Articles Posted in Insurance

Although Good Samaritans deserve a great holiday cheer for their part in paying for some of it, medical debt persists as a giant shame of the American health care system. Doctors, hospitals, insurers, Big Pharma, and other providers and suppliers need to step up to shrink the financial burdens of medical care that crush far too many patients and their loved ones.

Judith Jones and Carolyn Kenyon, two retired friends in Ithaca, N.Y., raised $12,500 that they donated to a charitable group. It buys bundled, past-due medical bills and forgives them to help those in need. That became a powerful gift, as RIP Medical Debt leveraged it, buying for a penny on the dollar or so, a portfolio of obligations exceeding $1.5 million.

cjrbriefingbook-300x188Facts matter, and, when amassed in a smart way, they can paint a powerful and accurate picture of reality, as is made clear with findings presented in the annual “Briefing Book” on medical malpractice from the Center for Justice and Democracy at New York Law School.

As the Kentucky Supreme Court recently affirmed when it slapped down an attempt in the Bluegrass state to “reform” medical malpractice lawsuits, doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, and insurers too readily embrace and spread counter-factual notions about patients who seek in the civil justice system remedies for harms they have suffered while seeking medical services.

It’s our fundamental, guaranteed right to pursue such claims, the justices affirmed — and the CJ&D experts have put together research to show that medical malpractice cases don’t happen often but are valuable in protecting the quality and safety of all patients’ care.

HCGopen19-300x200Political partisans are whipping ahead with their Grinch-like views about public support of any kind for health care for less affluent Americans — and now the nation’s children are bearing the brunt of mean-spirited policies.

Georgetown University reported that for the first time in almost a decade, the number of children lacking health coverage increased, with roughly a quarter of a million more youngsters uninsured this year versus last.

Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown’s Center for Children and Families, which has issued authoritative data on kids’ and health insurance, told NPR the increase of uninsured children is unacceptable, adding, “The nation is going backwards on insuring kids and it is likely to get worse.”

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NY Atty Gen Barbara Underwood

Profit-hungry hospitals have dived to some real lows in billing and mistreating patients. Seven New York facilities have gotten slapped down by the state attorney general for breaking the law by charging more than 200 women anywhere from $46 to $2,892 for collecting evidence that the patients may have been raped.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, whose office conducted a year-long investigation of the abuses of state laws aimed at protecting victims of sexual violence, said in a statement, quoted by the New York Times: “Survivors of sexual assault have already gone through unfathomable trauma. To then subject them to illegal bills and collection calls is unconscionable.”

deskstanding-231x300Holiday gift-giving can be expensive, so the health-conscious may wish to exercise skepticism about some potential purchases with dubious or unexpected consequence.

If you’re considering forking over more than a few dollars, think twice about:

  • So-called “tall” or “standing” desks. They were supposed to be a response to growing research about workers’ heightened health risks from sitting all day long. But studies show that standing while working with a computer isn’t as beneficial as some advocates may have claimed. That’s because it isn’t exercise or movement — which was supposed to the point of promoting healthier workplace practices, such as getting up from the desk and walking around every few minutes rather than becoming sedentary on the job. Studies, in fact, show that workers who must stand all day suffer health harms, like varicose veins and more. Some employees with posture issues may benefit some from standing and not scrunching themselves up while sitting at a desk. For most of the rest of us, it does matter to get up, exercise, and move. A fancy desk isn’t necessary for that, right?

Last week’s election leaves two questions lingering about health care: Will politicians really hear what voters said? And, what help might beleaguered patients now expect from their elected officials?

The Affordable Care Act, the central flash point of almost a decade of bitter political battles, appears stronger and more steadfast with Republicans losing the House, despite their last-minute counter-factual claims to support pillars of Obamacare like protections on pre-existing conditions, minimum- and lifetime-benefits.

Medicaid, a program expanded under the ACA to provide more and more affordable care to the poor and struggling, got a big boost, too, in the midterms. Voters, by the ballot, voted to expand its reach in the “red-red” states of Utah, Nebraska, and Idaho. The new governor in Maine will halt her predecessor’s resistance to the Medicaid expansion, according to her campaign promises. In Wisconsin and Kansas, Democratic gubernatorial candidates who also campaigned for Medicaid expansion, defeated Republicans who had opposed it.

Election18-300x146Take some time this week to do something big for yourself, your loved ones, friends, work colleagues, and our country, for that matter:

  • Exercise your privilege, right, and duty as a citizen: Please vote.
  • You may wish to look now at your health insurance coverage, please, being mindful of onrushing deadlines especially if you may be seeking or renewing a policy through the Affordable Care Act exchanges (their 2019 enrollment period opened on Nov. 1), or Medicare.

docnrecordsUncle Sam more than ever wants it to happen, and patient advocates are pushing hard, too. So, why, when technology can make it easier than ever to do so, must patients struggle still to get easy, convenient, low- or no-cost access to invaluable electronic records about their own health care?

Judith Graham, a columnist focusing on aging issues for the Kaiser Health News Service, has written a timely, troubling update on perplexing challenges consumers still confront when trying to secure their electronic health records (EHRs).

She cites a study recently published by Yale researchers who gathered information from 83 leading hospitals that purport to assist their patients with EHR access. The experts swept up policies and forms the institutions said patients would need, then contacted them, telling hospital staffers not that they were academic researchers but that they were checking on behalf of an elderly relative in need of their records and how soon and how difficult and costly might it be to get them? This is an everyday dilemma for consumers, and the institutions should have dealt with these requests with ease and alacrity.

drugpricetrump-300x163Days before politicians will face voters who tell pollsters they’re angry and upset about health care issues, President Trump made his first visit to the nation’s giant Health and Human Services Department to roll out a much-promoted proposal to attack soaring prescription drug prices.

The plan was plenty wonky, replete with data about how much less patients in other, similar developed nations pay for drugs than Americans do. And despite the president’s assault on “freeloading” foreigners, it was murky as to the outcomes and fate of the administration’s latest drug cost-reduction proposal.

That’s because, buried in its pages of prose, it amounted to little more than a sketch of what experts have termed a big, rigorous clinical trial of an approach that’s anathema to Trump’s own purportedly free-market-loving party: price controls.

mitchAt a time when Americans experience high anxiety and financial insecurity due to medical costs — with more than 20 percent of those with health insurance experiencing trouble paying for necessities, more than a quarter of them saying they had bills in collection, and 13 percent forced to borrowed money as a result of illness — politicians and special interests are closing the midterm campaigns as if they can prank voters. Just how gullible do they think the electorate can be?

Republican congressional candidates, after howling about the Affordable Care Act and campaigning unsuccessfully to repeal it in dozens of votes for years, including in the first of the Trump Administration, now are claiming to constituents that they support key parts of Obamacare.

Even as GOP state attorneys general argue in a pending federal court case to gut ACA protections on preexisting conditions, minimum benefits, and lifetime limits, Republican candidates are telling voters, counter factually, how much they embrace and support those Obamacare components. They’re trotting out sad tales about their own relatives’ illnesses to claim to support a position that they opposed in legislative votes and actions just weeks ago.

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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