Some plans skew drug benefits to drive away patients, advocates warn

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The insurers say they’re in compliance with the law.

Four Florida insurers allegedly discriminate against people with HIV/AIDS by structuring their prescription drug benefits so that patients are discouraged from enrolling, according to a recent complaint filed with federal officials. Continue reading

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Health headlines in the news – July 8th

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How Americans can get a better return on their health care investments – CDC series

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USA America buttonFrom the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Each year, the U.S. spends nearly $9,000 for the health of every American — far more than what the governments of other countries spend on the health of their citizens – yet life expectancy and health outcomes are generally worse for Americans than for citizens of other developed nations in North America and Europe. Continue reading

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Medicaid tailored to those with mental health problems

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This KHN story also ran in .

Studies show that enrollees with mental illness, who also have chronic physical conditions, account for a large share of Medicaid spending.

Seeking to improve care and lower costs, Florida this month became the first state to offer a Medicaid health plan designed exclusively for people with serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar conditions. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – July 7th

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Women’s Health – Week 44: Puberty

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Puberty is the set of physical changes that occur when a person becomes sexually mature. Puberty usually occurs between ages 10 and 14 for girls and ages 12 and 16 for boys.

In girls, the first sign of puberty is often breast development. Other signs are the growth of hair in the pubic area and in the armpits. Sometimes acne appears and, eventually, menstruation begins. Continue reading

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Top 5 stories of the week

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Credit: Dan Shirly

Credit: Dan Shirly

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Little progress made in reducing health disparities for people with isabilities

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WheelchairBy Katherine Kahn
Health Behavior News Service

Psychological distress in people with disabilities is associated with increased prevalence of other chronic conditions and reduced access to health care and preventive care services, finds a new study in the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved.

KEY POINTS

  • Almost one in three adults with a disability report experiencing moderate to serious psychological distress.
  • Chronic illness is more common in adults with both disabilities and serious psychological distress.
  • Adults with disabilities and psychological distress report reduced access to health care and preventive services.

Approximately 30 percent of adults with disabilities reported having moderate to serious psychological distress, with over 12 percent reporting serious psychological distress.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People series established goals to reduce disparities among people with disabilities, but there has been very little progress toward reaching these goals, says lead author Catherine Okoro, Ph.D., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia. Continue reading

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After court’s home health aide ruling, fewer state workers to organize

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U.S. Supreme CourtBy Jake Grovum
Stateline

The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in a case brought by home health care aides in Illinois casts doubt on labor agreements between such workers and state governments in nine other states.

It also closes off—or at least complicates—one of labor’s clearest paths to reversing a decades-long trend of declining ranks and shrinking clout.

The petitioners in Harris v. Quinn were home health care aides who did not want to join a union, though a majority of their co-workers had voted to join. Continue reading

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Health news Headlines – July 5

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Did the Supreme Court tip its hand on contraception cases yet to come?

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The Supreme Court’s opinion Monday holding that some for-profit firms do not have to provide women the contraceptive coverage required under the Affordable Care Act if they have religious objections addressed only half of the ongoing legal battle over the birth control mandate.

But those on both sides of the issue think the court’s majority may have telegraphed which way it could rule when one of those other cases reaches the justices. Continue reading

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Health news headlines – July 4th

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Washington Healthplanfinder announces special enrollment opportunity for same-sex marriages

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Gay_pride_flag.Washington state’s health insurance exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder, will offer a special enrollment period for Washington residents whose same-sex domestic partnerships were recently converted to marriages.

The conversion is considered a “qualifying life event” that triggers a special enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act.

Residents whose same-sex domestic partnership has been converted to marriage on June 30 should take the following steps by Aug. 28 to apply for a special enrollment:

  • Complete an application on wahealthplanfinder.org
  • If you are eligible for a Qualified Health Plan, you will be prompted to complete a special enrollment questionnaire
  • Answer “yes” to the question about recently getting married

Here are the details:

Continue reading

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Without federal action, states move on long-term care

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Some states are taking steps to ensure that more seniors can get the kind of long-term care they want — without becoming poor to get it.

A younger man holds an elderly man's handBy Michael Ollove
Stateline

Three years after the demise of the long-term care piece of the Affordable Care Act, some states are retooling their Medicaid programs to maximize the number of people who can get care at home and minimize the number who have to become poor to receive help.

They also are trying to save state dollars. Medicaid is a joint state-federal program, and long-term care for the elderly is putting an ever greater burden on state budgets: Total Medicaid spending for long-term services rose from $113 billion in 2007 to nearly $140 billion in 2012. Continue reading

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The latest in medical convenience: ER appointments

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 This story also ran in .

Scott Paul knew he needed to head to the emergency room on a recent Sunday after his foot became so painful he couldn’t walk.

The one thing that gave him pause was the thought of having to wait several hours next to a bunch of sick people.

But his wife, Jeannette, remembered she’d seen Dignity Health television commercials featuring a woman sitting in a hospital waiting room and then cutting to the same woman sitting on her living room couch as words come up on the screen: “Wait for the ER from home.”

“I’ve been in emergency rooms before, so I thought I’d see if this worked out,” she said, and went online to book an appointment for her husband at Dignity’s St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco. Continue reading

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