Category: Public Health Issues - Part 4

Opinion: It’s worth paying doctors bonuses to improve quality

By Donna Marshall As of today, we have mailed checks totaling $79,240 to 201 physicians across Colorado for their care of patients in 2012. Its our way of thanking them for delivering optimal care, and it bodes well for their patients with chronic conditions. Traditional fee-for-service medicine rewards doctors and hospitals for providing more services. But for patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes or cardiovascular problems, the point is to avoid costly services related to bad outcomes, such as emergency department visits or long hospital stays. Instead, the best approach is to keep patients as healthy as possible through…

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…

Ads target young invincibles for ‘CYA’ insurance

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Minnesota went for humor. Its ads promoting the states new health exchange show a klutzy Paul Bunyan, crashing while water skiing, nailing his thigh with an axe and tumbling off his roof. The tag line: Minnesota: Land of 10,000 reasons to get health insurance. (Click here to see the water skiing ad.) Oregon could have spoofed the hilarity of Portlandia, but instead, went oddly locavore and featured Oregon musicians in ads critics have panned as trippy. Cover Oregons tag line: Long Live Oregonians. (Click here to see Live Long in Oregon). California focuses on its beautiful scenery. Covered…

Opinion: Obesity, lack of preventive care a threat to Hispanics, Latinos

By Gretchen Hammer Infographic by Sarah Mapes The beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month creates the opportunity to reflect on the history and experiences of Hispanic and Latino Coloradans. Colorado has a rich Hispanic heritage with early settlers from Spain and Mexico establishing strong roots and thriving communities across the state in our early history . Today, according to the U.S. Census, over 1 million Hispanic and Latino residents live in Colorado, comprising our largest racial or ethnic group. Hispanic and Latino are ethnicities, referring to persons of Spanish or Latin culture or origin, regardless of race. The 2010 U.S. Census accounts for the diverse backgrounds…

Left out — health reform bypasses some immigrants, resort workers

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon GLENWOOD SPRINGS The young couple faced a tough choice: have their first baby in their hometown in Colorados priciest mountain resort area or travel instead to Mexico City. Because the 23-year-old woman was uninsured and an undocumented immigrant during her pregnancy, the birth in Colorado would have cost the couple thousands of dollars out of pocket. The womans 27-year-old husband is a U.S. citizen who grew up in Illinois, but works in Glenwood Springs, the bustling city where many service workers live about 40 miles down valley from ritzy Aspen. He gets insurance through his job,…

Health co-op first to rule that transgender exclusions are wrong

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon A new health insurance company that is offering some of the lowest prices for health coverage on Colorados new exchange is now the first to decide that it will cover transgender care. Colorado HealthOP , a new nonprofit member-owned health cooperative formed with federal grants under Obamacare, has vowed that it will not discriminate against any groups. Currently most plans sold in Colorado and around the country specifically bar medical care for transgender people. That means most health carriers wont pay for hormone treatments or gender reassignment surgeries. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has strengthened gay marriage…