Category Archives: health insurance

Sex, Russians, and the Affordable Care Act

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Sex. Russians. Sex and Donald Trump and the Russians.

Now that I have your attention, consider this: whatever Donald Trump did in a Russian hotel is far less damaging to the United States than what the Republican Congress is doing right now in Washington, D.C. Continue reading

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That will be $39.35 to hold your baby

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When Lisa and Ryan Grassley brought baby Samuel home from the hospital, they laughed at one part of the bill: $39.35 for “skin to skin after C-Sec,” the charge for the privilege of holding their baby after delivery. The charge exemplifies the convoluted system of charges and record-keeping made necessary by the insurance industry system of payment for U.S. health care. In contrast, the BBC reports, “The average cost for a normal delivery or planned Caesarean section in the NHS in England in 2016 is £1755 [$2168], rising to £2582 [$3199] if there are complications.” Both charges are far below the cost of hospital delivery in the United States. And both represent the total cost — without need for a complicated breakdown of charges for everything from aspirin to diapers to holding the baby. Continue reading

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Healing Health Care: A plan for Minnesota

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Senator John Marty has a single-payer plan for Minnesota health care. (Photo by Senate Media Services)

John Marty wants to make Minnesota a leader in real single payer health care. In a new book, Healing Health Care (free, available on-line), he outlines many of the problems with our current, insurance-controlled health care system and proposes an alternative, the Minnesota Health Plan. Continue reading

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Obamacare, fair housing and a little jiggery-pokery

image from Supreme Court website

image from Supreme Court website

Three cheers for SCOTUS! Well – two cheers today for the health care and fair housing decisions, and here’s hoping we can give the third cheer soon for a marriage equality decision. The Supreme Court of the United States again upheld Obamacare, and also issued a tremendously important fair housing decision that could have specific application to Twin Cities housing policies. Rightwing Justice Antonin Scalia is so mad he’s almost frothing at the mouth, saying the legislation should be called “SCOTUScare” and condemning the court for “interpretive jiggery-pokery.” Personally, I think that we could use a little more of that jiggery-pokery. Continue reading

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Killing MinnesotaCare with Republican logic

mct state capitolRepublicans in the Minnesota House voted last week to kill MinnesotaCare, the subsidized health insurance program for low-income Minnesotans. That’s one part of their billion dollars in cuts to Minnesota’s health and human services budget. Apparently, under Republican logic, these cuts are necessary because of the state’s two billion dollar budget surplus.

UPDATE 5/6/2015: Senator Tony Lourey (DFL) says that MinnesotaCare is “not up for debate.” How will that affect the conference committee negotiations? We’ll have to wait and see. Continue reading

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Key questions: Choosing your family’s health insurance

© Rob - Fotolia.com

© Rob – Fotolia.com

The package of information came in the mail. It covered just one part of the Medicare plan choices: the Part D prescription drug coverage. It weighed two pounds. Health insurance decisions are weighty questions! Every year, you need to make those decisions. If you do nothing at all, you are choosing to continue with last year’s insurance, even if the premium or coverage has changed. What do you need to know to make a good decision?

Two pounds is a lot of paper, but you don’t need to read that much. The key is figuring out the important questions. Just four questions will give most people all the information they need to make a decision: Continue reading

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If you can’t afford health insurance … three ways to get help

© Sherry Young - Fotolia

© Sherry Young – Fotolia

Health insurance costs a lot — family coverage costs more than $1300 per month. Most people can’t afford that. In other countries, the government provides health insurance. Not here. So what can you do to get help paying for health insurance? Continue reading

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What you need to know about health insurance bills, networks and tiers

© John Takai - Fotolia.com

© John Takai – Fotolia.com

I couldn’t believe the bill — $447 for a single office visit. Even worse, the bill said my share was $168. I thought my deductible was $75, so that seemed like too much. As I always do when faced with puzzling bills, I called the insurance company.

This is the one of a series of articles on understanding health insurance. Click here for all of the articles. This series covers basics — exceptions and complications go beyond the basics.

Decoding the bill

The woman on the help line patiently went through the bill. Continue reading

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Putting together the puzzle: Deductibles, copayments, co-insurance, out-of-pocket limit

puzzle © Ionescu Bogdan - Fotolia.com

puzzle © Ionescu Bogdan – Fotolia.com

Cathy’s son was born with a heart defect that needed immediate surgery and then continuing expensive care as he grew up. She told her story on #getcovered:

“My husband and I … both had good jobs and insurance and figured that meant that we would be all set should we ever need it. We soon learned, however, that like so many Americans, we were underinsured: we had coverage–it just didn’t really cover anything when it came to the care our son needed to save his life.”

This is the one of a series of articles on understanding health insurance. Click here for all of the articles. This series covers basics — exceptions and complications go beyond the basics.

Wait — they had health insurance, and it still didn’t pay for her son’s medical care? That’s right. Cathy and her husband ended up maxing out their credit cards and eventually going bankrupt to pay for their son’s medical care. Continue reading

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What does health insurance cover?

© Remains - Fotolia

© Remains – Fotolia

Last year, I paid $30 for my flu shot. This year, I’ll pay nothing, as long as I go to my own clinic or one of dozens of others approved by my health insurance company. That’s one of the changes made by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) requires insurance policies to cover ten basic areas: Continue reading

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