Category: News - Part 3

Impatience mounts for immediate exchange fixes

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Colorados health exchange needs to be fixed now, not next month or next year, say increasingly frustrated board members for Connect for Health Colorado. It really had to be fixed yesterday, said Nathan Wilkes, an IT expert and chair of the exchange boards Operations Committee, who earlier this week called the mandatory Medicaid application that customers must fill out before they can move forward onerous, odious and embarrassing. He and other board members believe that the complex Medicaid application and other problems could be driving away customers. Only 3,408 people bought insurance through the exchange in…

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…

Opinion: Costs still out of control even if Obamacare succeeds

By Francis M. Miller The implementation of Obamacare is taking on the appearance of the fog of war described by Clausewitz . Obamacares advocatesare self-righteous in pressing for implementation. The loyal opposition conservatives are skirmishing and employing guerrilla tactics. They hope the law will fail of its own accord. The problem with this drama-of-the-gifted is that it obscures health cares central issue and begsseveral really important questions. By now even the most fervent advocate of Obamacare has to admit that this law will do nothing to bend the cost curve. Hyperinflation in the health sector has been the dominant issue for…

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…

Opinion: Noise over ACA shouldn’t distract seniors from Medicare enrollment

By Bob Semro If you are an American over 65, you may have questions about the new health care law, what it means for you and what you need to do. The short answer is that very little changes, and most seniors will not have to do anything. Some meaningful changes have already occurred, such as the shrinking of the prescription drug donut hole, but most of the major reforms in the Affordable Care Act, such as the new health insurance marketplaces and penalties for not having coverage, simply do not affect seniors. However, an important open-enrollment period (which has…

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…