Health Care Costs

‘An Arm and a Leg’: How to Avoid the Worst Health Insurance

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Click here for a transcript of the episode. This episode kicks off with a wild ride: How one journalist nearly got roped into a scam. While hunting for a new health insurance plan, award-winning journalist Mitra Kaboli got an offer that seemed too good to be true — and …

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Becerra Says Surprise Billing Rules Force Doctors Who Overcharge to Accept Fair Prices

Overpriced doctors and other medical providers who can’t charge a reasonable rate for their services could be put out of business when new rules against surprise medical bills take effect in January, and that’s a good thing, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told KHN, in defending the regulations. The proposed rules represent the …

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‘An Arm and a Leg’: The Insurance Warrior’s Battle Plan

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Click here for a transcript of the episode. Matthew Lientz was an engineer for Boeing for over 30 years. When he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, he needed surgery from an expert doctor in another state. Although the surgery was his only option, his …

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Why You Can’t Find Cheap At-Home Covid Tests

While developing a rapid test that detects the coronavirus in someone’s saliva, Blink Science, a Florida-based startup, heard something startling: The Food and Drug Administration had more than 3,000 emergency use authorization applications and didn’t have the resources to get through them. “We want to try to avoid the EUA quagmire,” said Peb Hendrix, the …

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Vaccine-or-Test Requirements Increase Work and Costs for Governments

Amanda Kostroski, a 911 dispatcher in Madison, Wisconsin, leaves her busy job once a week to go to a county health clinic to be tested for covid-19. She’s been making the 15-minute drive from work since late September, when Dane County mandated all employees get vaccinated or tested weekly. The testing is free, and she …

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The ER Charged Him $6,500 for Six Stitches. No Wonder His Critically Ill Wife Avoided the ER.

Jason and DeeAnn Dean recently relocated to her hometown of Dellrose, Tennessee, where she grew up on a farm. Both in their late 40s, they’re trying to start a green dream business that combines organic farming with a health and wellness consulting company. They want to inspire people to grow their own food in this …

The ER Charged Him $6,500 for Six Stitches. No Wonder His Critically Ill Wife Avoided the ER. Read More »

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Boosting Confusion

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on Acast. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts. With covid caseloads rising across much of the country, several governors and mayors are unilaterally expanding access to booster shots, getting out ahead of federal health officials. …

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Stranded by the Pandemic, He Had Only Travel Insurance. It Left Him With a $38,000 Bill.

Duy Hoa Tran, a retired Vietnamese schoolteacher, arrived in Los Angeles in February 2020 to visit his daughter and 2-month-old grandson. Two weeks later, the door closed behind him. To prevent the spread of covid-19, Vietnam shut its borders. No commercial flights would be allowed into the country for the next 18 months. Tran’s daughter, …

Stranded by the Pandemic, He Had Only Travel Insurance. It Left Him With a $38,000 Bill. Read More »

Public Opinion Is Unified on Lowering Prescription Drug Prices. Why Are Leaders Settling for Less?

Democrats and Republicans are crystal clear in polls that they want government to be allowed to negotiate down high drug prices. Americans pay nearly three times as much for drugs as patients in dozens of other countries. In the past two years, numerous Democratic candidates — including President Joe Biden — have campaigned on enacting …

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Congressional Doctors Lead Bipartisan Revolt Over Policy on Surprise Medical Bills

The detente that allowed Congress to pass a law curbing surprise medical bills has disintegrated, with a bipartisan group of 152 lawmakers assailing the administration’s plan to regulate the law and medical providers warning of grim consequences for underserved patients. For years, people have faced these massive, unexpected bills when they get treatment from hospitals …

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Patients Get Stranded Out of Network as Insurer-Hospital Contract Talks Fall Apart

In September, when Shelly Azzopardi went to Wellstar Kennestone Hospital with abdominal pain, she didn’t worry about her insurance. Doctors said she had a case of appendicitis. But she also tested positive at the hospital in Marietta, Georgia, for covid-19. Physicians decided not to do surgery and treated her with antibiotics and painkillers. Azzopardi, 47, …

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As Big Pharma and Hospitals Battle Over Drug Discounts, Patients Miss Out on Millions in Benefits

In early July, as the covid-19 pandemic slammed rural America, the president of a small Kansas hospital sat down on a Friday afternoon and wrote the president of the United States to plead for help. “I do not intend to add to your burden,” said Brian Williams, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and Desert Storm …

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Your Out-of-Pocket Health Care Costs Need Not Be a Mystery

If you’ve ever had a serious illness or cared for someone who has, you know how quickly the medical bills can pile up: from labs, radiology clinics, pharmacies, doctors, different departments within the same hospital — some of them in your insurance network, others not. It can be extremely confusing, no matter how clever you …

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How Rural Communities Are Losing Their Pharmacies

Batson’s Drug Store seems like a throwback to a simpler time. The independently owned pharmacy in Howard, Kansas, still runs an old-fashioned soda counter and hand-dips ice cream. But the drugstore, the only one in the entire county, teeters on the edge between nostalgia and extinction. Julie Perkins, pharmacist and owner of Batson’s, graduated from …

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Readers and Tweeters Find Disadvantages in Medicare Advantage

Letters to the Editor is a periodic feature. We welcome all comments and will publish a selection. We edit for length and clarity and require full names. I’m a clinicianI have a PhD in policyNavigating this crazy maze for my mom annually leaves me feeling helpless/useless…Seems impossible for the average beneficiaryhttps://t.co/GJyvd1BmLo via @khnews — Atul Grover (@AtulGroverMD) October …

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How Low Can They Go? Rural Hospitals Weigh Keeping Obstetric Units When Births Decline

As rural hospitals struggle to stay financially stable, their leaders watch other small facilities close obstetrics units to cut costs. They face a no-win dilemma: Can we continue operating delivery units safely if there are few births? But if we close, do we risk the health and lives of babies and mothers? The other question …

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La inscripción de Medicare es temporada abierta para estafadores

Encontrar el mejor plan médico privado, o de medicamentos, de Medicare entre docenas de opciones es lo suficientemente difícil sin incluir estrategias de venta engañosas. Sin embargo, funcionarios federales dicen que están aumentando las quejas de personas mayores engañadas para que compren pólizas sin su consentimiento, o atraídas por información cuestionable, que pueden no cubrir …

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KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Why Health Care Is So Expensive, Chapter $22K

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on Acast. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Congress appears to be making progress on its huge social spending bill, but even if it passes the House as planned the week of Nov. 15, it’s …

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Medicare’s Open Enrollment Is Open Season for Scammers

Finding the best private Medicare drug or medical insurance plan among dozens of choices is tough enough without throwing misleading sales tactics into the mix. Yet federal officials say complaints are rising from seniors tricked into buying policies — without their consent or lured by questionable information — that may not cover their drugs or …

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As Workers Struggle With Pandemic’s Impact, Employers Expand Mental Health Benefits

As the covid-19 pandemic burns through its second year, the path forward for American workers remains unsettled, with many continuing to work from home while policies for maintaining a safe workplace evolve. In its 2021 Employer Health Benefits Survey, released Wednesday, KFF found that many employers have ramped up mental health and other benefits to …

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Medicare Enrollment Blitz Doesn’t Include Options to Move Into Medigap

Medicare’s annual open-enrollment season is here and millions of beneficiaries — prompted by a massive advertising campaign and aided by a detailed federal website — will choose a private Medicare Advantage plan. But those who have instead opted for traditional Medicare face a critical decision about private insurance. Too often the import of that choice …

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Democrats Plan to Expand Medicare Hearing Benefits. What Can Consumers Expect?

President Joe Biden’s mammoth domestic spending bill would add hearing benefits to the traditional Medicare program — one of three major new benefits Democrats had sought. The Biden administration appears to have fallen short of its ambition to expand dental and vision along with hearing benefits. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other progressives have long …

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KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Compromise Is Coming — Maybe

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on Acast. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Democrats on Capitol Hill hope they are nearing the finish line in their months-long quest to enact President Joe Biden’s social spending agenda. After briefly dropping from …

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Uninsured in South Would Win Big in Democrats’ Plan, but Hospitals Fear Funding Loss

At least 2.2 million low-income adults — nearly all in Texas and the Southeast — would be eligible for government-funded health insurance under the Democrats’ $1.75 trillion social spending and climate change plan. That’s the number of people who are eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act but have been left uninsured because they …

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New Health Plans Offer Twists on Existing Options, With a Dose of ‘Buyer Beware’

Trendy-looking websites promise convenience and freedom from networks, at far less than the cost of traditional health insurance. “Welcome to insurance that’s finally fair,” says one, in bold lettering. “Take care of your health with one easy app,” says another. It’s all part of shopping for health coverage in 2021. While they’re still niche products, …

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‘An Arm and a Leg’: Need Surgery to Save Your Life? Tips for Getting Insurance to Pay

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Laurie Todd calls herself the “Insurance Warrior.” She helps people get their health insurance companies to pay for treatment and has written books sharing her knowledge. Hers is a wealth of knowledge that was hard-won. In 2005, Todd was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Although …

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What’s Scarier Than Covid? Halloween Health Haikus

Boo that we couldn’t treat all the readers participating in our third annual KHN Halloween Haiku Contest to their moment of gory glory. Your entries — like our health care system — ranged from frighteningly complex to haunting. And, based on a review by our panel of never-say-die judges, here’s the winner and a sampling …

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KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Biden Social-Spending ‘Framework’ Pulls Back on Key Health Pledges

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on Acast. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts. President Joe Biden unveiled a purported compromise on his social-spending plan shortly before taking off for a series of meetings in Europe. But it remains unclear whether …

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Pharma Campaign Cash Delivered to Key Lawmakers With Surgical Precision

The Biden administration and Congress are embroiled in high-stakes haggling over what urgent priorities will make it into the ever-shrinking social spending bill. But for the pharmaceutical industry there is one agenda: Heading off Medicare drug price negotiation, which it considers an existential threat to its business model. The siren call to contain rising drug …

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How Billing Turns a Routine Birth Into a High-Cost Emergency

Caitlin Wells Salerno knew that some mammals — like the golden-mantled ground squirrels she studies in the Rocky Mountains — invest an insane amount of resources in their young. That didn’t prepare her for the resources the conservation biologist would owe after the birth of her second son. Wells Salerno went into labor on the …

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Pharma Cash to Congress

Every year, pharmaceutical companies contribute millions of dollars to U.S. senators and representatives as part of a multipronged effort to influence health care lawmaking and spending priorities. Use this tool to explore the sizable role drugmakers play in the campaign finance system, where many industries seek to influence Congress. Discover which lawmakers rake in the …

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Direct Primary Care, With a Touch of Robin Hood

MODESTO, Calif. — Britta Foster and Minerva Tiznado are in different leagues as far as health care is concerned. Foster, who married into the family that owns the $2.5 billion Foster Farms chicken company, has Blue Shield coverage as well as a high-octane primary care plan that gives her 24/7 digital access to her doctor …

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Analysis: A Procedure That Cost $1,775 in New York Was $350 in Maryland. Here’s Why.

For the past 18 months, while I was undergoing intensive physical therapy and many neurological tests after a complicated head injury, my friends would point to a silver lining: “Now you’ll be able to write about your own bills.” After all, I’d spent the past decade as a journalist covering the often-bankrupting cost of U.S. …

Analysis: A Procedure That Cost $1,775 in New York Was $350 in Maryland. Here’s Why. Read More »

3 States Limit Nursing Home Profits in Bid to Improve Care

Nursing homes receive billions of taxpayers’ dollars every year to care for chronically ill frail elders, but until now, there was no guarantee that’s how the money would be spent. Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York are taking unprecedented steps to ensure they get what they pay for, after the devastating impact of covid-19 exposed …

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La pandemia obligó a mi esposa transgénero a pelear con nuestra aseguradora por las hormonas

GUNNISON, Colorado – Durante los últimos ocho años, mi esposa, Ky Hamilton, se ha sometido a una terapia hormonal que reafirma el género. Como mujer transgénero, se inyecta estrógeno líquido Depo-Estradiol en el muslo una vez a la semana. Este medicamento le ha permitido hacer una transición física a ser mujer, y cada vial, que …

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‘An Arm and a Leg’: Hello? We Spend 12 Million Hours a Week on the Phone With Insurers

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. After Stanford professor Jeffrey Pfeffer got back surgery years ago, he kept a file folder labeled “Blue Shield Troubles.” When Pfeffer got an offer to collaborate with the polling company Gallup, he suggested a study on how much time Americans spend on the phone with their health …

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Cómo hacer desaparecer una deuda médica: 5 consejos para usar la asistencia caritativa del hospital

¿Qué pasa si se aprueba una ley pero nadie la hace cumplir? Eso es básicamente lo que ha ocurrido con una pequeña pero útil normativa sobre los hospitales y la asistencia financiera para cubrir facturas médicas. La Ley de Cuidado de Salud a Bajo Precio (ACA), también conocida como Obamacare, requiere que los hospitales sin …

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How to Crush Medical Debt: 5 Tips for Using Hospital Charity Care

What if a law passed but no one enforced it? That’s essentially what has happened with one small but helpful rule about hospitals and financial assistance for medical bills. The Affordable Care Act, the health law also known as Obamacare, requires nonprofit hospitals to make financial assistance available to low-income patients and post those policies …

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KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Politics of Vaccine Mandates

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on Acast. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Should covid vaccines be mandated? The answer to that question has become predictably partisan, as with almost everything else associated with the pandemic. Even as the federal …

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Surprise-Billing Rule ‘Puts a Thumb on the Scale’ to Keep Arbitrated Costs in Check

Patients are months away from not having to worry about most surprise medical bills — those extra costs that can amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars when people are unknowingly treated by an out-of-network doctor or hospital. What’s not clear is whether the changes in law made by the No Surprises Act — which …

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Health Industry Wields Power in California’s High-Stakes Battle to Lower Health Care Costs

SACRAMENTO — Gavin Newsom put California’s health care industry on notice when he was a candidate for governor, vowing in 2018 to go after the insurance companies, doctors and hospitals that leave many Californians struggling with enormous medical bills and rising insurance premiums. He pledged to lead California’s single-payer movement, a high-stakes liberal dream that …

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The Public Backs Medicare Rx Price Negotiation Even After Hearing Both Sides’ Views

As Congress debates cutting prescription drug costs, a poll released Tuesday found the vast majority of adults — regardless of their political party or age — support letting the federal government negotiate drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries and those in private health insurance plans. The argument that pharmaceutical companies need to charge high prices to …

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‘An Arm and a Leg’: How One State Protects Patients From Hospital Lawsuits

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. In Maryland, hospitals had been suing people — taking them to court and garnishing wages — even though these patients legally qualified for financial assistance, also known as charity care. Those lawsuits are now illegal, because of the state’s new Medical Debt Protection Act. But in many other …

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Major Insurers Running Billions of Dollars Behind on Payments to Hospitals and Doctors

Anthem Blue Cross, the country’s second-biggest health insurance company, is behind on billions of dollars in payments owed to hospitals and doctors because of onerous new reimbursement rules, computer problems and mishandled claims, say hospital officials in multiple states. Anthem, like other big insurers, is using the covid-19 crisis as cover to institute “egregious” policies …

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The Pandemic Forced My Transgender Wife to Fight Our Insurer Over Hormones

GUNNISON, Colo. — For the past eight years, my wife, Ky Hamilton, has undergone gender-affirming hormone therapy. As a transgender woman, she injects Depo-Estradiol liquid estrogen into her thigh once a week. This drug has allowed her to physically transition as a woman, and each vial, which lasts around five weeks, was completely covered by …

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Youthful Advisers Help Shape a Mental Health Program for Their Peers

Phebe Cox grew up in what might seem an unlikely mental health danger zone for a kid: tony Palo Alto, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley. But behind its façade of family success and wealth, she said, is an environment of crushing pressure on students to perform. By 2016, when Cox was in middle …

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What the Stalemate on Capitol Hill Means for Your Drug Prices

As President Joe Biden’s government overhaul stalls in Congress, tensions are mounting over what changes ― if any ― could come for Americans at the pharmacy counter. The proposals in flux range from tinkering with tax credits to far-reaching changes in federal payments systems. Pressure is building to contain costs that have skyrocketed over the …

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Readers and Tweeters Feel Americans’ Pain

Letters to the Editor is a periodic feature. We welcome all comments and will publish a selection. We edit for length and clarity and require full names. This made me cry. I don’t think we understand yet the devastating impact this is having on our nurses, doctors, and other members of the healthcare workforce. At an Overrun ICU, …

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¿Un test de covid más caro que un Tesla? En Texas es posible

Cuando covid-19 golpeó el año pasado, la compañía de Travis Warner se puso más ocupada que nunca. Instala sistemas de video e Internet, y con la gente repentinamente trabajando desde casa, las llamadas solicitando servicios aumentaron. Warner y sus empleados tomaron precauciones como usar máscaras y distanciarse físicamente, pero ir a las casas de los …

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A Covid Test Costing More Than a Tesla? It Happened in Texas.

When covid-19 struck last year, Travis Warner’s company became busier than ever. He installs internet and video systems, and with people suddenly working from home, service calls surged. He and his employees took precautions like wearing masks and physically distancing, but visiting clients’ homes daily meant a high risk of covid exposure. “It was just …

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Death in Dallas: One Family’s Experience in the Medicaid Gap

For years, Millicent McKinnon of Dallas went without health insurance. She was one of roughly 1 million Texans who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid in the state but too little to buy their own insurance. That is, until she died in 2019. She was 64 and had been unable to find consistent care …

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La parte del drama de Britney Spears que miles de personas están sufriendo

La última vez que Britney Spears compareció ante un juez, en junio, se enfureció cuando contó como la obligaron a recibir atención psiquiátrica que le costaba $60,000 al mes. Aunque las circunstancias de la estrella pop y su tutela financiera son inusuales, cada año cientos de miles de otros pacientes psiquiátricos también reciben atención contra …

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The Part of the ‘Free Britney’ Saga That Could Happen to Anyone

When Britney Spears last went before a judge, in June, she bristled as she told of being forced into psychiatric care that cost her $60,000 a month. Though the pop star’s circumstances in a financial conservatorship are unusual, every year hundreds of thousands of other psychiatric patients also receive involuntary care, and many are stuck …

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Alzheimer’s Drug Targets People With Mild Cognitive Impairment. What Does That Mean?

The approval of a controversial new drug for Alzheimer’s disease, Aduhelm, is shining a spotlight on mild cognitive impairment — problems with memory, attention, language or other cognitive tasks that exceed changes expected with normal aging. After initially indicating that Aduhelm could be prescribed to anyone with dementia, the Food and Drug Administration now specifies …

Alzheimer’s Drug Targets People With Mild Cognitive Impairment. What Does That Mean? Read More »

An Ad’s Charge That Price Haggling Would ‘Swipe $500 Billion From Medicare’ Is Incorrect

“These guys [insurance companies and Washington bureaucrats] are working together to swipe $500 billion from Medicare to pay for Pelosi and Schumer’s out-of-control spending spree.” Video advertisement from the 60 Plus American Association of Senior Citizens The advertisement opens with a doctor sitting across from his patient and holding a prescription drug pill bottle. “You …

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KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Autumn of Democrats’ Discontent

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Democrats in Congress and the White House are feverishly negotiating to pass as much of President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda as they can agree on, even as …

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‘An Arm and a Leg’: They Turned Grief Into Action

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. In 2004, 24-year-old Manny Lanza urgently needed surgery for a life-threatening brain condition. But he didn’t have insurance, so his hospital refused to schedule the treatment — until it was too late. Manny died waiting.  In the months that followed, Manny’s parents, Reynaldo Prieto and Levia Lanza, …

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Congress Cites KHN Investigation in Probe of National Academies

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform is requesting a ream of documents from the prestigious National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, spurred by a recent KHN investigation that revealed deep ties between pharmaceutical companies and two members of a committee that took a pharma-friendly stance in a recent report on drug waste. The …

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The Solution to Au Pairs’ Health Coverage Gaps May Be Simple: ACA Plans

In 2016, Isis Mabel, of Mexico, wanted to improve her English. On advice from an aunt, she enrolled with an au pair agency to come to the United States to live with a family and care for the children. The job typically pays about $200 a week on top of lodging and meals. She said …

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Dentistas eliminan los problemas de las personas sin seguro ofreciéndoles ellos mismos planes

David White, dentista de Nevada, ha visto dientes enfermos y podridos en la boca de pacientes que habitualmente posponen sus chequeos y evitan procedimientos menores como empastes. Si bien la fobia dental es un factor, White dijo que la razón principal por la que las personas no se tratan es el costo. Para ayudar a …

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Dentists Chip Away at Uninsured Problem by Offering Patients Membership Plans

Nevada dentist David White has seen diseased and rotted teeth in the mouths of patients who routinely put off checkups and avoided minor procedures such as fillings. While dental phobia is a factor, White said, the overriding reason people avoid treatment is cost. To help patients lacking dental insurance, White in 2019 started offering a …

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KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Much Ado About Drug Prices

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Congressional Democrats are finding it harder to actually write legislation to lower drug prices than it is to make promises about it. But the drug price provisions of the $3.5 trillion social-spending bill …

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‘An Arm and a Leg’: How Charity Care Made It Into the ACA

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Charity care is one tiny provision in the giant Affordable Care Act, and it can make a big difference for patients who face huge bills. How did it get into the law? One Republican senator made sure the ACA required nonprofit hospitals to act more like charities …

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Jaw Surgery Takes a $27,119 Bite out of One Man’s Budget

For years, Ely Bair dealt with migraine headaches, jaw pain and high blood pressure, until a dentist recommended surgery to realign his jaw to get to the root of his health problems. The fix would involve two surgeries over a couple of years and wearing braces on his teeth before and in between the procedures. …

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KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Vaccine Approval Moves the Needle on Covid

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts. The Food and Drug Administration gave full approval this week to the covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, which will henceforth be known as “Comirnaty.” It is …

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Apple, Bose and Others Pump Up the Volume on Hearing Aid Options, Filling Void Left by FDA

Spurred by decades of complaints about the high cost of hearing aids, Congress passed a law in 2017 to allow over-the-counter sales, with hopes it would boost competition and lower prices. Four years later, federal regulators have yet to issue rules to implement the law. But changes in the industry are offering consumers relief. In …

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‘An Arm and a Leg’: Meet the Mississippi Lawyer Who Helped Start the Fight for Charity Care

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, famous for taking on Big Tobacco in the ’90s and winning, worked on a series of ill-fated national lawsuits against nonprofit hospitals. The goal? Get nonprofit — or “charity” — hospitals to actually provide charity care instead of price-gouging and dunning low-income patients.  Scruggs …

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Meet the Mississippi Lawyer Who Helped Start the Fight for Charity Care Read More »

Readers and Tweeters Ponder Vaccines and Points of Fairness

Letters to the Editor is a periodic feature. We welcome all comments and will publish a selection. We edit for length and clarity and require full names. Higher Insurance Rates for the Unvaccinated? Snuff Out That Idea This is about Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal’s comments on “All In With Chris Hayes” (“Analysis: Don’t Want a Vaccine? Be Prepared to …

Readers and Tweeters Ponder Vaccines and Points of Fairness Read More »

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Booster Time

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts. As covid-19 cases in the U.S. continue to rise, the Biden administration is countering with new strategies. The latest efforts include preparing for vaccine boosters starting this …

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Booster Time Read More »

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Senate Acts

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts. The Senate has set the stage for a busy fall that will include debate on a broad array of health issues, such as prescription drug prices, Medicare …

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Senate Acts Read More »

Surgeons Cash In on Stakes in Private Medical Device Companies

Several orthopedic surgeons who invested in Renovis Surgical Technologies made big money when a Japanese technology giant snatched up the small California medical device company. Kyocera Corp., which was eager to expand its U.S. spine and joint implant sales, bought Renovis’ assets in 2019. While the parties kept the sale price under wraps, Renovis’ physician …

Surgeons Cash In on Stakes in Private Medical Device Companies Read More »

Pharmacies Face Extra Audit Burdens That Threaten Their Existence

The clock was about to strike midnight, and Scott Newman was desperately feeding pages into a scanner, trying to prevent thousands of dollars in prescription payments from turning into a pumpkin. As the owner of Newman Family Pharmacy, an independent drugstore in Chesapeake, Virginia, he was responding to an audit ordered by a pharmacy benefit …

Pharmacies Face Extra Audit Burdens That Threaten Their Existence Read More »

Análisis: ¿No quieres una vacuna? Prepárate para pagar más por tu seguro de salud

La tasa de vacunación contra covid-19 en Estados Unidos es de alrededor del 60% desde los 12 años en adelante. Esto no es suficiente para alcanzar la llamada inmunidad colectiva, y en estados como Missouri, donde varios condados tienen tasas de vacunación inferiores al 25%, los hospitales están abrumados por brotes graves de la variante …

Análisis: ¿No quieres una vacuna? Prepárate para pagar más por tu seguro de salud Read More »

Analysis: Don’t Want a Vaccine? Be Prepared to Pay More for Insurance.

America’s covid-19 vaccination rate is around 60% for ages 12 and up. That’s not enough to reach so-called herd immunity, and in states like Missouri — where a number of counties have vaccination rates under 25% — hospitals are overwhelmed by serious outbreaks of the more contagious delta variant. The vaccine resisters offer all kinds of reasons for refusing the free …

Analysis: Don’t Want a Vaccine? Be Prepared to Pay More for Insurance. Read More »

At Urgent Care, He Got 5 Stitches and a Big Surprise: A Plastic Surgeon’s Bill for $1,040

It was a Sunday morning in late November when Bryan Keller hopped on a bike for a routine ride to pick up his groceries, cruising with ease in a relatively empty New York City. The surprises came fast and hard: a fall that sent his head into the pavement and left him bleeding profusely and …

At Urgent Care, He Got 5 Stitches and a Big Surprise: A Plastic Surgeon’s Bill for $1,040 Read More »

Watch: Cyclist Hits Olympic-Size Medical Bills After Crash

“CBS This Morning,” in partnership with KHN and NPR, interviews Phil Gaimon, a cyclist who had hoped to be in Tokyo next week as a competitor in the track events on the USA Cycling national team. Instead, a crash on the velodrome track in Pennsylvania in 2019 ended his Olympic dream and left him with …

Watch: Cyclist Hits Olympic-Size Medical Bills After Crash Read More »

Olympic Dream Dashed After Bike Crash and Nightmare Medical Bill Over $200K

It was a race in Pennsylvania that could have sent cyclist Phil Gaimon to the Tokyo Olympics; instead, a serious crash landed the Californian in two hospitals on the East Coast. Gaimon knows accidents are, unfortunately, part of the sport. He had retired from competitive road cycling three years earlier, but a recruiting call came …

Olympic Dream Dashed After Bike Crash and Nightmare Medical Bill Over $200K Read More »

Bye-Bye to Health Insurance ‘Birthday Rule’? Kansas Lawmaker Floats Fix

When Kayla Kjelshus gave birth to her first child, the infant spent seven days in the neonatal intensive care unit, known as the NICU. This stressful medical experience was followed by an equally stressful financial one. Because of an obscure health insurance policy called the “birthday rule,” Kjelshus and her husband, Mikkel, were hit with …

Bye-Bye to Health Insurance ‘Birthday Rule’? Kansas Lawmaker Floats Fix Read More »

The Pandemic Made Telemedicine an Instant Hit. Patients and Providers Feel the Growing Pains.

Crystal Joseph pays for two telemedicine video services to ensure that her small therapy practice in Silver Spring, Maryland, can always connect with its clients. She’s been burned before. During one hours-long service outage of SimplePractice in late May, PsycYourMind, which offers mental health counseling and group sessions for Black patients, lost about $600 because …

The Pandemic Made Telemedicine an Instant Hit. Patients and Providers Feel the Growing Pains. Read More »

Contraception Is Free to Women, Except When It’s Not

For Stephanie Force, finding a birth control method that she likes and can get without paying out-of-pocket has been a struggle, despite the Affordable Care Act’s promise of free contraceptives for women and adolescent girls in most health plans. The 27-year-old physician recruiter in Roanoke, Virginia, was perfectly happy with the NuvaRing, a flexible vaginal …

Contraception Is Free to Women, Except When It’s Not Read More »

Readers and Tweeters Connect the Dots on Topics From Vaccine Development to Long Covid

Letters to the Editor is a periodic feature. We welcome all comments and will publish a selection. We edit for length and clarity and require full names. A Concerned Taxpayer Takes Stock of Vaccine Efforts Your recent article “Novavax’s Effort to Vaccinate the World, From Zero to Not Quite Warp Speed” (July 19) seems to reveal Maryland-based Novavax …

Readers and Tweeters Connect the Dots on Topics From Vaccine Development to Long Covid Read More »

Facing Headwinds on New Alzheimer’s Drug, Biogen Launches Controversial Campaign

Do you sometimes lose your train of thought or feel a bit more anxious than is typical for you? Those are two of the six questions in a quiz on a website co-sponsored by the makers of Aduhelm, a controversial new Alzheimer’s drug. But even when all responses to the frequency of those experiences are …

Facing Headwinds on New Alzheimer’s Drug, Biogen Launches Controversial Campaign Read More »

After 18 Months, Sutter Antitrust Settlement Finally Poised for Formal Approval

More than 18 months after Sutter Health agreed to a tentative settlement in a closely watched antitrust case joined by the California Attorney General’s Office, the judge presiding over the case indicated she would sign off on the terms, pending agreement on attorney fees. The nonprofit health care giant, based in Sacramento, stood accused of …

After 18 Months, Sutter Antitrust Settlement Finally Poised for Formal Approval Read More »

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Delta Changes the Covid Conversation

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts. The resurgence of covid cases in the U.S. — largely attributable to the much more contagious delta variant — has given policymakers the jitters. The Biden administration …

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Delta Changes the Covid Conversation Read More »

Sen. Wyden: $3.5T Budget May Have to Trim but It Can Set a Path to ‘Ambitious Goals’

Exactly what American health care will look like if Democrats can pass their $3.5 trillion spending plan is unclear, but the senator negotiating its health-related provisions hopes what emerges will be dramatic: the first complete health care system for older Americans and significantly reduced costs for everyone else. “We are setting very, very ambitious goals,” …

Sen. Wyden: $3.5T Budget May Have to Trim but It Can Set a Path to ‘Ambitious Goals’ Read More »

Hospital ‘Trauma Centers’ Charge Enormous Fees to Treat Minor Injuries and Send People Home

The care was ordinary. A hospital in Modesto, California, treated a 30-year-old man for shoulder and back pain after a car accident. He went home in less than three hours. The bill was extraordinary. Sutter Health Memorial Medical Center charged $44,914 including an $8,928 “trauma alert” fee, billed for summoning the hospital’s top surgical specialists …

Hospital ‘Trauma Centers’ Charge Enormous Fees to Treat Minor Injuries and Send People Home Read More »

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Here Comes Reconciliation

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts. The expansion of health benefits is a major piece of the tentative budget deal reached this week by Democrats in Congress. They plan to press ahead — …

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Here Comes Reconciliation Read More »

How ERs Fail Patients With Addiction: One Patient’s Tragic Death

Jameson Rybak tried to quit using opioids nearly a dozen times within five years. Each time, he’d wait out the vomiting, sweating and chills from withdrawal in his bedroom. It was difficult to watch, said his mother, Suzanne Rybak, but she admired his persistence. On March 11, 2020, though, Suzanne grew worried. Jameson, 30 at …

How ERs Fail Patients With Addiction: One Patient’s Tragic Death Read More »

As Congress Wrestles With Plans to Expand Medicare, Becerra Says Any One Will Do

The Biden administration will support whatever expansions to Medicare Congress is willing to make, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said Tuesday. Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill are working on plans both to add benefits to the health program for seniors and to lower its eligibility age from 65 to 60. But the efforts …

As Congress Wrestles With Plans to Expand Medicare, Becerra Says Any One Will Do Read More »

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Becerra Urges Congress to Expand Medicare, Address Rx Prices

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts. The Biden administration stands ready to work with Congress to address drug prices and expand Medicare, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a wide-ranging …

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Becerra Urges Congress to Expand Medicare, Address Rx Prices Read More »

Why We May Never Know Whether the $56,000-a-Year Alzheimer’s Drug Actually Works

The Food and Drug Administration’s approval in June of a drug purporting to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease was widely celebrated, but it also touched off alarms. There were worries in the scientific community about the drug’s mixed results in studies — the FDA’s own expert advisory panel was nearly unanimous in opposing its …

Why We May Never Know Whether the $56,000-a-Year Alzheimer’s Drug Actually Works Read More »

Journalists Tackle Delta Variant, Hospital Prices and Public Health Spending

Midwest correspondent Lauren Weber discussed the covid-19 delta variant on NPR’s “The 1A” on July 2. Click here to hear Weber on NPR Senior correspondent Julie Appleby discussed hospital price transparency on WGN’s “NewsNation Now” on July 2. Click here to watch Appleby on WGN Read Appleby’s “Hospital Prices Must Now Be Transparent. For Many …

Journalists Tackle Delta Variant, Hospital Prices and Public Health Spending Read More »

Effort to Decipher Hospital Prices Yields Key Finding: Don’t Try It at Home

A federal price transparency rule that took effect this year was supposed to give patients, employers and insurers a clearer picture of the true cost of hospital care. When the Trump administration unveiled the rule in 2019, Seema Verma, then chief of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, promised it would “upend the status …

Effort to Decipher Hospital Prices Yields Key Finding: Don’t Try It at Home Read More »

Drugmakers’ Spending on Stock, Dividends and Executive Pay Exceeds Research, Democrats Say

The largest drug companies are far more interested in enriching themselves and investors than in developing new drugs, according to a House committee report released Thursday that argues the industry can afford to charge Medicare less for prescriptions. The report by the House Oversight and Reform Committee says that contrary to pharmaceutical industry arguments that …

Drugmakers’ Spending on Stock, Dividends and Executive Pay Exceeds Research, Democrats Say Read More »

Rural Ambulance Services Are in Jeopardy as Volunteers Age and Expenses Mount

DUTTON, Mont. — Vern Greyn was standing in the raised bucket of a tractor, trimming dead branches off a tree, when he lost his balance. He fell 12 feet and struck his head on the concrete patio outside his house in this small farming town on the central Montana plains. Greyn, then 58, couldn’t move. …

Rural Ambulance Services Are in Jeopardy as Volunteers Age and Expenses Mount Read More »

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Tips for Fighting Medical Bills from ProPublica’s Marshall Allen

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Veteran health journalist Marshall Allen has been exposing health care grifters for years. Now, he’s written a book about how to fight them. Host Dan Weissmann spoke with Allen about some of the best tips from “Never Pay the First Bill: And Other Ways to Fight the …

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Tips for Fighting Medical Bills from ProPublica’s Marshall Allen Read More »

Hospital Prices Must Now Be Transparent. For Many Consumers, They’re Still Anyone’s Guess.

A colonoscopy might cost you or your insurer a few hundred dollars — or several thousand, depending on which hospital or insurer you use. Long hidden, such price variations are supposed to be available in stark black and white under a Trump administration price transparency rule that took effect at the start of this year. …

Hospital Prices Must Now Be Transparent. For Many Consumers, They’re Still Anyone’s Guess. Read More »

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Un-Trumping the ACA

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. You can also listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts or wherever you listen to podcasts. The Biden administration this week proposed a series of changes aimed at boosting insurance enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, undoing changes made by the Trump administration …

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Un-Trumping the ACA Read More »

States Step Up Push to Regulate Pharmacy Drug Brokers

Under pressure to rein in skyrocketing prescription drug costs, states are targeting companies that serve as conduits for drug manufacturers, health insurers and pharmacies. More than 100 separate bills regulating those companies, known as pharmacy benefit managers, have been introduced in 42 states this year, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy, which …

States Step Up Push to Regulate Pharmacy Drug Brokers Read More »

A Hospital Charged $722.50 to Push Medicine Through an IV. Twice.

Claire Lang-Ree was in a lab coat taking a college chemistry class remotely in the kitchen of her Colorado Springs, Colorado, home when a profound pain twisted into her lower abdomen. She called her mom, Jen Lang-Ree, a nurse practitioner who worried it was appendicitis and found a nearby hospital in the family’s health insurance …

A Hospital Charged $722.50 to Push Medicine Through an IV. Twice. Read More »

Device Makers Have Funneled Billions to Orthopedic Surgeons Who Use Their Products

Dr. Kingsley R. Chin was little more than a decade out of Harvard Medical School when sales of his spine surgical implants took off. Chin has patented more than 40 pieces of such hardware, including doughnut-shaped plastic cages, titanium screws and other products used to repair spines — generating $100 million for his company SpineFrontier, …

Device Makers Have Funneled Billions to Orthopedic Surgeons Who Use Their Products Read More »

‘An Arm and a Leg’: When Your Insurance Company Says No, How to Ask for a Yes

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Jeannine Cain started her career dealing with insurance companies for various medical offices. Later she worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield, and now she is a health care data consultant. She really knows how things operate behind the scenes. When her son got a jumbo-size medical bill, …

‘An Arm and a Leg’: When Your Insurance Company Says No, How to Ask for a Yes Read More »

In Alleged Health Care ‘Money Grab,’ Nation’s Largest Hospital Chain Cashes In on Trauma Centers

After falling from a ladder and cutting his arm, Ed Knight said, he found himself at Richmond, Virginia’s Chippenham Hospital surrounded by nearly a dozen doctors, nurses and technicians — its crack “trauma team” charged with saving the most badly hurt victims of accidents and assaults. But Knight’s wound, while requiring about 30 stitches, wasn’t …

In Alleged Health Care ‘Money Grab,’ Nation’s Largest Hospital Chain Cashes In on Trauma Centers Read More »

Doctor on Call? Lawmakers Debate How Much to Pay for Phone Appointments

It took covid-19 to give millions of Americans the option of telling their doctor about their aches and pains by phone. But now that more doctors and patients are returning to in-person appointments, policymakers across the country are divided over how much taxpayer money to keep spending on phone appointments. Although they were a lifeline …

Doctor on Call? Lawmakers Debate How Much to Pay for Phone Appointments Read More »

Change to Gilead Assistance Program Threatens PrEP Access, HIV Advocates Say

Dr. John Carlo is concerned that patients at Prism Health North Texas who rely on the health care safety net will soon be struggling even more to stay on PrEP, a medication that prevents HIV transmission. Carlo, chief executive officer of the clinic, which runs three locations in Dallas, offers free PrEP to roughly 250 …

Change to Gilead Assistance Program Threatens PrEP Access, HIV Advocates Say Read More »

New Montana Laws Enshrine Health Care Alternatives, for Better or Worse

When Paul Rana’s primary care physician left the VA clinic in Kalispell to open her own practice, he followed her. But instead of picking up a new health insurance policy, Rana and his partner agreed to pay a monthly fee that came with the promise of better access. Their provider, Dr. Lexi Tabor-Manaker, opened Glacier …

New Montana Laws Enshrine Health Care Alternatives, for Better or Worse Read More »

With Restrictions Tightening Elsewhere, California Moves to Make Abortion Cheaper

This story also ran on Los Angeles Times. It can be republished for free. SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Even as most states are trying to make it harder to get an abortion, California could make it free for more people. State lawmakers are debating a bill to eliminate out-of-pocket expenses like copays and payments toward deductibles …

With Restrictions Tightening Elsewhere, California Moves to Make Abortion Cheaper Read More »

Biden Administration Signals It’s in No Rush to Allow Canadian Drug Imports

Use Our Content It can be republished for free. The Biden administration said Friday it has no timeline on whether it will allow states to import drugs from Canada, an effort that was approved under President Donald Trump as a key strategy to control costs.  Six states have passed laws to start such programs, and Florida, Colorado and New Mexico are the furthest along in plans to get federal approval.    The …

Biden Administration Signals It’s in No Rush to Allow Canadian Drug Imports Read More »

Caring for an Aging Nation

USE OUR CONTENT This story can republished for free. Please contact [email protected] for embed codes. Table of Contents A Variety of Services Booming Number of Seniors The Cost of Long-Term Care Services The Physical – and Financial – Burden The $61 Billion Price Tag Health care for the nation’s seniors looms large as the baby-boom …

Caring for an Aging Nation Read More »

Suficiente para arruinar el descanso: le cobran $10,322 por un estudio del sueño

Los ronquidos de José Mendoza eran malos, pero para su esposa Nancy era peor cuando dejaba de respirar. El repentino silencio la despertaba, y si pasaban demasiados segundos, lo zarandeaba para que comenzara a respirar de nuevo. Esto sucedía varias veces a la semana. Diagnosticado con apnea del sueño severa hace 15 años, a Mendoza …

Suficiente para arruinar el descanso: le cobran $10,322 por un estudio del sueño Read More »

Enough to Wreck Their Rest: $10,322 for a Sleep Study

José Mendoza’s snoring was bad — but the silence when he stopped breathing was even worse for his wife, Nancy. The sudden quiet would wake her and she waited anxiously for him to take another breath. If too many seconds ticked by, she pushed him hard so that he moved and started breathing again. This …

Enough to Wreck Their Rest: $10,322 for a Sleep Study Read More »

Pandemic Leads Doctors to Rethink Unnecessary Treatment

Covid-19 is opening the door for researchers to address a problem that has vexed the medical community for decades: the overtreatment and unnecessary treatment of patients. This story also ran on The Washington Post. It can be republished for free. On one hand, the pandemic caused major health setbacks for non-covid patients who were forced …

Pandemic Leads Doctors to Rethink Unnecessary Treatment Read More »

Why Your Dentist Might Seem Pushy

In 1993, Dr. David Silber, a dentist now practicing in Plano, Texas, was fired from the first dental clinic he worked for. He’d been assigned to a patient another dentist had scheduled for a crown preparation — a metal or porcelain cap for a broken or decayed tooth. However, Silber found nothing wrong with the …

Why Your Dentist Might Seem Pushy Read More »

‘Kicking You When You’re Down’: Many Cancer Patients Pay Dearly for Parking

For cancer patients, the road from diagnosis to survivorship feels like a never-ending parade of medical appointments: surgeries, bloodwork, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, scans. The routine is time-consuming and costly. So, when hospitals charge patients double-digit parking fees, patients often leave the garage demoralized. This story also ran on NBC News. It can be republished for …

‘Kicking You When You’re Down’: Many Cancer Patients Pay Dearly for Parking Read More »

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Drug Price Effort Hits a Snag

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. The high cost of prescription drugs is a top health issue for the public and politicians, but concerns raised by a group of moderate Democrats threaten to derail a bill being pushed by House Democratic leaders. Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration has authorized the …

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Drug Price Effort Hits a Snag Read More »

Covid Testing Has Turned Into a Financial Windfall for Hospitals and Other Providers

Pamela Valfer needed multiple covid tests after repeatedly visiting the hospital last fall to see her mother, who was being treated for cancer. Beds there were filling with covid patients. Valfer heard the tests would be free. This story also ran on Fortune. It can be republished for free. So, she was surprised when the …

Covid Testing Has Turned Into a Financial Windfall for Hospitals and Other Providers Read More »

Hit by Higher Prices for Gear, Doctors and Dentists Want Insurers to Pay

SACRAMENTO — Treating patients has become more expensive during the pandemic, and doctors and dentists don’t want to be on the hook for all the new costs. This story also ran on Los Angeles Times. It can be republished for free. For instance, the box of 100 gloves that cost $2.39 in February 2020 costs …

Hit by Higher Prices for Gear, Doctors and Dentists Want Insurers to Pay Read More »

A Primary Care Physician for Every American, Science Panel Urges

The federal government must aggressively bolster primary care and connect more Americans with a dedicated source of care, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine warn in a major report that sounds the alarm about an endangered foundation of the U.S. health system. Use Our Content It can be republished for free. The urgently …

A Primary Care Physician for Every American, Science Panel Urges Read More »

Democrats Disagree About How to Spend Potential Prescription Drug Windfall

One of the few surprises in President Joe Biden’s social safety-net proposal, the American Families Plan, was something that didn’t make it into the final version: any mention of reining in the price of prescription drugs. Use Our Content It can be republished for free. The American Families Plan, the second part of Biden’s expansive …

Democrats Disagree About How to Spend Potential Prescription Drug Windfall Read More »

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: 100 Days of Health Policy

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. It’s been a busy 100 days for the Biden administration on health policy. The promise Joe Biden made as president-elect to get 100 million covid vaccinations in arms was doubled, healthcare.gov reopened to those without insurance, and steps were taken to undo a raft of …

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: 100 Days of Health Policy Read More »

What a Difference a Year Makes in Colorado’s Case for a Public Option Plan

DENVER — Before the pandemic, Colorado looked set to become the second state to pass what’s known as a “public option” health insurance plan, which would have forced hospitals that lawmakers said were raking in obscene profits to accept lower payments. But when covid-19 struck, legislators hit pause. Use Our Content It can be republished …

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Watch: What Happens When Car and Health Insurance Collide

“CBS This Morning,” in collaboration with KHN and NPR, tells the story of Mark Gottlieb, a marketing consultant in Little Ferry, New Jersey, who faced more than $700,000 in medical bills after surgery on his spine. Gottlieb was injured in a car accident, and, despite having the maximum amount of personal injury protection in his …

Watch: What Happens When Car and Health Insurance Collide Read More »

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Picking Up the Pace of Undoing Trump Policies

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. The Biden administration is speeding up the pace of efforts to undo Trump administration health policies. The two most recent: overturning a ban on fetal tissue research funded by the National Institutes of Health and canceling a last-minute extension of a Medicaid waiver for Texas. …

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Picking Up the Pace of Undoing Trump Policies Read More »

After Accident, Patient Crashes Into $700,000 Bill for Spine Surgery

Mark Gottlieb’s life changed in an instant when another driver crashed into his car, damaging four vertebrae in his upper spine and smashing six teeth. In the months following that January 2019 crash, Gottlieb got the teeth crowned and, for debilitating neck pain, tried injections, chiropractic care and physical therapy. The treatments were all covered …

After Accident, Patient Crashes Into $700,000 Bill for Spine Surgery Read More »

UVA Health Will Wipe Out Tens of Thousands of Lawsuits Against Patients

University of Virginia Health System, which for years has sued thousands of patients annually for unpaid bills, said Monday it will cancel a massive backlog of court judgments and liens resulting from those lawsuits dating to the 1990s. This story also ran on The Washington Post. It can be republished for free. Combined with reforms …

UVA Health Will Wipe Out Tens of Thousands of Lawsuits Against Patients Read More »

The FDA Seeks a New Way to Review Old Drugs Without Causing Prices to Soar

Chuck Peterson of Omaha, Nebraska, recently experienced a swollen, painful knuckle caused by arthritis. He got a prescription for colchicine. Doctors have used the drug for treating gout and other rheumatic conditions for well over two centuries. When Peterson went to the pharmacy, he was shocked to discover that a two-month supply of 120 pills, …

The FDA Seeks a New Way to Review Old Drugs Without Causing Prices to Soar Read More »

‘Explained by KHN’: Health Insurance Help in Covid Relief Law

The twists and turns of the American health system can sometimes leave people lost, confused and looking for answers. We’ve created a new video series — “Explained by KHN” — in which our correspondents and editors answer common health care and health policy questions.  The $1.9 trillion covid relief package that President Joe Biden signed …

‘Explained by KHN’: Health Insurance Help in Covid Relief Law Read More »

Despite Covid, Many Wealthy Hospitals Had a Banner Year With Federal Bailout

Last May, Baylor Scott & White Health, the largest nonprofit hospital system in Texas, laid off 1,200 employees and furloughed others as it braced for the then-novel coronavirus to spread. The cancellation of lucrative elective procedures as the hospital pivoted to treat a new and less profitable infectious disease presaged financial distress, if not ruin. …

Despite Covid, Many Wealthy Hospitals Had a Banner Year With Federal Bailout Read More »

Analysis: How the US Invested in the War on Terrorism at the Cost of Public Health

This story also ran on Los Angeles Times. It can be republished for free. Here’s one big takeaway from our country’s disastrous 2020 covid response: For 20 years, we’ve lavished attention and money on fighting human terrorism and forgot that the terrorism of nature is equally deadly, deserving equal preparation. Today, with more than 545,000 …

Analysis: How the US Invested in the War on Terrorism at the Cost of Public Health Read More »

Her Doctor’s Office Moved One Floor Up. Her Bill Was 10 Times Higher.

Kyunghee Lee’s right hand hurts all the time. She spent decades running a family dry cleaning store outside Cleveland after emigrating from South Korea 40 years ago. She still freelances as a seamstress, although work has slowed amid the covid-19 pandemic. This story also ran on NPR. It can be republished for free. While Lee …

Her Doctor’s Office Moved One Floor Up. Her Bill Was 10 Times Higher. Read More »

The Great Undoing: Which of Trump’s Policies Will Biden Reverse?

KHN has put together an interactive tool of significant health policies implemented by the Trump administration using its own authority — executive orders, agency guidance or formal regulations — and is tracking Biden administration and court actions. We will update this chart as actions are taken. Topics: Affordable Care Act | HHS Operations | Immigration …

The Great Undoing: Which of Trump’s Policies Will Biden Reverse? Read More »

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Getting Down to Work at HHS

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. As questions swirl about the covid vaccine made by AstraZeneca, public health experts are worried the confusion could create more doubts among people already hesitant to get a vaccine. Meanwhile, the first Senate-confirmed officials are settling into their offices at the Department of Health and …

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Getting Down to Work at HHS Read More »

Democrats Gave Americans a Big Boost Buying Health Insurance. It Didn’t Come Cheap.

When Democrats pushed through a two-year expansion of the Affordable Care Act in the covid-relief bill this month, many people celebrated the part that will make health insurance more affordable for more Americans. This story also ran on NPR. It can be republished for free. But health care researchers consider this move a short-term fix …

Democrats Gave Americans a Big Boost Buying Health Insurance. It Didn’t Come Cheap. Read More »

Lots of Health Insurance Help in Covid Relief Law — But Do Your Homework First

There’s something for everyone with private health insurance in the American Rescue Plan Act, but determining the best way to benefit may be confusing. This story also ran on NBC News. It can be republished for free. The $1.9 trillion covid relief law that President Joe Biden signed this month will make coverage significantly more …

Lots of Health Insurance Help in Covid Relief Law — But Do Your Homework First Read More »

‘An Arm and a Leg’: In Vaccinating Philadelphia, A Mix of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. In Philadelphia, the good, the bad and the ugly have all been on vivid display in the covid vaccine rollout. The Bad comes with a giant serving of gall: For a while, the city put its mass-vaccination program in the hands of Andrei Doroshin, a 22-year-old with …

‘An Arm and a Leg’: In Vaccinating Philadelphia, A Mix of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly Read More »

Democrats Eye Medicare Negotiations to Lower Drug Prices

Democrats, newly in control of Congress and the White House, are united behind an idea that Republican lawmakers and major drugmakers fiercely oppose: empowering the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate the prices of brand-name drugs covered by Medicare. This story also ran on Fortune. It can be republished for free. But they …

Democrats Eye Medicare Negotiations to Lower Drug Prices Read More »

Analysis: The Trump Health Care Policies That Deserve to Stick Around

President Joe Biden’s goal of providing health care for more Americans advanced this week with his signing of an economic stimulus package that includes subsidies for health insurance premiums and new incentives for states to expand Medicaid, as well as the potential confirmation of Xavier Becerra as secretary of Health and Human Services. This story …

Analysis: The Trump Health Care Policies That Deserve to Stick Around Read More »

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Expanding the ACA in an Unpredicted Way

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. For the first time since its enactment in 2010, the Affordable Care Act is slated for major benefit expansions, courtesy of the covid relief bill approved by Congress this week. But the changes are only temporary, so the measure also tees up a fight to …

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Expanding the ACA in an Unpredicted Way Read More »

Pandemic Aid Package Includes Relief From High Premiums

This story also ran on NPR. It can be republished for free. As President Joe Biden’s pandemic relief package steams through Congress, Democrats have hitched a ride for a top health care priority: strengthening the Affordable Care Act with some of the most significant changes to insurance affordability in more than a decade. The bill …

Pandemic Aid Package Includes Relief From High Premiums Read More »

Children’s Hospitals Grapple With Young Covid ‘Long Haulers’

This story also ran on USA Today. It can be republished for free. A slumber party to celebrate Delaney DePue’s 15th birthday last summer marked a new chapter — one defined by illness and uncertainty. The teen from Fort Walton Beach, Florida, tested positive for covid-19 about a week later, said her mother, Sara, leaving …

Children’s Hospitals Grapple With Young Covid ‘Long Haulers’ Read More »

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Revisiting Insulin: How the Medicine Got So Expensive

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. We’re re-releasing a story we first reported in 2019, about how insulin got to be so expensive. And this 2021 update  includes a check-in with people working to make the potentially lifesaving medicine more available. The story seems especially relevant right now, for two reasons: The rollout …

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Revisiting Insulin: How the Medicine Got So Expensive Read More »

College Tuition Sparked a Mental Health Crisis. Then the Hefty Hospital Bill Arrived.

Despite a lifelong struggle with panic attacks, Divya Singh made a brave move across the world last fall from her home in Mumbai, India. She enrolled at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, to study physics and explore an interest in standup comedy in Manhattan. This story also ran on NPR. It can be republished …

College Tuition Sparked a Mental Health Crisis. Then the Hefty Hospital Bill Arrived. Read More »

California Aims to Address the ‘Urgent’ Needs of Older Residents. But Will Its Plan Work?

USE OUR CONTENT It can be republished for free. Even as the pandemic derailed some of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s biggest health care proposals, such as lowering prescription drug costs, it crystallized another: the pressing need to address California’s rapidly aging population. Already nine months into their work when Newsom issued the nation’s first statewide stay-at-home …

California Aims to Address the ‘Urgent’ Needs of Older Residents. But Will Its Plan Work? Read More »

Montana’s Health Policy MVP Takes Her Playbook on the Road

Use Our Content It can be republished for free. Marilyn Bartlett might be the closest thing health policy has to a folk hero. A certified public accountant who barely tops 5 feet, Bartlett bears zero resemblance to Paul Bunyan. But she did take an ax to Montana’s hospital prices in 2016, stopping the state’s employee …

Montana’s Health Policy MVP Takes Her Playbook on the Road Read More »

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Viral TikTok Video Serves Up Recipe to ‘Crush’ Medical Debt

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Jared Walker, who runs a nonprofit that helps people pay medical bills, posted a TikTok video explaining the recipe to “crush” hospital bills via charity care policies. “What that means is that if you make under a certain amount of money, the hospital legally has to forgive …

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Viral TikTok Video Serves Up Recipe to ‘Crush’ Medical Debt Read More »

Health Policy Valentines to Warm the Heart

Nothing warms our hearts like a few good Health Policy Valentines ― especially those that are sweet on KHN. Tweeters lit up our timeline in recent days with valentine messages about topics ranging from covid-19 vaccines and mask-wearing to the price of health care. Here are some of our favorites. ❤ Roses are red Violets …

Health Policy Valentines to Warm the Heart Read More »

As Demand for Mental Health Care Spikes, Budget Ax Set to Strike

Use Our Content It can be republished for free. HELENA, Mont. — When the pandemic hit, health officials in Montana’s Beaverhead County had barely begun to fill a hole left by the 2017 closure of the local public assistance office, mental health clinic, chemical dependency center and job placement office after the state’s last budget …

As Demand for Mental Health Care Spikes, Budget Ax Set to Strike Read More »

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Tips for Fighting Medical Bills From a Former ‘Bad Guy’ Lawyer

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Lawyer Jeff Bloom used to be the person whom medical providers and debt collectors would hire to represent them in court. “I was a bad guy, for sure,” he said. Then, a few years ago, he switched sides. Bloom now represents consumers and, in this episode, shares …

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Tips for Fighting Medical Bills From a Former ‘Bad Guy’ Lawyer Read More »

Baby Blues: First-Time Parents Blindsided by ‘the Birthday Rule’ and a $207,455 NICU Bill

In the nine months leading up to her due date, Kayla Kjelshus and her husband, Mikkel, meticulously planned for their daughter’s arrival. This story also ran on NPR. It can be republished for free. Their long to-do list included mapping out their family’s health insurance plan and registering for baby gear and supplies. They even …

Baby Blues: First-Time Parents Blindsided by ‘the Birthday Rule’ and a $207,455 NICU Bill Read More »

Readers and Tweeters Fight Stigma and Salute Front-Line Workers

Letters to the Editor is a periodic feature. We welcome all comments and will publish a selection. We edit for length and clarity and require full names. In case you need your blood to boil, read this story about a woman’s surprise medical bill for lab tests she never requested and was never informed would happen. #health #healthcare …

Readers and Tweeters Fight Stigma and Salute Front-Line Workers Read More »

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Biden Health Agenda

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. President Joe Biden wasted no time getting down to work. Among the raft of executive orders he signed on Inauguration Day were several aimed at curtailing the covid crisis, including one requiring mask-wearing by federal employees and anyone on federal property for the next 100 …

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: The Biden Health Agenda Read More »

After a Decade of Lobbying, ALS Patients Gain Faster Access to Disability Payments

Anita Baron first noticed something was wrong in August 2018, when she began to drool. Her dentist chalked it up to a problem with her jaw. Then her speech became slurred. She managed to keep her company, which offers financing to small businesses, going, but work became increasingly difficult as her speech worsened. Finally, nine …

After a Decade of Lobbying, ALS Patients Gain Faster Access to Disability Payments Read More »

Patients Fend for Themselves to Access Highly Touted Covid Antibody Treatments

By the time he tested positive for covid-19 on Jan. 12, Gary Herritz was feeling pretty sick. He suspects he was infected a week earlier, during a medical appointment in which he saw health workers who were wearing masks beneath their noses or who had removed them entirely. His scratchy throat had turned to a …

Patients Fend for Themselves to Access Highly Touted Covid Antibody Treatments Read More »

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Host Dan Weissmann Talks Price Transparency on ‘Axios Today’

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. As we settle into the new year, we have two small doses of good news. First, a new federal rule could help cut through one health care issue. Host Dan Weissmann talked about the rule — which requires hospitals to make public the prices they negotiate with …

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Host Dan Weissmann Talks Price Transparency on ‘Axios Today’ Read More »

California Budget Reflects ‘Pandemic-Induced Reality,’ Governor Says

USE OUR CONTENT It can be republished for free. SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The coronavirus pandemic doomed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ambitious plans last year to combat homelessness, expand behavioral health services and create a state agency to control soaring health care costs. But even as the pandemic continues to rage, California’s Democratic governor said Friday he …

California Budget Reflects ‘Pandemic-Induced Reality,’ Governor Says Read More »

Aunque controlen el Senado, demócratas necesitarán apoyo republicano en temas clave de salud

Ante la pandemia, los demócratas han abogado por ayudas más generosas, más presión sobre las farmacéuticas para que bajen los precios y más atención al racismo sistémico en la atención de salud. El 20 de enero, con el control del Senado y la Cámara de Representantes, tendrán el poder de elegir qué propuestas de salud …

Aunque controlen el Senado, demócratas necesitarán apoyo republicano en temas clave de salud Read More »

‘An Arm And a Leg’: How a Former Health Care Executive Became a Health Care Whistleblower

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Former health care executive Wendell Potter spent part of 2020 publishing high-profile apologies for the work he used to do — the lies he said he told the American people for his old employers. These days, he said, he’s also trying to debunk myths he once sold. …

‘An Arm And a Leg’: How a Former Health Care Executive Became a Health Care Whistleblower Read More »

Even With Senate Control, Democrats Will Need Buy-In From GOP on Key Health Priorities

Use Our Content It can be republished for free. Democrats have argued for more generous pandemic relief, more pressure on drugmakers to lower prices and more attention to systemic racism in health care. On Jan. 20, with control of the Senate and the House of Representatives, they’ll have the power to choose which health care …

Even With Senate Control, Democrats Will Need Buy-In From GOP on Key Health Priorities Read More »

‘An Arm and a Leg’: A Look Back at 2020 — What We Learned and Where We’re Headed

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. This episode turns the tables: Host Dan Weissmann gets interviewed about what he learned in 2020 and what’s ahead for the show — with T.K. Dutes, a radio host and podcast-maker who is also a former nurse, so she knows a thing or two about the health …

‘An Arm and a Leg’: A Look Back at 2020 — What We Learned and Where We’re Headed Read More »

Seniors Face Crushing Drug Costs as Congress Stalls on Capping Medicare Out-Of-Pockets

This story also ran on Fortune. It can be republished for free. Sharon Clark is able to get her life-sustaining cancer drug, Pomalyst — priced at more than $18,000 for a 28-day supply — only because of the generosity of patient assistance foundations. Clark, 57, a former insurance agent who lives in Bixby, Oklahoma, had …

Seniors Face Crushing Drug Costs as Congress Stalls on Capping Medicare Out-Of-Pockets Read More »

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: 2020 in Review — It Wasn’t All COVID

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. COVID-19 was the dominant — but not the only — health policy story of 2020. In this special year-in-review episode of KHN’s “What the Health?” podcast, panelists look back at some of the biggest non-coronavirus stories. Those included Supreme Court cases on the Affordable Care …

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: 2020 in Review — It Wasn’t All COVID Read More »

Retiree Living the RV Dream Fights $12,387 Nightmare Lab Fee

Lorraine Rogge and her husband, Michael Rogge, travel the country in a recreational vehicle, a well-earned adventure in retirement. This spring found them parked in Artesia, New Mexico, for several months. This story also ran on NPR. It can be republished for free. In May, Rogge, 60, began to feel pelvic pain and cramping. But …

Retiree Living the RV Dream Fights $12,387 Nightmare Lab Fee Read More »

Surprise! Congress Takes Steps to Curb Unexpected Medical Bills

Most Americans tell pollsters they’re worried about being able to afford an unexpected medical bill. Late Monday, Congress passed a bill to allay some of those fears. The measure is included in a nearly 5,600-page package providing coronavirus economic relief and government funding for the rest of the fiscal year. Specifically, the legislation addresses those …

Surprise! Congress Takes Steps to Curb Unexpected Medical Bills Read More »

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: All I Want for Christmas Is a COVID Relief Bill

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. Congress appears to be inching ever closer to agreement on a long-delayed COVID-19 relief bill, which would extend unemployment insurance and other emergency programs set to expire in the next several days. That bill, however, apparently will not include the top-priority items for both political …

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: All I Want for Christmas Is a COVID Relief Bill Read More »

As Congress Bickers Over Pandemic Relief, Flight Attendant’s Life Is in a Holding Pattern

Troy Muenzer has seen the damage that COVID can do. A flight attendant who was diagnosed with a “suspected” case of the deadly virus, Muenzer, 32, endured months of lingering breathing problems; hefty, unexpected medical bills; lost wages, then furlough; and, earlier this month, the loss of his health insurance. Last week, his bank account …

As Congress Bickers Over Pandemic Relief, Flight Attendant’s Life Is in a Holding Pattern Read More »

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Shopping for Health Insurance? Here’s How One Family Tried to Pick a Plan

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. When host Dan Weissmann and his wife set out to pick a health insurance plan for next year, they realized that keeping the plan they have means paying $200 a month more. But would a “cheaper” plan cost them more in the long run?  It depends. And …

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Shopping for Health Insurance? Here’s How One Family Tried to Pick a Plan Read More »

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Obamacare Alum Andy Slavitt Takes Stock of the COVID Pandemic — So Far

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Andy Slavitt has spent much of 2020 talking with almost everybody who knows anything about the COVID-19 pandemic — and sharing what he learns in real time, first on Twitter, then on his pandemic podcast, “In the Bubble.” To do our own podcast episode about what we’ve …

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Obamacare Alum Andy Slavitt Takes Stock of the COVID Pandemic — So Far Read More »

Think Your Health Care Is Covered? Beware of the ‘Junk’ Insurance Plan

Looking back, Sam Bloechl knows that when the health insurance broker who was helping him find a plan asked whether he’d ever been diagnosed with a major illness, that should have been a red flag. Preexisting medical conditions don’t matter when you buy a comprehensive individual plan that complies with the Affordable Care Act. Insurers …

Think Your Health Care Is Covered? Beware of the ‘Junk’ Insurance Plan Read More »

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Who Will Run the Biden Health Effort?

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. The quadrennial guessing game about who will get what health job in a new presidential administration has taken on a new urgency in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage. Meanwhile, as two promising vaccine candidates inch closer to approval, the federal government is …

KHN’s ‘What the Health?’: Who Will Run the Biden Health Effort? Read More »

During ACA Open Enrollment, Picking a Plan Invites New COVID Complications

People buying their own health insurance have even more to think about this year, particularly those post-COVID-19 patients with lingering health concerns, the “long haulers,” who join the club of Americans with preexisting conditions. What type of plan is best for someone with an unpredictable, ongoing medical concern? That question is popping up on online …

During ACA Open Enrollment, Picking a Plan Invites New COVID Complications Read More »

‘An Arm and a Leg’: How to Avoid a Big Bill for Your COVID Test

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Tests for the coronavirus are supposed to be free. And, usually, they are. But sometimes … things happen. Here’s how to keep those things from happening to you. New York Times reporter Sarah Kliff has been asking readers to send in their COVID-testing bills. She’s now seen hundreds of …

‘An Arm and a Leg’: How to Avoid a Big Bill for Your COVID Test Read More »

After Kid’s Minor Bike Accident, Major Bill Sets Legal Wheels in Motion

Adam Woodrum was out for a bike ride with his wife and kids on July 19 when his then 9-year-old son, Robert, crashed. “He cut himself pretty bad, and I could tell right away he needed stitches,” said Woodrum. This story also ran on NPR. It can be republished for free. Because they were on …

After Kid’s Minor Bike Accident, Major Bill Sets Legal Wheels in Motion Read More »

Were You Notified About Missing Tax Forms for Your ACA Subsidy? Blame COVID.

The notice from the federal health insurance marketplace grabbed Andrew Schenker’s attention: ACT NOW: YOU’RE AT RISK OF LOSING FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE STARTING JANUARY 1, 2021. As he read the notice, though, the Blacksburg, Virginia, resident became exasperated. Schenker, his wife and their teenage son have a bronze-level marketplace plan. Based on their income of about …

Were You Notified About Missing Tax Forms for Your ACA Subsidy? Blame COVID. Read More »

Surprise Federal Drug Rule Directs Insurers to Reveal What They Pay for Prescription Drugs

Health insurance companies will have to give their customers estimated out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs and disclose to the public the negotiated prices they pay for drugs, under an unexpected new Trump administration rule. The administration said those requirements, part of a broader rule issued Oct. 29 forcing health plans to disclose costs and payments …

Surprise Federal Drug Rule Directs Insurers to Reveal What They Pay for Prescription Drugs Read More »

‘An Arm and a Leg’: For Your Next Health Insurance Fight, an Exercise in Financial Self-Defense

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. A listener asked: ‘How do I remain cool when calling insurance companies?” So we called veteran self-defense teacher Lauren Taylor for advice. She leads Defend Yourself, an organization that works to empower people against violence and abuse.  As Taylor teaches it, self-defense involves a lot more than …

‘An Arm and a Leg’: For Your Next Health Insurance Fight, an Exercise in Financial Self-Defense Read More »

KHN on the Air This Week

KHN Editor-in-Chief Elisabeth Rosenthal discussed how to manage unexpected health care costs with CBSN on Wednesday. Click here to watch Rosenthal on CBSN KHN chief Washington correspondent Julie Rovner discussed the Affordable Care Act case before the Supreme Court with WBEZ’s “Reset” and WDET’s “Detroit Today” on Tuesday and with WHYY’s “Radio Times” on Wednesday. …

KHN on the Air This Week Read More »

Fiscal general de California: los jueces deben ver que ACA es “indispensable”

Sacramento.- Cuando la Corte Suprema de los Estados Unidos esté escuchando el martes 10 un caso que podría decidir el destino de la Ley de Cuidado de Salud a Bajo Precio (ACA), California liderará la defensa de la ley federal que impacta en casi todos los aspectos del sistema de salud del país. Por lo …

Fiscal general de California: los jueces deben ver que ACA es “indispensable” Read More »

Justices Bound to See ACA as ‘Indispensable,’ Says Californian Leading Defense

SACRAMENTO — When the U.S. Supreme Court hears a case Tuesday that could decide the fate of the Affordable Care Act, California will be leading the defense to uphold the federal law that touches nearly every aspect of the country’s health care system. It’s usually the federal government’s job to defend a federal law, but …

Justices Bound to See ACA as ‘Indispensable,’ Says Californian Leading Defense Read More »

‘An Arm and a Leg’: David vs. Goliath: How to Beat a Big Hospital in Small Claims Court

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. When Jeffrey Fox and his wife got an outrageous medical bill for a simple test, he said to his wife, “No way am I paying this.” In a classic — and hilarious — David vs. Goliath story, Fox takes on a huge hospital, and wins. He’s a …

‘An Arm and a Leg’: David vs. Goliath: How to Beat a Big Hospital in Small Claims Court Read More »

A $200 Debit Card Won’t Do Much for Seniors’ Drug Costs

If they’ve been listening to President Donald Trump, seniors may be expecting a $200 debit card in the mail any day now to help them pay for prescription drugs. He promised as much this month, saying his administration soon will mail the drug cards to more than 35 million Medicare beneficiaries. But the cards — …

A $200 Debit Card Won’t Do Much for Seniors’ Drug Costs Read More »

A $10,000 Obamacare Penalty? Doubtful.

“Because our family couldn’t afford health insurance, Obama/Biden penalized us about $10,000, then took that $10,000 and used it to pay for others’ free Obamacare. Trump ended that theft.” In a Facebook post, Oct. 20, 2020 A viral Facebook post claims that former President Barack Obama’s health insurance law penalized a family a large amount …

A $10,000 Obamacare Penalty? Doubtful. Read More »

Hospital Bills for Uninsured COVID Patients Are Covered, but No One Tells Them

When Darius Settles died from COVID-19 on the Fourth of July, his family and the city of Nashville, Tennessee, were shocked. Even the mayor noted the passing of a 30-year-old without any underlying conditions — one of the city’s youngest fatalities at that point. Settles was also uninsured and had just been sent home from …

Hospital Bills for Uninsured COVID Patients Are Covered, but No One Tells Them Read More »

Readers and Tweeters Shed Light on Vaccine Trials and Bias in Health Care

Letters to the Editor is a periodic feature. We welcome all comments and will publish a selection. We edit for length and clarity and require full names. On the ‘Subject’ of Vaccine Trial Participants In the piece about the AstraZeneca vaccine trial subject who suffered severe spinal cord inflammation, that person was repeatedly referred to as a …

Readers and Tweeters Shed Light on Vaccine Trials and Bias in Health Care Read More »

Savvy Patient Fought for the Price She Was Quoted − And Didn’t Give Up

When Tiffany Qiu heard how much her surgery was going to cost her, she was sure the hospital’s financial department had made a mistake. Qiu, who already knew from a breast cancer scare earlier that year that her plan required a 30% coinsurance payment on operations, pressed the person on the phone several times to …

Savvy Patient Fought for the Price She Was Quoted − And Didn’t Give Up Read More »

If Trump Wins, Don’t Hold Your Breath Waiting for That ACA Replacement Plan

If President Donald Trump wins reelection next week, it seems unlikely he will unveil the health plan he’s been promising since before his election in 2016. Still, other aspects of health care could be featured in his second-term agenda. Not having a replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act may be just fine with many …

If Trump Wins, Don’t Hold Your Breath Waiting for That ACA Replacement Plan Read More »

North Carolina Treasurer Took On the Hospitals. Now He’s Paying Political Price.

Cartel is a term frequently associated with illegal narcotics syndicates. In North Carolina, it has become the favored word of State Treasurer Dale Folwell to describe the state’s hospital industry, the antagonist in his quest to lower health care prices for state employees. The treasurer manages the state employees’ health plan, which insures about 727,000 …

North Carolina Treasurer Took On the Hospitals. Now He’s Paying Political Price. Read More »

Florida Fails to Attract Bidders for Canada Drug Importation Program

Florida’s plan to import cheaper prescription drugs from Canada — designed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and endorsed by President Donald Trump — has tasted its first bitter pill. No private firms bid on Florida’s $30 million contract to set up and operate a drug importation program. Bids were due at the end of September. The …

Florida Fails to Attract Bidders for Canada Drug Importation Program Read More »

Progressive Group Highlights Trump, Tillis Weakness on Insulin Price Tags

    During the first presidential debate of 2020, President Donald Trump touted his efforts to curb skyrocketing drug prices and declared that insulin is now “so cheap, it’s like water.” The response on social media was swift, and divided, with some people sharing pharmacy bills showing thousands of dollars they’d spent on insulin, while …

Progressive Group Highlights Trump, Tillis Weakness on Insulin Price Tags Read More »

UVA Health Still Squeezing Money From Patients — By Seizing Their Home Equity

Doris Hutchinson wanted to use money from the sale of her late mother’s house to help her grandchildren go to college. Then she learned the University of Virginia Health System was taking $38,000 of the proceeds because a 13-year-old medical bill owed by her deceased brother had somehow turned into a lien on the property. …

UVA Health Still Squeezing Money From Patients — By Seizing Their Home Equity Read More »

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Vetting TikTok Mom’s Advice for Dealing With Debt Collectors

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. TikTok mom Shaunna Burns used to be a debt collector, so she knows a few things about what’s legal and what’s not when a company contacts you to settle a debt. We fact-checked her advice with a legal expert: Jenifer Bosco, an attorney with the National Consumer …

‘An Arm and a Leg’: Vetting TikTok Mom’s Advice for Dealing With Debt Collectors Read More »

Al sopesar los temas de salud, la mayoría de los votantes se inclinan hacia Biden

Al menos la mitad de los votantes prefiere el enfoque de la atención médica del ex vicepresidente Joe Biden al del presidente Donald Trump, lo que sugiere que la preocupación por reducir los costos y manejar la pandemia podría influir en el resultado de esta elección, según revela una nueva encuesta. Los hallazgos, de la …

Al sopesar los temas de salud, la mayoría de los votantes se inclinan hacia Biden Read More »

Majority of Voters Tilt Toward Biden as Health Issues Weigh Heavily

At least half of voters prefer former Vice President Joe Biden’s approach to health care over President Donald Trump’s, suggesting voter concern about lowering costs and managing the pandemic could sway the outcome of this election, a new poll shows. The findings, from KFF’s monthly tracking poll, signal that voters do not trust assurances from …

Majority of Voters Tilt Toward Biden as Health Issues Weigh Heavily Read More »

Job-Based Health Insurance Costs Are Up 4% This Year, 55% in Past Decade

Health insurance costs for Americans who get their coverage through work continued a relentless march upward with average family premiums rising 4% to $21,342 this year, according to a study published Thursday. The annual survey by KFF found workers on average are paying nearly $5,600 this year toward family coverage, up from about $4,000 in …

Job-Based Health Insurance Costs Are Up 4% This Year, 55% in Past Decade Read More »

Moved by Plight of Young Heart Patient, Stranger Pays His Hospital Bill

Even with insurance, Matthew Fentress faced a medical bill of more than $10,000 after a heart operation. A cook at a senior living community in Kentucky, he figured he could never pay what he owed — until a stranger who lives 2,000 miles away stepped in to help. “The system still failed me,” said Fentress, …

Moved by Plight of Young Heart Patient, Stranger Pays His Hospital Bill Read More »

Refuge in the Storm? ACA’s Role as Safety Net Is Tested by COVID Recession

The Affordable Care Act, facing its first test during a deep recession, is providing a refuge for some — but by no means all — people who have lost health coverage as the economy has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic. New studies, from both federal and private research groups, generally indicate that when the …

Refuge in the Storm? ACA’s Role as Safety Net Is Tested by COVID Recession Read More »

Fighting for Patient Protections While Attacking ACA — Hard to Have It Both Ways

Throughout the 2020 election cycle, candidates’ positions on health care have been particularly important for voters with underlying and often expensive medical needs — in short, those with preexisting conditions. It’s no surprise, then, that protections for people who have chronic health problems like diabetes and cancer have become a focal point for candidates nationwide …

Fighting for Patient Protections While Attacking ACA — Hard to Have It Both Ways Read More »

‘An Arm and a Leg’: TikTok Mom Takes On Medical Bills

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. Shaunna Burns went viral on TikTok, partly because of a series of videos dishing out real-talk advice on fighting outrageous medical bills. She said the way to deal with medical debt is to be vigilant about what debt you incur in the first place. “What you can …

‘An Arm and a Leg’: TikTok Mom Takes On Medical Bills Read More »

Not Pandemic-Proof: Insulin Copay Caps Fall Short, Fueling Underground Exchanges

DENVER — D.j. Mattern had her Type 1 diabetes under control until COVID’s economic upheaval cost her husband his hotel maintenance job and their health coverage. The 42-year-old Denver woman suddenly faced insulin’s exorbitant list price — anywhere from $125 to $450 per vial — just as their household income shrank. She scrounged extra insulin …

Not Pandemic-Proof: Insulin Copay Caps Fall Short, Fueling Underground Exchanges Read More »

Watch: Young Man Faces Medical Bankruptcy — Even With Insurance

“CBS This Morning” tells the story of Matthew Fentress, a young man who developed serious heart disease after a bout of flu when he was just 25. Now 31, he owes more than $10,000 in hospital bills. KHN Editor-in-Chief Elisabeth Rosenthal explains that the same cardiomyopathy Fentress got can also be a complication of COVID-19. …

Watch: Young Man Faces Medical Bankruptcy — Even With Insurance Read More »

Trump’s COVID Program for Uninsured People: It Exists, but Falls Short

In a wide-ranging executive order, President Donald Trump this month outlined some of the efforts he has made to affect health care since taking office. One involved uninsured people and the current pandemic. The administration, Trump said, set up a program to provide them “access to necessary COVID-19-related testing and treatment.” Did it? We asked …

Trump’s COVID Program for Uninsured People: It Exists, but Falls Short Read More »

Opposition to Obamacare Becomes Political Liability for GOP Incumbents

In the 2014 elections, Republicans rode a wave of anti-Affordable Care Act sentiment to pick up nine Senate seats, the largest gain for either party since 1980. Newly elected Republicans such as Cory Gardner in Colorado and Steve Daines in Montana had hammered their Democratic opponents over the health care law during the campaign and …

Opposition to Obamacare Becomes Political Liability for GOP Incumbents Read More »

Trump Again Claims He’s Bringing Down Drug Prices, But Details of How Are Skimpy

President Donald Trump has long considered lowering the high cost of prescription drugs to be one of his signature issues, and it is likely to be a talking point he relies on throughout the upcoming campaign. During his afternoon speech Monday ― delivered on the first day of the Repubublican National Convention after delegates had …

Trump Again Claims He’s Bringing Down Drug Prices, But Details of How Are Skimpy Read More »

Republican Convention, Day 1: A Campaign-Style Trump Speech and More

Before the prime-time GOP showcase began, President Donald Trump took to the podium Monday afternoon and delivered an approximately one-hour campaign-style speech to delegates after he was officially renominated by the Republican Party as its candidate for president. His comments were wide-ranging, and our partners at PolitiFact found many to be either wrong, misleading, premature …

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Rather Than Give Away Its COVID Vaccine, Oxford Makes a Deal With Drugmaker

In a business driven by profit, vaccines have a problem. They’re not very profitable — at least not without government subsidies. Pharma companies favor expensive medicines that must be taken repeatedly and generate revenue for years or decades. Vaccines are often given only once or twice. In many parts of the world, established vaccines cost …

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Veteran’s Appendectomy Launches Excruciating Months-Long Battle Over Bill

In late August 2019, Shannon Harness awoke to serious pain in the lower right side of his abdomen — a telltale sign of appendicitis. He booked it to the emergency room of the only hospital in the county: Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center in Salida, Colorado. After a CT scan, doctors told Harness …

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‘An Arm and a Leg’: How to Fight Bogus Medical Bills Like a Bulldog

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. After Izzy Benasso had knee surgery, she and her dad received a letter from a surgical assistant giving notice that he “had been present” at the procedure. The surgical assistant was out-of-network and seemed to be laying the groundwork to get the Benassos to pay his fee. …

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Inside the Race to Build a Better $500 Emergency Ventilator

As the coronavirus crisis lit up this spring, headlines about how the U.S. could innovate its way out of a pending ventilator shortage landed almost as hard and fast as the pandemic itself. The New Yorker featured “The MacGyvers Taking on the Ventilator Shortage,” an effort initiated not by a doctor or engineer but a …

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Primary Care Doctors Look at Payment Overhaul After Pandemic Disruption

For Dr. Gabe Charbonneau, a primary care doctor in Stevensville, Montana, the coronavirus pandemic is an existential threat. Charbonneau, 43, his two partners and 10 staff members are struggling to keep their rural practice alive. Patient volume is slowly returning to pre-COVID levels. But the large Seattle-area company that owns his practice is reassessing its …

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‘An Arm and a Leg’: Financial Self-Defense School Is Now in Session

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen. When you need medical care, it can be a lot like entering a casino — playing for your financial life with the deck stacked against you. But in this episode, reporter Celia Llopis-Jepsen offers insight and tips no dealer will divulge. She got a health care executive …

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Readers and Tweeters Defend Human — And Animal — Rights

Letters to the Editor is a periodic feature. We welcome all comments and will publish a selection. We edit for length and clarity and require full names. Standing Up for the Homeless Many aspects of your story on homeless camps being “swept,” moved or cleared during this pandemic (“Sweeps of Homeless Camps Run Counter to COVID Guidance …

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Don’t Count on Lower Premiums Despite Pandemic-Driven Boon for Insurers

When COVID-19 smacked the United States in March and April, health plans feared medical costs could skyrocket, jacking up premiums drastically in 2021, when millions of the newly unemployed might still be out of work. But something else happened: Non-COVID care collapsed as hospitals emptied beds and shut down operating rooms to prepare for an …

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KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: Republicans in COVID Disarray

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. President Donald Trump’s pivot to a more serious view of the coronavirus pandemic didn’t last long. This week, he was again touting hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug that has not been shown to work against the virus. Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Republicans continue to struggle to …

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Missourians to Vote on Medicaid Expansion as Crisis Leaves Millions Without Insurance

ST. LOUIS — Haley Organ thought she had everything figured out. After graduating from a small private college just outside Boston, she earned her master’s degree, entered the workforce and eventually landed a corporate job here as a data analyst. Life seemed to be going as planned until the national retailer that Organ worked for …

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Last Thing Patients Need During Pandemic: Being Last to Know a Doctor Left Network

NEW YORK — As the coronavirus spread silently through New York City early this year, Deborah Koeppel had an appointment with her cardiologist and two visits with her primary care doctor. Both physicians are members of Concorde Medical Group, a practice in Manhattan with an office conveniently located a few blocks from where Koeppel works. …

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Medicaid Mystery: Millions of Enrollees Haven’t Materialized in California

The predictions were dire: Coronavirus lockdowns would put millions of Americans out of work, stripping them of their health insurance and pushing them into Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income people. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration projected that the pandemic would force about 2 million additional people to sign up for the state’s …

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Another Problem on the Health Horizon: Medicare Is Running Out of Money

Everyone involved even tangentially in health care today is completely consumed by the coronavirus pandemic, as they should be. But the pandemic is accelerating a problem that used to be front and center in health circles: the impending insolvency of Medicare. With record numbers of Americans out of work, fewer payroll taxes are rolling in …

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Administration Eases Rules to Give Laid-Off Workers More Time to Sign Up for COBRA

People who’ve been laid off or furloughed from their jobs now have significantly more time to decide whether to hang on to their employer-sponsored health insurance, according to a recent federal rule. Under the federal law known as COBRA, people who lose their job-based coverage because of a layoff or a reduction in their hours …

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For COVID Tests, the Question of Who Pays Comes Down to Interpretation

In advance of an upcoming road trip with her elderly parents, Wendy Epstein’s physician agreed it would be “prudent” for her and her kids to get tested for COVID-19. Seeing the tests as a “medical need,” the doctor said insurance would likely pay for them, with no out-of-pocket cost to Epstein. But her children’s pediatrician …

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Listen: Colorado Cuts Back Health Care Programs Amid Dual Crises

KHN senior correspondent Markian Hawryluk joined KUNC’s Erin O’Toole on “Colorado Edition” to discuss his recent story on how Colorado is one of the many states having to cut back on health care programs and new policy initiatives as part of the economic fallout of the pandemic. These cuts, which in Colorado include slashing $1 …

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Azar Says Federal Law Had Preexisting Conditions Covered Before ACA. Not So Much.

“First off, it’s in statute already in HIPAA that preexisting conditions are covered.” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, on July 9, speaking at a virtual summit sponsored by The Hill newspaper One of the most popular features of the Affordable Care Act is its guarantee of insurance coverage — at no greater cost …

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KHN’s ‘What The Health?’: ‘Open The Schools, Close The Bars’

What The Health? · ‘Open The Schools, Close The Bars’ Can’t see the audio player? Click here to listen on SoundCloud. Julie Rovner Kaiser Health News @jrovner Read Julie’s Stories Joanne Kenen Politico @JoanneKenen Read Joanne’s Stories Kimberly Leonard Business Insider @leonardkl Read Kimberly’s Stories Mary Ellen McIntire CQ Roll Call @MelMcIntire Read Mary Ellen’s Stories …

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