I just read about health insurance giant UnitedHealth’s bold but risky new insurance plan, Harken Health:
UnitedHealthcare is betting $65 million that it can profit by making primary care more attractive.
With little fanfare, the nation’s largest health insurer launched an independent subsidiary in January that offers unlimited free doctor visits and 24/7 access by phone. Every member gets a personal health coach to nudge them toward their goals, such as losing weight or exercising more. Mental health counseling is also provided, as are yoga, cooking and acupuncture classes.
At this time, Harken Health is only available in Chicago … Continue reading
Last November, with much media coverage, several members of Congress announced the formation of The Affordable Drug Pricing Task Force, promising to “take action to combat the skyrocketing costs of pharmaceuticals.”
Finally! I thought.
Related post: Prices continue to increase for generics
But I haven’t heard much since then.
There was a little noise earlier this month when the House Oversight Committee (of which the task force is a subcommittee, I believe) attempted to grill the now infamous Martin Shkreli about why he thought it was okay to jack up the price of Daraprim from $13 a pill to … Continue reading
The Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have just released an updated vaccination schedule for adults.
I’ve included the schedule and accompanying information from the CDC’s website at the end of this post.
You can also print it out to take to your primary care provider.
Related post: Adults need vaccinations, too!
It’s color coded to make it easier to follow the recommendations, and I think it’s an improvement over last year’s chart.
A yellow row/column means the vaccine is recommended for everybody in that age group; purple indicates the vaccine is for … Continue reading
We’ve all heard the phrase “cancer kills.”
But guess what? So can the high cost of treatment.
I just read about a study that came out of the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center here in Seattle.
The results won’t surprise anyone familiar with how much cancer treatment costs (a lot!), but researchers found:
…cancer patients who go bankrupt are nearly 80 percent more likely to die than patients who don’t, and some cancers had significantly higher mortality rates. Prostate cancer patients who filed for bankruptcy were almost twice as likely to die; bankrupt colorectal cancer patients were 2.5 times more
… Continue reading
The health care blog KevinMD is a great place to read firsthand accounts of how our expensive and fragmented health care system really works (or doesn’t).
Last week I read a post by a physician who described his friend’s experience of trying to get treated for an ordinary but painful kidney stone. (I’ve never had one, but I’ve been told they are extremely painful!)
Sadly, his friend had a narrow-network insurance plan and he wasn’t able to find either an in-network specialist—urologist—or the specialized treatment that would alleviate his pain.
So here was Jeremy, an insured, otherwise healthy patient in
… Continue reading
Health insurance literacy is a term that has been used a lot in the media since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) rolled out a few years ago.
It basically means how fully a person understands how his or her health insurance works, as well as the lexicon of insurance-speak: words and acronyms like coinsurance, copay, deductible, premium, subsidy, provider, allowed amount, out-of-pocket maximum, balance billing, HSA, FSA, HMO, PPO, EPO, PCP, and so on.
If only people understood their health insurance, the experts moan, they would make better health choices and protect themselves financially.
I’m sure that’s true, but … Continue reading
It’s that time of year—open enrollment for health insurance.
If, like me, you buy an individual health plan for yourself or your family, and you have been informed by your insurance company that your current plan will no longer be available, you are once again shopping for a plan that meets both your needs and budget.
The new plan I’ve been offered has both a higher premium and a higher deductible, but as far as I can tell our provider network will remain the same. That’s important, since my husband has a doctor he really likes. I had to change … Continue reading
It’s not too late to give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) your opinion on its latest effort to require that more information be provided on food labels.
Last year, food labels began listing the amount of added sugar per serving (usually listed in grams).
Now the FDA proposes that labels also show sugar as a percentage of the recommended daily intake or value (%DV). Labels already do this for most vitamins and minerals, fats, fiber and sodium.
Sugar’s %DV would be based on the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recent recommendation that people limit sugar to 10% of their … Continue reading
It’s almost that time of year when insurance companies start sending out information about next year’s plans and what may or may not have changed in their policies, such as premiums and benefits.
A little-known new rule of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will take effect on January 1, 2016, and might affect your health insurance plan and health care costs.
Specifically, this rule takes away what’s been called the “umbrella limit” on out-of-pocket maximums for families.
If you currently have a family policy with a family out-of-pocket maximum (up to $13,200 in 2015), even if only one family … Continue reading
Two big health insurance mergers are in the works: Aetna plans to buy Humana for $33 billion, and Anthem will take over Cigna for a whopping $54.2 billion.
The number of major health insurers in the US will soon be three, down from five.
So much for more competition, huh?
What’s happening in the health care delivery system mirrors the insurance industry. The biggest health care corporations are furiously buying up smaller hospitals and physicians’ groups.
From their points of view, it makes sense: Each side believes being bigger will give them the upper hand in reimbursement negotiations (that is, … Continue reading