Tag Archives: Medical Issues

Lawmakers Sweat Details Of Consumer Health Privacy

by Cheryl Miller, The Recorder (San Francisco)

Fitbits from Samsung Creative Commons feed

“We are in total agreement with the intent of the bill and believe that it’s very, very important that this information be given strong privacy protections,” Richard Holober, executive director of the Consumer Federation of California, told the Assembly Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee. But “we’ve had a lot of experience over the years with various privacy laws and how courts interpret those laws and … we want to be very precise about how a bill is written to make sure that it’s being interpreted by the industry and the courts as it was intended,” Holober said. Read More ›

The Risk On Your Wrist: Are Hackers Targeting Your Wearables Data?

by Donal Power, ReadWrite.com

Fitbits from Samsung Creative Commons feed

“Health care providers and health plans have a gold mine of information that criminals can monetize – such as SSNs, health insurance information, and general health information,” [said an attorney focused on privacy and data protection]. … “The most concerning finding was to see that hacking/phishing/malware was the leading cause of incidents last year, especially the increase we saw in health care incidents,” [she] said. “We could feel the tide begin to turn in 2014, which continued into 2015. However, with the number of incidents we handle, it was surprising to see that was the leading cause.” Read More ›

Health Apps: Unlimited Promise Or ‘Like Having A Really Bad Doctor’

by Soumya Karlamangla, Los Angeles Times

More than 165,000 [apps] involving health and wellness [are] currently available for download — a blending of technology and healthcare that has grown dramatically in the last few years. Experts see almost unlimited promise in the rise of mobile medical apps, but they also point out that regulation is sometimes lagging the pace of innovation, which could harm consumers. … Federal regulators say certain higher-risk apps — such as those that perform EKGs or measure blood glucose levels — must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration before reaching the market. Apps considered less of a risk … won’t face much scrutiny from the FDA. Read More ›

California Insurance Commissioner Expresses Skepticism Over Anthem-Cigna Merger

by Ana B. Ibarra, KQED

“We are not aware of any peer-reviewed studies that have found that higher insurer market concentration has led to lower health insurance premiums,” [one expert] said. … Consumer advocates said the acquisition would make existing problems with health insurance worse. Anthem, they claimed, has already struggled with inaccuracies in provider directories, low quality ratings and poor management of grievances. Read More ›

Got A Health Care Grievance? There’s A Place To Complain

by Claudia Buck, Sacramento Bee

surgical team seen from perspective of a patient on a gurney

[MyPatientRights.org is] intended to provide an easy link to the state Department of Managed Health Care, which handles consumer complaints with the state’s 122 licensed health plans. … Last year, the help center received more than 102,000 requests for assistance. … Requests for help jumped by 60 percent compared with 2013, largely because of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, according to the department. Read More ›

What’s Our Health Data Worth?

by Jerry Beilinson, Consumer Reports

Runner apps

Medical records shared among doctors and hospitals are covered by HIPAA, the medical privacy law, but data shared among app developers, financial firms, and others is unregulated. … Americans are worried about how health data of all kinds is shared, according to Consumer Reports’ research conducted in 2015. Nearly everyone surveyed – 91 percent – agreed that their consent should be required whenever health information is shared. And 45 percent … found it “creepy” when an ad targeting their medical conditions popped up in a web browser. Read More ›

Abandoned Nursing Home Residents Live Months In Hospital, Waiting

by Anna Gorman, KQED

Nursing home residents are entitled to hearings under federal law to determine whether they should be readmitted after hospitalization. The state Department of Health Care Services holds the administrative hearings, but has said it is not responsible for enforcing the rulings. But the state Department of Public Health, which oversees nursing homes, neglects to enforce the rulings and sometimes disagrees with them, according to advocates and court documents. … And since many nursing home residents have publicly-funded insurance, it means taxpayers are on the hook for hospital stays long after the patients are ready for discharge. Read More ›

Taming Drug Prices By Pulling Back The Curtain Online

by Katie Thomas, New York Times

Stethoscope on money

A few entrepreneurs say they are aiming to fundamentally change the way people buy drugs, bringing the industry into the digital age by disclosing the lowest prices for generic prescriptions to allow comparison-shopping. … Nearly 90 percent of the prescriptions dispensed in the United States are for generic drugs, according to IMS Health, a consulting firm. … The listed price for a 30-day supply of the generic version of Lipitor, for example, is $196 at Kmart, according to GoodRx, and $61 at Kroger. With a coupon obtained through GoodRx, the drug is about $12. Blink Health is offering Lipitor for $9.94. Read More ›

Hard Drives Holding Health Data Missing At Medical Insurer

by Chris Rauber, San Francisco Business Times

The latest in a series of huge data losses in the health care realm — health insurer Centene’s loss of six hard drives containing personal information on 950,000 enrollees — raises more questions about the security of health data that consumers entrust to insurance companies, hospital systems, Medicare, Medicaid and other big players. … Confidential health care data can sell in murky portions of the Internet for $10 to $50 per record — far more than the roughly $1 a simple credit-card number is worth. Medicare records are even more valuable, … and can sell for as much as $470 per record. Read More ›

California’s Four Largest Health Plans Could Owe State $10 Billion In Back Taxes

by Tracy Seipel, San Jose Mercury News

Blue Shield and Blue Cross already lost a key round in a state appellate court. The case against Kaiser and Health Net heads to a Los Angeles court Friday. At the heart of the debate is a century-old section in the state constitution that requires almost all insurers to pay a 2.35 percent tax on the premiums they collect each year. The tax is paid in lieu of almost all other state taxes. Yet for decades, industry critics say, Kaiser, Blue Cross, Blue Shield and Health Net have managed to avoid paying the premium tax on the majority of their business. Read More ›

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