Posts Tagged ‘Health insurance’

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They’re Not Taking Away Our Puppies (And God Help Them If They Do)

September 30, 2013

By Jacob Molyneux, AJN senior editor/blog editor

I am amazed at the amount of time being wasted on the relatively mundane matter of health care exchanges. It seems we are now facing a government shutdown; there are creepy and misleading advertisements funded by conservative billionaires like the Koch brothers in order to scare people from signing up for insurance; some red states have actually enacted laws forbidding the health care navigators from helping people understand the new system and sign up for it, and many of these states have refused to create their own exchanges to help their citizens comply with the new law.

The ACA is a law. You can’t just ignore it if it doesn’t meet your personal preferences or political ideas. Given the heated rhetoric the Republicans are trotting out about it, you’d think the government was trying to take away our puppies, instead of implementing ideas originally floated by Republicans themselves to make life a bit easier for millions of Americans whose life decisions are unduly ruled by crazy health care billing practices, byzantine insurance regulations, discrimination against those who have chronic conditions, insanely varying pricing for simple tests, and the like. Read the rest of this entry ?

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48 Years of Medicare (and Counting)

July 26, 2013

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editor-in-chief, and Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

Next week marks Medicare’s 48th anniversary. President Lyndon Johnson signed the legislation creating Medicare on July 30, 1965, guaranteeing health coverage for the elderly. With the gradual implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA; 2010), Medicare, along with other government and private forms of health insurance, is undergoing changes, with efforts being made to rein in rising costs, combat fraud, tie quality of care to reimbursement, and so on.

PPresident Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Medicare Bill at the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. Former President Harry S. Truman is seated at the table with President Johnson. Photo: National Archives and Records Administration.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Medicare Bill. Former President Harry S. Truman is seated at the table with President Johnson. Photo: National Archives and Records Administration.

With the ACA’s date for mandated purchase of health insurance fast approaching, some states are setting up state-run health insurance exchanges to provide consumers with a standardized menu of health insurance plans in order to make it easier to purchase a plan that fits both budget and health care needs. Other states have refused to participate (see “Policy and Politics: Update on the Affordable Care Act” in the April 2013 issue of AJN); by default, citizens of those states will instead participate in federally run exchanges.

The debate over government-sponsored health insurance is not new. According to a timeline at SocialSecurity.gov, Congressional hearings on the topic occurred as early as 1916, with the American Medical Association (AMA) first voicing support for a proposed state health insurance program and then, in 1920, reversing its position. A government health insurance program was a key initiative of President Harry Truman, but, as with the Clinton health initiative several decades later, it didn’t go anywhere because of strong opposition from the AMA and others.

AJN covered the topic in an article (AJN articles cited in this post will be free until August 26) in the May 1958 issue after a health insurance bill was introduced in 1957 by representative Aime J. Forand of Rhode Island  (HR 9467). Yet again, one of the staunchest opponents was the AMA. In the September 1958 issue, “at the request of the American Medical Association,” AJN published an article by its general manager, explaining the AMA’s opposition.

Many commentators have pointed out that the ACA, frequently attacked and undermined by its opponents during these years of its gradual implementation, may one day be seen much as we now see Medicare, which was also widely attacked when it began—that is, the ACA may be simply taken for granted as a necessary, if complex and flawed, program that many people depend upon. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Health Care Reform Works—If You Work It

April 22, 2011
Medical Bills

Image by urbanbohemian via Flickr

By Gail M. Pfeifer, MA, RN, AJN news director

My husband and I both recently had preventive screening colonoscopies, which are now covered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as preventive care for adults over 50. That coverage, if you purchased a new health insurance plan on or after September 23, 2010, which we did, means you do not have to pay a copayment or coinsurance or meet a deductible if you use an in-network provider (here’s a full list of preventive services covered under the new law). You would think that medical office billers and insurance companies would know that by now.

Although some plans have clauses that let them off the hook on this rule, ours does not—these tests should have been covered. Lucky for us, we knew it when the bills came in. To make a long story short, I was billed for the “surgery” and for the anesthesia. So I first called the billing department of the GI specialist’s office and asked them to rebill the procedure correctly, as preventive screening. No further bills from them, for me, but shortly afterward, my husband was billed by the same office for “surgery” occurring months later—same doc, same procedure, same billing office. He’s following up with phone calls as I write.

I next called the anesthesia billing office, which said our insurance company had denied the claim. I called the insurance company, which looked at our plan and found that, indeed, anesthesia should have been covered; they promised to issue a new claim number. Three weeks later, I got not one, but three, invoices from the anesthesia biller for the same deductible amount. I called them again, and they explained that, because “it takes 30 days for the new claim number to be received,” and “our system automatically sends” out invoices, I was mailed another bill (although they couldn’t explain the threesome). Seriously? Read the rest of this entry ?

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