‘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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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….

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…

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,…

Public Opinion Is Unified on Lowering 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…

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,…

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…

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…

Tu gasto de bolsillo en atención médica no debe ser un misterio

Si alguna vez has tenido una enfermedad grave o has cuidado a alguien que la padece, sabes lo rápido que pueden acumularse las facturas médicas: de laboratorios, radiólogos, farmacias, médicos, diferentes departamentos dentro del mismo hospital, algunos en la red de tu seguro de salud, otros no. Determinar qué facturas debes pagar puede resultar extremadamente…

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Cómo las comunidades rurales están perdiendo sus farmacias

La droguería Batson parece haberse anclado en tiempos más simples. La farmacia independiente de Howard, Kansas, todavía tiene un mostrador de refrescos y sirve helado. Es la única en todo el condado, y oscila entre la nostalgia y la extinción. Julie Perkins, farmacéutica y propietaria de Batson’s, fue a la escuela secundaria local y regresó…

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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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

La catarata de información sobre la inscripción a Medicare no explica bien las opciones de Medigap

La temporada anual de inscripción abierta de Medicare ya está en marcha, y millones de beneficiarios, impulsados ​​por una masiva campaña publicitaria, y con la ayuda de un sitio web federal detallado, elegirán un plan Medicare Advantage privado. Pero aquellos que han optado por el Medicare tradicional se enfrentan a una decisión crítica sobre los…

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…

Demócratas proponen ampliar beneficios de Medicare para la audición. ¿Qué pueden esperar los consumidores?

El gigantesco proyecto de ley de gastos domésticos del presidente Joe Biden agregaría beneficios para servicios de audición al programa tradicional de Medicare, una de las tres principales prestaciones nuevas que los demócratas habían solicitado. La administración Biden parece haberse quedado corta en su ambición de ampliar las prestaciones dentales y oftalmológicas junto con las…

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…

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,…