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health care

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

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Washington residents who tried to buy health insurance through the health exchange weren’t the only ones to experience technical difficulties.

About 20,000 Medicaid recipients encountered similar problems when they went to the exchange in November, preventing them from renewing their coverage. That’s roughly a third of Medicaid patients for that month.

KUOW Photo/Ross Reynolds

At Solstice, a nondescript warehouse in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood, four people in white lab coats sit at tables in a brightly lit room.

ACA Coverage Starts Tomorrow: Are Insurance Companies Ready?

Dec 31, 2013
Flickr Photo/Curtis Cronn

Steve Scher checks in with Premera Blue Cross spokesman Eric Earling on how Washington state insurance companies have prepared for the full rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

Harborview Considers Closing Some Clinics For Poor

Dec 30, 2013
uwmedicine.org

“Abruptly and brutally.”

That’s how Dr. Abe Bergman described the announcement by administrators to close some of the clinics at Harborview Medical Center. He said staff members were told that some of the primary care clinics housed at the hospital would close in July.

It’s no easy task to find doctors, nurses and other health care professionals to take a job in a prison. The stigma alone is a major barrier. Not to mention concerns about personal safety.

The Puget Sound VA has new initiatives focusing on accessibility and quailty of care for veterans.
Flickr Photo/cursedthing (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Steve Scher talks with Richard Onizuka, CEO of Washington Health Benefit Exchange, ahead of the deadline to sign up for health insurance to receive coverage starting in the new year.

Doctor
Flickr Photo/Alex Proimos (CC-BY-NC-ND)/https://flic.kr/p/bt29wL

Marcie Sillman sits down with KUOW reporter Ruby de Luna to talk about the Monday health exchange deadline for coverage beginning on Jan. 1.

From Plum Bistro's Facebook page.

Washington small businesses got some good news Tuesday.

Senator Patty Murray and the Treasury Department announced they found a solution that will let small businesses get tax credits when buying health plans for their employees. Washington was one of few states that was going to miss out on the federal subsidies until now.

NPR Graphic/Matt Stiles

You wouldn’t know it given the technical problems that plagued Washington’s health exchange over the last several days, but the state is fifth in the country for enrollment based on population, according to the Department of Health and Human Services and the US Census Bureau.

Flickr Photo/kindagetmego

The holiday frenzy isn’t the only deadline looming.

For people who expect to have health coverage when the new year starts, the deadline to enroll for a health plan is December 23.

Marcie Sillman talks with Michael Marchand, Washington Health Benefit Exchange spokesperson, about the past weeks outage on the state's online exchange.

How To Stay Safe During Your Next Hospital Visit

Dec 9, 2013
The Puget Sound VA has new initiatives focusing on accessibility and quailty of care for veterans.
Flickr Photo/cursedthing (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Ross Reynolds checks in with Consumer Union's Lisa McGiffert about how to prepare for a hospital visit to minimize your risk of infection or complications.  McGiffert heads the Safe Patient Project, the campaign that put out "Your Hospital Survival Guide" for Consumer Reports.

BartellDrugs.com

When was the last time you called your primary care doctor and got in the same day? It doesn’t happen often.

“People often end up in the ER,” said Wellesley Chapman, a physician at Group Health, “or we like to have people go to an urgent care if they absolutely can’t get in to see us today.”

Tambra Momi has been eagerly awaiting the promise of guaranteed health insurance.

Since 2011, she has battled Dercum's disease, a rare and painful condition in which noncancerous tumors sprout throughout her body, pressing against nerves.

Jobless and in a wheelchair, Momi needs nine different drugs, including one costing $380 a month, to control the pain and side effects. No insurer has been willing to cover her, she says, except a few that have taken her money and then refused to pay for her medications.

Flickr Photo/kindagetmego

Marcie Sillman talks with Mike Kreidler, Washington State Insurance Commissioner, about his decision to reject President Obama's proposal to allow consumers to retain, for an extra year, health insurance policies that aren't up to the standards of the Affordable Care Act.

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