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Date: 11-27-2013

Stand by your pan: Thanksgiving safety tips

As millions of people fire up ovens and fryers this week to prepare traditional turkey feasts with all the trimmings, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that the threat of kitchen fires triples on Thanksgiving Day.

From 2009 to 2011, an average of about 1,300 cooking fires were reported, more than three times the average daily rate from 2009 through 2011 of about 400 cooking fires a day.

“If you are frying, grilling or broiling food, stay in the kitchen. Not following this advice can be a recipe for disaster on Thanksgiving and throughout the year,” said CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum.

Cooking fires are the top cause of residential blazes, nearly 150,000 each year (more than 40 percent of all annual unintentional residential fires) from 2009 through 2011, the latest figures available.

Unattended cooking is the top cause of cooking fires, according to the CPSC. Cooking fires also caused the most home fire-related injuries, with an estimated annual average of nearly 27 percent, or 3,450 injuries each year.

Overall, CPSC estimates an average of 362,300 unintentional residential fires, 2,260 deaths, 12,820 injuries and nearly $7 billion in property damage attended by the fire service occurring each year between 2009 and 2011.

To stay safe in the kitchen, avoid wearing loose-fitting clothing with long sleeves near ranges or ovens; watch children closely so they don’t come into contact with cooking food or hot stove tops; turn pan handles toward the back of the stove to prevent others from spilling a pan’s scalding contents onto themselves.

In the event of a fire, call 911. Cover a pan with a lid to smother the flames. Never pour water or flour on a fire. That can make it worse. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.

Now, a word about turkey fryers.

Fried turkey - long a favorite Southern dish - has gained popularity throughout the rest of the country for a variety of reasons, chiefly reduced cooking time and, arguably, a more succulent taste.

But fire officials don’t like the fryers, calling them just plain dangerous. There are no safety features built into the tall, top-heavy devices, notes Green Township Fire Lt. Michael Nie.

Jennifer Edwards Baker
Kentucky Enquirer


Humana will let Kentuckians keep their health insurance plan for another year if they like it;

By Molly Burchett
Kentucky Health News

At 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.

Kentucky 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.

Beware of health care scams!

Gov. Beshear, Attorney General Conway Warn Consumers of Potential Scams During Health Care Coverage Rollout

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. 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 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 Director
502-696-5651 (office) 

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