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health insurance

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report finds, despite improved access to health insurance, a large number of poor Michiganders still fall in and out of coverage.

The University of Michigan’s Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation looked at something called “churning”.  Churning is when individuals pass from one health insurer to another, either by changing plans or entering and exiting Medicaid.

Marianne Udow Philips is the center’s director. She says there remains a lot of health insurance instability.

Doctor's office
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Tuesday, Michiganders will start signing up for health insurance coverage under the next round of Obamacare.

Many will find fewer choices and more expensive policies to choose from.

Nearly 400,000 Michiganders got health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s online marketplace. But in Michigan, the next round of Obamacare is offering fewer choices and a nearly 17% increase in rates next year.

"It’s not perfect, it does need to be fixed," said Udow-Phillips on the Affordable Care Act. "But it’s a place to start from.”
Flickr user/Images Money / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Word came from the federal government this week: premiums for popular health plans sold on healthcare.gov are going up an average of 25% next year.

And, depending on where you live, you may have fewer choices when shopping on the exchange.

Bruce LaBrecque says there are so many painful issues that a woman's OBGYN might be reluctant to ask about that can be treated with physical therapy.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The next round of Obamacare will cost more for hundreds of thousands of Michiganders who get their health insurance through the federal program.

Four fewer companies are offering health insurance plans through Michigan’s Affordable Care Act marketplace next year.  That will directly affect about 10,000 Michiganders currently covered by plans offered by those companies.

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For the first time, researchers show how much patients with private insurance actually pay for hospital stays. Out-of-pocket costs are high and rising fast for many plans, even those considered “good” insurance.

Emily Adrion is a research fellow at the University of Michigan medical school. She and her team looked at the rising out-of-pocket costs for people with private insurance.

Costs are rising in two main areas: deductibles and co-insurance.

To begin with deductibles, Adrion said they rose by around 86% between 2009 and 2013.

Insurance companies in Michigan are asking for, on average, 17.2% higher rates for individual plans next year.
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The insurance companies offering health plans on Michigan's public exchange have a collective eye fixed on January 1, 2017.

That's when they hope they'll be able to start charging, on average, 17.2% more for individual health insurance plans.

Marianne Udow-Phillips joined us today to talk about what's behind these hefty rate increase requests.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Rates could be going up next year for people who buy health insurance on Michigan's public exchange.

More than a dozen companies have submitted requests for rate changes to the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (you can see the requests here). The companies that sell to the largest share of the individual market are Blue Care Network with a 14.8% requested increase, Blue Cross Blue Shield at 18.7%, and Priority Health at 13.9%.

The average increase is 17.2%.

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 HealthCare.gov 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.

Robert Scott / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Michigan Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, this week introduced legislation that would get rid of health benefits for domestic partners of state employees.

Right now, domestic partners may apply for benefits as long as they live together.

Under the bill, public employers would be banned from offering domestic partner benefits.

Matthileo/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

State of Michigan employees in same-sex marriages can sign their spouses up for benefits during a special enrollment period this month.

The Civil Service Commission said gay state workers married after the U.S. Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling have until July 27th to sign their spouse up for benefits.

Gay employees married legally somewhere else before the ruling can also enroll their spouses.

FLICKR USER THE COSUMERIST / Flickr

Sixteen of the 21 health insurance carriers in Michigan are asking for permission to increase their rates for individual polices next year.

For example, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is asking for an increase of 11.3 percent and Blue Care Network of Michigan wants a 9.7 percent increase.

The public can submit comments until July 1 on the proposed changes to HealthRateComments@michigan.gov.

Legislation could help kids get hearing aids

Apr 15, 2015
Senator Dale Zorn Miss Michigan KT Maviglia
senatordalezorn.com

A Michigan lawmaker is teaming up with Miss Michigan to make it easier for children with hearing loss to get devices to help them hear.

State Sen. Dale Zorn, R-Ida, and KT Maviglia of Dundee are joining forces on a bill that would require health insurers to cover the cost of hearing aids.

Under the bill, insurers would cover new devices at least once every three years for kids up to age 21.

Maviglia was diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss at the age of nine.

After she got her hearing aids, she said school became "a game of catch-up."

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.

Andrian Clark / Flickr

DETROIT - Federal health officials say about 300,000 Michigan residents have signed up for health care through the federal exchange, most with financial help.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell told reporters Tuesday that the 299,750 sign-ups as of Jan. 16 represent those who have selected a health plan or re-enrolled, not paid. Of those, 33% enrolled for the first time.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is Director of the University of Michigan's Center for Healthcare Research.
user mudowp / Twitter

Marianne Udow-Phillips, Director of the UM Center for Healthcare Research, is not making any more predictions. 

At least, not about health insurance coverage rates in Michigan.

Michigan Legislature
Michigan Municipal League

Democrats in the state Legislature want to require insurance companies to offer coverage for abortions.

The Republican-controlled Legislature passed a petition-initiated law last year banning abortion coverage in standard health insurance plans. Under that law, people can only buy coverage for abortions as a separate insurance plan, known as a “rider.”

Democrats say just seven of Michigan’s 42 health insurers offer those riders and none of them offers the plans to individuals buying insurance on their own.

healthcare.gov

 

Health insurers and Healthcare.gov are now gearing up for year two of the Affordable Care Act.

Open enrollment begins two months from today – November 15. And this year, there's a new twist: renewals and plan changes.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is the director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation at the University of Michigan. She says consumers have to do their homework to compare different health plans this year.

"Some [rates] are up, and some are down ... Even those who have coverage now, it would be very important for consumers to actually look at the choices again and see what is the best match with the premiums and the networks that are offered," says Udow-Phillips.

* Listen to our conversation with Marianne Udow-Phillips above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce is launching a private health insurance marketplace September 1st.

Jason Russell is the senior director of the chamber’s Department of Insurance Services.

He says the intent of the new marketplace is to help small businesses and insurance agents deal with an increasingly complex health insurance landscape under the Affordable Care Act.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The cost of Obamacare health insurance plans will likely rise next year in Michigan. 

272,000 Michiganders signed up for health insurance using the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.   They will be paying more for those plans if proposed rate increases released this week are approved by state and federal regulators.

Josh Fangmeier is a health policy analyst with the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation at the University of Michigan.    

Farm in rural Michigan
user acrylicartist / MorgueFile.com

One of the most important aspects of the Affordable Care Act is consumer choice. More choice leads to more competition among insurers, and that can mean lower costs to consumers.

But, as Michiganders shopped for health coverage on the federal marketplace, the amount of choice was not even.

If you lived in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb Counties, you got to choose from 55 insurance plans. If you lived in Delta County in the Upper Peninsula, you were only offered 5 plans, all of them from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Josh Fangmeier is a health policy analyst with the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation. He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Today is the day.

If you don’t sign up for health-care coverage by midnight tonight, you might not be able to get coverage until next year. And if you choose not to get covered, you might get dinged on your 2014 taxes –also known as the "individual shared responsibility payment."

If you can afford health coverage, but you decide to do without, here's how much you might have to pay:

  • In 2014, it's 1% of your yearly income or $95 per person, whichever is higher.
  • In 2015, it’s 2% of your yearly income or $325 per person, whichever is higher.
  • In 2016 and later years, it’s 2.5% of your yearly income or $695 per person, whichever is higher. 
  • After 2016, the fee is adjusted for inflation.

To avoid any potential fees, you need to sign up by tonight.

There are exceptions.

user striatic / Flickr

We are closing in on the deadline to purchase health insurance or face a penalty under the Affordable Care Act. Erin Knott is the Michigan Director of Enroll America, a non-profit, non-partisan group trying to get people enrolled in health insurance.

Erin joined us today to discuss the upcoming deadline. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is Director of the University of Michigan's Center for Healthcare Research.
user mudowp / Twitter

It was late last year that state lawmakers passed The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act.

Starting this Friday, insurance companies will not be allowed to sell policies that include abortion coverage as a standard feature.

Customers would have to buy separate add-ons, riders, to cover abortion and they would have to do it before ever knowing whether they will want to obtain an abortion.

And how that might or might not happen is pretty confusing.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is with the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, and she joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Michigan’s law barring insurance companies from including abortion coverage in basic policies takes effect this week. 

7 insurance companies, including Blue Cross/Blue Shield, will offer an additional rider.

David Waymire is a spokesman for the Michigan Association of Health Plans.      He says most Michiganders get their insurance from self-insured company health plans which are not covered by the law.   

“So there’s really a small number of people that will ever be affected by this law at this point,” says Waymire.

YouTube screenshot

There is little question that the Affordable Care Act is a game-changer for Americans who had jobs where no insurance was available from their employer, or who had pre-existing conditions, or whose incomes did not qualify them for Medicaid, or who could not afford to buy health coverage.

But as the health care picture brightens for these Americans, there are others who are, frankly, sick of the ACA and the upheaval it has brought to their lives.

Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes took a look at what the ACA has meant for a typical small Michigan business.

Howes joined us today and we asked him to tell us about American Gear & Engineering. It’s the company he profiled in today's column of the Detroit News.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Opponents of Obamacare turned out for a meeting in Jackson today.  

Congressman Tim Walberg is holding a series of town hall meetings this week on the Affordable Care Act.

The Republican congressman is showcasing small business owners and patients who say they are paying more for health insurance under Obamacare.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Obama Administration says Michiganders are signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act at a faster pace than expected. But time is running out.

Michiganders have until the end of March to sign up for health insurance or face a federal tax penalty.

The Obama administration says through the end of January, about 112,000 Michiganders have picked insurance plans using the federal health care website.

http://whitmer.senatedems.com/

On the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade – the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide – women's reproductive rights remain in the political spotlight.

Let's turn our attention to that subject here in Michigan. It was mid-December when state lawmakers approved a controversial law requiring consumers to buy separate policies for abortion coverage.

This means a person has to buy a rider before knowing they need an abortion; they would not be able to buy a rider after getting pregnant. And the law does not include exceptions for rape or incest.

The law goes into effect in March, and there’s confusion over just how this is supposed to work.

Marianne Udow Phillips is director of The Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation at the University of Michigan. She talks to us today and explains what the new law means.

Listen to the full interview above.

Courtesy of Children First

It's been a little over two weeks since the Affordable Care Act officially kicked in.

How many people have been able to enroll? How many are getting financial assistance to help pay for their plan? And what deadlines do we need to be aware of?

Joining us once more is Don Hazaert, director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, one of Michigan's four navigator agencies for the ACA.

Listen to full interview above. 

Fotos GOVBA / Flickr

Cost comparison – it can be an effective way of saving money. Whether it's comparing the price of a cup of coffee – Starbucks versus Tim Horton's, for instance – or comparing gas prices in different parts of the city or state, checking out cost differences is, for many, just part of a regular day.

But what about comparing medical costs? Would you have any idea what, say, a hip replacement might cost at the hospital you go to?

If you could tease out those prices and compare them, you might find yourself wondering: Why do some hospitals in the same city or state charge thousands of dollars more for the same procedure? And why is it so tough to get those prices?

Those are the questions Ilene Wolff, a writer with DBusiness, explored in a recent story.

To compare prices of services at different hospitals, visit healthcarebluebook.comTo look up hospital quality information, visit hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.

Listen to the full interview above. 

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