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Posts Tagged ‘Health Care News’

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) has signed into law a bill requiring insurance companies to develop low-cost health insurance plans and submit them to a state oversight body.

The program, called “Centennial Care Choices,” also creates a legislative panel charged with determining how to make the low-cost plans available to as many people as possible.

The bill is intended to help Coloradans who earn too much to receive Medicaid but aren’t covered by private insurance. Experts are criticizing the move as another inefficient attempt by government to interfere further in the already over-regulated health care market.
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While some estimates of medical tourism have been quite high, suggesting in some cases that millions of people travel for medical purposes, a study released by consulting firm McKinsey & Company finds the number to be much lower, just 60,000 to 85,000 people worldwide each year.

Health policy analysts have questioned the study’s assumptions, however, and even the lower numbers show the search for quality health care has become an international quest.
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A new report by the Washington-based National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) Foundation suggests approximately one in four Americans who have no health coverage–nearly 12 million people, half of whom are children–are eligible for public insurance programs but are not enrolled.

The report, “Understanding the Uninsured: Tailoring Policy Solutions for Different Subpopulations,” suggests several possible reasons people don’t enroll in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Medicaid, or similar programs. Those reasons include a lack of awareness about available coverage, the programs’ existence, or how to enroll; difficulty remaining enrolled; and fear of being publicly stigmatized by participation.
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Interest in the Massachusetts health reform plan remains high, as evidenced by the sellout crowd at a recent forum on Capitol Hill sponsored by the Alliance for Health Reform and the Kaiser Family Foundation and televised live by C-SPAN.

I was the lone voice on the panel suggesting caution about the plan, which was implemented in 2006, while “three amigos from Massachusetts,” as the other speakers called themselves, expressed confidence the program is simply experiencing growing pains that can be overcome.

Jon Kingsdale, who heads the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, and other architects and implementers of the Massachusetts reform plan, say support remains strong among political leaders and the business community.
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As many as 90,000 eligible children in Maryland are not enrolled in the state’s subsidized health insurance program, according to state estimates, despite several expensive and lengthy marketing campaigns commissioned by the state government.

This element of the uninsured population has now been targeted by another piece of legislation, the Kids First Act (HB 1391), signed into law by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on May 22.
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Many Americans assume medical records are rapidly being digitized to save time and money and to help doctors track their patients’ medical histories. In fact, however, just 14 percent of doctors in the United States use electronic medical records. Jennifer Queen and her husband Randy know this from experience.

In 1997 their daughter Courtney was born with DiGeorge Syndrome, a rare disease caused by a large deletion from chromosome 22. Evident at birth, DiGeorge causes medical problems with the cardiac, pulmonary, endocrine, and immune systems, among others.

Courtney spent the first six months of her life in the hospital. At 10 years old, she had been hospitalized approximately 24 times and had undergone more than 400 medical procedures.
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People who buy their own health insurance experienced an average increase of 18 percent on their premiums between 2002 and 2005, according to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

That increase seemed modest compared with the 34 percent rise in premiums paid by people insured through their employers over the same period.
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