In what it called a “bold move” to cut health care costs, Blue
Shield of California said Tuesday [June 7, 2011] it will cap
profits at 2 percent of revenue and pump any extra cash back into
credits for customers, funding to care providers and grant awards
to nonprofits that provide health care to poor Californians.
How do I find the best nursing home for my mom? Can I fight
hospital charges that seem wrong? There are so many details to
keep track of when trying to get good healthcare it can be enough
to make the savviest among us throw up our hands.
That’s the reason for this new column, Health 411. Write to us if
you find yourself with some health-related head-scratcher
(contact information is at the end of the article) and we’ll try
our best to guide you. No, we can’t take on your insurance
company when it’s refusing to pay for a brand-name drug, and we
don’t “know a guy” who can go after the doctor who botched your
nose job and still charged you a fortune for it. But we can talk
to the experts and tell you where to go or what steps to take to
get the help you need.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Rural health-care providers will soon have
their own broadband network for the practice of telemedicine in
California, according to Christine Martin, executive director of
the California Telemedicine & eHealth Center (CTEC).
Martin gave an update on the status of telehealth in California
on Tuesday, May 10, at Government Technology Conference West
2011, an annual gathering of state IT officials and employees.
The conference is hosted by e.Republic Inc., Government
Technology magazine’s parent company.
Martin revealed that 300 rural sites will be on a secure,
high-speed medical grade network by the end of 2011, as part of
the California Telehealth Network’s Rural Health Care Pilot
Program. Potentially more than 850 rural sites will be able to
use the network. Telehealth and telemedicine are terms used
interchangeably to refer to clinical care provided to a patient
from a distance, using live video conferencing or digital
This story was done in collaboration with KHN’s partner The
Despite tough economic times, there are some things the
government can’t give away.
Starting this year, seniors enrolled in Medicare no longer have
to pay for more than a dozen tests and other services to help
prevent or control cancer and other costly and debilitating
diseases. These benefits, which also include an annual wellness
exam, are part of the new federal health-care law.
Jennifer Gomez sat at her doctor’s office in Evanston after her
appointment, waiting for a handwritten prescription. Minutes
later, her doctor wondered why Gomez was still in the office.
What the 20-year-old Loyola University Chicago student didn’t
know was that not only had the prescription been sent to the
pharmacy, it also was ready to be filled.
“The prescription was at my pharmacy before I even walked out of
the office, because everything is computerized,” Gomez said of
her experience at a clinic run by NorthShore University
HealthSystem. “I was surprised, expecting to wait.”
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – A significant portion of people -
perhaps as many as one in five – don’t take drugs a doctor has
prescribed because they can’t pay for them, according to a new
survey of people visiting an emergency room.
“I think this is a wake-up call,” study author Dr. Karin Rhodes
of the University of Pennsylvania told Reuters Health.
Prices have soared for some popular brand-name drugs widely used
by older men and women — medications whose patents are close to
expiring. Why? Manufacturers tend to hike the prices of those
drugs in the year or so before they lose their exclusive
marketing rights, according to two new reports.
Savinh Pouv wears a white coat, treats patients and is considered
a primary care provider at the Los Angeles County clinic where
she works — but she is not a doctor.
That does not matter to Maria Avalos. What matters, the 55
year-old homemaker said, is that when she comes to the Long Beach
clinic to get treated for her diabetes, she always sees Pouv, a
“Before, they sent me from one to another,” doctor, Avalos said
during a visit last week. “I like her —she checks me well, she
has my records, she checks my medications and changes them if I
SACRAMENTO — Amid ongoing talks with Republicans over his tax
extension proposal, Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday [March 24,
2011] signed 13 measures trimming $11.2 billion from the
state’s $26.6 billion deficit.
Among what he called budget solutions, $8.2 billion are
considered actual spending reductions, while the rest were
funding shifts and internal loans.
Another big California health insurer has stunned individual
policyholders with huge rate increases — this time it’s Blue
Shield of California seeking cumulative hikes of as much as 59%
for tens of thousands of customers March 1.
Blue Shield’s action comes less than a year after Anthem Blue
Cross tried and failed to raise rates as much as 39% for about
700,000 California customers.
San Francisco-based Blue Shield said the increases were the
result of fast-rising healthcare costs and other expenses
resulting from new healthcare laws.
WASHINGTON — Moving to restrain skyrocketing health insurance
premiums, the Obama administration is proposing new rules
requiring insurers to justify increases of more than 10 percent a
year in 2011.
At the same time, administration officials are planning to step
up federal review of premiums if state regulators cannot
adequately protect consumers, a move cheered by many leading
“Ultimately, we know that the bright light of sunshine convinces
more insurers to think twice and check their math before
submitting large rate hikes,” Secretary of Health and Human
Services Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday (Dec. 21,
2010) announcing the proposed regulation, authorized by the
new healthcare law. “This is our latest step to put consumers
back in charge of their own health care.”
Millions of Americans might be eligible for rebates starting in
2012 under regulations released Monday, Nov. 22, 2010, detailing
the health care law’s requirement that insurers spend at least 80
percent of their revenue on direct medical care.
The Office of Statewide Health Planning and
Development provides an online tool where you can view and
compare the median charge per stay and average length
of stay for scheduled elective inpatient procedures.
If you lose the health insurance you had through your employer,
you may be able to continue that coverage for a limited
period time under Federal COBRA or Cal-COBRA. Contact your plan
administrator to see if you qualify for COBRA or Cal-COBRA