KCPT’s Health Weekly Roundup looks at major health headlines and stories you may have missed from around the web.
Due to poor air quality, in some big cities in China it literally is not safe to go outside. The New York Times has a chilling look at this issue, through the eyes of Edward Wong, their correspondent in China.
He writes: “Residents of its boom cities and a growing number of rural regions question the safety of the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat. It is as if they were living in the Chinese equivalent of the Chernobyl or Fukushima nuclear disaster areas.”
Wong says in the article that he uses an app on his cellphone to check the air quality in Beijing, as monitored by the United States Embassy, to see if it’s safe to take his 9-month-old daughter outside.
“Most days, she ends up housebound. Statistics released Wednesday by the Ministry of Environmental Protection revealed that air quality in Beijing was deemed unsafe for more than 60 percent of the days in the first half of 2013.”
On October 1, 2013, if you don’t have health insurance, you must sign up for coverage through the new health care marketplaces, or pay a fine. Opponents of the law are encouraging people not to sign up for health insurance. FreedomWorks is behind one of the more aggressive efforts against the law.
“They can skip the exchange, pay the fine, and in doing that, do what’s best for them financially, and we hope help hasten the collapse of Obamacare,” said Dean Clancy, the group’s vice president for policy. FreedomWorks has also created a bit of civil disobedience theater as part of its campaign — inviting people to symbolically burn (fictional) Obamacare insurance cards. Of course there is no such thing as an Obamacare card. But that’s not a problem. FreedomWorks is making its own, and distributing them.”
Read the full article by Julie Rovner on NPR’s site.
The New York Times highlights road blocks faced by the uninsured in Missouri.
Looking for the new health insurance marketplace, set to open in this state in two months, is like searching for a unicorn. The marketplace, or exchange, being established by the federal government under President Obama’s health care law has no visible presence here, no local office, no official voice in the state and no board of local advisers. It is being run like a covert operation, with no marketing or detailed information about its products or their prices. While states like Colorado, Connecticut and California race to offer subsidized insurance to their citizens, Missouri stands out among the states that have put up significant obstacles. It has refused to create an insurance exchange, leaving the job to the federal government. It has forbidden state and local government officials to cooperate with the federal exchange. It has required insurance counselors to get state licenses before they can help consumers navigate the new insurance market. And, like many states, it has refused to expand Medicaid.” “It’s like running an obstacle course every day of the week, but the course changes from day to day,” said Herb B. Kuhn, president of the Missouri Hospital Association, a strong advocate of expanded coverage.
Colorado takes a different approach, embracing Obamacare, as outlined in this article.
Television commercials have already run suggesting that buying health coverage through the state’s new insurance market, Connect for Health Colorado, will feel like winning the World Series. The market’s employees are traveling the state to explain how it will work, often in electric yellow T-shirts with the message, “Got Insurance?” In the coming weeks, 400 guides will be trained to help the uninsured sign up for coverage, with some targeting groups like Hispanics, gay and lesbian citizens, and even truckers.
The situation in Kansas is spelled out by Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, in this article from KCUR’s Bryan Thompson.
Praeger says companies that are hesitant to jump in to the marketplace right away, may be missing a big opportunity. She thinks people will be reluctant to switch to a different company after they get coverage next year. “My biggest concern is that people understand what they’re eligible for and begin to reap the benefits of having access to health care services because they have insurance,” she says.