Health News Roundup

Window shopping for open enrollment, crowdfunding for medical treatments, and more

health insurance

Health insurance open enrollment begins Nov. 1; you can window shop starting now
Cara Rosner, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, October 22
Consumers will have the shortest open enrollment period yet to shop for 2019 health insurance plans – 45 days — but they can “window shop” and compare plans beginning October 22nd. Open enrollment for health plans effective Jan. 1, 2019 will run from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, giving consumers the least amount of time to enroll in or renew plans since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law. Last year, consumers had an additional week.

Marketplace subsidies may be option in 2020 for plans that skirt Obamacare
Phil Galewitz and Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News, October 22
States would be able to use federal funding to provide subsidies to people buying short-term health insurance policies, which typically don’t provide comprehensive coverage, under guidance released recently by the Trump administration.

healthcare costs

Crowdfunding raises millions for unproven — and potentially harmful — treatments
Megan Thielking, STAT, October 23
Crowdfunding campaigns have raked in millions of dollars for scientifically unproven — and potentially dangerous — medical treatments since 2015, according to a new analysis. In some cases, that can be a boon for patients who otherwise might not be able to afford needed medical care. But the new study highlights how the crowdfunding economy allows clinics to promote, and profit from, unproven therapies that could pose risks to patients — and offer false hope.


In days of data galore, patients have trouble getting own medical records
Judith Graham, Kaiser Health News, October 25
Medical records can be hard for patients to get, even in this digital information age. But they shouldn’t be: Federal law guarantees that people have a right to see and obtain a copy of their medical records. New evidence of barriers to exercising this right comes from a study of 83 leading hospitals by researchers at Yale University. Late last year, researchers collected forms that patients use to request records from each hospital. Then, researchers called the hospitals and asked how to get records, the cost of doing so, how long it would take, the format in which information would be sent and whether the entire record would be available. Notably, only 53 percent of hospitals’ forms indicated patients could get their complete records.

interactive resource

Healthy marketplace index
Healthcare Cost Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Health care prices have grown rapidly across the United States. But focusing on the national picture doesn’t capture how these rising prices have affected local areas differently. Over the last five years, price levels and growth rates varied widely for different types of health care services both across and within metro areas. In short, each locality had a different experience. This report explores these differences.