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Stories by Jay Hancock

Major insurers running billions of dollars behind on payments to hospitals and doctors

Anthem Blue Cross, the country’s second-biggest health insurance company, is behind on billions of dollars in payments owed to hospitals and doctors because of onerous new reimbursement rules, computer problems and mishandled claims, say hospital officials in multiple states.... Read more»0

Sinema's campaign a favorite for big pharma donations

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema formed a congressional caucus to raise “awareness of the benefits of personalized medicine” in February. Soon after that, employees of pharmaceutical companies donated $35,000 to her campaign committee.... Read more»0

Angry patients charged for telemedicine after being promised waived costs

Policymakers and insurers across the country say they are eliminating copayments, deductibles and other barriers to telemedicine for patients confined at home who need a doctor for any reason. But in a fragmented health system, the shift to cost-free telemedicine for patients is going far less smoothly than the speeches and press releases suggest. In some cases, doctors are billing for telephone calls that used to be free.... Read more»0

Drugmakers master rolling out their own generics to stifle competition

A loophole in federal law allows drug companies to create their own generic drugs, snuffing out competition and costing consumers billions of dollars... Read more»0

Analysis

Should big insurance become like Walmart to lower health costs?

Retail titan Walmart uses its market dominance to inflict “ruthless,” “brutal” and “relentless” pressure on prices charged by suppliers, business writers frequently report. What if huge health insurance companies could push down prices charged by hospitals and doctors in the same way?... Read more»0

Big changes for health insurance: Watch for these 6 possible pitfalls

You don’t get a pass this year on big health insurance decisions if you’re not shopping in an Affordable Care Act marketplace. Employer medical plans — where most working-age folks get coverage — are changing too.... Read more»0

Biggest insurer drops caution, embraces Obamacare

UnitedHealthcare, the insurance giant that largely sat out the health law's online marketplaces' first year, said Thursday it may sell policies through the exchanges in nearly half the states next year.... Read more»0

Hobby Lobby ruling geared to ‘closely held’ firms, but what is that?

The Supreme Court’s decision on contraceptives and employer health plans could affect companies and workers far beyond Hobby Lobby and the other plaintiffs. But nobody seems to know how far. ... Read more»0

Study: Health law boosts hospital psych care for young adults

Expanded coverage for young adults under the Affordable Care Act substantially raised inpatient hospital visits related to mental health, finds a new study by researchers at Indiana and Purdue universities.... Read more»0

Who really pays for health care might surprise you

Implementation of the health law has renewed discussions of who wins, loses and gains access to health insurance. But questions persist. Here’s a corrective to common misconceptions about who pays for health care. ... Read more»0

Insurer softens forecast for Obamacare rate increases

Welcoming a surge of young, last-minute enrollees, WellPoint — the biggest player in the health law’s insurance marketplaces — on Wednesday tempered its prediction for substantial 2015 rate increases. ... Read more»0

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»0

Obamacare marketplaces open, despite technical glitches and government shutdown

Online marketplaces at the heart of the health law opened for business Tuesday, often haltingly, as Web-based insurance portals were swamped with consumers who were frequently unable to sign up. ... Read more»0

Bare-bones insurance plans expected to survive health law

Consumer Reports calls it “junk health insurance.” A California regulator described them as “skeleton policies.” To an expert from the American Cancer Society, they “are a perfect example of why health care reform is so crucial.” They are bare-bones health plans, and critics say they could leave consumers who become seriously ill on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in medical costs. The Affordable Care Act was supposed to do away with them.... Read more»0

More high-deductible plan members can’t pay hospital bills

As employers and insurance companies shift more health costs into workers’ pockets, hospitals are making a discovery. The pockets aren’t bottomless.... Read more»1