Tag Archives: coverage

Report shows consumers could save even more on health insurance

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform. He welcomes questions and suggestions and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Image courtesy of The Commonwealth Fund

Reporting on how much consumers will save on health insurance under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) has never been easy, but last week, it got more complicated.

Previous studies on how ARPA would affect household spending on health insurance underestimated the effects of the law, according to a report on Oct. 6 from the Commonwealth Fund. That means consumers could spend much less out of pocket for copayments and deductibles if Congress passes the reforms being debated now under budget deliberations. The increased savings come because of a recalculation of the effects of ARPA, the fund reported.

Although the recalculation didn’t get much coverage, this story is important for journalists because the increased savings could be in the billions of dollars. In addition, the reforms proposed in Congress would cut the number of Americans without health insurance by 7 million, the fund reported.

In a report the fund published in September, “The Coverage and Cost Effects of Key Health Insurance Reforms Being Considered by Congress,” researchers from the Urban Institute noted that members of Congress have proposed a budget this year that includes reforming the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in two ways. One reform would make permanent the enhanced premium subsidies in ARPA that otherwise would expire at the end of next year. The other reform would fix what’s called the Medicaid coverage gap by extending eligibility for subsidies on the ACA marketplaces to people earning below 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL) in the 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid.

In those 12 states (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming), Medicaid eligibility for adults is strictly limited. The median annual income limit for a family of three is just 41% of the FPL, or $8,905. Also, childless adults are ineligible.

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GAO report confirms the financially toxic nature of air ambulance fees

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health reform. He welcomes questions and suggestions and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: euthman via Flickr

Over the past several years, health care journalists have done great work highlighting the problem of surprise medical bills. There’s been so much coverage that even the U.S. House of Representatives has begun  examining the issue, as Vox’s Sarah Kliff reported on March 25.

Among the many surprise patient medical bills that Kliff and others have reported about come from air ambulance companies. Continue reading

Administration proposes a new employee coverage option for businesses

About Joanne Kenen

Contributing editor to Politico Magazine and former health care editor-at-large, Politico, Commonwealth Fund journalist in residence and assistant lecturer at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Photo: Rachel via Flickr

HHS has proposed a new rule that would make it easier for employers to help their workers cover medical expenses by using health reimbursement accounts (HRAs).

The proposal would allow employers to subsidize employees who buy their own health insurance either on or off the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. Employers who cover their workers — and that’s been more stable than many expected under the ACA — could give employees up to $1,800 a year (indexed to inflation) to finance HRAs, which are tax-advantaged accounts. That would go toward out-of-pocket costs. Continue reading

Investigator, researcher share tips on how to cover suicide

About Valarie Basheda

Valarie Basheda, director of news and special projects at WebMD, oversees WebMD’s original news, special reports, and blogs. Before joining WebMD, she worked as an editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Before that, she worked at the American Journalism Review, the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News.

Photo: Sonya CollinsTrebor Randle, special agent in charge of the Child Fatality Review Unit of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, shares Georgia-specific suicide rates and demographics.

Death by suicide is on the rise and is the second-leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 39. In some cases, especially with children younger than 18, the media may shy away from covering these tragic deaths.

That’s not the correct approach, says Trebor Randle, special agent in charge with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Randle works in the Child Fatality Review Unit of the GBI. She investigates every case when a child dies by suicide under the age of 18. Continue reading

One thing to keep in mind when reporting on growth in health care spending

About Joanne Kenen

Contributing editor to Politico Magazine and former health care editor-at-large, Politico, Commonwealth Fund journalist in residence and assistant lecturer at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Photo: GraphicStock

Photo: GraphicStock

The latest health care spending trends are out from the Medicare actuaries – and most reporters focused on how spending in 2014 ticked up after five years of slow growth (though the growth isn’t as rapid as some periods in the past). They raised questions about whether this harkens a return to the “runaway” growth of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Jeff Young of the Huffington Post had a different take. Continue reading