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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Final Obamacare enrollment figures lag under Trump

Enrollment in Obamacare health plans sagged markedly after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, according to new federal data that show sign-ups slowed in the final two weeks of the 2017 open enrollment period as Trump stepped up attacks on the health care law.

Sticker shock ahead for some health plan buyers

CHICAGO – As a key enrollment deadline hits today, many people without health insurance have been sizing up policies on the new government health care marketplace and making what seems like a logical choice: They’re picking the cheapest one. Increasingly, experts in health insurance are becoming concerned that many of these first-time buyers will be in for a shock when they get medical care next year and discover they’re on the hook for most of the initial cost.

Small-business owners put rough year behind

Small-business owners are probably glad to put 2013 into the books. For many, it was a frustrating year of waiting. Waiting to learn about the new health care law. Waiting for lawmakers to solve budget disagreements. And waiting for the economy to improve. Many put off big decisions like purchasing equipment and hiring as they sought clarity. But in the end, owners fought inertia and appear to be looking forward to 2014. Hiring seems to be showing an uptick and lending to small businesses is improving.

Federal health care enrollments fall far below targets in October

WASHINGTON – Newly released figures show enrollments for coverage under President Barack Obama’s health care plan fell far below official projections, underscoring the damage inflicted by the botched rollout and further endangering the administration’s support among restive Democrats on Capitol Hill. Just 106,185 Americans successfully enrolled in health coverage in October. The administration had hoped to get half a million people signed up in the Affordable Care Act’s first month.

Washington state making insurance exchange work

KENT, Wash. – Mindy Mansfield had health insurance when she worked at a factory that made air flow vents in Cle Elum, a small town on the eastern side of the Cascades. It covered the pills she took for her Type 2 diabetes and the ones she needed to ease her arthritis. But as she edged toward retirement age after nearly two decades as a machine operator, Mansfield was laid off. She moved in with her older sister in Kent, lost her medical coverage and jettisoned her arthritis medication because “it was just too expensive.”

Your Health Idaho insurance exchange has 338 enrollees in first month

BOISE – Just 338 people selected health coverage via Idaho’s insurance exchange during its glitch-plagued first month. Your Health Idaho’s enrollee figures were released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which also released statistics for the nation’s other state exchanges.

Health law clock ticks for sickest

PORTLAND – With federal and state online health care market-places experiencing glitches a month into implementation, concern is mounting for a vulnerable group of people who were supposed to be among the health law’s earliest beneficiaries. Hundreds of thousands of people across the country with pre-existing chronic conditions such as cancer, heart failure or kidney disease who are covered through high risk-insurance pools will see their coverage dissolve by year’s end.

Signing up on Washington’s site still slow

SEATTLE – Washington state’s new health insurance exchange experienced more problems on Wednesday, its second day of operation. The website wahealthplanfinder.org offers visitors a friendly, bright green welcome page, but the internal workings were plagued by glitches.

Health care exchanges struggle to keep up

WASHINGTON – For the second straight day, computer problems continued to stymie online visitors hoping to compare health plans or enroll in coverage on state insurance marketplaces under the new health care law. Federally operated websites and those run by states had similar problems as their computer systems once again struggled to accommodate large numbers of people trying to access the marketplaces at the same time.

Drug marketers don’t always deliver a healthy message

Suffering? Getting old? The pharmaceutical industry wants to help. Every night on TV, photogenic actors frolic with photogenic grandchildren, or lounge in bathtubs gazing into the setting sun, telling emotion-laden tales of 30-second Madison Avenue cures: E.D.? Low T? R.A.? COPD? Dry eye? Sneezy? Wheezy? Queasy? There’s a drug for that. And all the consumer needs to do – all together, now – is “Talk to your doctor.”

Tips from the FDA on prescriptions

 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration oversees prescription drugs and the pharmaceutical industry’s advertising practices.  FDA maintains a web site outlining the requirements of federal law and some tips for consumers, at www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou /Consumers/Prescription DrugAdvertising/default.htm

History is on side of ‘Obamacare’

Historically, health care expansion has a record of winning public support. In England, conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher dismantled several nationalized sectors of the economy, returning them to private enterprise. But she did not try to tear apart England’s nationalized health care system – it was too popular. Then and now. In summer 2012, when London hosted the Olympic Games, the opening ceremony included a prominent celebration of the National Health Service.

Glossary: Health care overhaul

Major new laws come with their own jargon, and President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul is no exception. With the first open enrollment season kicking off for the uninsured, here are some terms consumers might want to get familiar with: Affordable Care Act: The most common formal name for the health care law. Its full title is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Opponents still deride the law as “Obamacare,” but Obama himself has embraced that term, saying it shows he cares.

Tax credits will vary by household income, family size

WASHINGTON — Americans who buy health insurance outside their jobs next year can expect an average tax credit of nearly $2,700 to help them obtain coverage on the new state insurance marketplaces, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. The tax credits will vary by household income and family size, as well as the cost of coverage in a particular state and local area.

Cost control remains key issue of new law

As a longtime advocate for health care reform, what does Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler think the 2010 law left undone? Cost control. “I wish there had been more specificity for how to bend the cost curve down,” he said.

Obamacare will bring price break for many in Washington

What will Obamacare cost, and who will it help? In Washington state it will cover more people and provide more comprehensive benefits than insurance companies sell today. And the final rates indicate many consumers’ health costs could drop.