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health care

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson is reminding employers they may not discriminate against same-sex spouses when it comes to health coverage.

Danni Askini, the executive director of the Gender Justice League.
Courtesy of Danielle Askini

Marcie Sillman speaks with Danielle Askini, advocacy director for the Gender Justice League, about their efforts to remove health care exclusions affecting transgender people from Washington state employee plans.

KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

You may have heard of financial literacy or media literacy. But what about health literacy: Are you able to get and understand basic health information?

Answering the question of whether diet soda helps or hinders dieters' efforts to lose weight has been the focus of much research. And buzz.

Unfortunately, the answer is still murky.

More than 700,000 Texans have signed up for a health plan through the online insurance marketplace. For that group, the Affordable Care Act appears to be working.

But an even larger number of Texans — one million or more — still have no access to affordable coverage because Texas officials opted out of a federal plan to expand Medicaid for the poorest adults.

From the Here & Now Contributors Network, Carrie Feibel of KUHF explains.

Why Is It So Hard To Find The Price Of A Medical Procedure?

May 22, 2014
Flickr Photo/401(K) 2013

Steve Scher talks with Sean Sullivan, a professor at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy, about the importance of transparency for health care costs and what individuals can do to find out the expense of their health services.

Employers May Start Paying You To Buy Health Insurance

May 13, 2014

What if employers started giving workers a chunk of cash to buy health insurance on their own instead of offering them a chance to buy into the company plan? Are workers ready to manage their own health insurance like they do a 401(k)?

The idea that employers might drop their health plans and replace them with a "defined contribution" for employees has been around for years. It's one way for employers to control their expenses in the face of the relentlessly rising costs of health care.

Photo Courtesy Jenni Clark

Not all health plans are the same, as Washington consumers have learned the hard way.

Walter Bianco has had hepatitis C for decades. He's known about it for 20 years. And now he's reaching the end of the road.

"The liver is at the stage next to becoming cirrhotic," the 65-year-old Arizona man says.

How To Make The Affordable Care Act Better

May 7, 2014
Ezekiel Emanuel's book "Reinventing American Health Care."

Steve Scher talks to Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel about his book “Reinventing American Health Care.”  Dr. Emanuel was previously a health care adviser to the White House.

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

Marcie Sillman talks with Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter and producer Kristian Foden-Vencil about  Oregon's troubled health exchange website, Cover Oregon.

Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kriedler.

Marcie Sillman checks in with Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler about a new rule that will mandate increased transparency for plans offered on the Washington state health exchange.

The finger-pointing is underway now that the state of Oregon has decided to scrap its troubled health insurance exchange website.

Giving Up On Its Obamacare Exchange No Cure For Oregon's Ills

Apr 27, 2014

Oregon has been "all in" on health reform. Its embrace of the Affordable Care Act includes a very successful Medicaid expansion, a $2 billion federal experiment to show the state can save money by managing patients' care better, and, of course, the state's own online marketplace to sell Obamacare insurance.

But that last point has been a huge problem.

Courtesy of International Community Health Services

This week the White House honored community heroes for their work in educating and signing up Asian American and Pacific Island residents for 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.

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