Consumer groups: Chronically ill still face insurer discrimination

Patient advocacy groups are complaining to federal officials that some insurers' policies, such as the high prices charged for certain drugs, "are highly discriminatory against people with chronic health conditions." Other stories look at whether the health law has helped young people get mental health treatment and how hospitals are rethinking their charity policies.

The Associated Press: Have Insurers Found New Ways To Avoid The Sick?
Ending insurance discrimination against the sick was a central goal of the nation's health care overhaul, but leading patient groups say that promise is being undermined by new barriers from insurers. The insurance industry responds that critics are confusing legitimate cost-control with bias. Some state regulators, however, say there's reason to be concerned about policies that shift costs to patients and narrow their choices of hospitals and doctors. ... Coverage of expensive drugs tops [the patients'] concerns. (Alonso-Zaldivar, 8/17).

Kaiser Health News: Hospitals Reconsider Charity For Patients Who Decline Health Coverage
As more Americans gain insurance under the federal health law, hospitals are rethinking their charity programs, with some scaling back help for those who could have signed up for coverage but didn't. The move is prompted by concerns that offering free or discounted care to low-income uninsured patients might dissuade them from getting government-subsidized coverage (Appleby, 8/18).

The Fiscal Times: Insurers Say Obama's 'Fix' Is Driving Up Premiums
President Obama buckled under political pressure last fall and exempted a wave of plans that would have otherwise been cancelled under the Affordable Care Act. He made the decision after critics blasted him for his famously flawed promise, "If you like your plan, you can keep it." While the new rule to grandfather in these non-compliant plans may have been beneficial for some people who didn't have to find new policies this year, it could ultimately mean higher premiums for 2015. That's what some insurers are saying (Ehley, 8/18).

NPR: Has Health Law Helped Young People Get Mental Health Treatment? Maybe
A popular provision of the Affordable Care Act that took effect in 2010 aimed to make it easier for young adults to get access to health care, by allowing them to stay on their parents' insurance until they turn 26. So, are more young adults getting help with mental health issues because of the provision? Maybe, suggests a study published in the September issue of Health Affairs. Before 2010, just over 30 percent of young adults with mental health issues said they were getting treatment. And that went up by about 2 percent in the two years after the ACA provision took effect (Singh, 8/15).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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