MONDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2013
By Molly BurchettKentucky Health NewsAt least one insurance company, Humana, will be allowing Kentuckians to keep their insurance coverage for another year if they like it, even if the policies aren't compliant with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.Partially owning up to his reforms' rocky rollout last week, President Obama said people whose policies were being cancelled because they didn't comply with the law could renew their policies for another year -- if insurance companies are willing to do so and state regulators allow it. Kentucky is among the states allowing them to do so, and Humana is going along.Humana -- and Anthem Blue Cross, if it follows suit -- will be required to tell such policyholders "what protections these renewed plans don't include" and that they have alternatives that may be better and cheaper on insurance exchanges, Obama said.“Humana has been educating people about the full range of options, including the ability to retain their current coverage, in accordance and coordination with state law," a Humana spokesperson told Kentucky Health News. An Anthem spokesperson said the company is still reviewing its options.About 280,000 Kentuckians -- almost all those in individual and small-group insurance market -- faced policy discontinuation, requiring them to get different insurance coverage.Experts say there are a number of obstacles that could keep insurers from letting customers renew old policies, including the concern that the risk pools of the state's health-insurance exchange will be skewed. And, insurers will have to calculate how much they plan to charge for policies that were going to be discontinued.“Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers,” Karen Ignagni, the president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a lobbying group, told The New York Times.Some insurers say the president's move is adding to the confusion that surrounds the health-care law and adding uncertainty to the insurance market. This may will discourage participation from a key group, young and healthy people who are needed to make insurance exchanges sustainable, reports The Washington Post.There is doubt that insurance companies can do all of this in less than a month to ensure coverage is in place by Jan. 1. It is unclear how, as a practical matter, the changes proposed by the president can be put into effect, National Association of Insurance Commissioners President Jim Donelon said last week. And, even if they do, the proposed changes only last a year.
ABOUT KHNKentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.
Governor Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway are warning consumers to protect themselves from fraud and to be vigilant of scams claiming to be associated with Kentucky's rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
If Kentuckians have any questions or concerns, they should contact the AG's Office of Consumer Protection or staff of the state's health benefit exchange call center.
On Oct. 1, thousands of Kentuckians without health insurance began seeking information and shopping for insurance coverage using kynect, Kentucky's health benefit marketplace created to provide simple, one-stop shopping for individuals and small businesses to purchase health insurance.
Unfortunately, scammers have seen this as an opportunity to try to collect consumers' personal information or to make false claims.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which oversees kynect, has been notified by consumers of suspicious websites that call consumers after they register information on the sites.
The Attorney General's Office is investigating the websites. On Monday, it sent civil investigative subpoenas and cease and desist orders to the operators of two websites.
"It's appalling to think there are individuals out there who would prey on Kentuckians during this process," Gov. Beshear said. "Everyone should be on guard and report any questionable websites or businesses. There is a lot of misinformation on the Affordable Care Act, which is why we have qualified staff who can answer questions and point consumers in the right direction."
Gov. Beshear said kynect is a secure website, and the call center staff is professionally trained.
Attorney General Conway's Office of Consumer Protection is set up to handle questions and concerns by the public involving matters like Kentucky's launch of the Affordable Care Act. The most common trick is scam websites trying to mimic legitimate government websites.Kynect.ky.gov is the only website Kentuckians should use to sign up for the exchange, Attorney General Conway said, adding that anything with a ".com" or ".net" address is not a legitimate website for the exchange.
"My office is committed to protecting Kentuckians from these types of crimes," Attorney General Conway said. "If something seems suspicious, do not share your personal information, and if you suspect fraud, report it immediately by calling our Consumer Protection Hotline at 888-432-9257."
Attorney General Conway warns Kentuckians to be on guard for attempts by identity thieves to collect personal or financial information by email, phone or mail.
Scammers may additionally try to sell individuals bogus "discount medical plans" or mislead older consumers on Medicare by making false claims that Medicare coverage is affected by the new law, he said.
The Office of Consumer Protection recommends the following tips for consumers:
• Protect your personal information. Only a registered insurance agent, a certified kynector, or contact center customer service representative should ask for your personal information to help you apply. Keep personal and account numbers private to any others who offer assistance. Don't give your Social Security number, credit card or banking information to companies or individuals you didn't contact. Never give your information to someone whose identity you question.
• Make sure you're working with a registered insurance agent or certified kynector. Only legitimate insurance agents and assisters, known as "kynectors," are authorized to assist Kentuckians with signing up for health care. A list of approved agents and kynectors maintained by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services can be found online or by calling 1-855-4kynect (459-6328).
• Do not pay for help. Insurance agents and kynectors will not solicit money. There is no charge to use kynect services, either online or with the help of an insurance agent or certified kynector. If consumers receive an offer to register for a fee, they should hang up the phone or walk away. Consumers should not give their credit card or banking information to anyone they do not know or did not contact. Consumers should be very suspicious of anyone charging a fee in connection with enrollment.
• Remember that you can only get tax credits through kynect. Kentuckians who purchase insurance through kynect may qualify for tax credits to help cut the cost. No one but kynect can offer these credits, and there is no charge to apply for the credits.
• Beware of phishing scams online. Consumers should be cautious of any email claiming to be connected to the Affordable Care Act, including any emails claiming to be affiliated with kynect and asking for personal information.
• Ask questions. Don't sign anything you don't fully understand, and verify the answers you get with trained kynect representatives.
If people do think their personal information has been compromised, they can visit www.ag.ky.gov. The Attorney General's website contains information about protecting your personal identity and an identity theft toolkit.
Kynect is a program run by the Kentucky Office of the Health Benefit Exchange within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Federal law requires each state to have an online health insurance marketplace to ensure that all Americans have access to quality healthcare.
Press Release Date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 Contact Information: Allison Gardner Martin Communications Director502-696-5651 (office)
Drs. Harris, McCreary heading up program at LCHS...
By Angela Myhrwold and James Ellis
LOUISA -- Concussions are a serious risk for young athletes. Not only are teenagers more vulnerable to concussions, they’re also susceptible to second impact syndrome – when people receive a second concussive blow before fully recovering from the first – which can cause permanent brain damage and even death. Because of the threat of second impact syndrome, it’s imperative that young athletes are completely healthy before they return to the playing field.
To help remove the guesswork from return-to-play decisions, Lawrence County Football Team Physicians, Dr. Spencer Harris and Dr. Chad McCreary have become credentialed providers of ImPACT, a 20-minute neuropsychological testing program that measures memory and function brain speed. Used by NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB teams, ImPACT provides a tool that allows these physicians to compare pre and post-injury brain performance. Both doctors, who are family practice physicians, and members of the medical staff at Three Rivers Medical Center, are the credentialed ImPACT consultants.
Implemented with football and girls soccer this fall, teams and individuals can undergo baseline testing. If an athlete who’s been pretested is injured, he or she will take another version of the test, post-injury. Because concussion affects the speed in which people remember information and complete tasks, doctors can use the test result to objectively compare brain function before and after the injure.
“I was contacted by Greg Kiser, the CEO at Three Rivers Medical Center. He shared that TRMC would like to make a program available to our students that could benefit them in case the student suffered from a concussion,” said Lawrence County Superintendent Mike Armstrong of the program.
“This opportunity to collaborate, to the benefit of our student-athletes, is such a valuable relationship. The willingness of TRMC to invest in the health and well-being of our students ultimately benefits our students in their academic progress. This shared goal then benefits our entire community,” Armstrong said.
When used together with physical examinations and balance testing, ImPACT, can help doctors and other sports medicine personnel determine when student athletes can safely return to play. ImPACT is not a diagnostic tool or sole determinant of an athletes’ readiness, but it can give the team physicians a more complete picture of an athlete’s recovery.
“Our entire team was screened before the season. Dr. McCreary and Dr. Harris in conjunction with Three Rivers Medical Center provided their time and resources to ensure all our athletes were screened,” commented Lawrence County Head Football Coach Joe Cecil. “Anytime we can do something to further the safety measures for our student/athletes is extremely beneficial. The data we gather supplies a baseline, which if a concussion where to occur, gives us more information in making the return to play decision. This actually goes above and beyond the Kentucky Medical Associations return to play protocol and I am deeply appreciative of the support we have from our hospital and doctors.”
Three Rivers Medical Center CEO Greg Kiser credited Drs. Harris and McCreary for the program.
“Dr. Chad McCreary and Dr. Spencer Harris came to me during football season a couple of years ago and said they wanted to start this program and asked me to fund it. I said we will be glad to and do whatever it takes to continue this each year thereafter. I am very proud of these two physicians for stepping up and doing this for our kids… not just football but all contact sports,” Kiser said.
These physicians recognize the value of competition, but their first priority is the long-term health of student athletes. They use every tool at their disposal to ensure that young athletes are playing it safe in Lawrence County and are proud to introduce concussion management to the area.
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