Short Cuts

CodeBaby, a provider of Intelligent virtual assistant technology, today announced Connect for Health Colorado® and Access Health CT have expanded the use of CodeBaby as a way to increase consumer education and improve the online experience for customers purchasing health insurance during the 2016 open enrollment period.

Connect for Health’s virtual assistant, Kyla, can be found at key points in the website, presenting important information in a clear manner, assisting users in making informed decisions, and providing decision support for critical choices. In time for this year’s open enrollment, Connect for Health has expanded Kyla to the Subsidy Eligibility System so that the avatar can answer questions, help people determine if they are eligible for subsidies, and walk them through the enrollment process.

This issue brief reflects lessons learned from how consumers handled the new intersections between health coverage and the tax filing process in 2015. Drawing on public data as well as Enroll America’s private survey research and outreach efforts, this issue brief examines the policy framework underpinning the linkages between taxes and health coverage, messaging considerations and opportunities, and effective partnerships to maximize enrollment. Based on this analysis, the report concludes with recommendations for policymakers and other enrollment stakeholders about how to improve the consumer experience.

When patients need simple health care, they can get impatient about having to wait.

That’s prompted more health care systems to stress convenience.

This month, North Memorial Health Care will open two easy-access clinics in new Hy-Vee grocery stores in New Hope and Oakdale, hoping that shoppers might add treatment for warts, fever and other ailments to their grocery lists.

The resurgence of retail health clinics by hospital operators comes as they also pump money into online programs that let patients tap into care through computers and smartphones without leaving home.

This one is a heck of an eye-opener, considering the ongoing technical problems Vermont has had with their exchange website...

A new federal report shows Vermont Health Connect to be the best state-run health care exchange in the nation.

Democrats in the Wisconsin Legislature are pushing a bill designed to prevent large increases in health insurance rates, but it’s doubtful Republicans who hold a majority and control the legislative agenda will get behind it.

The bill would require insurance companies give consumers 60 days’ notice for rate increases and require the state Office of the Commissioner of Insurance to hold public hearings on rate increases of more than 10 percent.

Over a year and half into Medicaid expansion and the launch of Kynect, the state’s health insurance exchange program, Kentucky is among the nation’s leaders in reducing its uninsured population.

As a result of providing more services to more people throughout the commonwealth, however, Kentucky hospitals are reporting healthy improvement in their revenues.

Native Americans can get an exemption from the requirement that everybody have health insurance. Under the health law, however, many Native Americans can get coverage under Medicaid, which serves low-income Americans, or buy subsidized plans through insurance exchanges. That allows them to receive treatment from private doctors and hospitals rather than rely solely on government and tribal facilities.

And the coverage allows Indian health facilities, which tribal leaders say are chronically underfunded, to bill insurers for care they already provide. And that additional revenue means doctors and hospitals can also offer new services.

Advocates also see the health law as a chance to reduce the health disparities that have long afflicted Native Americans, including rates of diabetes that are three times higher than the U.S. population and a life span that is four years shorter.

While the Republican nominee for governor says he would dismantle the state health-insurance exchange branded as Kynect, a GOP senator is talking about not only keeping it, but expanding it to other states to pay for the other big feature of federal health reform: expanded Medicaid.

Sen. Ralph Alvarado of Winchester made the suggestion at a legislative committee meeting where Kynect Director Carrie Banahan said it would be "disastrous" to move Kentuckians to the federal Obamacare exchange, as Republican gubernatorial nominee Matt Bevin has said he will do if elected.

Alvarado, a physician, said his concerns about Obamacare in Kentucky are mostly monetary because the state will have to start paying 5 percent of the Medicaid expansion costs in 2017, rising to the reform law's limit of 10 percent in 2020.

...Alvarado suggested that Kynect become a regional exchange and charge other states for its services, using the profit to pay for the expansion.

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange and Healthplanfinder, the state’s marketplace and website where people can buy individual and subsidized health insurance under health reform, have gone through some big changes lately.

Most important to consumers, Healthplanfinder is no longer the portal through which customers pay their insurance premiums.

On Tuesday, the organization announced that starting Sept. 24, Qualified Health Plan and Qualified Dental Plan customers will be required to pay their monthly premiums directly to their insurance companies, and the site will no longer accept those payments after Sept. 23.

The change mirrors a stop-gap measure put in place last year after problems plagued the site’s payment mechanism.

I was gone for 10 days and a mountain of ACA/healthcare stories built up in my in-box. No time for even a summary, headlines only. Ready? GO!