The week’s top five stories

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Credit: Dan Shirly

Credit: Dan Shirly

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With job-based coverage, can I still qualify for cost-sharing subsidies

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Q. I understand that having access to affordable employer-sponsored coverage doesn’t prohibit me from purchasing coverage on the exchange, but it does eliminate access to premium tax credits that I might otherwise be eligible for.

What about cost-sharing subsidies?

If I could qualify for a plan with cost-sharing subsidies on the exchange, would I be eligible for one of those plans instead of taking the coverage offered by my employer?

A. No, you wouldn’t be eligible. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – August 2nd

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Global health news – August 2nd

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Group Health state’s market leader in health insurance

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Group Health IconAccording to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, the top three health insurance companies in Washington state by market share are: 

  • Group Health Cooperative Group, with 20 percent of the market and $3.2 million in written premiums.
  • Cambia Health Solutions, Inc., which includes Regence Blue Shield, with 16 percent of the market and $2.6 million in written premiums.
  • Premera Blue Cross Group, with 15 percent of the market and $2.4 million in written premiums.

For more information go here.

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What’s been the local impact of the Affordable Care Act?

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California congressman Rep. Henry Waxman, a Democrat, has released a report detailing the impact of the Affordable Care Act broken down by congressional district.

Below are details from the report on the health law’s impact in the 7th district, represented by Congressman Jim McDermott, a strong supporter of the law, and the 8th district, represented by Congressman David Reichert, who has voted repeatedly to repeal the law.

For information about other districts go here.

In District  7 – Jim McDermottScreen Shot 2014-08-01 at 8.47.35 AM

As a result of the law:

  • There are 27,000 district residents who were previously uninsured now have health coverage because of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Overall, the number of uninsured district residents has declined by 35%.
  • Approximately 13,300 individuals purchased coverage through the new health insurance marketplace.
  • 31,700 enrolled in Medicaid
  • 7,600 young adults were able to retain coverage through their parents’ plans.
  • For more than 79% of the individuals enrolled in the health insurance marketplace, financial assistance was available that substantially reduced the cost of coverage – in many cases to less than $100 per month.
  • 295,000 individuals in the district – including 42,000 children and 132,000 women – now have health insurance that covers preventive services without any co-pays, coinsurance, or deductible.
  • 5,700 seniors in the district received Medicare Part D prescription drug discounts worth $8.9 million.
  • 94,000 seniors in the district are now eligible for Medicare preventive services without paying any co-pays, coinsurance, or deductible
  • 279,000 individuals in the district are protected by ACA provisions that prevent insurance companies from spending more than 20% of their premiums on profits and administrative overhead.
  • Because of these protections, over 5,700 individuals in the district received approximately $250,000 in insurance company rebates
  • Up to 26,000 children in the district with preexisting health conditions can no longer be denied coverage by health insurers.
  • 279,000 individuals in the district now have insurance that cannot place annual or lifetime limits on their coverage.

District 8 – Dave ReichertScreen Shot 2014-08-01 at 8.48.16 AM

  • 28,000 district residents who were previously uninsured now have health coverage.
  • Overall, the number of uninsured district residents has declined by 35%.
  • Approximately 13,900 individuals purchased coverage through the new health insurance marketplace
  • 33,000 enrolled in Medicaid
  • 5,400 young adults were able to retain coverage through their parents’ plans.
  • For more than 79% of the individuals enrolled in the health insurance marketplace, financial assistance was available that substantially reduced the cost of coverage – in many cases to less than $100 per month.
  • 286,000 individuals in the district – including 63,000 children and 114,000 women – now have health insurance that covers preventive services without any co-pays, coinsurance, or deductible.
  • 6,900 seniors in the district received Medicare Part D prescription drug discounts worth $9.9 million.
  • 100,000 seniors in the district are now eligible for Medicare preventive services without paying any co-pays, coinsurance, or deductible.
  • 252,000 individuals in the district are protected by ACA provisions that prevent insurance companies from spending more than 20% of their premiums on profits and administrative overhead.
  • Because of these protections, over 6,900 individuals in the district received approximately $240,000 in insurance company rebates.
  • Up to 42,000 children in the district with preexisting health conditions can no longer be denied coverage by health insurers.
  • 252,000 individuals in the district now have insurance that cannot place annual or lifetime limits on their coverage.

 

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California exchange rates up modest 4.2 Percent

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Flag_of_CaliforniaBy Pauline Bartolone, Capital Public Radio
AUGUST 1ST, 2014

Covered California says health care premiums will go up modestly for most people buying coverage on the state exchange next year by an average of 4.2 percent.

“We enrolled a lot of people, they’re healthy, and that’s kept rates down,” Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said at a press conference on Thursday in Sacramento to announce the rates.

“We enrolled a lot of people, they’re healthy, and that’s kept rates down.”

About 1.4 million people purchased insurance on the marketplace in California for 2014, the first year Affordable Care Act insurance was available.

California is one of the states that created its own exchange, and it is an “active purchaser” under the law, which means it can negotiate with insurers directly on rates. Continue reading

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Unfavorable views of health law spike in July: poll

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ACA health reform logoBy Jordan Rau
KHN / AUGUST 1ST, 2014

The health law’s unpopularity among the public rose sharply in July with a surge of disapproval from people who had been agnostic about it in recent months, a poll released Friday shows. The law is as unpopular as it has been since it was enacted four years ago.

The poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 53 percent of the public had an unfavorable view of the law in Julythe highest level since the law was passed in 2010.

Fewer than four in 10 people were aware that people getting insurance through the law had a choice among private plans.

It was up from 45 percent in June. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

The law’s unpopularity hit similar levels several times since passing, most recently in January when 50 percent of people disliked it.

Support for the law in July remained about the same as in June, with 37 percent supporting it. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – August 1st

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Global health news – August 1

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Ebola outbreak prompts CDC travel warning.

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ebolaCDC urges all US residents to avoid nonessential travel to Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia because of an unprecedented outbreak of Ebola. More information here.

“If you must travel, such as for humanitarian aid work in response to the outbreak, protect yourself by following CDC’s advice for avoiding contact with the blood and body fluids of people who are ill with Ebola. For more information, visit Outbreak of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone on the CDC Ebola website.”

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New shellfish safety map shows risks in real-time

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From the Washington State Department of Health

shellfish mapA new online shellfish safety map gives shellfish harvesters an up-to-date look at biotoxins, pollution, and bacteria levels at public beaches or on their private property.

Beach names, nearby landmarks, and specific addresses are searchable to help provide real-time information on shellfish safety risks.

The new shellfish safety map was developed to provide current information about areas where water quality conditions and public health risks are evaluated by the Department of Health. Continue reading

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Report sparks fight over future of doctor training programs

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doctors-300By Julie Rovner
KHN 

A high-level report recommending sweeping changes in how the government distributes $15 billion annually to subsidize the training of doctors has brought out the sharp scalpels of those who would be most immediately affected.

The reaction also raises questions about the sensitive politics involved in redistributing a large pot of money that now goes disproportionately to teaching hospitals in the Northeast U.S. All of the changes recommended would have to be made by Congress. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – July 31st

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Photo courtesy of Pawel Kryj

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Global health news – July 31

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