COVID-19 Care is (Mostly) Free to Patients. Should Other Vital Care Be Too?

This spring health insurance companies, large employers, and state and federal governments, pivoted rapidly to make COVID-19 tests, treatments and even future vaccines free, or nearly free, for the people covered by their plans. A team that has worked for years to make the same true for other types of care says this is a crucial time to expand that effort.

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A Brave New Virtual World of Work

The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in remote work on an unprecedented scale. Elizabeth Lyons, an assistant professor of management at UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy, predicts this sudden transition to virtual will create a “new normal” in the world of work.

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ASA Urges Secretary Azar to Implement a Moratorium on Health Insurer Contract Cancellations and Reinstatement of Cancelled Physician Contracts

Health insurance companies around the country are using aggressive negotiating tactics to terminate physician contracts, forcing physicians out of network with little or no notice and increasing the likelihood that patients will receive surprise medical bills. The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) has implored Alex M. Azar II, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to press insurers to reinstate terminated contracts and to implement a moratorium on cancellations and terminations during this national health emergency.

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Sky-high surprise bills from air ambulance flights possible for many patients

When an emergency dispatcher calls for a helicopter to fly a critically ill patient to a hospital, they don’t have time to check whether they take the patient’s insurance. But after those patients land, 72% of them could face a potential “surprise bill” because their ambulance provider isn’t “in network” with their insurance, a new study of people with private insurance finds. So could 79% of those transported via ground ambulance.

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ACA has helped protect low-income patients from catastrophic spending for surgery

n the years after 2014, when the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces were established, low-income patients who underwent a surgical procedure saved an average of $601 in out-of-pocket spending and $968 in premium spending per year, compared to before the marketplaces existed. Those low-income patients also had a 35% lower chance of having catastrophic levels of household medical spending.

However, for middle-income patients, spending levels were about the same before and after the marketplaces began.

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Affordable Care Act helped make health insurance access more equal, but racial and ethnic gaps remain

As the Affordable Care Act turns 10, a new study shows it has narrowed racial and ethnic gaps in access to health insurance – but definitely not eliminated them.
Both the percentage of people 19-64 who lacked health insurance, and the size of the health insurance gap between white, African-American and Hispanic Americans, shrank. From 2013 to 2017, the gap between blacks and whites narrowed 45%, and the difference between Hispanics and whites narrowed 35%.

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Seven Medical Societies Join the ACR to Oppose Insurer Policy Limiting Access to In-Office Treatments

Providers are concerned the mandate adds an additional layer of red tape that will delay patient care, reduce the ability of providers to ensure therapies have been properly handled and safely stored, inflate patient out-of-pocket costs, and result in an increase of drug waste.

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1 in 5 operations may lead to surprise bills, even when surgeon & hospital are in-network

As if recovering from surgery wasn’t hard enough, a new study shows that one in five operations could result in an unwelcome surprise: a bill for hundreds or thousands of dollars that the patient didn’t know they might owe.
On average, that potential surprise bill added up to $2,011. That’s on top of the nearly $1,800 the average privately insured patient would already owe after it paid for most of the costs of their operation.

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Middle-Aged Adults Worried About Health Insurance Costs Now, Uncertain for Future

Health insurance costs weigh heavily on the minds of many middle-aged adults, and many are worried for what they’ll face in retirement or if federal health policies change, according to a new study. More than a quarter of people in their 50s and early 60s lack confidence that they’ll be able to afford health insurance in the next year, and the number goes up to nearly half when they look ahead to retirement.

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WHEN CAREGIVERS NEED CARE

People who regularly care for or assist a family member or friend with a health problem or disability are more likely to neglect their own health, particularly by not having insurance or putting off necessary health services due to cost, according to a study published by the American Psychological Association.

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