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Insuring Your Health

In a new KHN feature, Michelle Andrews writes about the coming changes to health care.

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Read 2010’s Insuring Your Health stories. See Andrews answer your health insurance questions via video.

Some Hospitals Turn To Post-Discharge Clinics To Help Hold Down ReadmissionsDecember 20, 2011

A study finds that a third of adult patients discharged from a hospital don’t see a physician within 30 days — and experts say this is a key reason so many of them need to come back in.

Coverage Of Bariatric Surgery Is Spotty For Obese KidsDecember 13, 2011

Experts in pediatric obesity say that caution is warranted and that insurers shouldn’t just rubber-stamp such surgery in adolescents. But they say emerging research may lead to more coverage for young people.

Some Companies Base Premiums On Employee’s SalaryDecember 6, 2011

Although few employers have used this strategy, consultants say it could help many in 2014 meet new requirements in the health law.

Both Patients, Physicians Can Suffer When Test Results Aren’t ReportedNovember 29, 2011

Better Coordination of patient care should help improve the delivery of test results to patients from doctors — and to doctors from thos who perform the tests.

N.Y. Program May Offer Model for Medical Liability CasesNovember 22, 2011

Under the system, when a lawsuit is filed, a judge with expertise in medical matters becomes the point person for that case and helps broker a settlement.

Hospitals Offering Complementary Medical TreatmentNovember 15, 2011

Experts say the move comes with consumers’ willingness to spend money on therapies such as acupuncture and massage and with the recognition that some can be effective.

Columnist Finds No Clear Path On Treatment November 8, 2011

After a serious bike crash in Canada, a writer returns home and finds many uncertainties in her medical options.

$6.8 Billion Spent Yearly On Unnecessary Medical CareNovember 1, 2011 

The conclusion comes from a study that looked at procedures and prescriptions ordered by primary care doctors frequently.

Employer Health Plan Premiums, Deductibles Keep RisingOctober 25, 2011

As they shoulder more health care expenses, worker in some plans can reduce their costs by participating in company wellness programs.

Helping Patients Know Their ‘Medical Mind’ Can Ease Uncertainty October 18, 2011

In a new book, oncologist and New Yorker writer Jerome Groopman and his wife, endocrinologist Pamela Hartzband, encourage consumers to chart their own path when looking at treatment decisions.

When Fighting Cancer, Patients Often Face Hefty BillsOctober 11,2011

Advances in treatment, including new drugs and high-tech procedures, can be costly, even for those with insurance.

Memphis Hospital Teams Up With Churches To Deliver CareOctober 4, 2011

The Methodist Le Bonheur system and about 400 churches work together to make sure church members have social support when they go into the hospital and when they come out.

Some Doctors Refuse To Treat Kids Who Have Not Been ImmunizedSeptember 27, 2011

These pediatricians say they are worried about other patients in the waiting room, some of them too young to be immunized or with health problems that compromise their immune systems.

Employers Increasingly Trimming Or Cutting BenefitsSeptember 20, 2011

The same pattern that has emerged in health insurance — employers’ shifting more costs onto workers’ shoulders — is occurring in disability coverage.

Readers Face Multiple Dilemmas About Insurance Coverage, CostsAugust 23, 2011

“Insuring Your Health” columnist Michelle Andrews answers questions from readers, including someone wondering about coverage if you’ve been drinking, talking with your insurer about a family member’s bill and preventive colonscopies.




Columnist Finds Herself In A Hospital Gurney – And A Different Style of MedicineAugust 2, 2011

A bike accident on vacation leads to a lesson on interesting variations on U.S. treatment. 



New Emergency Care Programs Focus On Quality-Of-Life IssuesJuly 25, 2011

With training, hospital emergency department staff members can enhance their skills in pain and symptom management and improve their communication skills.

Health Law Bolsters Funding For In-School ClinicsJuly 19, 2011

At about 1,900 schools around the country, children can get checkups, vaccinations and help with medication.

Insurance Usually Covers Diagnosis, Treatment Of Most Sleep ProblemsJuly 12, 2011

As awareness of the issue has increased, so has expensive testing.    

If You Drop Prices, Will They Come?July 5, 2011

Once considered a keystone of the health overhaul, the new plans for people with medical conditions have failed, so far, to generate large enrollments.

Mistakes In Outpatient Care Raising ConcernsJune 28, 2011

Although safety measures are often directed at hospitals, experts say physicians’ offices and urgent care centers should get more attention since the bulk of medical care is delivered there.

Many Consumers Get Relief By Challenging Plan’s DecisionJune 21, 2011

GAO finds most claims problems come from billing and eligibility issues, and beneficiaries often win when they appeal.

Out-Of-Network Rides Can Bring Out-Of-Pocket ExpensesJune 14, 2011

Consumers, who often don’t have a choice of ambulance services, can be left holding the bill when insurers refuse to pay the entire cost.

Conn. Insurer Cuts Premiums As Industry Prepares For New RulesJune 6, 2011

The decrease, which affects 15,000 consumers will save those policyholders $259 annually, on average.

Freestanding Emergency Department Use GrowingMay 31, 2011

Originally conceived as a way to provide care in rural areas without hospitals, these freestanding ERs are cropping up in more developed areas. 

Many On-The-Jobs Clinics Offer Primary Care May 24, 2011



These workplace centers are increasingly expanding beyond job injuries to offer on-site preventive tests and screenings and health coaching.

Decline In Autopsies May Obscure Understanding Of DiseaseMay 17, 2011 

Hospitals perform the postmortem exams in only about 5 percent of patients who die. Experts fear that for others, key details about diagnosis and the effect of treatments are lost.

The Old Practice Of House Calls Is Returning To Some AreasMay 10, 2011

Businesses and individuals looking for convenience are contracting with services that will provide same-day medical appointments at home or office.

For Young Adults, Best Option Is Likely Their Parents’ PlansMay 3, 2011

The health law guarantees that until the age of 26, children can stay on a family plan. There are exceptions, however, including when the young adult is offered insurance at work.

Some Church Groups Form Cooperatives To Cover Medical CostsApril 26, 2011

The programs are financed through monthly fees, and those revenues are divvied up and sent to members when they have have health care expenses.

Some Insurers Refuse Live Organ Donors Health Coverage April 19, 2011

Live organ donors – who offer kidneys or part of their liver, lung or pancreas – are often denied coverage or charged very high premiums because insurers consider them to have a pre-existing medical.

Health Overhaul Could Double Community Health Centers’ CaseloadsApril 12, 2011

The centers, designed to help low-income and uninsured people, offer an affordable option for care, but it can also be tough to get an appointment.

Some Doctors Prescribe Painkillers Only After Patients Sign ContractsApril 5, 2011

Critics say the agreements, designed to help educate consumers about the dangers of opioids, invade patient privacy and damage trust.

Programs Work To Improve Quality Of Life For Patients With Serious Medical ProblemsMarch 29, 2011

Very ill patients, even when not facing death, can benefit from better pain and symptom management, care coordination and help setting goals from specially trained teams, which typically include a doctor, a nurse, a social worker and a spiritual counselor.

Psychologists Seek to Expand Role By Prescribing DrugsMarch 22, 2011

Waits for appointments with an expert can be long and psychiatrists especially are in short supply.

Pharmacists Expand Role To Help Educate and Coach PatientsMarch 15, 2011

Consumers often find it easier to get time with a pharmacist than a doctor, so drug stores are offering more outreach programs about chronic health problems.

Some Medical Practices Move To Monthly Membership Fees For PatientsMarch 8, 2011

These new plans cut out insurance policies and offer unlimited access to doctors and nurse practitioners for a modest, set fee.

Some Plans Cut Premiums By Eliminating Expensive Doctors, HospitalsMarch 1, 2011

Insurers are either offering consumers a hefty break if they pay more out-of-pocket when they use certain high-cost providers in their network or are cutting the providers from the coverage entirely.

Health Law Forces Changes To Reduce Quick ReadmissionsFebruary 22, 2011

20 percent of Medicare patients are back in the hospital within 30 days, a trend that endangers patients and raises health costs.

Experts Seek To Simplify Medication Labels That Often Confuse PatientsFebruary 15, 2011

Many patients do not take drugs as directed—skipping doses, taking the wrong number of pills or taking them at the wrong time of day. Poor adherence results in millions of dollars of medical expenses each year.

Some Doctors Dispute The Claims Of Preventive BenefitsFebruary 8, 2011

Dartmouth researchers maintain that ordering screenings for people with no symptoms too often leads to costly treatment for people who would likely never have gotten sick.

Mediation Offers An Alternative to Lawsuits  February 1, 2011

Patients seeking redress may find this option provides the same benefits as a court battle but quicker and with less emotional toll.

Should Infertility Treatments Be Considered Essential? January 24, 2011

Currently, policies provide only skimpy coverage for these services, which are often expensive. But this is an issue that regulators are wrestling with as they determine what conditions should be included in plans under the health law.

Making End-Of-Life Decisions Is Hard On Family Members  January 18, 2011

Few people have advance directives and even when they do, the documents often don’t cover the exact situation, leaving loved ones to make critical decisions in a void.

Some States Have Options To Help Consumers Find Individual Health Coverage January 11, 2011

For people who can’t get insurance through work, finding a plan is often difficult. In addition to the high-risk pools that have recently generated a lot of attention, other options may be available, depending on which state a consumer lives in.

Insurers Sometimes Reject Neonatal Intensive Care Costs January 4, 2011

In these specialized units for premature infants or babies with special needs, the doctors and other personnel may not be under contract with an insurer’s network even though the hospital is covered.

Read 2010’s Insuring Your Health stories.