Julie Appleby reports on the implementation of the health care overhaul law, the interplay of health care treatments and costs, trends in health insurance, and policy issues affecting hospitals and other medical providers. Her KHN stories have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer and MSNBC, among others. Before joining KHN in March 2009, Appleby spent 10 years on the health care industry and policy beat for USA Today. She also worked at the San Francisco Chronicle
, the Financial Times
in London and the Contra Costa Times
in Walnut Creek, Calif. She serves on the board of the Association of Health Care Journalists and her education includes a Master of Public Health degree. | Contact: JulieA@kff.org
New state officials could slow the pace of implementation, seek waivers from some provisions, veto state legislation and appoint like-minded people to important positions, such as insurance commissioner slots.
State insurance regulators have defined one of the thorniest provisions of the new health overhaul law: the requirement that insurers spend at least 80 percent of revenue on direct medical care.
One of the nation’s largest health insurers said today it is testing a new way to pay for some cancer treatments, aiming to identify the best medicines – and limit profits doctors make by dispensing in-office chemotherapy drugs.
The health reform law is likely to spur more hospital mergers, fueling a trend that experts say has led to higher hospital prices and insurance premiums.
Colleges and universities are warning federal officials that they may not be able to offer student health plans in the future unless the government clarifies certain provisions of the new health overhaul law.
The new health overhaul law aims to end all annual dollar limits on health insurance policies by 2014, but insurers that offer limited-benefit plans can seek waivers so they can continue to offer them. Many employers want to keep the plans, criticized by consumer advocates as skimpy.
Forget sending workers overseas for lower cost medical care: A growing number of employers are encouraging workers to travel within the states to medical facilities they say have better quality and lower costs.
Under the new health law, many insurers will have to publicly report how much they plan to raise premiums and why, but consumer advocates say draft rules on how much information is required to justify “unreasonable” increases fall short.
When the big California health insurer Wellpoint sought rate increases up to 39 percent this year, some wondered if they were unusual. But in a new national survey consumers who buy their own policies report the most recent rate requests averaged 20 percent.
More than 2.2 million Americans have atrial fibrillation, the most common heart arrhythmia, but treatment choices vary widely – and none works in everyone. The condition is one of the top candidates for comparative effectiveness research.