health care

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michiganders can expect to pay a little more for health insurance as the next round of Obamacare starts today.

Government officials say the cost of a benchmark plan in Michigan on will increase 1.2% for 2016 coverage. Consumers could start choosing plans Sunday through the online marketplace and have until Dec. 15 to buy coverage if they want it to start Jan. 1.

A new study released by the Economic Alliance for Michigan (EAM) says rising health care costs threaten economic growth and the stability of working families.

The report says overall health care spending in the U.S. nearly doubled, from $1.5 to $2.9 trillion between 2001 and 2013. Projected costs are expected to reach $4.8 trillion by 2021.

I didn’t watch much of the Republican Presidential debate last night, but listened to some of it while driving.

What struck me was that all the candidates talked as if President Obama was the worst thing in our nation’s history. 

Worse than the Civil War, the Great Depression, you name it. 

The battles over the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare, if you are a Republican – have been bitterly fought, and at least for the time being, won. The President’s main goal was to make health insurance and health care available to more people, and he’s done that.

There’s still a problem, however. Even if you have coverage, it’s hard to get health care without a doctor – especially what’s known as a primary care physician. Specialists are thick on the ground, especially in affluent areas, like Birmingham or Ann Arbor.

But you are going to need a lot of luck if you have to try finding a general practitioner, pediatrician or psychiatrist in rural northern Michigan, or the city of Detroit itself. If you have small children, you’re probably better off medically if you live in Oakland or Washtenaw counties.

They have ten times as many pediatricians as the medical profession considers ideal for the size of the population. But if you have kids and are thinking about taking a job in the far-off Keweenaw Peninsula … good luck.

The University of Michigan Health System

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, better known as HIPAA, is a federal law passed in 1996 that includes a privacy section establishing national standards for patient confidentiality.

But Michigan has its own laws on the books regarding a patient’s right to privacy.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Time is running out for Michiganders who still need to sign up for health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act. 

February 15th is the deadline to sign up or face a penalty.

The initial roll out of Obamacare was marked by numerous problems.  Computer glitches frustrated tens of thousands of Michiganders who tried to log on to the online marketplace. 

“If you want to make some kind of comparison, the glitches this year are almost non-existent,” says Dizzy Warren, with Enroll Michigan.

She says the second year of Obamacare has gone much smoother than the first.