health insurance

Reed Warns Against Government Shutdown

Sep 27, 2013
RIPR FILE

Senator Jack Reed took to the Senate floor Thursday to make an impassioned speech against shutting down the government. That’s a strategy backed by  House Republicans as a way of defunding Obamacare.  Rhode Island’s senior senator called a potential shutdown “unfortunate and inappropriate.”

Catherine Welch / RIPR

Representatives of HealthSource RI, the state-run health insurance exchange, are meeting with Latino business owners in Central Falls Wednesday. It’s part of a push to educate the state’s growing Latino community about the upcoming exchange. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Catherine Welch was at a similar meeting last week in Pawtucket, where she learned about the challenges of translating a complex health care system to non-English speakers.

Starting October 1st, Rhode Islanders can start signing up for health insurance through an online marketplace that’s a cornerstone of what’s known as Obamacare. The marketplace will offer a number of insurance plans for individuals, families and employers.  It is being run by the state, and on Tuesday the state released how much the plans will cost.

The state-run health insurance exchange has released rates on the 28 plans it will offer residents and small businesses.

The exchange, known as HealthSource RI, offers a dozen plans to individuals and families. Three insurers are providing the coverage that range in price depending on a person’s age and whether they want a “gold” “silver” or “bronze” plan. The assumption is that younger people are healthier so if a 21-year-old and a 45-year-old want the same “gold” plan, the 45-year-old is going to pay $126 more in monthly premiums.

RIPR FILE

The debate over Obamacare rages from Providence to Pasadena. As the state moves closer to launching its health insurance exchange, Rhode Island Public Radio political analyst Scott MacKay parses the arguments and traces the law’s Rhode Island roots.

Ask Rhode Island Republican State Chairman Mark Smiley what he thinks of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare and you’ll get a blunt answer:  He says, ``I hate it.’’

Rhode Island Foundation

Kathleen Hittner, MD has been confirmed as Rhode Island’s next commissioner of health insurance. She replaces Chris Koller, who left office last week for a new position in New York. Hittner is a former Lifespan and Miriam hospital executive, as well as a former chief anesthesiologist for two hospitals. She says she intends to carry on Koller’s work.

“I have met with Chris Koller three times, going over his initiatives, so I understand what’s going on," Hittner said. "There isn’t anything Chris was doing that I think shouldn’t be continued.”

joshuamiller.org

What? More health care reform? Isn't the federal government spearheading that? Well, yes, but states are engaged in their own reforms, and Rhode Island's got a particularly big appetite for it.

Rhode Islanders who buy health insurance individually or through a small employer now have an idea how much their monthly premiums will be in 2014. The state’s outgoing commissioner of health insurance approved rates lower than insurance companies requested, although just about everyone’s health insurance bill will be going up.

Ryan T. Conaty / RIPR

Chris Koller, Rhode Island’s first commissioner of health insurance, spent his last day in office today. Before he heads to New York City to take over as president of the Milbank Memorial Fund, he stopped by our studios to reflect on his time in office here.

The General Assembly created Koller’s position – a first in the nation, too – in the mid-2000s to help address growing concern over the cost of health insurance and how insurers were paying health care providers.

Today is the last day on the job for Rhode Island’s –and the nation’s—first commissioner of health insurance. Chris Koller is leaving the position to take the helm of a foundation in New York City. He leaves behind some significant changes in the health insurance marketplace.

It’s unclear how exactly Wednesday's U.S. Supreme Court decision on DOMA will affect health care coverage for same-sex spouses. But Rhode Island’s largest health insurer has already been extending such benefits.

As an employer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island has been offering health coverage to its employees’ same-sex spouses since 2010, said Blue Cross compliance officer Martha Holt Castle.

UPDATE: HHS unveiled a newly redesigned healthcare.gov today, which lets users learn more about enrolling in health insurance plans through online insurance marketplaces beginning October 1st. I tried it out. The web site leads you through a series of questions and presents you with your likely options for coverage and whatever financial assistance might be available to help you pay for that coverage. It also creates a customized "checklist" to help you prepare for enrollment, which includes a list of documents you'll need to gather.

Rhode Island Foundation

Governor Lincoln Chafee has nominated Dr. Kathleen Hittner as Rhode Island’s next Health Insurance Commissioner. Hittner must be confirmed by the senate.

Hittner has been tapped to replace outgoing commissioner Chris Koller, who is stepping down to become president of the Milbank Memorial Fund in New York City.

For the first time, Rhode Island’s insurance commissioner has directed health insurers to disclose what they pay for health care services. But that information won’t necessarily be directly available to patients.

Rhode Island’s online marketplace for health insurance is taking shape in preparation for October 1st. That's the date the exchange is scheduled to be up and running with a variety of new health plans to choose from.

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