health insurance

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.  

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.

Health care providers say their patients can’t afford the co-pays and deductibles in their new health insurance plans. A special Rhode Island senate commission met with providers Wednesday to learn more. David Spencer is head of the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Association of Rhode Island. He said the patients struggling with costs are primarily those with plans from the state’s online health insurance exchange.

“What’s happening is a lot of these individuals are not following through on treatment, dropping out," said Spencer.

Enrollment on the state’s health insurance marketplace Health Source R-I is going relatively smoothly. This is the second enrollment period since it opened last year.

Health Source RI spokeswoman Maria Tocco says there were some minor issues with the web site and the call center phones but they were addressed quickly. Wait times swelled over the weekend and some scheduled appointments for hours later.

Data on the number of individual and family enrollments so far are expected toward the end of this week.

Today marks the beginning of open enrollment for HealthSource RI, the state’s online health insurance marketplace. It’s the second enrollment period for the exchange. Plus, there have been some changes.

It’s open enrollment now for individuals and families who don’t have health insurance or need to renew a plan they bought on Health Source the last time around. Enrollment is open through February 15. Plans bought on the exchange last year will not automatically renew.

This Saturday the state’s online health insurance marketplace, Health Source RI, opens for enrollment. It’s the second open enrollment period since HealthSource launched. This year there a couple of changes.

HealthSource faces an uncertain future in Rhode Island as we have a new governor and funding for the exchange runs out at the end of 2015.

Rhode Island Public Radio’s health care reporter Kristin Gourlay joins host Elisabeth Harrison to talk about what’s new on HealthSource this year, and what to make of the uncertainty.