HCAO News

Advertising Campaign Sparks Insurance Complaints

Last year, Moda Health Plan had the highest number of complaints among the major health insurers, while Regence BlueCross BlueShield followed closely behind.

by Diane Lund-Muzikant, for The Lund Report, 8-20-14

Complaints work! Just ask the Oregon Insurance Division, which has seen its complaint numbers spiral by 34 percent after launching an advertising campaign in May.

Better yet – those advertising dollars aren’t coming out of taxpayer pockets. 

After receiving around $1.9 million from multi-state settlements against insurance companies, the Division decided to put those dollars to work and is spending $833,000 on television, radio and billboards, along with print and digital advertisements -- encouraging people to file complaints after they’ve been denied care or faced delays getting their insurance company to pay the bills, according to Lisa Morawski, spokeswoman. Fish Marketing produced the segments, after receiving the $1.3 million contract.

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Report: Racial Discrimination Severely Undermines Black Women’s Health

All too often, when women of color are concerned about things outside of what appears to be the predominant white woman’s agenda, they aren’t considered "women’s issues." But, we cannot tell women of color what issues are important to them. (StoryOfAmerica / YouTube)

All too often, when women of color are concerned about things outside of what appears to be the predominant white woman’s agenda, they aren’t considered "women’s issues." But, we cannot tell women of color what issues are important to them. (StoryOfAmerica / YouTube)

by Elizabeth Dawes Gay, Reproductive Health Technologies Project
August 13, 2014
This piece is published in collaboration with Echoing Ida, a Forward Together project.

On Wednesday, August 13, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination begins a two-day review of the United States government’s efforts, or lack thereof, to address pervasive racial discrimination in law and practice. When the United States ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 1994, it consented to a periodic review by human rights experts of its progress toward meeting the goals in the treaty. The last time such a review was conducted was 2008, when the committee expressed specific concern about persistent and worsening disparities in sexual, reproductive, and maternal health in the United States—particularly for Black women—and offered recommendations about how the country could reduce those disparities.

It’s no secret that Black women are more likely than others to experience negative maternal health outcomes, such as preterm birth or stillbirth, to suffer from conditions like preeclampsia, and to die at higher rates from pregnancy-related causes. A new shadow report, Reproductive Injustice: Racial and Gender Discrimination in U.S. Health Care, by the Center for Reproductive Rights, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective shares some alarming data on maternal health outcomes as well as disturbing firsthand accounts of the racial discrimination experienced by Black women.

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ACA plan renewal leads to rate shock and delayed tax refunds

An Ounce Of Prevention For The ACA’s Second Open Enrollment

gy Jon Kingsdale and Julia Lerche
Health Affairs Blog, August 4, 2014

Since recovering from its flawed rollout, the ACA has enjoyed a string of successes. By April, some eight million Americans managed to enroll.

Approximately 87 percent of Marketplace enrollees claimed premium tax credits, of which an estimated 85 percent, or six million, actually paid premiums. Many of the original six million, plus more recent enrollees, will experience their second enrollment between November 15, 2014 and February 15, 2015. They will also file with the IRS for a premium tax credit as early as January 2015.

The two events in combination represent a huge risk.

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Our Health Care Dead Matter Less Than War Dead?

caption: "We cannot stop people from getting sick or hurt, but we can stop killing them with our lack of action to change the system that snuffs out their lives," writes Donna Smith. (Photo: Public Citizen)

caption: "We cannot stop people from getting sick or hurt, but we can stop killing them with our lack of action to change the system that snuffs out their lives," writes Donna Smith. (Photo: Public Citizen)

Published on Monday, August 11, 2014 in Common Dreams
By Donna Smith

The photos are horrific of the dead and injured from the most recent escalation of warfare in Palestine.  Seeing dead children who have their small bodies ripped apart by weapons of war forces me (and others I suspect) to confront the realities of our violent, war-prone world.  I hate war.  It hurts to see the photos, and I always have a hard time understanding why we have all had to assert our power since the beginning of recorded history by killing one another.  Will we ever advance beyond settling our differences with war?

Then I also think about the 123 people dying every day in the U.S. without access to the health care that might have saved their lives.  This is a war too.  It is a war waged by the rich and powerful against those without enough money or power.  People suffer and die needlessly and invisibly since no one takes their photos or speaks of them on the evening news.  Do their lives matter less than those of the war dead in the Middle east?  Apparently so.  Or we'd see the pictures and we'd hear the stories and we'd stop blaming these health care dead for not being rich enough or powerful enough to access care.

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Insurers Push Back Against Growing Cost Of Cancer Treatments

Patient gets chemotherapy in North Carolina in 2003 (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images).

Patient gets chemotherapy in North Carolina in 2003 (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images).

by Julie Appleby KHN Staff Writer
Kaiser Health News Jun 17, 2014
This KHN story also ran in The Daily Beast

Some cancer patients and their insurers are seeing their bills for chemotherapy jump sharply, reflecting increased drug prices and hospitals’ push to buy oncologists’ practices and then bill at higher rates.

Patients say, “‘I’ve been treated with Herceptin for breast cancer for several years and it was always $5,000 for the drug and suddenly it’s $16,000 -- and I was in the same room with the same doctor same nurse and the same length of time’,” said Dr. Donald Fischer, chief medical officer for Highmark, the largest health plan in Pennsylvania.

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The Actor and the Minister

                          Chris Hedges

                          Chris Hedges

by Chris Hedges
Nation of Change, Friday, August 01, 2014

On June 30 I was at the First Church in Jamaica Plain, Unitarian Universalist, which had turned its hall over to Michael Milligan, traveling the country performing his one-man play about a husband and wife trapped in our dysfunctional health care system. I arrived early at the stone church, whose present structure was erected in 1853, to help set up the chairs and clear the stage. The minister, the Rev. Terry Burke, who was a classmate of mine at Harvard Divinity School, officially retired that day after 31 years as a minister at the church. Burke, a non-smoker, has been diagnosed with lung cancer, and his doctors have told him he has six to 12 months to live. He applied for Social Security disability and was denied. He consulted a lawyer. He well might spend his last months struggling to get the disability system to pay for the chemotherapy that sustains his life.

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Medicare for all — the time has come

Bob Bickers

Bob Bickers

by Bob Bickers, Guest Column
NRToday
July 29, 2014

Medicare — health insurance for Americans 65 and older as well as younger individuals with certain disabilities or health conditions — turns 49 today.

Since President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed this historic legislation in 1965, nearly 50 million Americans (15 percent of the nation’s population) depend on Medicare for their primary health care (www.aarp.org).

While Medicare is certainly not perfect, it has established baseline coverage for health services in hospitals, doctors’ offices and for other essential health care services.

In a June 16 report by the Commonwealth Fund, the United States ranks last overall among 11 industrialized countries on measures of health system quality, health efficiency, access to care, equity and healthy lives (www.commonwealthfund.org).

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Good News For Boomers: Medicare’s Hospital Trust Fund Appears Flush Until 2030

by Julie Rovner, KHN Staff Writer
Kaiser Health News
Jul 28, 2014

Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, which finances about half the health program for seniors and the disabled, won’t run out of money until 2030, the program’s trustees said Monday. That’s four years later than projected last year and 13 years later than projected the year before the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Unlike Medicare, however, the part of Social Security that pays for people getting disability benefits is in far more immediate danger. The Disability Insurance Trust Fund is projected to run out of money in 2016, just two years from now, unless Congress intervenes, the trustees said.

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