Category: Featured - Part 3

Stuck in Colorado’s black hole

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Simultaneously excited to buy health insurance and fearful of a cancer relapse, health advocate Donna Smith tried to start shopping on Colorados health exchange on the first day. She soon struggled with computer glitches that prevented Smith and countless other hopeful customers from creating accounts in Colorado and on the federal exchange on Oct. 1. Smith kept trying and a few days later, managed to create an account. I thought, Oh, this is marvelous! Connect for Health Colorados online system then asked Smith if she wanted to try to qualify for financial assistance. Why not? She knew she wouldnt qualify…

Tepid recovery leaves one in seven uninsured

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon The number of uninsured people declined slightly in Colorado over the last two years as the economy began to rebound. But more than 741,000 people or one in seven Coloradans has remained uninsured while another 720,000 are underinsured, meaning that their out-of-pocket health costs exceed 10 percent of their income. Nearly half of the uninsured said theyve gone without health coverage for more than five years and one in 10 have never had it. We still have three-quarters of a million people who do not have insurance. Thats problematic, said Michele Lueck, president and CEO of…

Exchange snafus linked to only 3,164 purchases so far

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Just over 3,100 people purchased health insurance through Colorados new health exchange from Oct. 1 through Oct. 26, according to new data released Monday. Purchases on Connect for Health Colorado will need to pick up steam dramatically in the coming months if the new marketplace for public and private insurance is going to meet a mid-level goal of enrolling at least 136,000 people in new health plans in Colorado in 2014. Board members expressed dismay Monday that computer glitches both at the federal level and in Colorado may be preventing customers from purchasing health insurance. Without…

Under ACA, wellness dropouts could feel the burn

By Elise Oberliesen For decades, corporations have experimented with wellness programs in an attempt to improve their employees health and reduce the cost of health insurance. Lunch-hour yoga classes, free flu shots, smoking cessation programs and other offerings have often been provided, occasionally with incentives for participants. Now, as additional elements of the Affordable Care Act are implemented, organizations and their employees will have new encouragement to get in the game. Starting with health insurance policies effective Jan. 1, 2014, losing weight, controlling cholesterol, quitting smoking or even just attempting to achieve better health could be profitable. In some states,…

Online tax credit system to go live Nov. 4

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Customers trying to use an online system to qualify for federal tax credits through Colorados health exchange will have to wait until Nov. 4. Managers at Connect for Health Colorado initially delayed the online feature until the end of October and in order to secure subsidies, customers have had to call clogged phone lines. Now, a spokesman said in a written response to questions that customers wanting to use the exchange website to cut their health insurance costs will have to wait until Nov. 4, the new target date for Colorado to have an online subsidy application. In the meantime, the only way…

Useless, costly medical procedures targeted by Choosing Wisely campaign

By Diane Carman Just say no. Thats what the Colorado Medical Society and a growing number of other health care organizations nationwide want patients to start doing. No to useless antibiotics. No to unnecessary scans. No to diagnostic tests at too-frequent intervals. The list goes on and on. Its a baby step toward sanity in a health care system that some say has become an irrational market of questionable procedures, exorbitant costs and mediocre outcomes. About one-third of the interventions we do are really unnecessary, said Dr. Jan Kief, who just finished her term as president of the Colorado Medical Society. That costs…

Useless, costly medical procedures targeted by Choosing Wisely campaign

By Diane Carman Just say no. Thats what the Colorado Medical Society and a growing number of other health care organizations nationwide want patients to start doing. No to useless antibiotics. No to unnecessary scans. No to diagnostic tests at too-frequent intervals. The list goes on and on. Its a baby step toward sanity in a health care system that some say has become an irrational market of questionable procedures, exorbitant costs and mediocre outcomes. About one-third of the interventions we do are really unnecessary, said Dr. Jan Kief, who just finished her term as president of the Colorado Medical Society. That costs…

Thousands look, 226 buy during exchange debut

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Colorados new health exchange has attracted thousands of visitors since its launch on Oct. 1, but only 226 pulled the trigger and bought insurance as Obamacare officially launched. High traffic to the Connect for Health Colorado website caused technology glitches that prevented many people from being able to create accounts immediately after the exchange launched. Those problems continued through last week and prompted two unscheduled shutdowns to reboot the exchanges software, technology managers said. Even so, as of Friday, about 28,000 people have created accounts and about 204,000 unique visitors have surfed the site that offers…

Young and not so invincible

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon BOULDER The hottest targets for health insurance this fall are the so-called young invincibles. Its no coincidence that an upstart selling some of the lowest-priced plans that might appeal to young people in Colorado, the Colorado HealthOP, deployed beautiful young models to try to make the decidedly unalluring topic of health insurance sexy. Buff, shirtless men and nearly naked young women prowled downtown Denvers 16th Street Mall last week as Colorados health exchange opened. They wore little more than signs reading: Without health insurance, youre exposed: #GetCoveredCO. Less sexy street teams working directly for the states health exchange, Connect for Health Colorado,

Kaiser quiet on new transgender coverage

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Kaiser Permanente says it will now cover care for transgender patients in Colorado, but its unclear exactly what Kaiser will cover since the insurance company wont talk in detail about its new policies. Kaiser released a brief statement last week saying that as of Sept. 10, the company will now provide additional services to patients diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Treatment will include behavioral health, medical testing, hormone therapy for members who have a drug benefit and transgender surgery, Kaiser spokeswoman Amy Whited said in a written statement. The statement noted that some exclusions and limitations that…