89 posts categorized "Healthcare"

10/09/2013

Want to see Obamacare policies? Try Blue Cross Blue Shield

More than a week after the launch of the Healthcare.gov website that Texans are supposed to use to shop for health insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act, we still haven't managed to actually see a policy. Like a lot of people, judging by media reports, even after creating an account we get a blank page when we try to sign in. But here's a way you can see half the policies offered on the Health Insurance Marketplace, commonly called the exchange: Go to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas' own web site at www.bcbstx.com/health-insurance-shopping-guide

Unlike the government's site, Blue Cross lets you browse their site without creating an account, which by this account is the cause of the big problems Healthcare.gov is having. All the insurer's site wants are the things that actually matter when you're comparison shopping: your age, gender, zip code and whether or not you use tobacco (a big no-no, by the way). And if you want to get into the weeds of whether you qualify for a tax credit subsidy or not, the site can do that, too, but it's optional. Kind of a nice, keep-it-simple approach, don't you think? You can't buy a plan and also get the tax subsidy on the Blue Cross site, but you'll get a good idea of what it's going to cost you. Then you can wait for the government to work the bugs out of their site. You can't get coverage that starts before Jan. 1 anyway, and you only need to buy a policy by Dec. 15 in order for your coverage to start Jan. 1, so you've got plenty of time.

Incidentally, we posted a PDF version of the plans available in Tarrant County last week, after it became clear the government's site was off to a rocky start. It's not terribly easy to use and it doesn't have all the information you want, like deductibles and out of pocket maximums, but it's better than nothing. It's here: Download Tarrant Exchange plans

-- Jim Fuquay

10/08/2013

DFW hospital growth outstrips demand, survey says

Hospitals in North Texas added more than 500 new inpatient beds between 2008 and 2011, even as demand for those beds declined 3 percent in that time, according to a new survey. Despite the mismatch, however, hospitals in Dallas/Fort Worth enjoyed total $1.58 billion in total net income,or 10.3 percent of patient revenue, said the 2013 Texas Health Market Review. The report, by independent analyst Allan Baumgarten, said for-profit chain HCA and not-for-profit Baylor Health Care System were the most profitable.

The study also found that enrollment in health maintenance organizations rose to more than 4 million, with growth in Medicare and Medicaid offsetting declines at employer-sponsored plans. By far the biggest HMO membership, more than 3 million, is in the Texas Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). The state has steadily moved its Medicaid and CHIP populations into HMOs for years. Still, Medicaid HMOs lost $74.3 million in 2012. Fort Worth's Cook Children's Health Care System was an exception, earning $8.4 million on its plan, which had 108,252 members as of Dec. 31, 2012, the study said.

-- Jim Fuquay

10/04/2013

THR breaks ground on Willow Park outpatient center

Texas Health Resources broke ground this morning for a 60,000-square-foot medical facility in Parker County, with an expected completion date in late 2014. Arlington-based THR plans a free-standing emergency department, fitness center and three-story medical office building at the 8-acre site in the city of Willow Park. There will also be heart rehab, physical therapy, imaging and other services offered.

“The outpatient center will be the first part of an integrated health campus that will grow, with plans for a surgery center and expansion of space for more physicians and medical services,” THR said. The facility is at Interstate 20 and Crown Pointe Boulevard, about 20 miles west of Fort Worth.

Parker County presently is served by Weatherford Regional Medical Center, which includes a hospital with 99 licensed beds. THR said its Willow Park facility will be nearly 10 miles from that hospital and 15 miles from the nearest THR hospital. “Texas Health Willow Park will not only provide emergency care and other basic health services, it will be an integrated health campus that promotes well-being and population health,” said Dr. Jeffrey Canose, who heads THR’s southwest zone.

The facility has been anticipated since THR bought about 30 acres in Willow Park in 2010. 

-- Jim Fuquay

10/02/2013

Yes, Virginia, it is possible to register for the insurance exchange

Update: 3:35 p.m.

It's possible, but it might not work when you get there. After holding at the "lots of visitors" page, we were presented with the official Log In page for the Health Insurance Marketplace. But despite writing down the user name and password, and having it right in front of us when we logged in, we once again hit a dead end, told we didn't use the magic words. So we asked to reset the password, got an email link to do that, filled out a new password and answered the three security questions, and .... and....... If you can't read it, it says we didn't answer the questions correctly. As we can say is, well.............

Forgot password

The original post is below:

It might take some patience, but it can be done. After attempts too numerous to recount, we managed to create a user account on the Health Insurance Marketplace, AKA "the exchange." This happened after the email confirmation we were sent after completing the previous registration steps was rejected as being too late. Don't give up yet. And for a quick look at North Texas plans and premiums on the exchange, see this post made Wednesday morning.

-- Jim Fuquay

Success

 

 

 

Insurance plans for North Texas available

Update: We have added a PDF that shows Health Insurance Marketplace policies for Tarrant, which weren't immediately available this morning. Surrounding counties are in the same rating area as Tarrant and Dallas counties, but could see slightly different offerings, depending on the insurer. (Tarrant, Dallas, Denton, Collin, Parker, Wise, Johnson, Rockwall, Ellis, Hunt, Kaufman and Delta counties are all in Area 8.)

A PDF of the Tarrant County plans is available here:  Download Tarrant Exchange plans

(When this PDF opens it may ask you to print it. Hit "Cancel" and you can view the pages and then print them if you wish.)

These premiums do not include any subsidy or tax credit, available to households with incomes between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level. However, you can get a good estimate of your likely tax credit using Kaiser Family Foundation's calculator, here.

-Jim Fuquay

10/01/2013

Hurry up and wait for Texas health insurance exchange

Update: Oct. 2, 3:05 p.m.

It is possible to register on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Here is living proof:

Success
Update: Oct. 2, 2 p.m.

We got a little farther trying to register at the Health Insurance Marketplace, a.k.a. "the exchange." It accepted our user name, password and three security questions, then promised to email a confirmation. The confirmation quickly showed up in our inbox, and we clicked on it within 5 seconds of its arrival. But was that fast enough? Noooooooooooooooooo.

Oops2
Here's where the original post begins.

Marketplace wait
Here's what you'll probably get if you go to www.heathcare.gov, the official site of the Health Insurance Marketplace, also called the exchange. We did manage to get through to a sign-up page once, but our browser froze before we could finishing creating an account. The next time,

Marketplace not yet
when, we did get all the way through the process, we got the screen above. In fact, we ended up here several times. It's not just us. Here's a link to an Associated Press story on the launch.

But keep in mind that today is just the first day of a six-month process to use the online exchange to find health insurance policies that include a shot at tax credits to reduce the cost of the policies. You can also call 1-800-318-2596. In any event,  coverage purchased through the exchange doesn't go into effect until Jan. 1. The open enrollment period extends through March 31, and you can enroll after that in the event of significant changes in your situation, such as losing a job and your health benefits. 

-- Jim Fuquay

09/30/2013

Baylor, Scott & White complete merger

Dallas-based Baylor Health Care System and Temple-based Scott & White Healthcare said Monday they completed their previously announced merger, creating the state's largest not-for-profit health system. The combined organization, named Baylor Scott & White Health, has 43 hospitals, more than 500 clinics and other care sites, 6,000 affiliated physicians  and 34,000 employees. It has annual revenue of $8.3 billion. Its web site is www.BaylorScottandWhite.com

“Over time, patients in the communities we serve will begin seeing the new brand Baylor Scott & White Health emerge,” said Joel Allison, CEO of the new company. He previously led Baylor.   “We are building a new national model for health care delivery engineered to meet the demands of health care reform, the changing needs of patients and payers and the extraordinary advances in clinical care.” Dr. Robert Pryor, CEO of Scott & White, becomes president, chief operating officer and chief medical officer of Baylor Scott & White Health.

The organizations announced their merger plans in December. In the Tarrant area the new system operates Baylor All Saints Hospital in Fort Worth, Baylor Grapevine., Baylor Orthopedic and Spine Hospital at Arlington, and Baylor Trophy Club.

-- Jim Fuquay

07/23/2013

Moncrief Cancer Institute announces new services

Moncrief cancer instituteFort Worth's Moncrief Cancer Institute, which since opening in November has provided cancer educational and counseling services, will add chemotherapy treatment, imaging services and clinical trials using $10 million in new pledges. Moncrief is part of UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, which committed $5 million, and Moncrief Cancer Foundation committed $5 million to underwrite the expansions. Work on the new services will begin next spring and should be completed by spring 2015. "The Fort Worth community will benefit from a cancer  center that delivers comprehensive services, including infusion therapy and cancer imaging in addition to Moncrief Cancer Institute's current programs of cancer prevention, cancer survivorship and population research," said Dr. Keith Argenbright, the facility's director.

-- Jim Fuquay

07/16/2013

Hyundai adds $75,000 to its Cook Children's contributions

Cook Hyundai 2 Cook Hyundai 1Hyundai Motor America, part of the South Korean auto maker, awarded a physician at Fort Worth's Cook Children's Medical Center a $75,000 Scholar Grant on Tuesday, bring its charitable giving to the hospital to $340,000 since 1998. The award went to Dr. Karen Albritton "to support her project to develop a systematic program of adolescent and young adult psycho-oncology support" during their cancer treatment and recovery. Hyundai's Hope on Wheels program, a not-for-profit focused on curing childhood cancer, will donate $14 million to children's hospitals this year, it says, which will bring its total giving to more than $72 million in 15 years. In these photos provided by Cook Children's from the Tuesday event, Rebekah Gason (left) makes her mark on a Hope on Wheels vehicle, and Wade H. Brockway (above) described the role of support in his own treatment at Cook as a youth.

-- Jim Fuquay

Local hospitals listed on U.S. News annual rankings

Hospital ratings and rankings seem to come out every other week these days. U.S. News & World Report has a bigger-than-average presence owing to its long history with such lists, and it just released its 2013-14 Best Hospitals. In North Texas, Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas was No. 1, UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas was No. 2 and Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital was No. 3. Tarrant area hospitals with a national ranking or a Top 30 state ranking and their recognized specialties are:

  • Texas Health Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital -- Ranked No. 3 in North Texas among general hospitals and No. 10 in Texas. High-performing in 10 specialties: cancer, cardiac/heart surgery, diabetes/endocrinology, gastroenterology/GI surgery, geriatrics, gynecology, nephrology, neurology/neurosurgery, orthopedics, pulmonology and urology
  • Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital -- No. 6 in North Texas and No. 18 in Texas. High-performing in diabetes/endocrinology, gastroenterology/GI surgery, geriatrics, neurology/neurosurgery, pulmonology and urology
  • Baylor All Saints Medical Center at Fort Worth -- No. 11 in North Texas and No. 29 in Texas. High-performing in gastroenterology/GI surgery, nephrology and urology
  • Cook Children's Medical Center -- Ranked No. 24 nationally among 87 children's hospitals in neonatology (premature infant care) and in the top 50 in four other pediatric areas: cancer, nephrology, diabetes/endocrinology, and neurology/neurosurgery.
-- Jim Fuquay

 

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