Articles Posted in Insurance

With estimates that more than 150,000 of America’s young have been exposed to campus shootings since 1979, it seems curious, to be generous, for so many to just bend a knee and not see that the nation is in the grip of a public health crisis — a crisis that with clear thinking could be stopped.

If Americans of another age got “scared straight” about the dangers of intoxicated driving by seeing gruesome educational movies, well, then, it might be worth getting more people to read the post-mortem, detailing the human carnage caused just a few months ago by a psychotic’s firing from a hotel perch into a music festival crowd below in Las Vegas. See, for example, the video above showing the damage caused by assault-style weapons.

srabuse-300x150Imagine if Uncle Sam permitted everyone who lives in Newport News, Va., or maybe Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to be chemically restrained, drugged with powerful medications so they fell, day and night, into a speechless stupor. Now, further envision the furor if these 180,000 souls and their families each were forced to pay as much as $100,000 annually  to be reduced to a near vegetative state.

This real situation with over-medicated Americans, in this case seniors in nursing homes, is just one more cruelty happening against the aged. It’s also hard to see federal officials issuing faint praise on how regulations slowly — too painfully so — are reducing abuse of potent anti-psychotics in the nation’s care for the old, especially those with dementia.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, aka CMS, has issued new data on its seven-year campaign to slash elder care facilities administering antipsychotics sold under brand names like Abilify, Risperdal, and Zyprexa. Questions also have been raised about a newer drug, the little red pill branded as Nudexta.

carwreck-300x225Although Congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration may not want to stop their relentless assault on the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, there may be other reasons to persuade them to do so.

Researchers at the nonpartisan, not-for-profit RAND Corp., for example, have looked at existing studies and data and asked if the recent GOP move, in the huge tax cut bill, to halt the ACA’s health insurance mandate will have unintended consequences.

They say the repeal of the requirement that all Americans show they have health coverage when they pay their taxes may “ripple out” to other insurances they carry — meaning that tens of millions of motorists may pay more for auto insurance and businesses could see hikes in workmen’s compensation costs they already struggle to pay.

chips-300x192Let’s give the faintest cheer — maybe of the Bronx variety — to the Republican-controlled Congress for, finally, reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, aka CHIP.

This means that months of high and needless anxiety will end for nine million or so youngsters who will get health insurance, coverage that their poor or working poor families otherwise could not afford, even under the Medicaid program that serves the underprivileged. The six-year cost to Uncle Sam will be relatively small — $124 billion, and 375,000 poor and expectant moms also will benefit from CHIP, which has halved the uninsured rate among kids in the last decade.

The much-liked program got caught in a bitter partisan cross-fire, becoming a last-minute bargaining chip by congressional Republicans in the battle over the short-lived  shut-down of the federal government. (Which, incidentally, ended up as a boondoggle that enriched health care industry players — who didn’t need the boost — by more than $31 billion.) GOP lawmakers, who in 2017 passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut package that chiefly will benefit corporations and the richest Americans, spent weeks, claiming the country could not afford CHIP.

us-cash-184x300Here’s something that many Americans likely would want to think twice about letting happen: Should good health and long lives be just another of the spoils reserved to the rich?

Vox, a news and information site, has posted a provocative dig into national data on longevity — a measure that has raised experts’ concern with its recent rare, two-years-in-a-row dive, notably due to fatal overdoses of opioid drugs, including prescription painkillers, heroin, and fentanyl.

Experts scrutinizing the data, Vox says, keep finding that “what’s often lost in the conversation about the uptick in [U.S.] mortality … is that this trend isn’t affecting all Americans. In fact, there’s one group … that’s doing better than ever: the rich. While poor and middle-class Americans are dying earlier these days, the wealthiest among us are enjoying unprecedented longevity.”

bullets-300x245When illness, accidents, and natural- or man-made calamities strike, victims discover in their long slog to recovery that our health insurance system only aggravates their pain and anxiety.  That’s a painful lesson that hundreds of Americans will keep struggling with in 2018, months after a madman rained gunfire from high-powered rifles down into a Las Vegas music festival crowd.

Modern Healthcare deserves credit for its follow-up of the October mayhem Nevada. It was part of what the industry publication calls an “epidemic of mass shootings,” tragedies stretching from San Bernardino, Calif., to Newton, Mass. They’re taxing hospitals’ capacities not only to provide large-scale emergency medicine but also to provide follow-up care — especially assisting survivors and their families and friends in dealing with their staggering medical expenses.

Victims in mass shootings, Modern Healthcare reported, confront a “proliferation of health plans with high deductibles and coinsurance requirements, leaving [them] exposed to many thousands of dollars in cost-sharing. Severely injured patients needing repeat surgeries may hit their out-of-pocket spending limits multiple years in a row, forcing them into bankruptcy. On top of that, even insured patients may face big balance bills if they are treated by out-of-network providers.”

obamacare1-300x154Millions of ordinary Americans closed out 2017 with a powerful message to the Trump Administration and GOP lawmakers about the nation’s health care. Despite efforts to make it harder to re-enlist for insurance plans, consumers signed up in strong fashion for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Their actions spoke loudly against the claim that Obamacare is dead. Nope, it’s popular and in high demand.

That 8.8. million Americans had sought Obamacare by the Dec. 15 general program sign-up deadline came as a pleasant surprise to ACA supporters. They were glum because the administration had halved the application time and slashed the money for advertising and other outreach — programs that proponents had considered necessary so those covered on ACA exchanges wouldn’t only be the sickest and oldest Americans but also the healthy and young. Administration officials also said little or nothing to support or promote Obamacare sign-ups, while the President and GOP lawmakers spent the first year of a new Congress and administration assailing the ACA, including a failed effort to repeal and replace it.

Partisans in Congress, as part of a more than $1.5 trillion bill to change the nation’s tax system, killed the ACA’s individual mandate — the requirement that all Americans show, as part of the annual tax returns, that they had health insurance or face penalties. That move, independent and nonpartisan analysts have said, will mean 13 million Americans will lack health coverage by 2027, and average health insurance premiums will go up by 10 percent each year for the next decade. With the prospect that the tax bill and the GOP budget plan will force billions of dollars in cuts, too, to Medicare and Medicaid, and with the unpopular individual mandate gone, President Trump has claimed that he and the Republican Congress have killed Obamacare.

spanking-187x300Kids can be a major part of what makes the holidays special. But if a house full of the little darlings hasn’t already driven the grown-ups around them to total distraction, parents, grandparents, and uncles, aunties may want to consider a few ways to ensure youngsters stay healthy and wise in the days ahead, including:

Spare the rod so children don’t get spoiled

If the kids get naughty during the winter break, their parents might find themselves agreeing with a controversial view: Two-thirds of Americans, when asked in surveys, say that misbehaving children younger than 7 need a “good, hard spanking” on occasion when they’re very bad.

gifts-300x184Looking for a gift with more meaning for a holiday season of higher purpose and lasting impact? Here are some ideas:

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