Finding a ‘medical home’ is an important step toward better health

Insider Louisville LogoThere are thousands of Kentuckians who have benefited from changes in health care policy, with the result being that many who never had a primary care physician now have the ability to see a doctor on a routine basis. They can also avoid a rush to the emergency room every time they’re sick.

However, the benefit of having access to health care is only valuable if people know how to put it to use. The reality for some people is that they don’t know what steps to take once they get health insurance. For many, one of the first steps is to choose a primary care physician and establish a “medical home” — which is a doctor who knows you, your family history and your lifestyle habits. Building this relationship can help keep people out of the emergency room and on a path of prevention from major illness.

“The way medicine should work is that patients should have a medical home, a place where people know them and they go to with some regularity,” says Dr. Steve Roszell, a family practice physician with Norton Healthcare, in a Passport-sponsored article in Insider Louisville. “I spend most of my day developing a good relationship and trust with patients so that when they come to me with a problem I can reassure them that I’m not worried about this, this is going to be fine, and because we know each other, why don’t we talk again next week.”

To read more, and to see a video highlighting this issue, please click here.

 

U.S. uninsured rate hits another record low, at just 8.8 percent without health insurance

NHIS LogoThe nation’s uninsured rate dipped slightly to 8.8 percent between January and September 2016, down from 9.1 percent the year before, according to the latest National Health Interview Survey data.

According to the report, in the first 9 months of 2016, 28.2 million people of all ages were uninsured at the time of interview, 20.4 million fewer than in 2010. Also, Hispanic adults saw the greatest gains, but remain biggest opportunity – only 24.7 percent of Hispanics were uninsured in the first nine months of 2016, down from more than 40 percent in 2013.

In Kentucky, just 6.5 person of people were uninsured at the time they were interviewed, while 46.7 percent said that they had public health plan coverage (such as Medicaid or Medicare) during the nine-month period and 57.1 percent said they had private health insurance coverage during that timeframe.

This report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) presents selected estimates of health insurance coverage for the civilian noninstitutionalized U.S. population based on data from the January-September 2016 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), along with comparable estimates from previous calendar years. This report is updated quarterly and is part of the NHIS Early Release (ER) Program, which releases updated selected estimates that are available from the NHIS website.

 

Kentucky children continue to struggle with their health depending on where they live, according to new report

KY Youth Advocates logoThe annual Kentucky Kids Count report has measured the overall well-being of Kentucky’s children for 26 years, and this year’s report finds that today’s youth are healthier and completing high school on time despite mounting economic inequality and increasingly unaffordable college tuition.

“We need to continue to implement policies and practices that help all children, and in order to do that, we must face some uncomfortable truths,” Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said in a release. “One of those truths is that the ZIP code in which children live, the amount of money their family earns, and the color of their skin are pervasive and powerful influences on the childhood they will have and the future they can embrace.”

The report looks at four major categories – Economic Well-Being, Education, Health, and Family & Community – and ranks the states accordingly. Kentucky showed improvements in 11 of the 16 major categories, en route to an overall ranking of No. 35 (Minnesota is No 1, while Mississippi is No. 50). In fact, Kentucky showed improvements in all four Health categories (low-birthweight babies, children without health insurance, children and teen deaths per 100,000, and teens who abuse alcohol or drugs) and was ranked No. 16 in the nation in the Health category.

To see the Kentucky profile, please click here. To see the full report, please click here.

The Kentucky Kids Count report, released by KYA, is part of the 26th annual release of the County Data Book, which ranks every Kentucky county on overall child well-being through 16 measures in four areas: economic security, education, health and family, and community strengths.

The 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book is produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private philanthropy based in Baltimore and working across the country that is devoted to developing a brighter future for millions of children at risk of poor educational, economic, social and health outcomes.

 

Online insurance resource helps consumers understand confusing health insurance terminology

AHIPAmerica’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and the National Consumers League have created an online health insurance resource called MyHealthPlan.guide to help consumers understand and better navigate their health insurance coverage.

Research shows that most people can’t define basic insurance terminology, according to a recent CNBC report, so the interactive website offers a glossary of key health insurance terms, checklists and tips for making decisions about benefits, and coverage options.

In fact, a recent survey by PolicyGenius showed that 96 percent of Americans couldn’t correctly define four key terms that determine how much they would have to pay for medical services and drugs they receive under their health insurance plans. Those terms: deductible, co-pay, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximum.

Passport Health Plan is a proud member of AHIP, the national trade association representing the health insurance community. The National Consumers League is a consumer advocacy organization, representing consumers and workers on marketplace and workplace issues since our founding in 1899.

 

Passport Health Plan named the Top Medicaid Plan in Kentucky by National Committee for Quality Assurance once more

Medicaid Rankings GraphicPassport Health Plan has once again been named the top Medicaid plan in Kentucky, rated a 4 out of 5 by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for the second straight year, according to “NCQA’s Medicaid Health Insurance Plan Ratings 2015-2016.”

Each year, NCQA provides updated ratings of health plans across the U.S. These ratings provide consumers with a more accurate picture of how health insurance plans perform in key quality areas. The ratings align with the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Star Ratings of Medicare Advantage plans and give unprecedented importance to health outcomes and consumer satisfaction.

“By focusing on member satisfaction, preventive services, and how we treat chronic and acute conditions, NCQA has once again reinforced what we have known to be true for a long time – Passport Health Plan is a leading model of collaboration and innovation in health care,” said Passport Health Plan CEO Mark B. Carter. “This recognition validates the great results as our staff collaborates daily with our provider partners every day to help Kentuckians live healthier lives.”

A complete list of the ratings can be found at www.ncqa.org/ratings. For more information, please click here.

 

Kentucky ranks 35th in overall child well-being, according to latest KIDS COUNT Data Book

KY Youth Advocates logoKentucky ranks 35th in the nation in overall child well-being, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2016 KIDS COUNT® Data Book that was just released. In addition, Kentucky ranks 38th in economic well-being, 27th in education, 16th in health, and 37th in the family and community domains.

“The real issue is not a drop or increase of one position, but rather that Kentucky continues to be in the bottom one-third of all states,” Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA) Executive Director Dr. Terry Brooks said in a news release. “Are we really content with the idea that two-thirds of America’s children are better off than Kentucky kids?”

All four indicators in the health category showed improvement for Kentucky: The percent of children without health insurance fell from 10 percent in 2008 to 6 percent in 2014; the rate of child and teen deaths fell from 29 per 100,000 in 2008 to 24 per 100,000 in 2014; the percent of low birth-weight babies fell from 8.2 percent in 2008 to 8.0 percent in 2014; and the percent of teens abusing alcohol or drugs fell from 8 percent in 2007-08 to 5 percent in 2013-14.

“We are seeing better health outcomes for kids in Kentucky, and expanded health coverage and access to quality care play a vital role in making that happen,” Dr. Susan Zepeda, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky said in the news release. “Families have been able to sign up for benefits online, streamlining the enrollment process. The decrease in kids without coverage may be due in part to expanded Medicaid coverage for low income adults that began in January 2014. Research shows that when parents have health coverage their children are more likely to also be signed up for health insurance.”

The national KIDS COUNT Data Book, which was co-released by KYA, provides state-level data and rankings; the 2016 Kentucky KIDS COUNT County Data Book, which includes county-level data and rankings, will be released in November.

To read the full report, please click here. For more information about the Data Book and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, please click here.

 

Kentucky leads nation in reducing number of uninsured residents

KentuckyKentucky continues to lead the way in the reduction of people without health insurance, according to new polling by Gallup Inc.

Both Kentucky and Arkansas registered a decline of 12.9 percentage points from the time that the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2014 through the end of 2015, but in percentage terms, Kentucky’s drop of 63.2 percent was larger than Arkansas’s drop of 57.3 percent. Oregon came in second place, with a drop of 62.3 percent.

Kentucky and Arkansas are the only Southern states to have expanded Medicaid and have a state health-insurance marketplace under the ACA. In both states, the uninsured rate was cut by well over half – Kentucky’s dropped from 20.4 percent to 7.5 percent, while Arkansas’s dropped from 22.5 percent to 9.6 percent.

However, with 7.5 percent still uninsured, Kentucky still trails several states in the percentage of population that does have health insurance.

For more information, please click here.

 

Kentucky leads way in drop of unpaid hospital stays since Medicaid expansion began

hospital buildingAccording to a study from the University of Michigan on the effects of Medicaid expansion, Kentucky hospitals were shown to have had the biggest drop in non-paying patients among 15 states.

Kentucky showed a decline of 13.5 percent in unpaid hospital stays in just the first six months after the 2014 expansion, according to the study. Hospitals in states that expanded Medicaid, like Kentucky, are taking care of more patients with health insurance, and thus have seen an increase in payments for their care, according to an analysis written by Melissa Patrick of Kentucky Health News.

Overall, hospital stays by uninsured patients went down 50 percent, and stays by people with Medicaid went up 20 percent, between the end of 2013 and the middle of 2014, a University of Michigan news release says. The study found that hospitals in states that did not expand Medicaid “continued to experience the same or even higher demand for care from people without insurance.”

 

Latest quarterly report shows how many more Kentuckians have health insurance

foundation for a healthy KYThe State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), a health policy research institute at the University of Minnesota, has been studying how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been impacting Kentuckians as part of a contract with The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

The institute recently released its second quarterly health data snapshot, which covers the April-June 2015 timeframe. Highlights of this latest health data snapshot include:

  • From December 2013 to June 2015, Kentucky’s uninsurance rate dropped from 20.4% to 9.0%.
  • Medicaid funded thousands of preventive services during the quarter, including more than 10,000 breast cancer screenings. Over 9,000 of these breast cancer screenings were among Medicaid expansion enrollees, while nearly 1,200 were among traditional Medicaid enrollees.
  • Children obtained the majority of Medicaid’s dental visits, representing 66% of the more-than-250,000 dental visits provided during the quarter among Kentuckians under age 64.
  • Kentucky’s 11.4 percentage point drop in the rate of uninsured residents continued to outpace neighboring states (Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia), which averaged a 5.2 percentage point drop, as well as the national decline in uninsured, which was 5.7 percentage points.

Click here to view the complete 2nd quarterly health snapshot.

SHADAC is a health policy research center with a focus on state policy. For more information, go online to shadac.org. The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky makes grants, invests in pilot projects, does research and polling, and informs policy discussions. It is committed to improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. For more information, go online to healthy-ky.org.

 

More Kentucky children have health care coverage under Medicaid expansion, new report shows

KY Youth Advocates logoThe number of Kentucky children without health insurance fell by 27% over a one-year period, according to a new report by Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families and Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA), helping the state move from 28th place to 15th place in state rankings on children’s health care coverage. Children in both urban and rural areas saw improvements in their uninsured rates.

“Once again, the benefits of establishing kynect and expanding health care coverage to more Kentuckians have been independently substantiated in a new report released this week by Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families and Kentucky Youth Advocates,” said Governor Steve Beshear. “While most people would agree that a healthy child is a better, more productive student, the report found even greater returns in the long term. Children with Medicaid coverage were less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to graduate from college, making them healthier and more successful adults who are less likely to be reliant on government assistance. When we invest early and often in the health and well-being of our children, we are investing in the economic future of our Commonwealth. And the return we see on that investment is priceless.”

The report, which compared 2013 and 2014 Census data, estimated that the number of uninsured children in Kentucky declined from about 60,000 in 2013 to about 43,000 in 2014. The report authors attribute the gains to the strong Medicaid and KCHIP programs and improvements to Kentucky’s health coverage system, such as the creation of kynect.

“When children have health care coverage, they are able to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy and show up for school ready to learn,” said Terry Brooks, KYA executive director. “It also means their families can afford to take them to the doctor when they are sick so they don’t wind up having to rely on more expensive hospital care if they get sicker.”

The report also notes that improvements to children’s coverage have been shown to provide a strong return on government investment. Research shows that children with Medicaid coverage were less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to graduate from college. They also had better health and economic success as adults making them less reliant on safety net programs.

Families who would like to enroll their children in health care coverage should call 1-855-459-6328 or visit kynect.ky.gov. Families can enroll their children in Medicaid or KCHIP at any time; open enrollment for private health plans begins on Sunday, November 1.

The full report can be found online by clicking here.