health insurance

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment The Bottom Line.

This week Mark and Dave speak with Ted Almon, president and CEO of The Claflin Company, a distributor of medical and surgical products. Almond is also a member of Governor Gina Raimondo's working group tasked with finding ways to reduce healthcare spending.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Governor Gina Raimondo has asked a working group to come up with a way to slow health care spending in Rhode Island. It's a strategy that has showed promise in Massachusetts.

Raimondo signed an executive order to establish the Working Group for Health Care Innovation. The group’s charge is to propose a way to limit the growth in public and private health care spending. One model might be close to home. Raimondo says Massachusetts placed a cap on spending.

Aaron Read / RIPR

A coalition of researchers from Rhode Island’s colleges and universities have released another round of reports on the state’s economy. RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay wonders what will happen to the latest round of research.

If Rhode Island were a bench, it would splinter under the weight of all the blue-ribbon commissions and consultant-generated reports that have for decades weighed in on what ails our state’s economy.

Rhode Island’s health insurance commissioner is asking the public to weigh in on health insurance rates tonight. Health insurers have to file a request with the state to raise rates every year. Most have asked for increases in monthly premiums, for individuals, small businesses, and large group plans.

The insurance companies say they need the increase to pay for the rising costs of health care, as well as a proposed tax to help pay for HealthSource RI.

The Crow's Nest / University of South Florida, St. Petersburg

Providence city officials say they want to be more inclusive of transgender employees and retirees. That includes extending health insurance coverage for gender reassignment surgery.

Providence officials say the city’s health plan will now cover a suite of services for employees and retirees who identify as transgender. That includes gender reassignment surgery, hormone therapy, and behavioral health care.

Or... they could be. Insurers have just filed their requests for premium rate increases with the state’s health insurance commissioner. They’re only preliminary. And in years past the health insurance commissioner has denied some increases. But if experience is any guide, the average monthly premium for most plans will probably go up - in some cases by two-digit percentages.                                                         

It all depends on how you buy your insurance - on your own, through a small business, or through a large business.

Congratulations, class of 2015! You've got your diploma, and you're headed out into the world to start your life as an adult. Well done. If you've already lined up a job, with health insurance, doubly well done! But if not, don't worry. And don't assume you have to go without coverage. You have options.

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment The Bottom Line.

This week Mark and Dave sit down with Dr. Anne DeGroot, co-founder of Clinica Esperanza, a free clinic providing health care to uninsured Rhode Island residents.

When to listen

You can hear The Bottom Line each Friday at 5:50pm.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@ripr.org  

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

State lawmakers heard testimony Wednesday about a proposed tax on health insurance to pay for the state’s online health insurance exchange, HealthSource RI.

Federal Obamacare money covered the startup cost of HealthSource RI – the state’s marketplace for individual and small business insurance plans. But now Rhode Island must come up with the money to keep it going, or turn it over to the feds. Gov. Gina Raimondo’s budget proposal includes a tax on every individual and small business health plan – whether bought on the exchange or not – to pay for HealthSource RI.

County Health Rankings 2015 / Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has released its annual County Health Rankings, and Rhode Island's counties (Providence in particular) seem to be faring worse than the national average on a few measures, and much better on a few, too.

About 15,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island members may be among the victims of a massive cyber attack. Health insurance giant Anthem, which offers Blue Cross plans in other states, revealed that hackers had stolen the personal information of nearly 80 million customers earlier this month. Anthem offers Blue Cross plans in other states.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island chief privacy officer Martha Holt Castle said they’re working with Anthem to repair the damage. Meanwhile, a letter will be sent to affected Rhode Islanders.

HealthSource RI is out with its most recent enrollment data.

It looks like the state's online health insurance marketplace kept two-thirds (71%) of enrollees from last year and gained a quarter more (about 5,000 new enrollees). So with total enrollments for 2015 at 22,910, HealthSource RI didn't lose a bunch of customers but didn't gain a whole lot either.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The deadline to renew health insurance plans through Health Source RI is coming up on December 23rd.  The state’s health insurance exchange is holding an enrollment fair today in Warwick to help customers in person. We checked in with a few to find out how it’s going.

Warwick resident Kim Darcy was waiting her turn to speak with a health insurance counselor. Darcy plans to re-enroll. And she says she’s thankful there’s a plan she can afford after going without for many years.

Rhode Island Kids Count found kids enrolled in the health insurance program for low-income children and families have better access to preventative health care. The new study on RIte Care comes on the program’s 20th anniversary.

HealthSource RI director Christine Ferguson has penned an op-ed in the Providence Journal to plead her case for keeping the health insurance exchange in local hands. Her commentary comes days after a Projo editorial arguing the state should scrap its exchange.

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