Friday, June 20, 2014

An AARP Report On Nursing Homes Gave Texas Poor Marks

By Coleen Elkins

A 2010 AARP report on quality of nursing homes left Texas in nearly last place. Texas rates 49th of the 51 the District of Columbia was included in the nursing home quality of care report.

Twenty seven percent of the long-stay patients in Texas received anti-physchotic medications compared to the national average of 20.2 percent this is quite high. The number of nursing home workers that left their jobs in 2010 was 72 percent. That is nearly twice the national average of 38 percent.

Families that make the decision to place a loved one in a nursing expect a high level of care for their family member. It is very disheartening to learn that may not be the case. This report came to light just days before DADS (Department of Aging and Disability Services) is scheduled to appear before the state Sunset Advisory Committee.

Read more here

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Is Medicare In Need Of An Overhaul?

By Coleen Elkins

As we look at all the changes to health care in the United States over the last few years could Medicare be next?

A Medicare overhaul has been kicked around Washington for a very long time. There have been proposals that would reportedly reduce the deficit. One suggests unifying Medicare benefits under a single deductible with a cap on senior's out of pocket expenses. The fear is that could increase costs for seniors not utilizing hospital benefits.

Read more here

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Government Paying 76 Percent Of Premium Under Healthcare Law

By Coleen Elkins

If you look at the photo it represents 75 percent of a pie.

Seventy six percent of people that applied for health insurance received assistance paying for their benefits. The assistance is provided by the Federal Government.

The Federal exchange is responsible for 36 of the 50 states as only 14 states have their own exchange. Only 24 percent of those enrolling did not receive a subsidy. The average premium is $346.00 what that means is typically an enrollee pays just $82.00 per month for their health insurance. In Mississippi the average premium paid by the enrollee is $23.00. It is unclear if the data on the 14 states running their own exchanges will impact these numbers in any way.

Read more here

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Study Finds The United States Ranking Last In Health Care

By Coleen Elkins

A study finds the United States healthcare system spends the most money with the poorest results. The study was concluded prior to full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and goes on to say the law should improve the U.S. standings.

Some of the measures were health outcomes, quality and efficiency. It seems we lack coordination of care, and dealing with administrative issues. Interestingly Canada is right behind the U.S. at number 10 with a Nationalized health plan.

Read more here 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Medicare Wades Through 357,000 Disputed Claims

By Coleen Elkins

Medicare has fixed dollar amount limits they will allow for certain services. One of those services is physical therapy. If a Medicare patient has a stroke there are many physical therapy components that are usually needed by the patient. They need to work on mobility and speech and improving their daily living. If a small provider has been paid by Medicare for services rendered it can really impact their bottom-line when they are asked to pay it back because the amount exceeded the Medicare limit.

A provider can wait up to 2 years for a case to be heard because of the back-log. Medicare has suspended hearings for the year as the renew contracts with third party vendors.

Read more about Medicare's back-log here

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Is Your Smart Phone Or Tablet Making You Healthier?

 By Coleen Elkins

Mobile Medical apps can have many functions and serve many purposes. They can help us become healthier and stay healthy. They can provide information on certain medical conditions, monitor caloric intake. They can help nursing mom's know the effects of certain medications while nursing their babies. They can help doctors have research at their finger tips. Some apps can diagnose Cancer or Irregular heart rhythm.

Companies such as Weightwatchers offers an app to help you track your daily food intake and exercise. Apple is introducing more health programs to their operating system this fall.

The FDA has a website dedicated to medical apps here

Monday, June 9, 2014

Who Makes Your Healthcare Decisions?

By Coleen Elkins

Should you be proactive in your healthcare decisions? Growing up we learned to be respectful of those who are of "authority". With sixteen years of training and years of experience a doctor certainly does hold a position of "authority".  Of course you want to give your doctor the respect they deserve. Do you want to give them the ultimate decision making power over your healthcare?

A study finds that in some instances such as a medical condition that is a threat to public health the doctor should have ultimate authority. Another example is should a patient decide on a treatment that may be harmful to them?

Should you have a chance to weigh in as well under "normal" circumstances?

Conversations with your doctor will educate you on your medical condition and could improve your health. It may be good to show up at your doctor's appointment with a note pad and be prepared to take notes. Those notes may generate more questions for a later visit. Your questions may lead you to treatment options.

Read more here

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Healthcare Law's Application Inconsistencies Affect 2.1 Million

By Coleen Elkins

Many weeks have passed since the open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act has ended. We are now learning that many people have been left in limbo.

A government document provided to the Associated Press on May 8th indicates that at least 2 million people that enrolled in tax-payer subsidized plans have some sort of "data discrepancies" in their applications.

Consumers being notified about problems with their accounts need to respond immediately. If they do not respond and the issue remains unresolved it could leave them in a bad situations.

Some of things that could go wrong for the applicants are higher premiums, lapse in coverage, or even their legal right to benefits. Health and Human Services state that the vast majority of the discrepancies are been resolved in favor of the applicant.

If you have received a notice it is very important to respond.  If you used the services of a licensed insurance agent call on your agent to assist you immediately.

Read more here

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Health and Human Services Awarding $300 To Community Health Centers

By Coleen Elkins
"HHS" The Department of Health and Human Services is offering $300M to assist community health centers. The money will help the centers treat newly insured patients. Those that enrolled as a result of the Affordable Care Act will see expanded service hours and less waiting time because of more health care providers being hired. Those needing oral health and behavioral health will also be able to be treated at the community health centers.

The community centers were instrumental in helping 4.7 million people enroll in Obamacare. HHS reports there are nearly 1300 health centers that run more than 9,000 facilities and care for over 21 million patients through out the U.S.

To read more click here

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Will We See Double Digit Rate Increase On Exchange Plans For 2015?

By Coleen Elkins

As our summer tempertures increase will health insurance rates increase as well? Insurers will begin to report their projected premiums for 2015 during the summer. We are already seeing a preview and it is indicating double digit increases.

Both Arizona and Connecticut carriers are shedding some light on what to expect with recent filing of projections. The question is will carriers increase rates or discontinue plans as season two of the Affordable Care Act gets underway? New filing in in Arizona with the department of insurance by two carriers indicate more than a 10 percent hike. Cigna is asking for a 14.4 percent increase and Humana 25.5.

You can read more here

Monday, June 2, 2014

Jindal's Healthcare Plan Passes Lousiana Legislature

By Coleen Elkins

Last April Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal shared his alternative to the Affordable Care Act. Governor Jindal has an employment history in the healthcare and insurance industry. His plan is concise and easy to follow and comprehend.

Louisiana is a state that did not expand their Medicaid. The LA Legislature voted on Jindal's health plan and it passed on The House Floor 96-3 and the State Senate 94-2 after a brief debate although some missed the vote.

Governor's concept is to have the federal government providing block grants to states that would be free to develop their own health programs. The state plans could then create their own health care access initiatives such as greater incentives for wellness, guaranteeing access for those with pre-existing conditions, and purchasing insurance across state lines.

Read more here