Health Care News This Week
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A Consumer's Guide to Health Care This Week

Lots going on as usual in the health care world. Here is a quick update on important developments that may impact your health care:

Six Highlights of the Latest Health Care Bill   

The Senate rolled out a new bill yesterday in an effort to get the necessary votes to pass it. Here are the highlights:

  1. Additional Funds to Combat Opioid Abuse: An additional $45 billion dollars has been allocated to help combat the opioid crisis.
  2. No Tax Breaks for the Wealthy: Two of the proposed taxes that were scheduled to be eliminated (the net investment income tax and the Medicare payroll tax) are now off the table. This means the taxes will remain.
  3. Expanded Use of Health Savings Accounts: HSA’s would be able to be used to pay health insurance premiums.
  4. Medicaid: The cuts and caps are still there, but additional provisions have been added to allow states to exceed the caps in the event of a public emergency.
  5. Additional Payments to Insurers: The federal government will make additional payments to insurance companies to cover the costs of high risk individuals.
  6. Availability of Cheaper Policies: Insurers would be able to offer plans that don’t meet the more comprehensive requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

Find Out if Your Doctor Receives Payments from Drug Companies  

One of the requirements of Obamacare is that drug and device companies report any payments to doctors or teaching hospitals. Payments relating to travel, research, gifts, speaking fees and meals are required to be reported.  Want to find out if your doctor is taking payments from drug companies? You can search for your doctor by name, state, zip code or specialty here.

Fewer Insurance Plans for Individuals in 2018

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced there have been 38% fewer health plans submitted to participate in the 2018 Exchanges. In 2017, 227 insurance companies submitted applications compared to 141 for 2018. It's not yet known who will be impacted most, but so far there will likely be far fewer health plans available for individuals to choose from on the health insurance exchanges.

Insurance Companies are Making Money with Obamacare

Don’t believe everything you read (but you already knew that). According to a Kaiser Foundation study, the individual insurance markets have been stabilizing, which means many insurance companies are regaining profitability.

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