health insurance

It's pretty basic: in order to save a little money, most people have to stick to a budget. But before you can sketch out that spending plan, you need to know where your money's been going and how much you've been spending on everything. Then you can look for places to trim and skimp.

So too goes the theory with health care spending. Or at least, that's the idea behind several new efforts:

Aaron Read / RIPR

New rules for Medicare Advantage plan members give seniors more flexibility to opt out of plans that drop their doctors from the network.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has announced that Medicare Advantage plan members will be able to switch plans if those plans drop doctors mid-year without cause. These are Medicare plans offered by private insurance companies and often operate like HMOs.

As you may know, today is the deadline for individuals and families to sign up for health insurance coverage through HealthSource RI, if you don't already have coverage. But what happens tomorrow?

Well, if you're an individual or a family without coverage now, and you can't get it through your employer or via Medicaid, you'll have to wait until the next open enrollment period, November 15, 2014. Also, you might face a tax penalty.

Monday is the deadline to enroll in a health insurance plan through HealthSource RI, the state’s online insurance marketplace. That’s the last chance to enroll until November.

The push is on to attract as many eligible Rhode Islanders to HealthSource RI to sign up for a health insurance plan. March 31st is the deadline to enroll in coverage in order to avoid a tax penalty for the year. And the next open enrollment period doesn’t start until mid-November for coverage that begins the following January. So if you were waiting until the last minute, now’s the time.

Another study seems to suggest that, contrary to previous assumptions, it does.

Researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston have just published the results of a study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine that looked at all emergency department visits at 69 hospitals between the fall of 2006 and the fall of 2009. In 2006, Massachusetts expanded access to health insurance to nearly everyone in the state.

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