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 Polls show a third of Americans incorrectly believe President Trump has repealed the Affordable Care Act, and many other myths have cropped up around healthcare, especially regarding insurance and costs.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With the individual mandate repealed, three things to expect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Republicans successfully repealed the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate through their tax reform legislation, which has created many questions for consumers.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

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

After a year of trying to repeal Obamacare, has anything changed?

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, Nov 20, 2017 @ 07:11

What's changed, and what's stayed the same?

In some ways, it’s remarkable we made it to open enrollment at all. 

This time last year, repeal seemed imminent. No one could say with any certainty that the ACA would still be functioning in time for open enrollment.

Repeal seemed likely throughout the year, too. Plenty of plans were proposed, but at the end of the year, all it amounted to was noise. For the fifth year in a row, open enrollment rolls on. 

But a year of attempting to repeal the law has introduced more confusion into an already complex situation. Consumers have questions: Can I continue my plan from last year? Am I still required to sign up for coverage? 

Let’s take a look at what has, and hasn’t, changed.

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Tags: Affordable Care Act, healthcare, aca, open enrollment, The Tennessean, individual market, federal exchanges, individual digest

Comparing Nashville’s 2018 marketplace plans

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, Nov 13, 2017 @ 09:11

Get ready to sign up for coverage

Last month, Vanderbilt University Medical Center made headlines for agreeing to be included in-network with Cigna for the carrier’s Affordable Care Act plans in Nashville.

Before the deal was inked, VUMC was not in-network with either of the carriers offering marketplace plans next year, which caused a lot of consumer anxiety.

In my last column, I asked—does this mean consumers should choose Cigna? Does every consumer need access at Vanderbilt?

In this column, we’ll try to answer that question, and compare the options available in Nashville.

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Tags: Affordable Care Act, healthcare, aca, open enrollment, The Tennessean, individual market, federal exchanges, individual digest

Nashville, here are your Affordable Care Act options

Posted by Alex Tolbert on Mon, Oct 23, 2017 @ 08:10

Get ready to sign up for coverage

Cigna and Oscar Health are the only two insurance companies offering Affordable Care Act health plans in Nashville next year. While it might seem like options are limited, it’s worth bearing in mind that Nashville was at risk of having no carriers offering 2018 plans. Thanks in part to the leadership of government officials, Middle Tennessee is fortunate to have two, given the turmoil in healthcare today.

Here are a few things consumers should know about this year’s options. 

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Tags: Affordable Care Act, healthcare, aca, open enrollment, The Tennessean, individual market, federal exchanges, individual digest

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