health insurance

Open enrollment for Rhode Island’s online health insurance marketplace, HealthSource RI, begins November 15. Individuals who are already enrolled must renew their coverage.

Individuals and families who enrolled in a health insurance plan on HealthSource RI the last time around must renew their coverage or pick a new plan by December 23rd. Why? One reason is that their coverage will not automatically renew. Another , said Health Source RI head Christine Ferguson is the choices have changed.

The main promise of the Affordable Care Act was - and is - to get more Americans covered by health insurance. But news today about Walmart's dropping coverage for 30,000 part-time workers reminds us there's still a rocky road to coverage for some.

With open enrollment for coverage through the health insurance exchanges right around the corner (Nov. 15), I thought it might be a good time to shine a spotlight on a couple of groups affected.

Many small businesses will be renewing health insurance coverage for their employees beginning in September. And HealthSource RI head Christine Ferguson says she hopes small business owners will consider plans on the state’s health insurance exchange. They’ll find some new options this time around, she says.

“We are in the finalization of the plan design. And we have plans that cost less than they cost last year," said Ferguson. "And we have a wider range of options. We have more carriers in the market for individuals as well as on the employer side.”

Reactions are still coming in to today's U.S. Supreme Court decision in favor of Hobby Lobby (that decision, that the company is not required to cover contraceptives as part of employees' health insurance, can be read here.). Here are a few so far. Keep in mind, more decisions related to this one are expected.

Another legislative session has wrapped up. Health care reporter Kristin Gourlay joins host Dave Fallon in the studio to talk about how health care fared on Smith Hill.

Here's a transcript of their discussion.

The state’s largest hospital chain and largest insurer have inked an agreement to share patient data that will help them look for ways to improve health and save money. The deal is the largest of its kind in the state and could shape health care for more than 35,000 Rhode Islanders.

Aaron Read / RIPR

How much will health insurance cost you next year? Well, you’ll find out soon. Health insurers have submitted their plans for next year, including how much they want to charge customers and what benefits those plans will include.

In Rhode Island, it’s the office of the health insurance commissioner that reviews those plans and decides whether to approve or reject them, or ask for some changes.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Small business owners are hoping the state’s health insurance commissioner will hold the line on the cost of health insurance for next year. The commissioner’s office is taking public comment on those proposed rates now. And at a public hearing last night, several small business owners testified about how rising insurance costs are eating into their bottom line. Bruce Dawson owns Central Tools in Pawtucket.

Health insurers have filed their requests for rate increases (or, in one case, decreases!) for the coming year (effective January 2015). The Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner reviews those requests to make sure they're fair, and then issues a ruling, probably by mid-July. Before then, you have an opportunity to weigh in.

Here are the details on those opportunities, plus OHIC's summary of what insurers have requested.


State lawmakers have plenty of competing priorities to consider as they wrap up the legislative session. One of those is what to do with the state’s health insurance exchange, HealthSource RI. Health care reporter Kristin Gourlay joins host Dave Fallon to talk about the lively debate that's developed around this question of whether to keep HealthSource going or scrap it and default to the federal health insurance exchange,

Lawmakers are being asked to decide the fate of HealthSource RI, the state’s online health insurance exchange. At issue is how to pay for it, or whether to scrap it. And plenty of voices are weighing in on the conversation. The latest claims state officials were told years ago that building an exchange wasn’t viable but did it anyway.

As you may know, there's a debate in the Rhode Island Statehouse over how to fund the state's online health insurance marketplace, HealthSource RI, after the Obamacare money runs out. Some say the $17 - $23 million dollar price tag to fund the site, customer service reps and centers, and infrastructure needed to negotiate for health insurance plans for sale on the site is just too much for a state with anemic coffers.

A statewide effort to link more Rhode Islanders with primary care is expanding.

The effort is called the Chronic Care Sustainability Initiative, or CSI.CSI promotes the patient-centered medical home model of health care. In a patient centered medical home, a team of health care professionals coordinates a patient’s care. It’s especially helpful for patients with chronic illnesses, although anyone can join.

As you may know, far more Rhode Islanders signed up for Medicaid than expected recently. And the state is on the hook for millions more dollars than anticipated to care for them. The federal government is picking up the tab for now for people who became newly eligible for the program under the Obamacare Medicaid expansion, which Rhode Island opted to accept (unlike some other states). That allowed childless adults, men and women, earning less than a certain amount a year, to get health insurance, some perhaps for the first time.

Aaron Read / RIPR

A state senate committee has recommended passage of two bills aimed at curbing prescription drug and heroin abuse.