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HealthCare Checkup

The Seattle Times health-care team tracks the local impact of the Affordable Care Act.

Topic: Affordable Care Act

You are viewing the most recent posts on this topic.

October 13, 2014 at 4:06 PM

State offers auto-renewal of health insurance

Most Washington residents who bought individual health insurance through the state’s marketplace will be able to automatically renew their coverage for 2105 without taking any additional steps. The Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which runs the marketplace, is sending out renewal letters to its customers beginning this week. Insurance companies are sending their own letters to inform…

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Healthplanfinder

October 2, 2014 at 12:13 PM

State senators aim to boost birth-control access after Hobby Lobby ruling

A group of Democratic state senators said Thursday that it is crafting legislation to protect Washington women’s access to insurer-provided birth control. The group also criticized Republican leaders — slightly more than a month before the November elections — for failing to support women’s reproductive rights. The senators are “approaching this as an issue of discrimination against women,” said Sen….

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, birth control, health insurance

October 1, 2014 at 6:01 AM

With huge variability in hospital prices, patients must beware

A comparison of costs for the treatment of heart failure in Washington, from Washington Health Alliance.

A comparison of costs for the treatment of heart failure in Washington, from Washington Health Alliance.

The American health-care system is befuddling in so many ways, but the variation in hospital prices is among the most confounding.

The price for back surgery at Yakima Regional Medical and Cardiac Center can cost $46,000 — three times as much as it costs at Seattle’s Virginia Mason Medical Center. If you’re looking for knee or hip replacement, at $92,000 you could wind up paying four-times more at Multicare Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup than the $23,000 price tag at Wenatchee Valley Hospital.

Across the state and for services ranging from urinary tract infections to strokes, the prices for care are two, three or even four times more expensive from one facility to another.

And with insurance plans boosting the amount of costs that patients have to pay while covering smaller networks of hospitals and doctors, these price differences can hit consumers hard.

“Understanding hospital sticker prices in advance of a hospital stay can help both insured and uninsured patients reduce sticker shock,” said John Gallagher, spokesman for Washington Health Alliance, a nonprofit that released the cost comparisons in a new report.

“Because more out-of-pocket costs are being shifted to consumers and because unpaid medical bills have become a leading reason for personal bankruptcy, it’s important for health consumers to understand the financial risks they might face as patients―whether they have insurance or not,” he said in an email.

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, All-Payer Claims Database, health insurance

September 18, 2014 at 1:41 PM

Percentage of American women getting free birth control rises rapidly

More American women are getting free birth control in the wake of the Affordable Care Act, which requires most private insurance plans to pay for contraception with no co-pay or other out-of-pocket costs.

The percentage of women with private insurance coverage getting free oral contraception, or the pill, rose from 15 percent in the fall of 2012 to 67 percent this spring. The ACA’s free birth control mandate went into effect January 2013. Free access to other forms of pregnancy prevention also rose, according to research conducted by the Guttmacher Institute and published online Thursday in the journal Contraception.

“This analysis shows that the contraceptive coverage guarantee under the ACA is working as intended,” says Adam Sonfield, senior public policy associate at Guttmacher and lead author of the study, in a press release. The institute is a nonprofit organization focused on reproductive and sexual health rights, policy and research.

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance

September 12, 2014 at 2:33 PM

$7.5 million to boost care at low-income, minority health clinics in Wash.

Health clinics in Washington that largely serve low-income and minority residents will receive nearly $7.5 million in federal grants to increase access to primary care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is awarding more than $295 million to community clinics nationwide, according to an announcement made Friday. In Washington, the money will…

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Washington Healthplanfinder

September 2, 2014 at 6:11 PM

Seattle Children’s, Regence settle dispute over insurance networks

A nearly yearlong dispute in which Seattle Children’s hospital sought to make sure its facilities and experts were included in Washington state health insurance plans was finally resolved Tuesday. Children’s and Cambia Health Solutions, parent company of Regence BlueShield and BridgeSpan Health, announced that the hospital will be part of the insurers’ network of health-care providers. “This…

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Mike Kreidler

August 28, 2014 at 4:09 PM

More health insurance options increase choice — and possibly confusion

The board overseeing the Washington’s health insurance marketplace Thursday certified more than 100 health and dental plans to be sold this fall. Washington residents will have roughly twice as many health insurance plans to choose from in the individual market for coverage beginning in 2015, including for the first time plans at…

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Healthplanfinder

August 21, 2014 at 7:38 PM

Healthplanfinder: ‘Moderately effective,’ could improve

How does Washington’s online exchange marketplace compare with those in other states? As part of an ongoing study, the nonprofit Urban Institute assessed how well state exchanges created  under the Affordable Care Act provide the sort of information consumers want to know about insurance plans they’re considering buying. The report — Physician Network Transparency: How Easy…

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, Bill Hinkle, Don Conant

August 8, 2014 at 6:03 PM

Oracle sues Oregon over health exchange fiasco

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oracle Corp. is suing Oregon in a continuing fiasco over the state’s health insurance exchange, saying Oregon is continuing to use the technology company’s software despite $23 million in disputed bills. Oracle’s breach-of-contract lawsuit against Cover Oregon was filed Friday in federal court in Portland. It alleges that state officials repeatedly promised…

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Comments | More in General News | Topics: Affordable Care Act

August 5, 2014 at 12:54 PM

Gallup: Washington 4th in reducing uninsured residents

The percentage of Washington residents without health insurance dropped from 16.8 percent last year to 10.7 percent by mid-2014 according to a national survey released Tuesday by Gallup. Only Arkansas, Kentucky and Delaware had larger declines in the percentage of uninsured residents. Oregon ranked 7th. The reductions come as a result of the Affordable…

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Comments | Topics: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, Medicaid

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