вторник, 14 декабря 2010 г.

Law Provides Health Insurance For All Oregon Children

Health insurance for nearly all of Oregon’s children is now a reality, thanks to House Bill 2116 signed into law by Gov. Ted Kulongoskii in Portland. The “Healthy Kids” legislation, along with the governor’s earlier approval of a companion bill, paves the way for providing affordable health insurance for 95 to 98 percent of Oregon’s children within the next two years. The less than 100-percent goal takes into account the reality that some children live with families that move too frequently or that avoid authorities.
According to an article appearing in the August 3 issue of The Oregonian, Gov. Kulongoski wants his commitment to provide health insurance to children to rub off on President Obama. “I would tell him, ‘Start with children.’ Make sure every child in this country has access to health care. It is not only a health issue. There is a great equality issue in this.”
The new health insurance legislation, which is slated to be phased into place by January 2010, expands state health insurance coverage to 80,000 uninsured children and 35,000 low-income adults. This measure essentially reduces the number of uninsured people in Oregon by one-third, and makes Oregon one of just eleven states committed to extending universal health care to children.
To pay for this additional coverage, a 1 percent tax is being added to health insurance premiums, as well as an increase in “provider taxes” on most Oregon hospitals.
The new health insurance program originally met some opposition from hospitals because of the proposed tax, although it is expected that the added cost will be completely offset by new federal Medicaid monies for Oregon associated with the increase in state health care spending. Although insurance companies did not support the plan, they agreed not to oppose it.
To handle the expected influx of applicants and the expansion of the health insurance program, the state Department of Human Services created the Office of Healthy Kids and has added about 100 new positions. Employees will begin by enrolling thousands of children who qualified for the Oregon Health Plan even before the new law was signed. Those children live in families with incomes up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $22,050 for a family of four.
In January, the state will begin to subsidize, on a sliding scale, private employer health insurance for children who live in families that earn between 201 and 300 percent of the federal poverty level. Children from families in that income range who do not have employer insurance can buy into the new state-sponsored insurance option, which will also be available to all Oregon children. The plan does not, however, cover children who are illegal immigrants.
By offering health insurance to more of Oregon’s children, Gov. Kulongoski and other proponents of the plan hope to see improvements in vaccination rates, early detection of autism, better asthma care, and other benefits. Oregon residents who want to learn more about the new health insurance program or enroll their children can visit www.oregonhealthykids.gov or call 877-314-5678.

среда, 8 декабря 2010 г.

Connecticut Details State Health Insurance Expansion Program

The Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut on Tuesday unveiled a proposal for a new state health care program intended to expand insurance coverage to the state's estimated 300,000 uninsured residents and cover up to 98% of all state residents by 2014, the Hartford Courant reports.
The SustiNet program, which would begin enrolling residents in 2011, would expand the state's employee health insurance pool to include residents who already are enrolled in the state's Medicaid and HUSKY health programs.
Under the program, the state employees' health plan would be made available to all uninsured individuals, not-for-profit groups, municipalities and small employers. The program would automatically enroll members unless they opt out. Large and mid-sized companies with payrolls exceeding $318,000 that do not provide employer-sponsored insurance or minimum health coverage for their workers would be required to share the costs of the program in order to participate in it (Levin Becker, Hartford Courant, 1/13).
The program also calls for increased use of electronic health records and an emphasis on preventive care, management of chronic conditions and better coordination of care between physicians and other care providers (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 12/10/08). UHCF officials expect the program to save individuals and employers as much as $1.7 billion by 2014 because of the large size of the insurance pool. However, the state could be expected to spend an additional $950 million in 2014 when the program is projected to be fully implemented and operational, the Courant reports.
According to the Courant, UHCF's proposal is the first of many on the state and federal level that are expected to be released this year "in what many people say is the year for health reform." Connecticut lawmakers are expected to address health care reform in the current session, the Courant reports (Hartford Courant, 1/13).

четверг, 2 декабря 2010 г.

GuidedCare improves much including cost of health insurance

GuidedCare, a program for older chronically ill patients, has been studied again; this time physician satisfaction with communications to patients and families was the focus. Physicians in this study reported an increase in overall general satisfaction levels after using the GuidedCare model. Physicians also showed greater satisfaction in understanding their patients’ clinical characteristics.
Other studies have shown that GuidedCare patients tend to spend less time hospitalized, in nursing homes, fewer emergency room visits and home health incidents as well. Patients feel they are receiving better care and the data supports that impression. Additionally, caregivers feel less strain when participating in GuidedCare programs. The even better news? The cost-savings. For every patient receiving GuidedCare, the estimated savings is about 11% ($1,365, after the cost of GuidedCare), or $75,000 per nurse.
With so many eyes on health insurance reform, the news continues to be good for the GuidedCare program. Patients want affordable health insurance coverage along with quality health care. Health insurance companies can now offer this model of health care and reduce their costs at the same time, resulting in more affordable health insurance coverage for a growing population of patients with chroni illnesses.
GuidedCare is a home-based program. The model consists of a team of individuals which include a registered nurse, multiple physicians, and other members of office staff who work together. The nurse visits the home and makes assessments, helps care planning, educates the patients and family members, conducts monthly monitoring visits, and coordinates with health care professionals, hospital, pharmacies, and other community agencies to ensure that all health-related needs are being met.
Medicare offers a program with similar functions for not just the aged, but also for anyone who is disabled and fits certain health criteria (necessity levels). States also have programs as well. If interested in enrolling in such a program, ask your doctor or contact your local Health Department for more information.

четверг, 25 ноября 2010 г.

Health Insurance Rates Lowest In Texas

Health insurance study shows that Texas has the highest rates of uninsured. Hispanics in Texas are less likely to be covered than blacks and whites. In other words health insurance is less affordable for Hispanics.
The first ever study from U.S. Census Bureau looked at health insurance rates in very details for 2005. Data was analysed and broken down by state, race to show the exact situation in all states.
Researchers found that Texas residents are less likely to be insured compared with all other states. One in four Florida, Texas, and New Mexico residents were uninsured in 2005, compared with only one in 10 of Minnesota and Hawaii residents.
When comparing health insurance rates by states, Texas comes the last with 26.3% of residents younger than 65% having no insurance, New Mexico comes after Texas with 24.2% uninsured residents, and Florida comes after New Mexico with 24.0%. Among the states with lowest percentage of uninsured residents appears Iowa with 10.4% uninsured, Wisconsin with 10.3%, Hawaii with 9.7%, and Minnesota with 9.5%, which has the lowest rates of residents with no health coverage.
According to health insurance rates for races Florida had the highest number of blacks with no insurance - 26.7%, Louisiana and Mississippi had 25% uninsured blacks. Oklahoma had the highest number of white residents with no insurance - 18.2%, while Hawaii had only 7.4% uninsured white residents and 11.4% blacks. Hispanics were found to be less likely to be covered than blacks and whites: Texas had 40.5% uninsured Hispanic residents, compared with 24.3% black and 15.8% white residents, while Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, and South Carolina also had the highest rates of uninsured Hispanics - 40%.
"It's a number, I think, that is way too high," said David S. Lopez, CEO of the Harris County Hospital District, the safety net for the people without health insurance. "There are two growing populations: the medically indigent and the individuals who are working and their employers no longer provide insurance."
It could be that the numbers of those for whom the health insurance coverage is not affordable is because of the fact that Texas has a very high number of immigrant population. These people are new in the country. They have low paying jobs and can't afford health insurance.
Overall, US had 1 in 6 residents younger than 65 with no health insurance coverage at all. And it is not a matter of unemployment, because about 80% of those with no insurance had a full time worker in a family. This means that even those who work are unable to afford health coverage.

четверг, 18 ноября 2010 г.

Health professionals need to take action on water and sanitation issues

The active involvement of health professionals in hygiene, sanitation, and water supply is absolutely crucial to accelerating and consolidating global health progress, says a new series of papers in PLoS Medicine by a leading group of public health academics and water advocates. Professor Sandy Cairncross from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and colleagues show how water and sanitation issues are woefully neglected across the world and suggest that action could prevent more than 2 million children dying each year.
The authors say that in 2010, nearly 20% of the world's population still defecates in the open and 2.6 billion people do not have access to even a basic toilet. Unsafe sanitation and drinking water, as well as poor hygiene, account for at least 7% of the total global disease burden, and nearly 20% of all child deaths in the world. Most of these diseases, including diarrhoea, can easily be prevented with cheap and proven interventions such as pit latrines and hand-washing with soap, say the authors. Despite this, progress has been "painfully slow" in many developing countries. The series urges members of the health community—including international donors, UN agencies, developing country governments, and health care professionals—to take immediate action to reduce this "devastating disease burden."
Four papers form the PLoS Medicine series. In the first article, Jamie Bartram from the University of North Carolina, USA, and Sandy Cairncross argue that the massive burden of ill health associated with poor hygiene, sanitation, and water supply demands more attention from health professionals and policymakers. In the second article, Paul Hunter (University of East Anglia, United Kingdom) and colleagues focus on water supply and argue that much more effort is needed to improve access to safe and sustainable water supplies. David Trouba (Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, Geneva, Switzerland) and colleagues discuss the importance of improved sanitation to health and the role that the health sector can play in its advocacy in the third article. And in the final article, Sandy Cairncross and colleagues outline what needs to be done to make significant progress in providing more and better hygiene, sanitation, and water for all.