healthcare

Kentucky Gov.-elect Matt Bevin, who takes office Dec. 8, plans to dismantle the state's successful health insurance exchange and shift consumers to the federal one. It's a campaign promise that has sparked controversy in the state.

Supporters of Kentucky's exchange, called Kynect, have asked Bevin to reconsider. They say the exchange created under Obamacare and an expansion of Medicaid have improved public health by dramatically increasing the number of Kentuckians with health coverage.

Consumers seeking health policies with the most freedom in choosing doctors and hospitals are finding far fewer of those plans on the insurance marketplaces. And the premiums are rising faster than for other types of coverage.

The open enrollment window for health insurance is open. As of Sunday, people could start shopping for coverage through the state and federal marketplaces. Naturally, when the options are on the table (or screen), questions pop up about how the buying process works and how to choose the best plan. Here are some recent questions and answers.

I like the low premiums of marketplace plans with high deductibles, but even though I'm pretty healthy, I'm worried about having to pay for everything until I meet that deductible. Is there any way around that?

A decades-long decline in the death rate of middle-aged white Americans has reversed in recent years, according to a surprising new analysis released Monday.

The cause of the reversal remains unclear. Researchers speculate it might be the result of the bad economy fueling a rise in suicides, plus overdoses from prescription painkillers and illegal drugs like heroin, and alcohol abuse.

Say you bought health insurance through the federal health exchange, paid the premiums and followed the rules.

And then say you start having pain in your hands. Your doctor refers you to a rheumatologist to test for arthritis.

But when you search for the specialist, there isn't one there.

Pharmacist Narender Dhallan winces as he looks at a computer screen in his drugstore on a recent morning. For the second time in two hours, he has to decide whether to fill a prescription and lose money or send his customer away.

This time it's for a generic antifungal cream that cost him $180 wholesale. The customer's insurance, however, will pay Dhallan only $60 to fill it.

"This used to be something that would happen once in a rare, rare while," Dhallan says. "Now it's becoming routine."

Tyler (trp0) / Flickr (Creative Commons License)

  Julia Nazarenko has been insured through the Kentucky Health Cooperative since 2013.

When it comes to health savings accounts and the so-called Cadillac tax on expensive health plans, the questions just keep coming. And what do you do about adding grandchildren to a health plan? Let's tackle that one, too.

Last year, my wife and I opened a health savings account. Since then, my account has been moved twice, and we have no choice as to who manages it. We can't shop around for someone with lower fees. I think that is a big flaw in the system. Why can't I choose to have my HSA with the same company I have my brokerage account?

As health insurance open season heats up for businesses, many employees will discover that participating in their company's wellness program includes rolling up their sleeves for blood tests.

Across the country, half of large employers offering health benefits have wellness programs that ask workers to submit to medical tests, often dubbed "biometrics," that can involve a trip to a doctor's office, lab or workplace health fair.

Take a look at the latest obesity data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and you can see that the country's obesity epidemic is far from over.

Even in Colorado, the state with the lowest rate, 21.3 percent of its population is obese. Arkansas tops the list with 35.9 percent.

Pages