Prescription for Change A new direction for healthcare...

Better Insurance Value

Health insurance costs a lot. What drives that cost, and who gets all that money? New requirements make sure more of your insurance dollar is spent on care, but that’s not the only cost driver.

Consumers Union Documents

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Press Releases

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Blog Posts

  • Governor Brown: Don’t make Californians choose between getting care and losing their homes

    Take action: Tell Governor Jerry Brown to sign SB1124.  Older Californians shouldn’t have to choose between getting health insurance and losing their homes – but that’s the choice I’m facing after finding out about California’s policy of recovering the assets of those over 55 on Medi-Cal after they die. I bought my home in San Continue Reading

  • Surprise! Your anesthesiologist is out-of-network

    Lisa N. from Santa Cruz, California, wrote to us sharing her medical bill-shock story from a recent pregnancy. When the time came, Lisa checked in to her local in-network hospital and used her in-network gynecologist and the approved in-network neonatologist. She hadn’t been planning on getting an epidural, but ended up needing one. “Did I Continue Reading

  • Barry knew his daughter’s ER visit might be expensive – but he wasn’t expecting a $55,000 bill

    When Barry’s daughter was in a car accident, she was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. He immediately went to the hospital to meet her. She had no broken bones and didn’t need any stitches, but Barry says the hospital staff insisted on her staying at the hospital for at least four hours while they Continue Reading

  • $2,000 for two bags of saline? One former nurse says something’s gotta give

    There’s a basic problem with the cost of medical care: when you really need help, you’re not exactly in a position to negotiate. Even the most well informed patients can fall victim to the system, as Sandra from Huntington Beach, Calif. recently discovered. As a retired operating room nurse of 30 years, Sandra,knows a thing Continue Reading

  • Outrageous Bills – Bad Insurance?

    When June’s son dislocated his shoulder while playing basketball at school, it was an easy decision to take him to the hospital, because the Florida family thought that they had a good health insurance plan.  At the hospital, doctors took an X-ray, gave her son morphine for the pain, and manually put his shoulder back Continue Reading

  • Get in under the wire: Affordable health insurance for those with COBRA coverage

      Losing your health insurance can be a scary experience, especially when it happens because of a job loss. A combination of federal and state laws, known as “COBRA” and “Cal-COBRA” (named after The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), allows most Californians who lose their jobs to hold onto their health insurance for up to Continue Reading

  • Guest Post: A Blueprint for an Out of Control Cost Structure

    Guest post by Roland Garton Consumers Union collected stories on the many problems consumers face with the cost of health care. This guest blog comes from one of the hundreds of story sharers that wrote to us.  How does one find out the cost of a medical procedure without actually having it performed? Short answer: Continue Reading

  • Unnecessary tests leave patient confused and wanting better transparency

    When it comes to health care, consumers in the U.S. have come to expect high prices and hospital bills that are difficult to decipher. In some cases, people are even running into unnecessary tests or procedures. Scarlett from Nevada experienced one of these unnecessary tests coupled with high prices in 2011. “I was bitten by Continue Reading

  • Shutdown: A lot of sound and fury at a high cost

    The government shutdown and debt ceiling fight was a lot of sound and fury,  but ultimately resulted in little change at a high cost. Opponents of the Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare” as it’s come to be known) had hoped to use legislation that funds the federal government as leverage to change the health law, Continue Reading

  • Add this to your Fall shopping list: New Health Insurance Options!

    California was the first state to pass a law creating its own health insurance “marketplace” after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.  The new marketplace, named “Covered California,” will open its virtual doors for business October 1 — great news for the millions of Californians without affordable health insurance. You Continue Reading

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News Articles

  • Blue Cross profit up 20% in 2011; reserves at $1.15 billion
    Source: Pioneer Press (Tuesday April 3, 2012)

    Eagan-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota saw its profit grow by just over 20 percent in 2011 as financial reserves at the state’s largest health insurer grew to $1.15 billion.

  • Women still pay more for health insurance, data shows
    Source: New York Times (Monday March 19, 2012)

    Women still pay more than men for the same health insurance coverage, according to new research and data from online brokers. The new health care law will prohibit such “gender rating,” starting in 2014.

  • Groups push for tough health spending targets in Massachusetts
    Source: Kaiser Health News (Friday March 16, 2012)

    Even as Massachusetts celebrates a dip in the growth rate of health care costs, state lawmakers are still working feverishly on cost-control bills.

  • Senate bill could roll back consumers’ health insurance savings
    Source: ProPublica (Friday March 16, 2012)

    This summer, health insurance companies may have to pay more than a billion dollars back to their own customers as part of the 2010 health-care reform law. But now an insurer-supported Senate bill aims to roll back the rebate requirements.

  • Feds jump-start health insurance co-ops with loans
    Source: Kaiser Health News (Tuesday February 21, 2012)

    The plans are being started under the health reform law’s Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program. The aim is to increase competition among insurers, potentially reducing premiums and improving health care quality and customer service.

  • Study: healthcare costs decrease when low-income uninsured are provided coverage
    Source: UC Irvine (Thursday February 9, 2012)

    Enrollment of uninsured patients in a program with benefits comparable to those offered under the Affordable Care Act of 2010 resulted in significant healthcare cost savings, a new study finds.

  • Feds reject Texas' request to delay insurance reform
    Source: Texas Tribune (Friday January 27, 2012)

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has rejected the Texas Department of Insurance’s proposal to delay implementation of a federal health care reform provision aimed at curbing rising premiums.

  • Collaborative efforts can save money and improve care
    Source: Kaiser Health News (Thursday January 5, 2012)

    Physicians and hospitals share cost savings with the employers and insurers, and in some cases share losses if savings targets aren’t met. Medicare has launched a similar program under the 2010 health reform law aimed at developing so-called accountable care organizations.

  • U.S. denies bids by Kansas, Oklahoma for health law waivers
    Source: Bloomberg (Wednesday January 4, 2012)

    Health insurers in Kansas and Oklahoma can’t take more than 20 percent of the revenue they collect in premiums for overhead and profit, after the U.S. today denied requests from the states for more generous limits.

  • HHS rejects looser insurance rules in two states
    Source: The Hill (Wednesday January 4, 2012)

    HHS denied Kansas’s and Oklahoma’s requests to soften the healthcare law’s medical loss ratio (MLR) provisions. The law requires insurers selling policies to individuals to spend 80 percent of their premiums on medical costs, with the remaining 20 percent for profit and administrative costs.

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