Category: Trends In Health Care - Part 2

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….

Colorado health sign-ups continue to lag

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Only 2,593 people signed up for private health insurance through Colorados exchange during the first half of November, a pace that will make it difficult for Colorado to reach a mid-level goal of 135,000 new customers by next year. In all, 6,001 Coloradans have bought private health plans since Colorados exchange opened on Oct. 1, according to new data that Connect for Health Colorado released today. Thats far lower than the states that are doing the best. California leads the nation so far with 35,364 customers having picked a private health plan in October. New York enrolled 16,404 people in private plans….

Struggling in the red, Denver Health cuts 170 jobs

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon A loss of $7 million so far this year and fewer hospital patients have prompted Denver Health to cut 170 jobs. Often cited as a national leader in providing top-notch, low-cost health care for the poor, Denver Health also now faces a new penalty under the Affordable Care Act. Denver Health managers are calculating exactly how big that hit will be perhaps around $375,000 but federal Medicare managers are penalizing 1,500 hospitals across the country for not meeting various new quality measures, including low marks from patients. (Click here to read more.) Until this spring, Denver Health proudly had…

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…

Exchange revamp not likely till mid-December

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon Health exchange board members on Monday pressed for immediate improvements to Colorados mandatory Medicaid application, but state officials, who contend that Colorado is a shining example among the states, refused to promise that a full slate of short-term fixes will be completed before Dec. 15. Thats the deadline for customers to buy health insurance if they want it to kick in on Jan. 1. And Colorado now could have as many as 1 million customers who need it. New data from the statewide Colorado Health Access Survey estimate Colorado has 741,000 uninsured people while the Colorados Division of Insurance recently…

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…