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The country’s largest private health insurer throws a ‘tantrum’ over lower profits

UnitedHealth Group, the country’s largest private health insurer, has discovered that sick people tend to go to the doctor. And that means bills to pay. And that’s bad for the company’s bottom line.
By David Lazarus, Los Angeles Times
November 19, 2015


After fifteen months of travel, I returned to the United States ready to give American life another try. After a few months at home with my family, I moved back to San Francisco, the city I lived and worked in before traveling. I started looking for a job, looking for apartments, looking for new friends. I felt eager to re-enter American society, and pick up somewhat where I left off.
By Amanda Machado, Matador Network
November 5, 2015

Narrow Networks, Low Quality Not Linked in Covered Calif. Plans

Covered California health plans with narrow hospital networks typically do not trade quality of care for lower costs, according to a report by the California HealthCare Foundation, FierceHealthPayer reports.
California Healthline
October 19, 2015

Trapped in the System: A Sick Doctor’s Story

We spend a lot of time talking about various metrics of quality or access in the American health care system. The problem with many of them is that they rarely seem to capture the issues that people face in dealing with care. Although many metrics are improving, problems remain that still seem insurmountable.
By Aaron E. Carroll, The New York Times
September 21, 2015

Healthcare costs rise again, and the burden continues to shift to workers

American workers saw their out-of-pocket medical costs jump again this year, as the average deductible for an employer-provided health plan surged nearly 9% in 2015 to more than $1,000, a major new survey of employers shows.
Noam M. Levey, Los Angeles Times
September 22, 2015

Don’t Blame Medicaid for Rise in Health Care Spending

Health care spending growth has moderated in recent years, but it’s still putting tremendous strain on state and local governments. A recent analysis by The Pew Charitable Trusts revealed that it consumed 31 percent of state and local government revenue in 2013, nearly doubling from 1987.
By Austin Frakt, New York Times
August 3, 2015

Medicare moves into its second half-century more important than ever

According to my friend, Bernice Bonillas, it’s only warm bodies that drive movements. And so it was that I found myself returning from Los Angeles July 30 on a bus filled with other Bakersfield citizen activists, returning from a rally celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare.
By Patsy Ouellette, The Bakersfield Californian
August 6, 2015

As Medicare and Medicaid Turn 50, Use of Private Health Plans Surges

As Medicare and Medicaid reach their 50th anniversary on Thursday, the two vast government programs that insure more than one-third of Americans are undergoing a transformation that none of their original architects foresaw: Private health insurance companies are playing a rapidly growing role in both.
By Robert Pear, New York Times
July 29, 2015

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Medicare Part D pays needlessly high brand-name drug prices compared with other OECD countries and with U.S. government programs

As this policy brief will show, by using previously unavailable data comparing U.S. brand-name drug prices with those of all other countries members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Medicare Part D needlessly pays significantly higher prices than any other comparator countries. Moreover, even in comparison to other U.S. government programs such as Medicaid and the Veterans’ Benefits Administration (VBA), significantly higher prices are paid by Medicare Part D.
By Marc-André Gagnon, PhD. and Sidney Wolfe, MD.
Carleton University, School of Public Policy and Administration and Public Citizen, July 23, 2015

Paralyzed by Gunfire, but Denied Care

There’s no video of the altercation between Monroe Bird III, a 21-year-old sitting in a car with a friend, and Ricky Leroy Stone, 56, a security guard who found them one night in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Tulsa, Okla….Three months later, as he lay in the hospital hooked to a ventilator, Mr. Bird’s insurance company declined to cover his medical bills. The reason? His injuries resulted from “illegal activity.”
By RONI CARYN RABIN, The New York Times
July 21, 2015

Out-of-network costs lurk even at in-network hospitals

Lorena Martin’s 18-year-old son, Robert, hurt his ankle playing football one recent Friday evening. He was in pain and unable to walk, and she was concerned that he’d done real damage. Both her doctor’s office and the nearby urgent care center were closed, so with no other options, she took him to the emergency room. The hospital was in her health plan’s network — she’d made sure of that.
By Lisa Zamosky, Los Angeles Times
July 17, 2015

The Choice Ahead: A Private Health-Insurance Monopoly or a Single Payer

The Supreme Court’s recent blessing of Obamacare has precipitated a rush among the nation’s biggest health insurers to consolidate into two or three behemoths.The result will be good for their shareholders and executives, but bad for the rest of us — who will pay through the nose for the health insurance we need.
By Robert Reich, Huffington Post
July 6, 2015

Unauthorized immigrants prolong the life of Medicare Trust Fund: JGIM study

Harvard and CUNY researchers find unauthorized immigrants generated surplus contributions of $35.1 billion from 2000-2011, prolonging the Trust Fund’s solvency
By Leah Zallman, M.D., M.P.H., et. al, Journal of General Internal Medicine
June 18, 2015.