Access To Care

Another big health insurance company has revealed it has been the target of a massive cyberattack.

Premera Blue Cross says hackers may have taken up to 11 million customer records. Those records include credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, even information about medical problems. This news is just coming out but Premera issued a statement saying it discovered the breach on Jan. 29. That's about the same date that Anthem, another Blue Cross company, told the FBI that it was breached.

A total of 16.4 million non-elderly adults have gained health insurance coverage since the Affordable Care Act became law five years ago this month. It's a reduction in the ranks of the uninsured the the Department of Health and Human Services called historic.

The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in a case that could end Obamacare subsidies for policyholders in a majority of states, including Texas, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio. If the court sides with the plaintiffs, it would mean millions of people could no longer afford health insurance.

The Obama administration has blocked health plans without hospital benefits that many large employers argued fulfilled their obligations under the Affordable Care Act.

Companies with millions of workers, mainly in lower-wage industries such as staffing, retailing, restaurants and hotels that hadn't offered health coverage previously, had been flocking toward such insurance for 2015.

calculator for paying taxes and avoiding health insurance penalty
401kcalculator.org

Last week's deadline for signing up for health insurance on the exchanges will be long passed by the time many people file their taxes this March and April. But that may be the first time it sinks in for some people that they  owe a penalty for not having insurance last year. Consumer advocates want the government to give them a chance to sign up for 2015 coverage after the enrollment deadline.

But federal officials say they’re not making any promises.

"Is this doctor in my insurance network?" is one of the key questions people ask when considering whether to see a particular doctor. Unfortunately, in some cases the answer may not be a simple yes or no.

Hackers Strike Health Insurer Anthem

Feb 5, 2015

The country's second-biggest health insurer says cyberattackers infiltrated one of its IT systems and obtained personal information about current and former customers as well as employees covered by the insurer.

"The information accessed includes names, birthdays, social security numbers, street addresses, email addresses and employment information, including income data," wrote Anthem CEO Joe Swedish in a letter to the company's policyholders.

More than 400,000 Medicare beneficiaries who may have been confused or misinformed about the pharmacy details of their 2015 Aetna prescription drug plans have until the end of this month to find participating pharmacies or switch plans, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

In health insurance prices, as in the weather, Alaska and the Sun Belt are extremes. This year Alaska is the most expensive health insurance market for people who do not get coverage through their employers, while Phoenix, Albuquerque, N.M., and Tucson, Ariz., are among the very cheapest.

In December, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new obesity drug, Saxenda, the fourth prescription medicine the agency has given the green light to fight obesity since 2012. But even though two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, there's a good chance their insurer won't cover Saxenda or other anti-obesity drugs.

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