Health Insurance Roundup, March 24, 2016


Even with health insurance, Massachusetts residents often can’t afford care – The Boston Globe

Nearly all Massachusetts adults have health insurance, but being insured is no guarantee patients can afford health care or even find someone to provide it, according to a survey released Wednesday.

Despite the state’s landmark health care overhaul, the report found, cost and access remain problems for a significant share of residents. 


VCU to end health insurance program for students | WTVR.com

Virginia Commonwealth University will end its student health insurance plan this summer. The insurance plan, run by Aetna, will end for medical and dental students on July 31, university officials said. The plan will end for all other students on August 17. VCU began notifying impacted students last month.

“VCU has always strived to support a health insurance plan for students that delivers strong benefits at a reasonable cost. But because of declining participation in the plan by students (a decrease from 1,057 participants in the 2012-13 academic year to 598 in the 2015-16 academic year) and escalating health care costs, the plan has seen significant increases in the annual premium over the last several years and increased out of pocket expense for students,” VCU spokesman Michael Porter said. 


Mass. lawmakers consider single-payer health insurance system – News – telegram.com – Worcester, MA

State lawmakers heard arguments Tuesday in favor of a single-payer health insurance system for Massachusetts, with proponents testifying that more needs to be done despite the advances brought on by state and federal law.

“I acknowledge that in Massachusetts we have a great health care system, but it is not a system that works for everyone,” Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, said at a Joint Committee on Health Care Financing hearing. “Almost every developed country provides it to their citizens as a right … and we need to take a look at addressing it as a right here in Massachusetts.” 


State Regulators Green Light $6.8 Billion Health Insurance Merger | California Healthline

Both of California’s health insurance regulators Tuesday signed off on a $6.8 billion acquisition of Health Net, Inc. by St. Louis, Missouri-based Centene Corp., clearing the way for the deal to close.

The approvals, which followed eight months of sometimes heated negotiations and public hearings, were the final regulatory hurdles standing in the way of the transaction.

The merger is the smallest of three insurer mergers under review by state regulators.

The heads of both regulatory agencies noted that their consent comes with plenty of caveats.

Health Net, based in Woodland Hills, Calif., must keep its headquarters in the state, and the combined company must spend around $370 million to make improvements in both the quality of care and access to it. 


Maine sought to put struggling health insurance co-op into receivership – The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

A bid by Maine’s insurance superintendent to put Community Health Options, the state’s only nonprofit cooperative insurer, into receivership and trim its losses by terminating thousands of individual policies was rebuffed by the federal agency that oversees implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Eric Cioppa, the state’s insurance regulator, said his plan to pursue a court order to take over temporary control of the troubled Lewiston-based insurer was approved this year by the board and management of the cooperative. The organization lost $31 million in 2015 and already has put $43 million into reserves for anticipated losses this year. 


State: End transgender health insurance discrimination

Delaware has become the 15th state to ban insurance companies from limiting or excluding health care coverage for transgender people.

Insurance Commissioner Karen Weldin Stewart issued a bulletin Wednesday that specifically prohibits private insurers from denying, canceling, terminating, limiting, restricting or refusing to issue plans based on a person’s gender identity, transgender status or if the person is undergoing a gender transition.

It was first issued in an email blast and is posted to the department’s website. 


Advocate Kentucky Medicaid Enrollment a Real Mess / Public News Service

A “real mess.” That’s how one health-care advocate describes Kentucky’s transition to a single system to determine eligibility for health insurance and other social services. People who depend on kynect – the state health-insurance exchange that was hailed as a model for the nation – have been especially concerned about the transition, although Gov.

Matt Bevin’s office said his plans to dismantle kynect have nothing to do with the current technical problems. Emily Beauregard, executive director of Kentucky Voices for Health, said she has heard numerous reports of people being “mysteriously dis-enrolled” from Medicaid, errors on applications and long waits for help. 


HC shocked over use of expired stents – The Hindu

Expressing shock over an unholy nexus between doctors and businessmen in having reportedly placed expired stents in coronary arteries of poor patients covered under Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme (CMCHIS), the Madras High Court Bench here on Tuesday refused advance bail to two doctors based here. 


Advocate, NorthShore propose low-cost health insurance if merger approved – Chicago Tribune

The proposed merger of Advocate Health Care and NorthShore University HealthSystem has brought one issue into better focus: Hospitals are thinking more like insurance companies.

If the marriage goes through, Advocate and NorthShore plan to create a low-cost health plan that would be offered to Chicago-area employers.

In exchange for lower premiums, the proposed plan would limit access to providers only in the joint Advocate-NorthShore system. Still, the proposed system would be the largest in the region, with more than a dozen hospitals and a medical group of more than 2,000 doctors plus independent physicians affiliated with the hospitals. 


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