Many Health Co-Ops Fold, Others Survive Startup Struggles

Nov 26, 2015

Thousands of Americans are again searching for health insurance after losing it for 2016. That's partly because some large, low-cost insurers — health cooperatives, set up under the Affordable Care Act — are folding in a dozen states.

Consumers seeking health policies with the most freedom in choosing doctors and hospitals are finding far fewer of those plans on the insurance marketplaces. And the premiums are rising faster than for other types of coverage.

Courtesy Travelers

People who live or work in Hartford may have noticed last night a visible sign of solidarity with the French people after the Paris attacks.

The lights of the Travelers Tower on Grove Street flashed blue, white and red as a mark of respect, after last Friday's terror attacks which claimed the lives of 129 people.

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Health insurance co-ops are companies that were given federal incentives to compete for business under the Affordable Care Act. Roughly two dozen of them set up shop across the country. Now, only half are still in business, and one of them is in Connecticut. 

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

A federal judge denied a motion to dismiss an indictment against former insurance executive Earl O'Garro Monday, clearing the way for trial to begin in December.

Connecticut's health insurance marketplace is providing a checklist of materials people need in order to purchase coverage through the exchange.

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One in four Americans say they’ve been the victim of a data breach or cyber attack. And the perception of online risk is rising sharply, according to the new Travelers Consumer Risk Index.

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A lawyer for embattled Hartford insurance executive Earl O'Garro said the federal indictment against him should be dismissed because extensive publicity denied him his right to an unbiased grand jury. But federal prosecutors argued the claim has no merit.

Josie Kemp / U.S. Air Force

Kathy Navaroli, 50, of Windsor, hadn’t seen a primary care doctor in years when she decided to go for a physical this summer.

She didn’t ask about preventive care screenings, such as a mammogram or Pap test, in part because she worried they might involve an insurance co-pay or deductible. Her household income is below $30,000 a year.

“I got a physical, they did some blood work, and that was it,” Navaroli said.

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The Phoenix Companies is to be sold to a newly formed reinsurance investment firm. New York-based Nassau Reinsurance will pay $217.2 million for the Hartford company, and then take it private.

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Having health insurance is a near necessity, but paying for it is getting increasingly hard for consumers.

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Connecticut's Insurance Commissioner has sold off stock she held in Cigna, her former employer. 

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United Illuminating has reached an agreement with the state to pay for the massive environmental cleanup of a polluted former power plant site in New Haven.

There's never a shortage of questions about Medicare, the federal health insurance program for people who are 65 or older and some who are disabled. Here are answers to two about respite care and the so-called doughnut hole that limits payments for drugs in Medicare Part D.

As a member of the Navajo tribe, Rochelle Jake has received free care through the Indian Health Service her entire life. The IHS clinics took care of her asthma, allergies and eczema — chronic problems, nothing urgent.

Recently, though, she felt sharp pains in her side. Her doctor recommended an MRI and other tests she couldn't get through IHS. To pay for them, he urged her to sign up for private insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Hiring an employee is an expensive proposition. Workers' compensation, social security and other expenses can run thousands of dollars a year, so it's no surprise that companies often try to reduce expenses keeping workers off the payroll, calling them independent contractors instead.

But sometimes they do so in violation of state law. And in a new report, State Auditor Doug Hoffer says the state isn't doing enough to stop a practice known as "misclassification."

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Earl O’Garro, the insurance broker who prosecutors allege defrauded the city of Hartford, the state, and others out of roughly $1.5 million, is asking a judge to delay his trial by two months

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The Department of Justice will extend its anti-trust review of Aetna’s proposed merger with Humana for another 30 days. The Hartford based health insurer just announced it's re-filing its notification with the department to allow for the month-long extension. 

Chion Wolf/ / WNPR

Last month brought big news from major health insurers in the United States.

In early July, Aetna announced it will acquire Humana in a $37 billion deal. Just three weeks later, Anthem and Cigna announced their intention to merge in a $48 billion deal. This effectively reduces the big players in the health insurance market from five down to three.

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The high cost of infertility treatments for some people over 40 in Connecticut may soon covered by their insurance company.

The Department of Insurance has determined a 2006 state law mandating coverage for medically appropriate fertility treatments for men and women is discriminatory because it sets an age limit of 40.

Jeff Cohen / WNPR

Former Hartford insurance broker Earl O'Garro pleaded not guilty Tuesday to three charges in a new federal indictment, and it appears both sides are preparing for an October trial.

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A federal grand jury has brought more charges against Earl O'Garro, the insurance agent who prosecutors say made off with more than $1 million from the state and the city of Hartford.

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The legislature recently made it harder for parents to stay on Husky, Connecticut's version of Medicaid. The state said that around 1,200 people risk losing their insurance coverage at the end of the month if they take no action.

Travelers CEO Jay Fishman to Step Down

Aug 5, 2015

The Travelers Inc. said that Chairman and CEO Jay Fishman will step down as CEO on Decemeber 1 due to health problems. 

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Aetna has reported second-quarter earnings of $731.8 million, a 33 percent bump on the same time last year, and a number that exceeded analysts’ expectations. 

The Senate unanimously approved legislation Monday night requiring hospitals across the nation to tell Medicare patients when they receive observation care but haven't been admitted to the hospital as inpatients.

The distinction is easy for patients to miss — until they get hit with big medical bills after a short stay.

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Fifty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson waged a war on poverty  to rebuild America as a “Great Society” where “no child will go unfed, and no youngster will go unschooled.” 

Medicaid was enacted in 1965 as part of sweeping legislation to provide food, education, healthcare and jobs to millions in poverty.  Once a benefit for poor single parents and their kids, Medicaid now covers mental illness, disabilities, the elderly and most recently, millions of the previously uninsured through Obamacare.

Anthem, Cigna Finalize Rumored Merger

Jul 24, 2015

A definitive agreement is in place for Anthem to take over Bloomfield-based Cigna. The deal comes nearly a year into talks, and a month after an earlier attempt was rebuffed.

Health insurer Anthem has struck a deal to acquire rival Cigna for $48 billion — a buyout that would create the country's largest health insurer by enrollment.

The combined entity would have an estimated revenue of $115 billion and cover 53 million people in the U.S.

Governor Dannel Malloy

Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Katharine L. Wade has ordered public hearings on proposed rate increases by three health insurers that would affect more than 70,000 policyholders next year.