health care | KUOW News and Information

health care

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.

The main entrance of Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Wash.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Violence is a “constant disruption” at the state’s two main psychiatric hospitals, according to a new report jointly commissioned by The Department of Social and Health Services and the SEIU Healthcare 1199NW union that represents much of the front-line staff at the hospitals. 

Washington state’s health exchange is one week old. To date, more than 9,400 people have enrolled for health coverage. More than half of them will be newly eligible for Medicaid when the program expands in January. In addition, 10,000 more people have filled out applications but have yet to hit the purchase button.

After a rocky start, Washington’s health plan finder website is now running smoothly. That’s according to a spokesman for the state’s Health Benefit Exchange.

KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Traffic to the Washington Health Exchange website has been busy since it launched last week. Although there have been fewer technical problems, the system has been slow at times.

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

It’s Friday — time to talk over the week's news with Joni Balter of the Seattle Times, Crosscut's Knute Berger and Eli Sanders of The Stranger. 

A continuing political fight over the nation's new health care law leads to a partial shutdown of the federal government, the first in 17 years. Washington state's health care exchange gets off to a glitchy start online. We check in on the race for Seattle mayor with just over one month to go before the November 5 election. Plus, Live Wire host Luke Burbank seeks help coping with the strange discomfort of having two undefeated football teams in town.

PeaceHealth And The Affordable Care Act

Oct 3, 2013
From PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center's Facebook page.

The battle over the Affordable Care Act has brought the federal government to a partial shutdown, but changes to our health care system due to the law have already begun reshaping the industry.  This includes private hospitals and public ones, for-profit and nonprofit, secular and faith-based institutions

PeaceHealth is a Catholic-affiliated nonprofit that runs nine hospitals and 73 medical practices in Alaska, Oregon and Washington. The company has entered into partnerships with public hospitals in Skagit and Snohomoish counties and recently agreed to send patients with complex issues to UW Medical facilities.

The ACA and the relationship between hospitals that operate under sometimes contradictory directives are top of mind for Alan Yordy, PeaceHealth’s chief mission officer. He talks with Steve Scher about what he calls one of the greatest social experiments in the history of developed nations around the world.

Pardit Pri had health insurance until she decided to quit her job as a legal administrative assistant and stay home with her newborn son 20 months ago. She thought she'd have coverage by now. But it didn't work out that way.

"I knew that I wasn't going to be working for a while because I decided to stay home with my son, and I thought ... 'OK, fingers crossed. Nothing will happen during that time,' " she says, as she plays with her son in their Orange County, Calif., apartment.

It was a rocky start to Obamacare in Washington. The state’s new health insurance website is up now, but it was shut down for most of the day because of technical glitches.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Washington’s health exchange got off to a bumpy start on its first day yesterday. The website was temporarily shut down all morning. People who tried to access the website experienced slowdowns and technical problems. But there were some people who managed avoid the glitches and sign up for health coverage.

Nelly Kinsella of the Washington State Health Exchange Benefit Exchange shows a reporter how to navigate the new online market system, September 30, 2013.
KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna

Tuesday marks  a big milestone for the Affordable Care Act; it’s the day a major centerpiece of the law comes to life. Washington, along with 15 other states, has spent years planning and developing an online market where consumers can shop for health insurance. Tuesday, the health exchanges make their live debut.

Flickr Photo/kindagetmego

The Affordable Care Act, colloquially called Obamacare, is here. Washington's health insurance marketplace, Healthplanfinder, is set to open Tuesday morning. In the marketplace, users can find, compare and sign up for health insurance. How does it work and what information will you need? David Hyde talks with Washington Health Benefit Exchange's director of communications, Michael Marchand.

The Affordable Care Act has been through two years of legislative wrangling, a presidential election and a Supreme Court test that took it to the brink.

Now, after yet another round of debate and argument, major pieces of the federal health law are expected to kick in Tuesday.

If all goes as planned, people who don't have insurance or who buy it on their own will be able to shop online or at various locations in their communities for coverage that will take effect Jan. 1.

Washington Health Insurance Exchange Set To Open

Sep 27, 2013
Stethoscope
Flickr Photo/Alex Proimos

Starting October 1, uninsured people will be able to shop online for private insurance in health insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges. In Seattle, nonprofits and other organizations have been out educating people about how to sign up for insurance through the exchange.

It could cost the state of Washington more than $250 million over 30 years.to lease and operate the former headquarters of Amazon.com.

This week the Department of Health and Human Services released a ton of information about how insurance sold in 36 states under the Affordable Care Act will work.

Most of it came in the form of data showing the number of carriers and their premium prices in hundreds of regions.

Until now we've seen information on subsidized policies to be sold through online marketplaces released in trickles by states that are creating their own online portals.

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