health insurance

RIPR FILE

Rhode Island’s online health insurance marketplace is adding new staff to handle an expected increase in customer service calls. HealthSource RI is in its second week of open enrollment. Spokeswoman Maria Tocco says the customer service center is anticipating higher demand during the enrollment period.

“This week we’ll be adding about 15 new contact center reps. And that number will continue to increase through mid-december.”

By then, Tocco says, the center should have about 120 reps ready to take calls.

HealthSource RI

It’s week two of open enrollment on HealthSource RI, the state’s online health insurance marketplace. Existing customers have been automatically re-enrolled. But some may find their plans no longer cover abortion.

Rhode Island now requires every insurer on HealthSource RI to offer options that exclude abortion. Some insurers added new plans to meet the requirement. Some modified old plans. And what happened next was unexpected: 9,000 existing customers were automatically re-enrolled in plans with no abortion coverage. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island’s president and CEO Peter Andruszkiewicz has announced his retirement, effective May 2016. 

    

He’ll stay on with the state’s largest insurer while it conducts a search for his successor. 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island officials say that, during his five year tenure, Andruszkiewicz has focused on boosting access to primary care and better coordinating members’ health care.

He’s currently participating in several state initiatives to reform health care payment models and improve health care delivery.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island’s Medicaid director, Dr. Deidre Gifford, is stepping down. A search for her replacement is underway.

Rhode Island is 7th in the nation for children’s healthcare coverage. That’s according to 2014 numbers from the U.S. Census.  It’s a big jump from last year, when Rhode Island was 16th.

Today, nearly 97 percent of Rhode Island children have health insurance, up from about 94 percent in 2013. Elizabeth Burke-Bryant of the advocacy non-profit Rhode Island Kid’s Count said the leap can be partly attributed to a major PR push to get people insured, under Obamacare.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island’s Attorney General is appealing to Superior Court to stop rate increases for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island customers, saying the rate hikes are too steep.

State Health Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Hittner recently issued decisions about how much health insurance rates could increase for 2016. Most increases were in the single digits.

Health insurance rates in Rhode Island will go up once again for most consumers in 2016. The state’s health insurance commissioner has made a final decision about those rates for individuals and businesses.

Rates for all United Health plans are going up –large employers, will pay about four and a half percent more, and small business plans will rise just over seven percent. Individuals with a Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island policy will pay an average of $312 dollars a month, up nearly six percent.

HealthSourceRI

Months into her tenure as head of HealthSource RI, Anya Rader Wallack is still trying to undo a tangle of customer service problems.

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.

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