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Health News Roundup

Picking a health plan isn’t easy for anyone, a survey for our readers, and more in this week’s roundup

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HEALTH INSURANCE

Dan Weissmann, Kaiser Health News, December 9
There are three days left to enroll in health insurance for 2020 if you buy your own insurance and choosing a plan can be tricky for many people. Research shows that most people will not make the best choice among the plans in front of them. Before you choose your plan, here’s what you need to know.
Julia Belluz and Nina Martin, Vox, December 6 
Over three years, nearly 400 pregnant or new mothers died in Texas. While their cases reflect the problems that contribute to maternal mortality across the United States — medical errors, deeply entrenched racism, structural deficiencies in how care is delivered — another factor often plays a significant role: the state’s growing problem with health insurance access. Texas has the highest rate of uninsured women of reproductive age in the country; a third were without health coverage in 2018. Its system for helping the uninsured thwarts women at every turn, frustrates doctors and midwives, and incentivizes substandard care.
Dan Gorenstein, Sayeh Nikpay, and Anupam Jena, Tradeoffs, December 11
This week’s TradeOffs podcast tells the story of V-BID, or value-based insurance design, a wonky name for a very simple but elusive goal: making high-value health care easier to get than low-value care. Connecticut is highlighted as one example of how a state incorporated V-BID into its health plan for state employees.
LINKING CARE AND COMMUNITY
Laura Ungar, Kaiser Health News, December 12
St. Louis trauma surgeon Dr. Laurie Punch is on a mission to stop the bleeding of her patients and the violence-plagued communities around her. Violence is a true medical problem doctors must treat in both the operating room and the community. She has trained more than 7,000 community members in the St. Louis metropolitan area in how to care for a gunshot victim immediately following the trauma.
MENTAL HEALTH
Kathleen Megan, The Connecticut Mirror, December 9 
At Connecticut College, almost a third of students get mental health services in a given year and half of all students get that help at some point before they graduate. At Trinity College, close to half of the student body comes into the counseling center in a given year. By contrast, at Manchester Community College, very few mental health services are available. Given the disparities in available services between the private institutions and community colleges, a new legislative task force has been charged with identifying gaps in mental health services on college campuses and submitting recommendations to the legislature’s higher education committee by early 2020.