health insurance

Liz McLemore was laid off from her digital marketing job in early March, and her health insurance coverage disappeared along with it.

"I've always been a saver, so I wasn't as concerned about the monthly money coming in," says McLemore, who's 42 and lives in Inglewood, Calif. "But I really was concerned about the [health] insurance."

If there's a time that people particularly need access to good health care and health insurance, it's during a global pandemic.

But in the U.S. 33.5 million people so far have had to file for unemployment benefits — and most people in the nation get their health insurance through their jobs. An analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation published Wednesday estimates that 27 million people have recently lost their health coverage.

Three major health insurance providers have now pledged to shield patients from high medical bills if they need treatment for COVID-19. Insurers Cigna and Humana announced Monday that they would waive consumer costs associated with COVID-19 treatment.

Health care costs were rising. People couldn't afford coverage. So, in Connecticut, state lawmakers took action.

Their solution was to attempt to create a public health insurance option, managed by the state, which would ostensibly serve as a low-cost alternative for people who couldn't afford private plans.

Immediately, an aggressive industry mobilized to kill the idea. Despite months of lobbying, debate and organizing, the proposal was dead on arrival.

Nashville General Hospital is a safety net facility funded by the city. For a patient without insurance, this is supposed to be the best place to go in a city with many hospitals. But for those who are uninsured, it may have been the worst choice in 2019.

Its emergency room was taking more patients to court for unpaid medical bills than any other hospital or practice in town. A WPLN investigation finds the physician-staffing firm that runs the ER sued 700 patients in Davidson County during 2019.

Efforts across the U.S. in recent years to encourage medical students, nurse practitioners and others to go into primary care, especially in underserved areas, are built on a consensus in research: Primary care is good for patients.

Joshua Bates knew something was seriously wrong. He had a high fever, could barely move and felt a sharp pain in his stomach every time he coughed.

The 28-year-old called his roommate, who rushed home that day in July 2018. The pair drove to the nearest emergency room, the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C.

After several tests, including a CT scan of his abdomen, the emergency team determined that Bates had acute appendicitis.

"They said my appendix was minutes away from rupturing," Bates said.

The majority of Americans have health insurance that includes coverage for prescription drugs. But unfortunately that doesn't ensure that they can afford the specific drugs their doctors prescribe for them.

In fact, many Americans report that their insurance plans sometimes don't cover a drug they need — and nearly half the people whom this happens to say they simply don't fill the prescription. That's according to a poll released this month on income inequality from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

With the new year come many new state laws across the country. There are the usual suspects — gun laws, marijuana legalization and housing protections — but there are also some new frontiers: groundbreaking laws concerning Internet user privacy and the classification of contract workers in California, for example.

Here are some of the most notable laws taking effect Jan. 1, in no particular order:

Red flag

Alexa Kasdan had a cold and a sore throat.

The 40-year-old public policy consultant from Brooklyn, N.Y., didn't want her upcoming vacation trip ruined by strep throat. So after it had lingered for more than a week, she decided to get it checked out.

Kasdan visited her primary care physician, Roya Fathollahi, at Manhattan Specialty Care, just off Park Avenue South and not far from tony Gramercy Park.

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