.

Supporters see another benefit — to give people who dream of quitting their day jobs for a chance to become an entrepreneur.

Flickr Photo/Subconsci Productions (CC BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds talks with Richard Onizuka, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, about what people can do if they missed the March 31 deadline to sign up for health insurance.

Last-minute health insurance shoppers turned up in record numbers Monday, both online and in person at clinics, county health departments and libraries. They were there to sign up for Obamacare on the last official day of open enrollment.

Public radio reporters checked out the scene in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Houston — three of the 36 states that are using HealthCare.gov — as well as in Minnesota, which has one of the most troubled state-run marketplaces.

Congested In Cleveland

Monday is the deadline to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, or at least to begin the process. We already know that nationwide more than 6 million people have enrolled.

With this year's deadline to register for individual health insurance just a weekend away, much attention is being lavished on two numbers — the 6 million Americans who have signed up so far, and the percentage of those folks who are (or aren't) young.

But experts say the national numbers actually don't mean very much.

There was a clear difference of opinion between male and female justices at the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. The issue was whether for-profit corporations, citing religious objections, may refuse to include contraception coverage in the basic health plan now mandated under the Affordable Care Act.

The female justices were clearly supportive of the contraception mandate, while a majority of the male justices were more skeptical.

Next week is the last chance for most people without insurance to sign up for individual health coverage for the remainder of 2014.

Yet according to the latest monthly tracking poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 60 percent of those without coverage still don't know that.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Tuesday in the latest challenge to the Obama health care overhaul.

This time the issue is whether for-profit corporations, citing religious objections, may refuse to provide some, or potentially all, contraceptive services in health plans offered to employees. It is a case that touches lots of hot-button issues.

In enacting the ACA, Congress required large employers to provide basic preventive care for employees. That turned out to include all 20 contraceptive methods approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

According to a scathing audit from an independent consultant, Oregon's health insurance exchange was riddled with internal conflict and unrealistic expectations.

Flickr Photo/Micheal J (CC BY-NC-ND)

A year after hospitals began discouraging Medicaid patients from making unnecessary emergency room visits, the results are promising. A new state report shows the number of unnecessary visits to ERs in Washington fell by 10 percent last year.  

“A 10 percent reduction is almost unprecedented,” said Dr. Nathan Schlicher, an ER physician at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tacoma.

Courtesy of Washington Healthplanfinder

If you don’t have health coverage yet, you still have two weeks to sign up. But state officials are urging people not to wait until the last minute. They say there are reasons to enroll sooner — you’ll avoid the surge leading up to the deadline.

Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Flickr Photo/camknows (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Re-experiencing, avoidance, hyperarousal: these are the three categories of post-traumatic stress disorder as laid out by the National Institute of Mental Health. They commonly go by more common names: nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, social isolation, poor concentration, insomnia and startling.

2014 is the first year most Americans will have to either have health insurance or face a tax penalty.

But most people who are aware of the penalty think it's pretty small, at least for this first year. And that could turn into an expensive mistake.

Federal officials confirmed Wednesday that they will investigate the troubled roll-out of Oregon's health insurance exchange website.

Washington’s Insurance Commissioner wants to notify consumers if their insurance company is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Flickr Photo/Still Burning (CC BY-NC-ND)

Health care enrollments so far have been focused on people without insurance. But there’s another population officials are trying to get covered – people locked up behind bars.

Harborview Clinics To Stay Open

Feb 27, 2014
Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Flickr Photo/camknows (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Harborview Medical Center said Wednesday it will not be closing its primary care clinics after all.

Last December, the hospital had announced its intent to relocate those services into the community. But the prospect of shutting down the clinics located at Harborview's main hospital disturbed many staff and patients.

Flickr Photo/Erin DeMay (CC BY-NC-ND)

From Seattle’s South Lake Union to larger areas like Bothell, biotechnology is a ubiquitous part of the local economy. But moving a drug from research to testing, to market, to patients is an arduous undertaking.

The latest figures on who's signing up under the federal health care law tell a surprising story about one of the most conservative states in the country.

Courtesy of Washington Healthplanfinder

Washington Healthplanfinder has rolled out a new series of snappy ads aimed at getting young adults to sign up for health care. To date, the enrollment participation for this group is still just above 20 percent.

Flickr Photo/Sara Westermark (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Why does the U.S. spend much more on health care than other nations, yet lag behind in key measures of wellness? KUOW's Ross Reynolds spoke with author and scholar Lauren Taylor about her research on this perennial question.

“We spend exorbitantly on health care in this country," she said. "We’re up above $8,000 per person per year, whereas the average industrialized country is able to spend less than $4,000 per year on health and attains many better outcomes in terms of maternal mortality, life expectancy and infant mortality."

Flickr Photo/Army Medicine

It’s one thing to get people to buy health insurance, something the state’s health exchange has been focusing on. But what happens when a patient can no longer pay monthly premiums — who would then be responsible for the medical bills? Doctors are worried they’ll be stuck holding the bag, and they’re taking their issue to Olympia this week.

Go into almost any hospital these days and you'll hear a constant stream of beeps and boops. To most people it sounds like medical Muzak.

But to doctors and nurses, it's not just sonic wallpaper. Those incessant beeps contain important coded messages.

Flickr Photo/Michael B.

Starting Thursday, hospitals that plan to merge or form partnerships will now undergo state review as part of a new rule that takes effect this week. And nobody’s happy with the new regulations, not even the critics who called for change.

Young, But Not So Invincible

Jan 21, 2014
Flickr Photo/Benjamin Stone

Ross Reynolds talks with one of the so-dubbed young invincibles, 23-year-old Ursula Swantner, about her experience signing up for health care through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange website, and why she's glad she did.

Courtesy of Washington Healthplanfinder

You don’t often hear Justin Timberlake and health insurance in the same sentence. But this Friday, fans going to Key Arena to get their dose of Justin Timberlake will also get a chance to learn about health plans.

Washington State Legislature

Marcie Sillman interviews Washington state Representative Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) about the Reproductive Parity Act

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