News & Views on Health Care

Latest news, thought pieces and more about our broken healthcare system and how we can fix it!

December 8, 2016

Deductible? Or Funeral? The choice is yours.

2017 Obamacare Deductibles: $7,150 for individuals, $14,300 for families This is such a screwed-up time to be pushing for more healthcare reform! On the one hand, with Obamacare on the chopping block, HEAL California squarely stands with the millions of people with pre-existing or chronic conditions who had no chance to get insurance before Obamacare. We also stand with those who’ve benefited from the Medicaid expansion – people who were completely left behind just a few short years ago. For these people, Obamacare has been a literal lifesaver. That’s why we believe repeal is utterly outrageous and irresponsible. But on the other hand, while Obamacare has been a lifesaver, it’s also been a burden in ways that cannot be ignored! One of its biggest burdens has been ever-higher out-of-pocket costs. If you have employer-provided insurance and a $1,500 a year deductible, you’d better thank your lucky stars. Do you know what the […]
October 28, 2016

Average Obamacare Premiums Up 25% in 2017

Media downplays impact Average premiums for Obamacare plans will go up 25% in 2017 per Reuters (10/25/16). But the media insists it’s no big deal. CNN claims that a year-over-year 25% premium increase is “predictable.” Considering that premiums have been rising by leaps and bounds for decades, perhaps it is predictable. But is it right? And wasn’t the ACA supposed to stop this? Hah! What should have been predicted is that the ACA – with its reliance on the private health insurance industry – would NOT stop the skyrocketing cost of health care. According to Wendell Potter in a recent HEAL California article, “the country’s private health insurers have been doing a lousy job of controlling medical expenses for many years. It is the big failure of our multi-payer system that insurance company executives hope we will never catch on to.” Fact: Subsidies are false savings Meanwhile, the corporate media snow job […]
September 20, 2016

Making bank off your pain: Step Therapy

Why people “love” their health insurance continues to baffle us. Because anyone who has actually had to use it for anything other than the most straightforward issue has certainly faced hassles. And we’re not talking about random “someone lost my paperwork” kinds of hassles. Those are understandable to some degree. We’re talking about hassles that result from common health insurance company practices designed to – guess what? Make money. Let’s take a close look at one such hassle: Step therapy. It’s another way insurance companies save money on your medication. Cheapest First Here’s a quick example. After examining you, your doctor prescribes a particular medicine. It’s medicine that was chosen with your specific medical needs in mind. However, it’s more expensive than other medicines that might be used for your disease. Your health insurer – without examining you – legally denies coverage for the more expensive drug, unless you first try cheaper alternative […]
September 2, 2016

“Pig” Pharma & Prop 61, The Drug Price Relief Act

  Panic over drug prices The panic over skyrocketing drug prices is growing exponentially. When it was mainly patients with rare diseases facing obscene price hikes for medicine, many Americans gritted their teeth and looked away, grateful it wasn’t their problem. But now “trickle down” has a new meaning. More and more of us (including children) who have fairly common ailments like diabetes and allergies are suddenly discovering we cannot afford the medicines we depend on to live. The outrageous mess with Mylan Pharmaceuticals’ EpiPen is only the most recent, glaring example, but the prices of insulin, Gleevac, Solvaldi and others are exploding too. “Big Business Picking Our Pockets” Per Michael Winship, senior writer for, in his article Drugs and Privilege: Big Business, Congress and the EpiPen (Nation of Change, 8/31/16): “…this is one more, big old scam — yet another case of big business trying to pull the wool over […]
August 31, 2016

Surprise medical bills, AB 72: The Doctors v The Politicians

Have you ever accidentally wound up seeing an out-of-network doc only to learn you’re on the hook for the bill? You’re not alone! A 2015 Consumer Reports survey indicated nearly 33% of patients got medical bills they did not expect. According to an August 2016 article in STAT news, patients get hit with extra charges because even if their main doctor is in network, other medical professionals working on their case may not be. This can happen when an in-network surgeon is paired up with an out-of-network anesthesiologist in surgery. This leaves patients holding the bag for potentially thousands of dollars in expenses they did not anticipate or budget for because they thought they were insured. See this CBS report on a Glendale, California woman who ended up being billed $27,000 in out of network charges even when she consulted an in-network doctor! As reported on August 11, 2016 in their […]
August 13, 2016

More Small, Midsized Employers Pay Workers’ Medical Costs Directly

According to an article today in Kaiser Health News, more small and midsized employers are choosing to pay their workers’ medical costs directly rather than buy health insurance for them. By self-insuring, the employers aren’t required to comply with many of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) rules for employer provided health insurance. Why? Because firms that self-insure are exempt from those rules. “For example, policies sold to companies in the small group market — in most states, defined as companies with fewer than 50 workers — are required to cover 10 so-called essential health benefits and are restricted in how much they can raise premiums based on age or tobacco use. Self-funded plans don’t have to comply with those requirements. They also avoid most federal and state taxes on health plan premiums to health insurers.” You may already be covered under a self-insured plan and not know it. We were! Every piece of paper, every […]