People With Obamacare Plans Filled More Prescriptions, But Had Lower Costs

August 17, 2016, Kaiser Health News, Shefali Luthra- The 2010 health law was meant to expand insurance coverage so that Americans could get medical care they would otherwise go without - and not spend a fortune doing so. Though it’s still early, new evidence suggests this scenario is playing out. Research published online by Health Affairs Wednesday examines what happened when people got insurance through the law - either with a private plan purchased via the online marketplaces or through Medicaid, the state-federal program for low-income people. The study specifically focuses on how many medical prescriptions they filled.

Will Your Prescription Meds Be Covered Next Year? Better Check!

August 15, 2016,, Alison Kodjak- The battle continues to rage between drug companies that are trying to make as much money as possible and insurers trying to drive down drug prices. And consumers are squarely in the middle. That’s because, increasingly, prescription insurers are threatening to kick drugs off their lists of approved medications if the manufacturers won’t give them big discounts. CVS Caremark and Express Scripts, the biggest prescription insurers, released their 2017 lists of approved drugs this month, and each also has long lists of excluded medications. Some of the drugs newly excluded are prescribed to treat diabetes and hepatitis.

Race, Ethnicity Affect Kids’ Access To Mental Health Care, Study Finds

August 12, 2016, Kaiser Health News, Shefali Luthra- One in five Americans is estimated to have a mental health condition at any given time. But getting treatment remains difficult - and it’s worse for children, especially those who identify as black or Hispanic. That’s the major finding in research published Friday in the International Journal of Health Services. The study examines how often young adults and children were able to get needed mental health services, based on whether they were black, Hispanic or white. Using a nationally representative sample of federally collected survey data compiled between 2006 and 2012, researchers sought to determine how often people reported poor mental health and either saw a specialist or had a general practitioner bill for mental health services.

As Mississippi balks at laws and taxes, cancer takes its toll

August 12, 2016, Sun Herald, Paul Hampton- Mississippi, in the nonprofit’s eyes, falls shorts on its cigarette tax rate, smoke-free laws, Medicaid coverage of cessation programs, use of indoor tanning devices, early detection of breast and cervical cancer, access to palliative care and access to Medicaid. Medicaid expansion is pretty much a lost cause, ACS Mississippi Government Relations Director Kimberly Hughes says. And there is much work to do elsewhere.

Cost, Not Choice, Is Top Concern of Health Insurance Customers

August 12, 2016, The New York Times, Reed Abelson- It is all about the price. Millions of people buying insurance in the marketplaces created by the federal health care law have one feature in mind. It is not finding a favorite doctor, or even a trusted company. It is how much - or, more precisely, how little - they can pay in premiums each month. And for many of them, especially those who are healthy, all the prices are too high. The unexpected laser focus on price has contributed to hundreds of millions of dollars in losses among the country’s top insurers, as fewer healthy people than expected have signed up.

With Congress Deadlocked, White House Diverts Funds to Fight Zika

August 11, 2016, The New York Times, Julie Hirschfeld Davis- The Obama administration on Thursday said it was shifting $81 million away from biomedical research and antipoverty and health care programs to pay for the development of a Zika vaccine, resorting to extraordinary measures because Congress has failed to approve new funding to combat the virus. Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of health and human services, told members of Congress in a letter that without the diverted funds, the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority would run out of money to confront the mosquito-borne illness by the end of the month.