Congress has allowed the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which insures 9 million children in the United States, to expire. The program provided coverage for children in families making under 200% Federal Poverty Level (FPL) as well as to pregnant women. CHIP played a huge part in decreasing the rate of uninsured children from 14% in 1997 to 4.5% in 2015. By taking no action to renew the program before September 30, 2017 the U.S. Congress allowed the program to lose future funding, putting millions of American children at risk of major health complications from ordinarily treatable conditions.

CHIP covers comprehensive coverage for children, including routine check-ups, immunizations, doctor visits, prescriptions, dental and vision care, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, laboratory and x-ray services, and emergency services. The out-of-pocket costs are different depending on which state a family is living in, but they will not exceed 5% of a family’s annual income. For the

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by Richard Sagall, M.D.

Insurance is really a simple concept. But few people, and even fewer politicians, seem to understand how insurance works and why so many of the promises we hear are impossible.

Here are the basic concepts of insurance:

Number 1 – You Never Win with Insurance – You always lose with insurance. Think about what happens when you have health insurance.

Outcome 1 – You get sick, perhaps really sick, and you suffer while ill. You may experience long-term or even permanent disability from your illness. Or, in the worst case, you die. Your health insurance helps with the cost, but in any case, you suffer.

Outcome 2 – You spend a lot of money on premiums getting nothing in return. It’s true that you remain physically healthy, but, due to the high cost of health insurance, you may not be so financially healthy. So, you also suffer, just in a different way.

Number 2 – What You Really Get from Insurance – Or perhaps more accurately, what you should be getting from health insurance. What you are paying for with health insurance is a sense of comfort that you won’t

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NeedyMeds is celebrating twenty years since starting as a website for those seeking assistance with the high-costs of prescription medications. In 1997, Richard Sagall, MD, and Libby Overly, MSW, MEd, both realized a need for a centralized resource for information on pharmaceutical Patient Assistance Programs (PAPs). Over our first ten years, we gained 501(3)(c) non-profit status, introduced our PAPTracker software for advocates helping patients with PAP applications, and started our first newsletter Patient Advocate News (now known as Patient Assistance News; aka PAN).

In 2007, we began to expand the website from more than just Patient Assistance Programs to include government programs and other application assistance providers. The following year we grew to include databases of free/low-cost/sliding-scale clinics, coupons for medications, and other organizations that provide diagnosis-based assistance. The NeedyMeds Drug Discount Card started in 2009, saving users $560,000 in its first year nationwide. To date, the NeedyMeds Drug Discount

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We have been tracking the new healthcare bill being proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). After passing the House last month, the bill was sent to the United States Senate where it was redrafted into the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), which they are planning on holding the vote for after the July 4th recess. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released their analysis report on the BCRA’s impact on the Federal deficit and American’s premiums and insurance status.

Previous CBO scores for Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal/replace bills have shown millions of Americans would lose health insurance while premiums rise for several years before falling, primarily for the healthiest and youngest Americans while older people and those with pre-existing conditions could see much higher healthcare costs. The analysis of the most recent bill concurs that 49 million Americans under 65 years old would be without

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In a previous blog post, we explored the proposed Affordable Care Act (ACA; aka Obamacare) repeal/new healthcare law called the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Congress decided the bill would not be voted on shortly thereafter due to lack of support, but it has since been modified and passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The passing of the House bill was celebrated by the Trump administration before the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) could analyze how the bill would affect the federal deficit and the healthcare costs for Americans. Last week the CBO released their report on the amended AHCA.

According to supporters of the bill, the AHCA’s aim is to lower premiums and the deficit. The CBO report finds that the deficit will decrease by $119 billion by 2026 (as opposed to the $337 billion decrease from the previous version of the AHCA rejected in March) but would increase the number of uninsured people by 23 million in the same time period. It also found that insurance premiums would rise an average of 25% by 2019

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