Alex Tolbert

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Three health care myths affecting consumers in 2018

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Feb 14, 2018 @ 09:02

Policy changes lead to confusion

When it comes to health care, things are as confusing as ever. Possible changes to the Affordable Care Act made plenty of headlines in 2017, but actual changes were few and far between. 

This disconnect has created a lot of misinformation. Polls show a third of Americans incorrectly believe President Trump has repealed the Affordable Care Act, and many other myths have cropped up around healthcare, especially regarding insurance and costs.

Here are three healthcare myths that could be costly for consumers in 2018.

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Tags: healthcare, aca, The Tennessean, individual mandate

Three open enrollment takeaways for Nashville

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Tue, Jan 30, 2018 @ 08:01

Trying to beat the tax time rush?

The most recent open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act marketplaces was unique. It was the first administered under anyone other than former President Obama, it was half as long as previous periods, and it was the last open enrollment for which the individual mandate applies.

These different circumstances may be signals of what’s to come for the ACA.

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Tags: healthcare, aca, HSA taxes, taxes, The Tennessean, individual mandate

Three healthcare tips for tax time

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, Jan 15, 2018 @ 07:01

Trying to beat the tax time rush?

Mid-January marks the start of tax season, and health care items throughout the past year can impact how you file your taxes. 

This time of year typically creates a lot of consumer confusion, and getting all the facts straight can be tricky. With the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate recently in the news, this topic is certain to cause particular issues this year. 

Aside from the individual mandate, other health care expenses can also affect your tax return, including Health Savings Accounts and high-cost medical expenses. 

If you’re trying to beat the tax time rush, here are a few tips on what you should know about these items.

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Tags: healthcare, aca, HSA taxes, taxes, The Tennessean, individual mandate

With the individual mandate repealed, three things to expect

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 @ 10:01

When is the repeal effective? 

Republicans successfully repealed the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate through their tax reform legislation, which has created many questions for consumers.

How will this decision affect insurance markets and consumers’ ability to get coverage? Without additional legislative action, there are three things we can expect.

With the individual mandate repealed, many healthy people will drop their coverage. This will likely lead insurers to expect to lose money, and they will either exit the individual market or raise premiums. As a result, there will be increased pressure on Congress to come up with a solution before consumers’ access to coverage is reduced.

Let’s go through each of these predictions, but first, a little more on repeal.

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Tags: healthcare, aca, The Tennessean, individual mandate

Three healthcare resolutions for consumers in 2018

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Jan 10, 2018 @ 08:01

Looking ahead to 2018

Healthcare policies made plenty of headlines in 2017, but unfortunately, there won’t be much relief for consumers when it comes to high costs and out-of-pocket spending.

Republicans were largely focused on repealing the Affordable Care Act this year, in efforts that were ultimately unsuccessful. The party did successfully repeal the individual mandate through the Republican tax bill, but a year later, the law is still largely intact, and very little time has been spent trying to improve it.

Both the law’s supporters and opponents agree that Obamacare has challenges—particularly around affordability. But a bipartisan solution to those challenges was not in the cards this year, and 2018 doesn’t seem promising, either.

Repealing the individual mandate will reduce the tax burden for consumers who don’t want to carry insurance, but it won’t affect many of the other challenges healthcare consumers face. These include rising medical bills, narrow networks, and increased out-of-pocket costs.

The takeaway? Expect expenses to remain steady or rise next year. In light of this, here are three resolutions for consumers about how to minimize your costs and become a better healthcare consumer. It won’t help you avoid all of your bills, but it might help reduce your costs.

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Tags: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, obamacare, marketplace, universal healthcare, individual market, Bernie Sanders, Huffington Post, single-payer, tim kaine

Three healthcare resolutions for Democrats in 2018

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Fri, Jan 05, 2018 @ 07:01

Looking ahead to 2018

After Republicans failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017, some Democrats might be thinking that the issue is resolved—but that would be a mistake.

Republicans successfully repealed the law’s individual mandate through their tax bill, which leaves the fate of the U.S. healthcare system as uncertain as ever. Further, Republicans have said they are not giving up on repealing Obamacare in total, and the law still faces challenges related to affordability and access for many consumers.

So as Democrats look ahead to 2018, the party should remain focused on improving the healthcare system, while staying vigilant when it comes to repeal. Here are three healthcare resolutions for the party.

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Tags: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, obamacare, marketplace, universal healthcare, individual market, Bernie Sanders, Huffington Post, single-payer, tim kaine

2018 healthcare resolutions for Republicans

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Wed, Dec 27, 2017 @ 09:12

Looking ahead to 2018

When it comes to healthcare, the events of 2017 were probably not what many Republicans hoped for.

This time last year, repeal of the Affordable Care Act seemed imminent. Even up until a few months ago, rolling back the health reform law still seemed pretty likely. But after multiple proposals to repeal the ACA failed to pass, efforts are now at a standstill.

As Republicans look toward 2018, all the hopes for repeal are pinned on the party’s tax bill. The bill currently includes a provision that would repeal the individual mandate, setting the party up to reshape the U.S. healthcare system in the coming year.

So as the party looks back on the lessons of 2017 and into the new year, here are three healthcare “New Year’s Resolutions” for Republicans.

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Tags: Affordable Care Act, health insurance, obamacare, marketplace, universal healthcare, individual market, Bernie Sanders, Huffington Post, single-payer, tim kaine

Five tech tools to help manage your health in the new year

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, Dec 18, 2017 @ 09:12


If your New Year’s Resolution is to get fit or better manage your health, you aren’t alone — staying fit and healthy always tops the list of most popular resolutions.

But as we all know, following through can be tough. In the new year, consider using one or more of the many tech tools that have been created to help consumers improve their health. 

There’s a financial incentive in it for you, too. As most of us know, the U.S. healthcare system is the most expensive in the world, and every year it seems like costs get higher and higher. According to the Center for Disease Control, chronic diseases and conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity, are among the most common, costly and preventable of all health problems.

Whether you are trying to manage or prevent a chronic condition, or just trying to pick up a few new healthy habits, using new tech tools to keep you on track in 2018 could benefit your health and your wallet.

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Tags: healthcare, The Tennessean, health tech, wearables

How risky is it not to have coverage at Vanderbilt?

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, Dec 11, 2017 @ 08:12


Nashville consumers have two carrier options for individual ACA plans in 2018 — Cigna and Oscar Health — but only Cigna offers coverage at Vanderbilt. Does every consumer need to be covered at the city’s academic medical center?

Realistically, no. Some consumers may have no healthcare needs next year, or only very basic needs that do not require going to Vanderbilt.

But the decision does carry some risk. There are some services that only Vanderbilt provides, and if you choose an Oscar plan without coverage at the hospital, some say that you would be effectively uninsured for that care.

Technically, however, if what you needed was truly only offered at Vanderbilt, you could have some coverage because of a concept referred to as “network adequacy.”

When would network adequacy come into play?

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Tags: healthcare, The Tennessean, insurance network, vanderbilt university medical center

The doctor will see you now — via Skype

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, Dec 04, 2017 @ 08:12

Will 2018 be the year telemedicine takes off?

Telemedicine has been a healthcare buzzword for years, but 2018 may be the year Nashville consumers start to use it. 

What is telemedicine? It refers to the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients via technology. In other words, it’s a doctor’s visit by phone or webcam. 

Why will telemedicine take off in Tennessee next year? Both carriers on Nashville’s individual market cover the service. In fact, it’s a key piece of newcomer Oscar Health’s value proposition to consumers. 

It isn’t just the individual market, either. Most carriers now cover telemedicine, and 30 states, including Tennessee, require private insurers to reimburse for the service. 

Even so, more consumers are interested in using telemedicine than have actually used it. According to a survey by Deloitte, half of consumers would be willing to use telemedicine, but tech consulting company Accenture reports just 21 percent of Americans have actually received care via telemedicine.

So what’s keeping consumers from calling up the doctor? Some consumers have concerns over quality and security, but most just aren’t sure how it works. 

Here’s what consumers in Nashville need to know about telemedicine — why it’s rising in popularity and how Nashville consumers can use it. 

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Tags: healthcare, The Tennessean, telemedicine

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