health care

More Low-Income Kids Now Have Health Coverage

May 13, 2016

Bolstered by the federal health care law, the number of lower-income kids getting health coverage continues to rise.

Nearly a third of people without health insurance, about 10 million, live in families that received a federal earned income tax credit in 2014, according to a new study.

But the Internal Revenue Service doesn't tell those tax filers that their low and moderate incomes likely mean their households qualify for Medicaid or subsidies to buy coverage on the insurance exchanges.

The share of Oregonians and Washingtonians without health insurance has dropped dramatically under Obamacare. The uninsured rate is now at a historic low in the West Coast states.

Idaho has missed out on that trend, largely because the state until now has refused to expand Medicaid eligibility on the federal dime. Idaho's Republican-controlled legislature was teetering Friday on whether to end its holdout.

Idaho will remain among the 19 states resisting a key provision of Obamacare. The Idaho Legislature adjourned Friday without agreement on whether to explore an expansion of the Medicaid program.

For many people struggling with opioid use, a key to success in recovery is having support. Some are getting that support from an unlikely place: their health insurer.

Amanda Jean Andrade, who lives west of Boston in a halfway house for addiction recovery, has been drug- and alcohol-free since October. It's the longest she's been off such substances in a decade. She gives a lot of the credit for that to her case manager, Will — who works for her insurance company.

Virginia Mason hospital in Seattle.
Flickr Photo/Rob Ketcherside (CC-BY-NC-ND)

The company behind a medical device that has caused deadly bacterial infections in Seattle will voluntarily recall its scopes.

A global outbreak of infections linked to scopes built by Olympus America started as early 2012. In the U.S., more than 140 patients have been infected. At Seattle's Virginia Mason, at least 39 people were infected and 18 died.

Insurance policies that pay a lump sum if workers get cancer or another serious illness are being offered in growing numbers by employers. Companies say they want to help protect their workers against the financial pain of increasingly high deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs. But it's important to understand the limitations of these plans before buying.

Critical illness plans have been around for decades, but they've become more common lately as employers have shifted more health care costs onto their workers' shoulders.

The clock is ticking for you to get health insurance coverage for 2016: You've got until the end of January, state officials say.

And remember: Not being covered will be expensive. The penalty is $695 per adult or up to 2.5 percent of the person’s income, whichever is greater.

Solicit opinions about health insurance and you're almost guaranteed to find consensus: It's mystifying and irritating.

"It just seems like a lot of the buzzwords are intended to just complicate the whole thing and make it more expensive," says David Turgeon, 46, who's sitting in a Minneapolis mall eating lunch.

Enrollment season rolls on, and people shopping on HealthCare.gov and the other marketplaces have until Jan. 31 to decide on a plan.

Thursday's announcement by Kaiser Permanente that it plans to open its own medical school in Southern California in 2019 has attracted a lot of attention in the health care community.

The nonprofit, national provider of managed health care says it plans to train students in its own style of integrated diagnosis and treatment — focusing on research, the use of new technologies, and teaching doctors to work as part of a collaborative caregiving team.

washington state vaccination rates historic
KUOW Graphic/Kara McDermott

Washington is prepared for infectious outbreaks — or so it seems.

But a new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health says the state can do better.

The report evaluated states on indicators such as flu vaccine rates and needle exchange programs. These indicators are related to prevention, detection and response to outbreaks.

Group Health members are reacting to the news of Kaiser Permanente acquiring the Seattle-based cooperative.

KUOW’s Ruby de Luna went to Edmonds where she found loyal, longtime members.

Update at 8:40 p.m. ET: Senate passed legislation to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal the Affordable Care Act, with a 52-47 vote.

Here is our original post:

Many Health Co-Ops Fold, Others Survive Startup Struggles

Nov 26, 2015

Thousands of Americans are again searching for health insurance after losing it for 2016. That's partly because some large, low-cost insurers — health cooperatives, set up under the Affordable Care Act — are folding in a dozen states.

It’s that time of year again: open enrollment period, when consumers choose a health plan for medical coverage.

Customers can browse for insurance at Washington Healthplanfinder, now in its third year.  

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