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No escaping medical copays, even in prison

Even going to prison doesn’t spare patients from having to pay medical copays. In response to the rapidly rising cost of providing health care, states — including Arizona — are increasingly authorizing the collection of fees from prisoners for medical services they receive while in state prisons or local jails.... Read more»1

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Seniors face health care gaps, despite Medicare

Americans older than 65 are more likely to have chronic illnesses and to say they struggle to afford health care – despite qualifying for the federal Medicare program – than are seniors in other industrialized countries, according to a study by the Commonwealth Fund.... Read more»

Lack of understanding about insurance can lead to poor choices

They know less than they think they know. That’s the finding of a recent study that evaluated people’s confidence about choosing and using health insurance compared with their actual knowledge and skills. As people shop for health coverage this fall, the gap between perception and reality could lead them to choose plans that don’t meet their needs... Read more»

Medicare Advantage patients find themselves in regulatory limbo

Medicare pays the privately run health plans — an alternative to traditional Medicare — a set monthly rate for each patient. About 16 million Americans have signed up at an annual cost to taxpayers of more than $160 billion, about one third of the elderly and disabled people eligible for Medicare. A Center for Public Integrity investigation published in June found as much as $70 billion of improper payments to Medicare Advantage plans from 2008 through last year.... Read more»

Concerns raised over adding skimpier 'copper' health plans to marketplace

If you offer it, will they come? Insurers and some U.S. senators have proposed offering cheaper, skimpier "copper" plans on the health insurance marketplaces to encourage uninsured stragglers to buy. But consumer advocates and some policy experts say that focusing on reducing costs on the front end exposes consumers to unacceptably high out-of-pocket costs if they get sick. The trade-off, they say, may not be worth it.... Read more»

U.S. health care gets least bang for the buck

News coverage continues to detail the findings of a Commonwealth Fund survey that placed the U.S. last among other Western industrialized countries when it comes to measures of healthy lives. The U.S. has the highest level of spending, but gets the least bang for the buck.... Read more»

Commentary

Skyrocketing salaries for health insurance CEOs

Commentary: If they're making millions, should the rest of us have to pay higher premiums? If health insurance companies announce big premium increases on policies for 2015, I hope regulators, lawmakers and the media will look closely at whether they are justified, especially in light of better-than-expected profits in 2013, rosy outlooks and soaring CEO compensation.... Read more»

Commentary

Be the 'squeaky wheel' if health claim denied

The good news from last week was that 8 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through the Obamacare-created exchanges. The not so good news is that because most of us have to buy coverage from a private insurer, we will always have to be vigilant to make sure our medical claims get paid and that an insurance bureaucrat miles from where we live doesn’t succeed in denying coverage for medically necessary care.... Read more»

Focus on marketplace enrollment overlooks millions who bought private insurance

Want to know how many people have signed up for private insurance under Obamacare? Like the health care law itself, the answer is exceedingly complicated.... Read more»

Lost in translation: Non-English speakers grapple with Obamacare

Explaining the Affordable Care Act is hard enough. Try explaining it to someone who comes from a country where health insurance itself is a foreign concept.... Read more»

The sign-up deadline is March 31: A consumer guide

With just over a week until the March 31 deadline to sign up for health insurance, backers of the health law -- from President Barack Obama on down -- are engaged in a full-force campaign to enroll eligible Americans, especially younger ones who tend to be healthier and less costly to insure. But the landmark law still faces opposition from Republicans and a public that remains skeptical the law can improve health coverage while lowering its cost.... Read more»

Obama mixing and matching insurance stats

President Obama jumbled his facts when asked about “skyrocketing” premiums for people who get insurance through work. He was correct to say that, generally, the Affordable Care Act isn’t to blame for “skyrocketing” employer-sponsored premiums, but he made two dubious claims to back up his argument:... Read more»

Reid wrong on AFP criticism

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrongly blamed the conservative group Americans for Prosperity for promoting a “false” story of a woman whose insurance premiums went up $700 per month. AFP didn’t feature that woman’s story in any of its ads.... Read more»

Obama urges Latinos to sign up for insurance now

President Barack Obama appealed directly to Latinos on Thursday, telling them time is running out to sign up for health coverage this year and that they should enroll now to avoid problems.... Read more»

What will Obamacare really cost? They might be first to know

Now that medical insurers must accept all applicants no matter how sick, what will these new customers cost health plans? How will they affect coverage prices for 2015 and beyond? Few questions about the Affordable Care Act are more important. How it all plays out will affect consumer pocketbooks, insurance company profits and perhaps the political fortunes of those backing the health law.... Read more»

Arizonans go for the gold – and platinum – in the health-care marketplace

Arizona residents are signing up for the Affordable Care Act’s top-shelf gold- and platinum-level insurance plans at some of the highest rates in the nation, new government figures show.... Read more»

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