As many as 1 in 5 exchange enrollees affected by technical problems, staff concedes | HealthCare Checkup | Seattle Times

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Coverage is hereGlitches and technical problems have affected as many as 28,000 people trying to buy health insurance through the Washington Healthplanfinder online marketplace, said associate operations director Brad Finnegan.

via As many as 1 in 5 exchange enrollees affected by technical problems, staff concedes | HealthCare Checkup | Seattle Times.

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If you got your health care subsidies mistakenly, you may owe Uncle Sam

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Consumers getting government subsidies for health insurance who are later found ineligible for those payments will owe the government, but not necessarily the full amount, according to the Treasury Department.

The clarified rule could affect some of the 300,000 people facing a Sept. 5 deadline to submit additional documents to confirm their citizenship or immigration status, and also apply broadly to anyone ultimately deemed ineligible for subsidies.

If found ineligible, residents could owe thousands of dollars.

First reported by the newsletterInside Health Policy on Thursday, the clarification worries immigration advocates, who say many residents are facing website difficulties and other barriers to meeting the deadline to submit additional details.

Those who don’t know about the deadline, or can’t meet it because of glitches, could be deemed ineligible for subsidies and lose their coverage. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – August 30th

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Global health news – August 30th

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Understanding high US health care costs – Commonwealth Fund

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One of every six dollars spent in the U.S. goes to health care, but the country is not seeing a commensurate return on its investment.

In this video, David Squires and Cathy Schoen of The Commonwealth Fund consider ways the U.S. health system could manage costs while making room for other priorities such as infrastructure and education.

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How Racism Creeps Into Medicine – The Atlantic

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Illustration of the lungs in blueIn 1864, the year before the Civil War ended, a massive study was launched to quantify the bodies of Union soldiers. One key finding in what would become a 613-page report was that soldiers classified as “White” had a higher lung capacity than those labeled “Full Blacks” or “Mulattoes.” The study relied on the spirometer—a medical instrument that measures lung capacity.

via How Racism Creeps Into Medicine – The Atlantic.

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Beware higher charges if you go to an out-of-network ER

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Sign for an emergency room.By Michelle Andrews
KHN

When you need emergency care, chances are you aren’t going to pause to figure out whether the nearest hospital is in your health insurer’s network. Nor should you.

That’s why the health law prohibits insurers from charging higher copayments or coinsurance for out-of-network emergency care.

Beware, you could be left on the hook for substantially higher charges than you might expect.

The law also prohibits plans from requiring pre-approval to visit an emergency department that is out of your provider network.  (Plans that are grandfathered under the law don’t have to abide by these provisions.)

That’s all well and good. But there are some potential trouble spots that could leave you on the hook for substantially higher charges than you might expect. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – August 29th

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Global health news – August 29th

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State exchange doubles the number health plan options to be offered this fall

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From the Washington Healthplanfinder

Washington MapThe Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board today certified 10 health insurance carriers at to offer 82 Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) for individuals and families through the state’s health insurance exchange, the Washington Healthplanfinder.

Last year, eight health insurers were approved to sell 46 plans through Washington Healthplanfinder.i

The small business market, Washington Healthplanfinder Business, will be available statewide for the first time this year with 23 different health plans.

Additionally, five insurance carriers will offer six pediatric Qualified Dental Plans (QDPs).

The open enrollment period, which runs from Nov. 15, 2014 to Feb. 15, 2015, will provider coverage starting Jan. 1, 2015.

“We’re thrilled to see the number of available health plan options has doubled in one short year,” said Richard Onizuka, Chief Executive Officer for Washington Healthplanfinder.

“Not only will these additional coverage options increase consumer choice, they will also foster competition among our participating health insurance companies,” Onizuka said. Continue reading

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Immunization rates for Washington kids improve over last year

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From the Washington State Department of Health

child wincing while be given a shot injectionImmunization rates for Washington toddlers have improved from last year, according to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Immunization Survey.

The survey says 71 percent of kids under three years old in Washington got a series of recommended vaccines in 2013.

The state’s rate for the same series of vaccines in 2012 was 65 percent.

Pertussis vaccination still low and concerning in light of recent epidemic

Although rates have improved, they’re still below the Healthy People 2020 goal of 80 percent, leaving many kids unprotected.

For all vaccines counted, rates increased across the board except for DTaP, the vaccine that prevents pertussis (whooping cough).

This is especially concerning because of our state’s whooping cough epidemic in 2012. Continue reading

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Turning 65? Know your Medicare options – Guest column

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Center for Medicare & Medicaid ServicesMedicare tips from Oraida Roman, president of Senior Products for Humana’s Intermountain Region

Approximately 11,000 adults become eligible for Medicare every day, reflecting a dramatically increasing senior population, and that number is only going to grow.

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts there will be nearly 47 million seniors age 65 and up in 2015 and about 72.1 million seniors – nearly 20 percent of the population – by 2030.,

Here in Washington, the 65 and older population is expected to increase from 13.9 percent of the overall population in 2015 to 18.1 percent of the overall population by 2030.

Health concerns are a major issue for seniors, with nine of 10 older adults living with at least one chronic condition, such as diabetes, arthritis, hypertension or lung disease, according to the National Council on Aging.

Making matters worse, these conditions place a significant financial burden on seniors and, sometimes, their caregivers. As a result, there’s a clear need for access to affordable health care that meets the needs of individuals as they age.

As Seattle residents approach their 65th birthday, it is important for them to know their Medicare options, including when they can enroll and the types of health plans available. Continue reading

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NIH to test Ebola vaccine in humans

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From the US National Institutes of Health

Trial will evaluate vaccine’s safety

Initial human testing of an investigational vaccine to prevent Ebola virus disease will begin next week by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

ebola

The early-stage trial will begin initial human testing of a vaccine co-developed by NIAID and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and will evaluate the experimental vaccine’s safety and ability to generate an immune system response in healthy adults.

The pace of human safety testing for experimental Ebola vaccines has been expedited in response to the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.

Testing will take place at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

The study is the first of several Phase 1 clinical trials that will examine the investigational NIAID/GSK Ebola vaccine and an experimental Ebola vaccine developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada and licensed to NewLink Genetics Corp.

The others are to launch in the fall. These trials are conducted in healthy adults who are not infected with Ebola virus to determine if the vaccine is safe and induces an adequate immune response. Continue reading

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Urgent care centers opening for people with mental illness

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BrainBy Anna Gorman
KHN / 
AUGUST 28TH, 2014

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Hoping to keep more people with mental illness out of jails and emergency rooms, county health officials opened a mental health urgent care center Wednesday in South Los Angeles.

The goal of The Martin Luther King, Jr. Mental Health Urgent Care Center is to stabilize and treat people in immediate crisis while connecting them to ongoing care.

Run by Exodus Recovery, it will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can serve up to 16 adults and six adolescents.

During their stay of up to one day, patients will undergo a psychiatric evaluation, receive on-the-spot care such as counseling and medication and be referred for longer-term treatment. Continue reading

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