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health insurance

More than 5 million Texans didn’t have health insurance in 2018, according to figures released today from the U.S. Census Bureau. The year before, about 4.8 million Texans lacked coverage.

Texans who get their health insurance from a large employer are more likely to get a surprise bill in an emergency compared to people with similar plans in other states, according to research published Thursday.

When lawmakers ended this year’s legislative session, they had addressed their biggest goals: They tamped down property taxes, overhauled school finance laws and gave teachers a pay raise. By various measures, the session was a success.

To health care advocates in the state, however, it was a missed opportunity.

About 146,000 fewer children in Texas were enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program between the end of 2017 and the end of 2018, according to a study released Thursday by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

A growing number of Texans are turning to a little-known state mediation program to deal with surprise hospital bills. However, the program is likely only addressing a fraction of the surprise medical bills Texans receive in the mail every year. 

It's time for consumers who buy their own health insurance to start shopping for policies for next year. Open enrollment for Affordable Care Act coverage starts Thursday across most of the country.

But the shopping and buying experience will vary widely, depending on where people live.

In California, for example, where political leaders have always been supportive of the Affordable Care Act, legislators have allocated $100 million for outreach.

In a span of less than 24 hours this past week, the Trump administration took two seemingly contradictory actions that could have profound effects on the insurance marketplaces set up by the Affordable Care Act.

Health analysts say that at least one of the efforts, coupled with previous changes initiated by the administration, could help transform the insurance market to be much more like it was before the 2010 federal health law took effect — when regulation, coverage and consumer protections varied widely across the United States.

For the first time in years, the uninsured rate in Texas is starting to climb again. After the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2014, the state’s uninsured rate dropped from 22 percent to about 16 percent in 2016. However, that trend has started to move in another direction.

When parts of the federal government ground to halt this past weekend, Linda Nablo, who oversees the Children's Health Insurance Program in Virginia, had two letters drafted and ready to go out to the families of 68,000 children insured through the program, depending on what happened.

One said the federal government had failed to extend CHIP after funding expired in September and the stopgap funding had run out. The program would be shutting down and families would lose their insurance.

A day after President Trump said the Affordable Care Act "has been repealed," officials reported that 8.8 million Americans have signed up for coverage on the federal insurance exchange for 2018 — nearly reaching the 2017 number in half the sign-up time.

That total is far from complete. Enrollment is still open in parts of seven states, including Florida and Texas, that use the federal HealthCare.gov exchange but were affected by hurricanes earlier this year.

Elizabeth Ann Colette/Wikimedia Commons

The Trump administration is guaranteeing Texas $135 million to continue helping more than 450,000 uninsured children and pregnant women if Congress doesn’t renew authorization the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

This week, Colorado became the first state to notify families that children who receive health insurance through the Children's Health Insurance Program are in danger of losing their coverage.

If Congress doesn’t reauthorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) soon, it's not just Texas children who could lose access to health insurance; thousands of pregnant women could lose coverage, too.

Updated 5:56 p.m. ET

Senate Republicans now plan to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate as part of a tax overhaul bill.

Several Senate Republicans said Tuesday that including the repeal in tax legislation, currently making its way through a key Senate committee, would allow them to further reduce tax rates for individuals without adding more to the deficit.

The families of roughly 400,000 children in Texas could be receiving letters from state officials in a matter of weeks, letting them know their health care is ending.

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Starting Wednesday, Texans can enroll in health care coverage for 2018 on healthcare.gov through Dec. 15.

Advocates say Texas will run out of funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program sooner than they thought. The program, which Congress failed to reauthorize last month, covers nearly 400,000 children from working-class families in the state.

Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET

Less than a week after President Trump said he is cutting off subsidies to health insurance companies, lawmakers announced Tuesday that they had a deal to restore the money and take other actions that could stabilize insurance markets for next year.

The Trump administration has made a number of changes to health policy in the past two weeks, raising questions about how consumers will be affected. Will the new rules for birth control coverage affect access to an intrauterine device? Might an association health plan help bring down costs for workers at small businesses? And if you're healthy, doesn't a short-term health plan that is cheaper than marketplace coverage make sense? Here are some answers to those questions.

The reaction has been swift since President Trump announced late Thursday that he was cutting off Affordable Care Act subsidies to insurance companies.

The White House argues that the payments are illegal.

Updated at 11:29 a.m. ET

President Trump's decision Thursday to end subsidy payments to health insurance companies is expected to raise premiums for middle-class families and cost the federal government hundreds of billions of dollars.

President Trump signed an executive order Thursday that is intended to provide more options for people shopping for health insurance. The president invoked his power of the pen after repeated Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, have failed.

"The competition will be staggering," Trump said. "Insurance companies will be fighting to get every single person signed up. And you will be, hopefully, negotiating, negotiating, negotiating. And you will get such low prices for such great care."

President Trump is poised to sign an executive order that he says will make it easier for people to join together as a group and buy health insurance from any state.

The president tweeted about his plans on Tuesday morning.

"Since Congress can't get its act together on HealthCare, I will be using the power of the pen to give great HealthCare to many people — FAST," he wrote.

Updated 4:52 pm

The Trump administration is rolling back the Obama-era requirement that employer-provided health insurance policies cover birth control methods at no cost to women.

According to senior officials with the Department of Health and Human Services, the goal of the new rule is to allow any company or nonprofit group to exclude the coverage for contraception if it has a religious or moral objection.

Callie Richmond / The Texas Tribune

Insurance coverage for more than 390,000 Texas children and pregnant women is in jeopardy after Congress failed to renew authorization for a federal program.

A federal program that provides health insurance for about 390,000 Texas children must be reauthorized by Congress by the end of the month.

Texas has the highest population of uninsured people in the nation. 

Roughly 4.5 million people in Texas didn’t have health insurance in 2016, leading the nation in both the number and percentage of residents who are uninsured, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released today.

Gov. Greg Abbott has asked lawmakers to take another stab at prohibiting abortion coverage in private health insurance plans in Texas.

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For patients visiting emergency rooms in Texas, surprise medical bills are common. In 2009, the Texas Legislature developed a mediation system for these hefty bills, but it was limited.

 

Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a new law aimed at improving the system and expanding consumer protection.

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Nine in 10 Texans think it's harder to talk about a mental health condition than a physical health issue. The one place where it’s easier to talk about mental rather than physical health seems to be in the Texas Legislature, where a handful of bills are speeding through the House with near unanimous support. Among them is a bill to help enforce coverage of mental health benefits.

 

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