health

Obamacare and Your Choices: Options for Californians Who Don’t Like Their Work-Based Coverage

Jun 18, 2013

Another in a series of Q&A columns answering consumers’ questions about the Affordable Care Act.

Q: If my husband’s employer offers health care insurance but it is unaffordable, where does that leave us? Will we qualify for help under Obamacare or will we be out in the cold? We make about $45,000 annually.

A: Apparently, lots of you dislike the health insurance options offered by your employers.

Carrie from the Sacramento suburbs submitted this question, but I’ve received a crush of similar queries from all over the state.

California Department of Health Care Services

California lawmakers and Governor Jerry Brown reached a budget agreement this week. The Governor had previously said he had no intention of bringing back services slashed in years past, but a small number of areas won restored funding for next year - dental care was one of them. Health care reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento about what that led up to the decision to renew services.

For four years, Karen Wadsack has been struggling to get the dental care she says she needs.

The California state budget deal reached this week includes some restored funding for dental care for the poor, and millions of dollars for mental health services. And as Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento reports, county and state officials are finalizing the details of how local governments will use health care money.  

After months of negotiations, the Brown administration and county representatives have struck a deal - the state can redirect some money away from county health programs, but the counties will have some choice in how that’s done.   

Workplace Wellness Takes Off, Using Money As a Motivator

Jun 3, 2013
Capital Public Radio

The demands of the workplace and home life can make it hard to find time to be physically active. Many employers are incorporating healthy activities into the workplace, often using money as a motivator. But as Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento reports, the trend comes with concerns about who’s paying more for health care.

Susan Southard walks 10 miles a week without taking her eyes off a computer screen.

“The maximum speed is two miles. So I’ll do the maximum,” says Southard.

New Data Show A Decline In Reported Cases of Valley Fever

May 28, 2013
The Californian

California’s tally of valley fever cases dropped by more than 1,000 last year and some counties have also seen fewer cases in the early months of 2013.

But public health officials say it’s too early to identify long-term trends in the numbers.

California’s new health insurance exchange has announced what plans and prices may look like for millions of people who will be buying individual coverage next year. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more about what the changes may mean for people already in the market.  

Some people may pay the same rate for a health insurance policy next year. But, Janice Rocco from the California Department of Insurance says many people will see a premium increase, with added benefits and fewer other costs. 

Depending on where they practice, doctors in different parts of California are more likely to recommend certain procedures. It’s a phenomenon called “variance.” A study from The California Healthcare Foundation shows it’s a consideration both patients and physicians should be aware of. The Foundation’s Maribeth Shannon says doctors might not realize what they’re doing.

Valley Public Radio

California lawmakers are considering a measure that would tax sugary drinks a penny per fluid ounce. The proposal is intended to cap soda consumption in order to reduce obesity rates. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone in Sacramento has found a range of opinions on the soda tax.

It’s a hot afternoon in Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood. Teenagers are out of school for the day. Some have beverages in their hands. Kirk Allen is sixteen years old:

"What are you drinkin’?" "Tiki punch, Shasta."

When she was just 6, Emily Gorospe became very tired and sick. The spunky girl, now 8, developed a fever that wouldn't go away, and red blotches appeared across her body.

"She's got so much energy usually," says Emily's mother, Valerie Gorospe. "Just walking from one part of the house ... she was drained." The little girl was also very pale. "She just didn't look like herself," Valerie recalls.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

The top Democrat in the California Senate is calling for more crisis access to mental health services to help reduce the state’s overcrowded prisons. 

But as Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the proposals likely wouldn’t satisfy a federal court order to reduce the state’s prison population.

On Monday afternoon, the federal receiver in charge of health care in California’s prisons ordered the state prison to remove inmates from two Central Valley prisons who are especially at risk of contracting valley fever.  A day later, the state and experts are digesting that directive. Valley Public Radio's Rebecca Plevin reports, as part of the Reporting on Health Collaborative’s investigation into the disease.

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Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Most counties in California have a shortage of primary care doctors. And with millions more people in the state expected to get health coverage next year, lawmakers are proposing ways to make sure basic care is available in areas that need it. One bill would allow nurse practitioners to treat patients without consulting a physician. Health care reporter Pauline Bartolone reports on what it might mean for patients.

Some nurse practitioners in California already see patients without a doctor in the room. Patients like Anastacia Casperson.

Credit California High Speed Rail Authority / File Photo

This week on Valley Edition we take a look across the region at health issues, innovation, the future of high-speed rail in California and more.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

When Mailu Lor translates for a Hmong patient, she can’t just repeat the doctor’s orders, word for word. That’s because the Hmong language often doesn’t contain advanced medical terminology, or names for diseases, like diabetes.

“Hmong language is a very difficult language,” Lor said. “We don’t have any dictionary for medical terminology.”

Valley Public Radio

  A bill that would impose a tax on soda in California goes before lawmakers in Sacramento this week. Health care reporter Pauline Bartolone says a similar measure failed last session.

The state-wide law would tax sugary drinks such as sodas, energy drinks and sweet teas one cent per fluid ounce. Democratic Senator Bill Monning says something must be done to curb alarming rates of obesity and preventable diabetes.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Starting next year, millions of people will gain new health coverage under the federal health law.  In California, dozens of clinics are gearing up for the expansion, with new funding to build clinics and expand old ones.  But as Pauline Bartolone reports from Sacramento, it may be a challenge to find the physicians to staff the new centers.

Creative Commons licensed from Flickr user Glenngould / http://www.flickr.com/photos/for_tea_too/1957375742/

California physicians and lawmakers are trying to draw attention to a shortage of doctors in the state. They made the point jointly in Sacramento Tuesday. As Pauline Bartolone reports from Sacramento, they agree more doctors will be needed to see millions of people who will start enrolling in coverage next year.   

http://www.dds.ca.gov/Porterville/Index.cfm

The steps to the State Capitol were crowded with people Thursday who wanted lawmakers to hear one message: Close down state-run residential centers for the disabled. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.   

People with disabilities shared stories about abuse at the state’s developmental centers. Their advocates said ‘institutionalization’ is outdated. Jaquie Dillard–Foss from the organization “StrategiesTo Empower People” has helped people make the transition from developmental centers back into communities.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

 

California’s health care system is expected to face an influx of millions more patients as new insurance requirements start next year. But experts are worried that a limited number of doctors in the state will mean health care consumers will have an insurance card but no doctor to see them. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

Dr. Glen Villanueva has known he wanted to be a doctor since he was five years old.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

  A new study from the UCLA Center For Health Policy Research shows that teenagers who live near parks and open space areas are more physically active than those who don't. 

The study also shows that low income teens use parks less, citing safety concerns. Low income teens were also less likely to be active for at least one hour a day. 

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