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Health insurers are the latest punching bag

February 26, 2010

For health insurers doing business in California, this is the worst of times, politically speaking. The national movement toward health reform is coinciding with an election year in which several key California players are running for higher office, and they are all eager to put the industry in the spotlight. Combine that with rising costs (and profits), and you have a recipe for a political free-for-all. It is almost starting to feel as if health insurance is becoming the next tobacco industry — a political pariah for whom polite people simply wouldn’t work.

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A pre-emptive strike against state health reform

February 25, 2010

While Democrats in California and across the country may be fretting about the lack of movement toward health reform in Washington (or Sacramento), at least one Republican seems to think that big changes are coming. State Sen. Tony Strickland of Thousand Oaks has introduced a constitutional amendment that he says would block any attempt to implement “socialized medicine” in California.

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More illness, less insurance

February 24, 2010

Women between the ages of 50 and 64 are more prone than younger women to a wide range of health conditions, including asthma, diabetes and heart disease, according to a new policy brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. Nearly four in 10 women in this age group will be diagnosed with high blood pressure, while nearly six in 10 are either obese or overweight.

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State cracks down on discount health cards

February 23, 2010

California’s managed care regulator is increasing her scrutiny of companies selling discount health cards that claim to offer price breaks on medical, dental and vision services. Cindy Ehnes, director of the Department of Managed Health Care, has ordered several discount card firms to quit operating in California and on Monday began proceedings that will lead to licensing and oversight for the industry.

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State rule can’t control health care costs

February 15, 2010

State regulators, including Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, are hyping their deal with Anthem Blue Cross to postpone a big planned health insurance rate increase until at least May 1. But the rule that will govern whether that rate hike can ultimately go into effect is probably not very well suited to controlling health care costs.

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Senate passes single-payer bill

January 28, 2010

On a party-line vote, the state Senate passed a measure to create a government-run health care system in California. The bill has no chance of becoming law this year but the measure’s author, Sen. Mark Leno, and Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg said they hoped it would spur serious debate. Photo by Kelly B. Huston.

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Health insurance by occupation

January 17, 2010

Which full-time workers in California are least likely to have health insurance? A lot of people assume it’s retail clerks and burger flippers. But helpers in the construction trades top the list at 71 percent uninsured, followed by dishwashers, plasterers, fence erectors and farm workers. See the entire list in this Sacramento Bee database compiled from US Census records.

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