health care | KUOW News and Information

health care

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)

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.

insurance.wa.gov/

Within hours of President Barack Obama’s announcement that people could keep their old insurance plans – at least for another year – Washington state’s insurance commissioner said he wouldn’t abide.

healthplanfinder.org

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bowing to pressure, President Barack Obama on Thursday announced changes to his health care law that would give insurance companies the option to keep offering consumers plans that would otherwise be canceled.

“Everyone understands that I’m not happy that the rollout has been wrought with a whole range of problems I have been deeply concerned about,” Obama said.

President Obama announced Thursday that Americans who have had their health insurance plans canceled because of his Affordable Care Act can keep those plans for another year if they wish.

Those cancellations — most effective on Jan. 1 — have sparked intense criticism of the ACA, in part because the president pledged many times that if Americans liked the health plans they had, they wouldn't have to give them up under the terms of his program.

The first numbers on enrollment under the new health care law confirm a slow start and mixed results in Northwest states.

The woman whose smiling face adorned the HealthCare.gov website in the first days after its launch has stepped forward to tearfully address those who she says cyberbullied her as they took potshots at the Obama administration's troubled online health exchange.

Ross Reynolds talk with Amnon Shoenfeld, the director of King County’s Mental Health, Chemical Abuse and Dependency Services Division, about the new health care regulations for insurance companies.

Jess Marie

When you think of young invincibles, as the government calls those who haven’t signed up for health insurance, you may think of the dude recklessly riding his skateboard in traffic.

Marcie Sillman talks with NARAL Pro-Choice Washington's executive director Rachel Berkson about the group's reaction to new proposed rules for hospital mergers in Washington, including increased public transparency and recommending hospitals post their end-of-life and reproductive health policies online.

Washington state’s health exchange has just released an app for iPhone and Android users aimed at so-called "young invincibles," or young adults up to age 35. Their participation is crucial for the Affordable Care Act to work. But traditionally, this age group is least likely to buy health insurance for a variety of reasons.

Northwest News Network Photo/Jessica Robinson

Washington’s health care exchange got off to a rocky start one month ago Friday: from the temporary shut down on its first day to the recent errors calculating tax credits. Even so, Washington state has fared well compared to the federal Website and even has some fans.

Marcie Sillman checks in with Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler to find out the truth behind the “discontinuation and replacement notices” that health insurance companies are sending Washingtonians.  And she’ll get an explanation on the battle between Seattle Children’s Hospital and Premera Blue Cross that is playing out over the new health exchange.

Washingtonians who have signed up for health plans through the health exchange and qualified for tax credits may have received wrong information.

Flickr Photo/Daniel Rehn

Congressional Republicans begin a series of hearings today on the problematic rollout of the federal government’s health exchange website. Since its launch earlier this month, healthcare.gov has been plagued by a number of technical issues and the Spanish language version hasn’t even launched yet.

Here in Washington, the health exchange rollout had a glitchy start, but overall, it’s fared much better than the federal website.

Bill Schrier is the former Chief Technology Officer for the city of Seattle. He currently serves as senior policy advisor to the chief information officer of Washington state. He talks with Marcie Sillman about what the other Washington did wrong, and what Washington state did right.

As part of implementing the Affordable Care Act, state and federal health exchanges kicked off three weeks ago. The launch has been no walk in the park. State-run exchanges and the federally-run, Healthcare.gov, have been plagued with website problems: failed-log ins, long wait times and, in the case of Washington’s own wahealthplanfinder.org, a non-functioning website for the first few days.

Despite its glitchy start, Washington has been touted as one of the best functioning state marketplaces. Marcie Sillman talks with spokesperson Michael Marchand from Washington’s Health Benefit Exchange.

Online breast milk marketplaces can be a godsend for a mother who might not be producing enough for her baby but still wants her child to get the the health benefits of breast milk. But milk sold on one popular website had more bacterial contamination than that from a milk bank, a study finds.

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