Category: Health and Wellness

Insurance carriers vow equal coverage for transgender patients

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon The Colorado Association of Health Plans has become the first trade group of its kind in the nation to promise equal coverage for transgender patients. Colorado is always first in health care. It seems like were right out front, said Ben Price, the associations executive director. As far as industry trade groups, I havent heard of another group that has done this yet. I know a few are looking at it. As shopping for health plans intensifies before next weeks deadline to get coverage starting on Jan. 1, Price released a statement assuring customers that exclusions will no longer apply. We…

Price of smoking could increase under ACA

By Jane Hoback As with most aspects of insurance, its a calculated risk. Do you lie to save a few bucks? Do you admit to that pack-a-day habit and just accept the possibility you could pay higher health insurance premiums? Or do you tell the truth so you can access free stop-smoking treatment and save those extra bucks anyway when the surcharge is eliminated once you do? Thats the prospect smokers face as they sign up for health insurance under the new regulations created by the Affordable Care Act. Depending on the plans they choose, smokers and other tobacco users…

After 37-day delay, cancer patient gets insurance

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon It took 37 days of waiting in a bureaucratic black hole, 22 minutes on hold, two dropped calls and a switch to a new health system, but Donna Smith finally succeeded in signing up for new health insurance. She is one of 6,001 people who have bought insurance through Connect for Health Colorado during its first six weeks of operations. If people can get through the Medicaid process, I think theyll be pleasantly surprised, said Smith. After finally getting a Medicaid denial last week, Smith worked with an exchange phone agent whom she found to be…

Health insurance customers want simpler system

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon GREELEY No one mentioned cancellation notices. And no one expressed concerns about costs. Instead, at a sparsely attended public meeting about health insurance issues Tuesday evening, potential customers wanted to know if they could skip filling out Colorados complex Medicaid application. I heard theres a form to fill out with income. Someone said theres a blank you have to fill in about your assets. What is the need for that? asked Jim Dale, a Greeley retiree who doesnt qualify yet for Medicare. Colorados new insurance commissioner, Marguerite Salazar, hosted the meeting. Her office doesnt run Medicaid programs….

REACH: Be thankful for good health

By Lindsay Wolfman, RD Thanksgiving dinner can easily add up to 4,000 calories. Holidays tend to be food-focused, but you can make these foods healthier. This year, start by making better choices. Here are some tips to help you avoid that calorie-packed plate this Thanksgiving. Turkey: A lean protein, turkey has virtually no saturated fat unless you purchase a self-basting turkey that has been injected with butter or oil. Avoid these and baste your bird with low-fat, low-salt broth, wine or juice. Mashed potatoes: Save yourself some work, leave the skins on. They provide fiber and potassium. Or try mashed…

Opinion: Protecting patients central to physical, behavioral health reforms

By Michael Lott-Manier For just a moment, forget the politics of health care reform they wont go anywhere, I promise. Picture a low-income family able to stay safe and whole, because a parent can afford to see a therapist for anger. Think about what it would be like if fewer people ended up in prison, and more of them in jobs, because they were able to get help for mental illness and addiction earlier in life. Your friend was struggling to stay in treatment for depression, but kept falling out when her yearly allotted visits were through; now she can…

Opinion: Providers who address social determinants maximize patient outcomes

By Dr. Paul Melinkovich Each year, Colorado graduates approximately 150 new medical students and our workforce includes many other dedicated health care professionals who are a fundamental component of our health care delivery system. We all work hard, day in and day out, to address the health care needs of our fellow Coloradans. We are health care providers because we want to make people healthy. Yet, in a regular days work, we often get narrowly focused on making diagnoses, recommending treatments, staying on schedule and addressing only those symptoms that can be seen and heard inside our exam room. Our…

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…

Opinion: Opposition to Affordable Care Act could have consequences for millions

By Bob Semro One of the most significant roadblocks to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act is the strident opposition that it faces. That opposition has been unrelenting and will have far-reaching impacts for millions of Americans for many, it will determine if they have access to affordable health care. There is a political component to the opposition, and it usually breaks along party lines, but the opposition shows that, after years of debate, there remains a strong philosophical, emotional and ideological divide around health care reform. Since passage of the law in 2010, the House of Representatives has…

Opinion: Rep. Polis needs to recall his commitment to health care justice

By Donna Smith Solutions last week reported that U.S. Congressman Jared Polis, D-Boulder, will seek waivers from the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare insurance purchase mandate for his constituents living in some of the mountain towns. These waivers would relieve many people from paying the high premiums for health insurance coverage available on the ACA exchanges that reflect the mountain counties overall wealth and health care costs. Many of the people who most need coverage in those communities cannot afford the high premiums. Rep. Polis is forgetting the simplest and most humane way to solve this problem is not to waive the requirement to purchase insurance coverage. The best way to solve the problem…