Category: Health Care Industry - Part 5

Confused about Obamacare? There’s an app for that

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon While politicians continue to argue over the fate of Obamacare, consumers are deeply confused about what reform may mean to them and how they can find help. A new tool aimed at delivering answers debuted in Colorado this week: the Blue Guide from the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative . Its mobile. It offers statewide information. And if you tell the website or app where you are, it will use geolocation to instantly show you nearby clinics, mental health centers or assistance sites where you can sign up for health insurance once Colorados new health exchange, Connect for Health Colorado , launches on Oct. 1. Consumers can…

Exchange preps for snafus — like squirrels

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Squirrels and software snafus have brought down NASDAQ over the years. Last weeks debilitating three-hour crash of the financial exchange appears to have been triggered by a software glitch, proving that even long-established networks can be vulnerable to catastrophe. In Colorado, an exchange of a different sort Connect for Health Colorado is bracing for different disasters: blizzards, floods and severed data lines. But the most likely potential problems center on connections with Colorados Medicaid computers, insurance industry websites and the federal data hub, which must provide information on tax subsidies to help cut the cost of new health plans. Two weeks…

Opinion: The tragedy of medical ethics

By Richard D. Lamm The difficulty of medical ethics and culture is that it allows, indeed it makes morally obligatory, practices and behaviors that increase health care spending without regard to other public priorities that get crowded out by the incessant demands of health care. To the extent medical ethics drive resource use, they do not give adequate moral guidance to the larger distributional decisions faced by government and other third party payers. Ironically to the extent that medical ethics drive marginal spending, they actually lower both the quality of life and well-being of the community. Key tenants of medical…

Lifting the veil on wildly varied surgery charges

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Andrea Mahoney was skiing her last run of the day at Breckenridge in January when she heard her knee pop. It sounded bad. The diagnosis she got from her doctor confirmed her hunch. She had torn her ACL and MCL, and had damaged her meniscus. Mahoney had surgery in late February at a physician-owned outpatient center. After extensive pre- and post-surgical physical therapy and a grueling seven months of rehabilitation, shes pleased with her results and now is running again with a brace. Mahoney is eager to get back to her typical athletic routine full of…

Workers pay more even as health cost increases ease

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Health insurance premiums climbed just 4 percent this year over last, but employees feel bogged down because theyre paying a bigger share of their health costs, according to a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation. This is historically a very moderate increase, but people dont perceive it that waybecause year after year, the share of what they pay has gone up, said Drew Altman, president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation. People still feel the pain of health care costs and worry about paying their health care bills. Premiums have increased 80 percent since…

Rates higher in resort areas, college towns

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon People living in resort areas of Colorado will have to pay higher health insurance rates than those in other regions when plans start being sold through the states health exchange on Oct. 1. An average 40-year-old non-smoker living in a resort area who is buying a mid-level silver plan could be charged a base rate as high as $667 per month compared to the least expensive silver plan for a comparable 40-year-old in Greeley, whose base rate would be about $232 per month. Shoppers will also be able to choose from lower level bronze plans and…

Colorado approves 242 health plans for exchange

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Colorados Division of Insurance has approved 242 plans from 13 carriers for the states health exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, which is slated to open on Oct. 1. Deputy Insurance Commissioner Peg Brown briefed members of Colorados health exchange board on Monday on plans that her department has reviewed and approved. Were very pleased with the number of carriers and plans. It represents a wide variety of choice for the Connect for Health marketplace and healthy competition in the Colorado insurance marketplace overall, Brown said. Of the approved plans, 150 are targeted at individuals while 92…

Opinion: The most important health initiative in Colorado history

By Dr. Jan Kief Gov. John Hickenlooper recently announced the most important and ambitious public health initiative in Colorados history. The State of Health Initiative aims to make Colorado the healthiest place to live in the United States. We at the Colorado Medical Society fully support the initiative and will be working to support its objectives through wide-ranging efforts from the 7,500 physicians, medical students and Colorado residents in our membership. The State of Health Initiative is a comprehensive, statewide effort that brings together the governors office, physicians and other health care providers, government agencies, nonprofits, private companies and the…

Tech errors prompt red light warning for exchange

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Just seven weeks before the Oct. 1 launch of Colorados health exchange, managers said that their IT systems are not getting accurate data from state Medicaid systems, prompting a warning to board members Monday. Adele Work, the project manager who leads technology for Connect for Health Colorado, shifted her readiness estimate for synching with state systems from yellow, meaning cautiously moving forward,to red, meaning not ready. She highlighted her concerns Monday that state IT systems may not properly communicate with the exchange systems by Oct. 1. Work said shes prepared to shift to contingency plans on…

‘My dear Watson’ — from ‘Jeopardy’ to a doc’s office near you

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon KEYSTONE Best known for beating brilliant humans at Jeopardy, Watson, the super computer, soon may be coming to a hospital or insurance company near you. But dont call him (or her) Dr. Watson. The more appropriate reference may be to Sherlock Holmes my dear Watson, the indispensable right-hand man or woman as Lucy Liu now portrays Dr. Joan Watson in the re-imagined TV show, Elementary. IBMs Watson is actually named to honor the companys founder, Thomas J. Watson. But as Watsons creators dream up future roles for their intelligent machine medical sleuth, patient watchdog and reading…