Affordable Health Care Act
Insurance for Children
- Health Insurance Resources (PBS.org)
Provides links related to protecting yourself from health insurance problems. 04-06
- -001 Editorial: Axelrod Describes Senate's Health Care Reform Bill (MSNBC News)
"White House senior adviser David Axelrod answers critics who say President Obama gave up too much in health insurance deal." 12-09
- -001 Editorial: Howard Dean Describes Senate's Health Care Reform Bill (MSNBC News)
Dean says that bill has "a long way to go." He says that choice has been removed and private insurance companies will be the only method of gaining insurance for most. 12-09
- -Editorial: President Obama's Speech on Health Care Reform (WhiteHouse.gov)
"The President looks back to the bipartisan Patient's Bill of Rights, a bill that was defeated in Congress at the hands of special interests and their supporters, and notes that health insurance reform covers the same ground and much more in terms of giving the consumers the upper hand over their insurance companies. He calls on the Senate to allow an up-or-down vote, and for those opposing reform to stop using parliamentary maneuvers to drag it out." 12-09
- -02-02-13 The Administration Changes Its Rules on Funding for Contraception (New York Times)
"The Obama administration on Friday proposed yet another compromise to address strenuous objections from religious organizations about a policy requiring health insurance plans to provide free contraceptives, but the change did not end the political furor or legal fight over the issue." 02-13
- -08-19-09 Editorial: Frightening Future If Health Reform Fails (CNN News)
"Milliman Inc., an employee benefits consulting firm, publishes annually its Milliman Medical Index on the total health spending by or for a typical American family of four with private health insurance. The index totals the family's out-of-pocket spending for health care plus the contribution employers and employees make to that family's job-related health insurance coverage." 08-09
- -10-29-09 House to Vote on Health Plan (MSNBC News.com)
"After months of struggle, House Democrats rolled out sweeping legislation Thursday to extend health care coverage to millions who lack it and create a new option of government-run insurance. A vote is likely next week on the plan largely tailored to President Barack Obama's liking." 10-09
- -Alternative Approach to Health in the U.S. Recommended (MSNBC.com)
"Today it’s widely accepted, at least among policy wonks, that health is a product of social conditions. "
"Thirty-seven years ago, a pair of Boston University social scientists took a close look at U.S. health trends and drew an astonishing insight. America’s annual death rate had plummeted since the start of the century, pushing average life expectancy from 48 years to more than 75. But the analysis showed that, contrary to received wisdom, medical treatment had almost nothing to do with it. More than 96% of the decline in mortality was attributable to non-medical factors—less poverty, greater literacy, better housing and nutrition. In fact most of the progress (92% to be exact) had already occurred by the time modern medicine and health care spending took off in the mid-1950s."
"As a first step toward this broader vision of health care, the commission suggests all providers expand the standard list of vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure, and so on) to include social indicators such as employment, safe housing and basic health literacy. By recording those signals in medical records—and linking patients to the services they lack—providers could improve their health while reducing the need for costly clinical care." 01-14
- -How Bad Is Britain's Nationalized Health-Care System? (Time.com)
"In recent weeks, opponents of Barack Obama's health-care-reform plans have criticized Britain's National Health Service (NHS) in an effort to counter the President's proposals for greater government involvement in health care."
"The NHS is a rare example of truly socialized medicine. Health care is provided by a single payer — the British government — and is funded by the taxpayer. All appointments and treatments are free to the patient (though paid for through taxes), as are almost all prescription drugs. The maximum cost of receiving any drug prescribed by the NHS is $12."
"Like most developed countries, Britain ranks above the U.S. in most health measurements. Its citizens have a longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality, and the country has more acute-care hospital beds per capita and fewer deaths related to surgical or medical mishaps. Britain achieves these results while spending proportionally less on health care than the U.S. — about $2,500 per person in Britain, compared with $6,000 in the U.S. For these reasons, the World Health Organization (WHO) ranked Britain 18th in a global league table of health-care systems (the U.S. was ranked 37th). However, there are measures by which the U.S. outperforms Britain: for instance, the U.S. has lower cancer mortality rates." 09-09
- -How Lobbyists Won on Health Care (Time.com)
"The drug industry's legion of registered lobbyists numbers 1,228, or 2.3 for every member of Congress. And its campaign contributions to current members of Waxman's committee have totaled $2.6 million over the past three years." 10-09
- -Will the Attacks of Insurers Backfire? (Time.com)
"Indeed, the insurers seem to have done nothing so much as galvanize the often fractious Democrats. Before this week, a proposed government-funded public plan to compete with private insurers to reduce costs seemed to be off the table. In the Senate it most likely still is; but in the House, Pelosi is using the industry's assault to coax recalcitrant moderates to sign on to a strong public option." 10-09
- Comparative Effectiveness (Congressional Budget Office)
"Over the past 30 years, federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid has roughly tripled as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), rising from about 1.3 percent in 1975 to about 4 percent in 2007. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO’s) projections, under current policies such spending will reach about 12 percent of GDP by 2050—but substantial uncertainty surrounds that estimate.1 If costs per enrollee continued growing over the next four decades as quickly as they have grown over the past four—about 2.5 percentage points faster than per capita GDP—then federal spending on those programs would reach about 17 percent of the economy. If, instead, costs per enrollee did not exceed the growth of GDP, those federal costs would reach about 6 percent of GDP in 2050 solely because of demographic changes (see Figure 1)." 08-09
- Debate Focuses on Public Insurance Option (CNN News)
"After weeks of battles over aspects of President Obama's proposed health care reforms, the debate focused Monday on one central issue: whether the U.S. government will offer a public insurance option."
"Former Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean, a doctor and one-time presidential candidate, told NBC's 'Today Show' on Monday that he believes a public option 'is the entirety of health care reform; it's not the entirety of insurance reform.' " 08-09
- Debate Focuses on Public Insurance Option (Time.com)
"So what happens if Obama takes the next step and explicitly abandons the public option? The left will be disappointed and its enthusiasm for the whole exercise may wane, though Obama probably won't lose many votes among liberal Democrats on Capitol Hill. At the same time, he probably won't pick up many from Republicans, who are looking less and less like they are in the mood to find a compromise. But it could help keep some shakier centrists aboard. And it would lower the intensity of the heat around the entire debate, by removing an issue that the White House has increasingly come to view as a distraction from the larger goals of its health-care reform." 08-09
- UnitedHealth Buys the Lewin Group (Bloomberg.com)
"UnitedHealth Group Inc., the largest U.S. health insurer, said profit rose 22 percent on gains from government-sponsored medical programs."
"In May, UnitedHealth bought the Lewin Group, a Washington-based health-policy consulting firm, for an undisclosed sum, adding to its expanding capabilities in analyzing and mining health data."
Editor's Note: Lewin Group, owned by the largest U.S. health insurer, has been cited by Congressmen opposed to health care reform as the source of information for why health care reform should be opposed. 07-09
- -Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Announces 40% Hike (CBS News)
"The Obama administration is asking why Anthem Blue Cross is raising its health insurance rates by nearly 40 percent for some California customers while making handsome profits -- and is pointing to the rate hike as evidence of why health care reform needs to pass." 02-10
- -Best Health Plans (U.S. News)
Suggests best plans. 08-08
- -Editorial: Obama Care Is Constitutional (Time.com)
"Jonathan Cohn, one of the very best writers on this subject, cuts to the chase: If the individual mandate — the requirement that everyone purchase health insurance — is unconstitutional, then Medicare and Social Security must be unconstitutional too, and vice versa. It seems to me that this argument is dispositive — unless the distinction is made between Obamacare’s mandate of a private product and Medicare’s mandate of payment into a public health-insurance system (and, as Cohn argues, about 25% of Medicare recipients participate in private plans). You can’t allow the mandated taxation required for Medicare and Social Security and disallow an individual-mandate universal health care system." 03-12
- -Editorial: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us (Time.com)
"According to one of a series of exhaustive studies done by the McKinsey & Co. consulting firm, we spend more on health care than the next 10 biggest spenders combined: Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Australia. We may be shocked at the $60 billion price tag for cleaning up after Hurricane Sandy. We spent almost that much last week on health care. We spend more every year on artificial knees and hips than what Hollywood collects at the box office. We spend two or three times that much on durable medical devices like canes and wheelchairs, in part because a heavily lobbied Congress forces Medicare to pay 25% to 75% more for this equipment than it would cost at Walmart."
"The health care industry seems to have the will and the means to keep it that way. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the pharmaceutical and health-care-product industries, combined with organizations representing doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, health services and HMOs, have spent $5.36 billion since 1998 on lobbying in Washington. That dwarfs the $1.53 billion spent by the defense and aerospace industries and the $1.3 billion spent by oil and gas interests over the same period. That’s right: the health-care-industrial complex spends more than three times what the military-industrial complex spends in Washington."
"When you crunch data compiled by McKinsey and other researchers, the big picture looks like this: We’re likely to spend $2.8 trillion this year on health care. That $2.8 trillion is likely to be $750 billion, or 27%, more than we would spend if we spent the same per capita as other developed countries, even after adjusting for the relatively high per capita income in the U.S. vs. those other countries. Of the total $2.8 trillion that will be spent on health care, about $800 billion will be paid by the federal government through the Medicare insurance program for the disabled and those 65 and older and the Medicaid program, which provides care for the poor. That $800 billion, which keeps rising far faster than inflation and the gross domestic product, is what’s driving the federal deficit." 02-13
- -Health Care Reform: What Happened to Cost Controls? (Time.com)
"Pretty much everyone agrees that the health care legislation now making its way through both houses of Congress would do some things well. It would cover almost all of the roughly 33 million legal residents of this country who now lack health insurance. And a vast expansion of Medicaid, coupled with billions of dollars in subsidies to help low- and middle-income Americans buy insurance, would help ensure that most people end up spending less on their health bills, according to a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Congress's independent scorekeepers."
"But what about President Obama's pledge to pass a measure that reins in the larger forces driving up health care costs? Or his vow that a reformed system would deliver more-efficient care, with better results for patients? That's where the legislation could fall well short of the promises."
"In a recent letter to Obama, 23 prominent economists identified four provisions that they said "can go a long way toward delivering better health care, and better value, to Americans." They are: ensuring that reform doesn't add to the federal deficit; creating an independent commission to bring Medicare costs under control; discouraging high-cost insurance plans by taxing them; and changing the incentives in medicine so that doctors and hospitals are paid not for how much treatment they give but for how well it works."
"Many of these economists — as well as other health experts — are watching in dismay as the legislation's reforms and cost-saving measures are whittled away by powerful special interests. 12-09
- -Health Reform: Wait Until June (CNN News)
"For millions of uninsured or underinsured Americans, health reform legislation will soon remove some of the barriers preventing them from getting the coverage they need."
"The most immediate changes affecting those who don't have health insurance, or are not buying enough insurance to meet their needs, start in about 81 days." 04-10
- -Medical Loss Ratio (Wikipedia.org)
"In insurance, the Loss ratio is the ratio of total losses paid out in claims plus adjustment expenses divided by the total earned premiums. For example, if an insurance company pays out $60 in claims for every $100 in collected premiums, then its loss ratio is 60%."
"Loss ratios for health insurance generally range from 60% to 110%. Loss ratios for property & casualty insurance (e.g. automobile insurance), typically range from 40% to 60%.. Insurance companies that have very low loss ratios are criticized for overcharging and making excess profits. Such companies are collecting significantly more premium than is paid out in claims. Insurers that consistently experience high loss ratios may be in poor financial health. They may not be collecting enough premium to pay claims, expenses, and still make a reasonable profit." 12-09
- -President Obama: Illegal Immigrants Will Be Barred (ABC News)
" 'Undocumented immigrants would not be able to buy private insurance on the exchange. Those who are lawfully present in this country would be able to participate.' " 09-09
- -Senate Clears Final Hurdle to Vote on Health Care Reform (MSNBC News)
"Democrats pushed sweeping health care legislation to the brink of Senate passage Wednesday, crushing a year-end Republican filibuster against President Barack Obama's call to remake the nation's health care system."
"The 60-39 vote marked the third time in as many days Democrats have posted a supermajority needed to advance the legislation. Final passage, set for about dawn on Thursday, was a certainty, and will clear the way for talks with the House on a final compromise. Those negotiations likely will stretch into February."
"The Senate has met for 24 consecutive days to debate the legislation, the second-longest such stretch in history, and Democrats held a celebratory press conference." 12-09
- -What to Do If Your Insurance Company Won't Pay (U.S. News)
"Billing advocates have several lines of attack they can follow. They often uncover errors such as services that were billed but never delivered and single procedures billed multiple times, says Nora Johnson, vice president of Medical Billing Advocates of America in Salem, Va. They also have tools to determine typical payments to hospitals and physicians by Medicare and private insurers, which are lower than the amounts charged to out-of-network patients and even lower than the charges levied on patients with little or no insurance. And they can drill down to a hospital's bottom-line cost for specific services, which tells them just how much wiggle room there is for jawboning inflated charges lower."
" 'You give them your documentation from the government, and they will turn around,' Whitehead says. 'I've never found one where the hospital or insurer will not come to a resolution.' " 08-08
- Changes Coming in Medicare (ABC News)
"The Medicare open enrollment period kicked off this Monday and seniors can expect to see significant changes in their plans as the new health care law takes shape." 11-10
- Cobra Insurance (Cobra Insurance)
"Thanks to The Cobra Act of 1986, whether you have lost coverage because you were laid off, terminated, had your hours reduced, or resigned, you are able to purchase group coverage for yourself and your family for a limited amount of time." 08-08
- Comparison of Health Insurance Plans (eHealthInsurance.com)
Provides a comparison. 06-12
- Fat Fees and Smoker Surcharges (Time.com)
"Companies have long promoted healthier behavior by subsidizing gym memberships and smoking-cessation classes. But several private and public employers have started tying financial incentives to their health-insurance plans." 11-09
- Glossary on Uninsured (PBS.org)
Provides definitions of key terms used in discussing insurance coverage. 10-07
- Hard Questions From Judges Over Health Insurance (New York Times)
"The legal question for the justices was whether Congress had exceeded its constitutional authority in requiring most Americans to obtain insurance or pay a penalty. The practical question was whether Mr. Obama’s signature domestic achievement would survive."
"The law is the most ambitious piece of social legislation in generations. In attempting to deliver health care to tens of millions of Americans without insurance, it relied on a controversial mechanism at the center of Tuesday’s arguments -- requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty." 03-12
- Health Care Lobbyists Rise to Power (CBS News)
"The pharmaceutical industry is putting its army of lobbyists into overdrive as Congress works to complete a health care reform bill."
"There are 3,000 registered health care lobbyists on Capitol Hill -- that's six for every single member of Congress. And in many cases, those lobbyists are former members of Congress who shaped laws that benefitted the industry they joined." 10-09
- Health Care Reform Law Passes (CNN News)
"President Obama won a historic victory in the struggle for health care reform Sunday as the House of Representatives passed a sweeping bill overhauling the American medical system."
"The measure, which cleared the Senate in December, will now go to Obama's desk to be signed into law. It constitutes the biggest expansion of federal health care guarantees since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid over four decades ago." 03-10
- Health Care and Retirement (Time.com)
"One of the most underestimated costs in retirement is health care, and for good reason. The figures can be staggering. A healthy 65-year-old couple should plan on $305,000 in out-of-pocket health costs during their retirement, according to a study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute." 01-10
- Health Insurance Costs Set to Rise Greatly (NBC News)
"If trends continue at their historical rate, the average premium for family coverage will reach nearly $25,000 by 2020." 12-12
- Health Insurance Facts (PBS.org)
"The rise in the number of people without health insurance in the United States since 2000 [is 6 million]. This has been driven in part by declines in employer-sponsored coverage." 04-06
- Health Insurance Insider: They Dump the Very Sick (ABC News)
"[Wendell] Potter, who has more than 20 years of experience working in public relations for insurance companies Cigna and Humana, said companies routinely drop seriously ill policyholders so they can meet 'Wall Street's relentless profit expectations.' "
- Health and Bankruptcy (CNN News)
"This year, an estimated 1.5 million Americans will declare bankruptcy. Many people may chalk up that misfortune to overspending or a lavish lifestyle, but a new study suggests that more than 60 percent of people who go bankrupt are actually capsized by medical bills." 01-12
- Healthcare Reform Includes Dangers (U.S. News)
"True health reform may well take a generation, as the nuts and bolts of a massive new system are sorted out and assembled. But it seems clear that a sea change is coming in the way Americans experience and pay for healthcare—one that will require us to develop a whole new set of muscles."
"A variety of models being tested as part of health reform draw from the Mayo design. In an 'accountable health organization,' a population of patients is cared for by an integrated system of hospitals, generalist and specialist doctors, and other health professionals, who track people's use of services and outcomes and are paid as a group based on performance." 12-09
- How to Protect Yourself From a Health Insurance Nightmare (PBS.org)
"Simply having health insurance does not mean all your medical services will be covered. This week's show illustrates how a family already coping with illness can get stuck with overwhelming expenses even after insurance kicks in. But there are some proactive steps you can take to protect yourself from an insurance nightmare." 04-06
- Obama to Propose a New and Comprehensive Health Care Reform Bill (New York Times)
"And though Americans have heard officials in both parties talk for nearly a year about “President Obama’s health care plan,” the legislation unveiled on Monday will actually be the first comprehensive proposal put forward by the White House." 02-10
- Poll: Majority Backs Public Option (MSNBC News)
"As Democratic congressional leaders and White House officials work to shape health care bills that will go to the House and Senate floors, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that support for a government-run health plan to compete with private insurers has rebounded from its summertime lows and now wins clear majority support from the public." 10-09
- Underinsured (PBS.org)
Provides information on the underinsured in the United States. 10-07
- Uninsured by Country (PBS.org)
Allows comparison of U.S. and several other countries in health insurance coverage. 10-07
- What Is the White House Deal With PhRMA? (ABC News)
"In June, the Senate Finance Committee and the White House jubilantly announced that they'd come to a deal with the pharmaceutical industry. But as details of that deal have come out, the White House has issued mixed and conflicting messages as to what they knew and what they'd signed off on." 08-09
- What New Health Care Rules Will and Won't Do (Time.com)
"Opposition to the overhaul has remained strong despite efforts by the Obama Administration and pro-health reform advocacy groups to turn the tide. The reason, they say, is that Americans are confused about how the law will work. There's some truth to this notion, with polls consistently showing that Americans dislike the law overall, but like many of the law's components when asked about them individually. Polls also show misconceptions are common. The AP survey, for instance, indicates that 65% of people believe the law will probably increase the federal deficit, despite estimates that the law will reduce the federal debt by some $140 billion over ten years." 09-10