Early in the pandemic, insurers expected the costs of treating COVID-19 would vastly increase medical spending. Instead, non-COVID care has plummeted and insurers have pocketed the result. Still, few industry observers are predicting broad-based premium cuts in 2021, though some health plans have proposed lowering their rates.
President Donald Trump’s sobering view of COVID-19 didn’t last long – this week, he was back to pushing hydroxychloroquine, a drug that has been shown not to work in treating the virus. Meanwhile, Republicans on Capitol Hill are still scrambling to agree among themselves and with the White House on the next coronavirus relief bill, as both a moratorium on evictions and extra unemployment payments expire. And the debate over drug prices, which was going to be one of the biggest health issues of this election year, makes a brief appearance. Alice Miranda Ollstein of Politico, Mary Ellen McIntire of CQ Roll Call and Anna Edney of Bloomberg News join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss this and more. Also, Rovner interviews KHN’s Markian Hawryluk, who wrote the latest KHN-NPR “Bill of the Month” story about a surprise bill from a surprise surgical assistant.
Around the country, Medicaid enrollment is up as people who have lost jobs during the pandemic seek health insurance. Expanding eligibility for Missouri’s program, which could help thousands of recently unemployed residents, will be on the ballot Tuesday.
Health plan network changes occur all the time as doctors retire, relocate or leave networks. Unfortunately, patients may be the last to find out about such changes because there are often few requirements that either providers or insurers inform them.
President Donald Trump has, for now at least, become a realist on the extent of the COVID-19 crisis around the country, and he is urging Americans to socially distance and wear masks. Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Republicans facing a July 31 deadline are scrambling to come together on their version of the next COVID relief bill. Joanne Kenen of Politico, Margot Sanger-Katz of The New York Times and Tami Luhby of CNN join KHN’s Julie Rovner to discuss this and more. Also, Rovner interviews NPR’s Pam Fessler, author of the new book “Carville’s Cure,” which traces the history of the United States’ only federal leprosarium.
State officials had projected that 2 million Californians would join Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program for low-income people, by July because of the economic devastation wrought by COVID-19. Yet enrollment has barely budged, and why is unclear.
A college student’s bill for outpatient knee surgery is a whopper — $96K — but the most mysterious part is a $1,167 charge from a health care provider she didn’t even know was in the operating room.
With millions out of work because of the coronavirus pandemic, fewer payroll taxes are coming in to help keep Medicare’s trust fund intact.
Under the federal COBRA law, people who lose health coverage because of a layoff or a reduction in their hours generally have 60 days to decide whether to pay to maintain that coverage. But under new regulations, the clock won’t start ticking until the government says the coronavirus national emergency is over, and then consumers will have 120 days to act.
Additional guidance issued late last month by the Trump administration added to the confusion. Some consumers may find themselves unexpectedly on the hook for the cost of a test.