State Roundup: Some Premiums Soar In Washington State; Building Boom For Denver Hospitals; Looking For Uninsured Kids

The Seattle Times: “Whopping rate increases are coming soon for many people with individual health-insurance policies. Most insurers offering individual policies in the state have asked for and been granted rate increases, effective Oct. 1, according to the state’s insurance commissioner. Regence BlueShield’s rate increase — an average 16.5 percent — was one of the highest. It was topped by Asuris Northwest Health, a Regence subsidiary, with an increase of 23.7 percent. Group Health Cooperative, the fifth-largest insurer of individuals, was considerably lower, with an 8.2 percent increase” (Ostrom, 9/6).

Kaiser Health News: “The hunt for the nearly 5 million uninsured U.S. children who are eligible for free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program just got a road map.” A study published Friday “in Health Affairs shows that 39 percent of the uninsured but eligible kids live in three states: California, Texas and Florida. Another 22 percent live in Georgia, New York, Arizona, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.” The study also pointed out “that the states with the lowest participation rates in Medicaid and CHIP were largely in the Rocky Mountain region and Florida” (Galewitz, 9/3).

The Denver Post: “Denver-area hospitals are moving ahead with a $2 billion building boom that will add hundreds of beds, replace aging structures and boost local employment. There are five expansion or replacement projects underway or planned in the metro area, and another opened last month. A number of smaller medical buildings and campuses also are in development. The hospitals are responding to rising demand and forecasts of both population growth along the Front Range and increased insurance coverage nationally because of health care reform. In some cases, they’re making needed transitions to more modern and efficient facilities” (Griffin, 9/7).

Daytona Beach News-Journal: “At a time when health care and insurance costs seem only to be rising, hundreds of city and county workers and their families will be getting doctor visits and some prescriptions for free. In November, Flagler County and city of DeLand employees, retirees and dependents will be the first in the area to have the option of going to a health center that’s designed to cut out the middleman. Governments across the country are starting their own health centers, officials say, because giving away basic services costs less than the conventional system of employees seeing primary doctors in their insurance networks” (Cuculiansky, 9/6).

Bakersfield Californian: “County supervisors are pushing to reverse a decision made 13 years ago that exempted veteran county employees from paycheck-by-paycheck contributions to their health and retirement benefits after five years of employment. Their negotiators are demanding two concessions from the county’s 14 bargaining units in contract negotiations that seem to be moving swiftly to an abrupt conclusion” (Burger, 9/3). 

Las Vegas Business Press: “Medical office demand remained robust during the second quarter with increased occupancy and leasing activity, CB Richard Ellis reported. … Despite Southern Nevada’s severe real estate slump, the medical office market is still resilient” (Illia, 9/7).

The Los Angeles Times: “A disturbing theme has emerged in an analysis of all eight cases of California infants who died from whooping cough this year: Despite the patients’ multiple visits to clinics and hospitals, doctors typically failed to make a swift, accurate diagnosis. … Because whooping cough, also known as pertussis, can be hard to diagnose, health officials urged physicians to suspect the bacterial disease in any infant under 6 months of age who is having trouble breathing” (Lin, 9/7).


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