Consumers can begin shopping for 2018 health insurance through Access Health CT (AHCT) Wednesday, but will see sizeable price increases and have far less time to enroll than in previous years. Officials at the state’s health insurance exchange are boosting marketing and outreach efforts at a time when many consumers may be confused, said Andrea Ravitz, AHCT’s director of marketing and sales. Despite efforts by President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which created AHCT, the legislation and the marketplace still stand. “The constant mixed messages are confusing people,” Ravitz said. “There are certain things that are affecting the federal platform that are not affecting Connecticut at all.
Millions of Americans will have a hard time falling or staying asleep tonight, and research says most of them will be women. “Insomnia is definitely more common in females, and it seems to begin fairly early on,” said Dr. Meir Kryger, a professor at the Yale School of Medicine who studies sleep. Sleep problems can appear in women as early as their teens or 20s, he said. Various research shows women are more likely than men to experience the sleep disorder. Women are about 1.5 times more likely to have insomnia, said Kryger, who has written several books on the topic, including “The Mystery of Sleep,” which was published in March.
There’s no denying it: most of us are stressed. Stress levels in the country are at their highest in at least a decade, research shows, and a recent American Psychological Association (APA) study found two-thirds of respondents feel stressed about the future. To learn about the leading sources of stress, how stress affects your health and how to reduce stress, the Connecticut Health I-Team will host a community forum, “Getting Ahead of Stress: A Primer on Medicine, Mental Health and Mindfulness,’’ from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 5, at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University, 370 Bassett Road in North Haven. The free event is open to the public and you can register here.
State health officials cited and fined eight nursing homes for various violations that resulted in lapses in care. The Reservoir in West Hartford was fined $2,360 after staff failed to give a resident’s spouse proper written notice that the resident was being transferred to another facility. The resident was moved on July 12 and the resident’s spouse opposed the move because it was far from the spouse’s home. The move came a week after the resident had left the facility despite being identified as an elopement risk and wearing a WanderGuard sensor, the Department of Public Health (DPH) citation said. Police found the resident in a wooded area about 50 feet behind the facility.
The number of low-income Connecticut children receiving dental sealants, a treatment to prevent tooth decay, has grown in recent years and the state’s participation rate outpaces the nation. In 2016, 44,497 (19.6 percent) of the 226,111 children ages 5 to 16 enrolled in the Connecticut Dental Health Partnership had sealants placed on molars, up 9 percent from 2011, according to the state Department of Social Services. Nationally, in the 2015 fiscal year, 14.9 percent of eligible children – 2.7 million out of more than 17 million – received sealants, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. State officials and dental providers make a concerted effort to educate families about the importance of sealants, said Donna Balaski, director of dental services at DSS. “Sealants are shown to be an effective treatment for preventing disease,” she said, and is part of a broader DSS strategy to teach families about overall dental health.
As the opioid epidemic deepens, Yale researchers say starting treatment with medication is the most cost-effective way to treat patients in hospital emergency departments. People with opioid addiction often seek treatment in EDs for overdoses and other ailments. Those who receive buprenorphine, a medication that reduces drug cravings, in the ED incur lower health care costs over the following month than those who get a referral to treatment services or receive a brief intervention with a facilitated referral, according to a new analysis of a randomized clinical trial. The analysis, published today in the journal “Addiction,” compared the estimated health care costs for patients over the 30 days following their ED visit. Those costs included ED care, addiction treatment, inpatient and outpatient costs and medications.
State health officials have fined a Norwalk residential care home $1,000 and ordered it to hire an independent consultant after uncovering safety violations there earlier this year. Carlson Place was ordered to hire a consultant within four weeks of the consent order, which was signed June 26 by state Department of Public Health (DPH) officials and Carlson Place manager and owner Diane Mortali. The consultant must be familiar with public health codes, federal regulations, state building and fire codes, and others standards the facility failed to meet. According to the consent order, which is in effect for two years, the consultant will evaluate the facility’s engineering and maintenance program, assess the coordination of daily maintenance services various vendors provide, make recommendations and report back to DPH on the facility’s compliance efforts. The facility manager must meet with DPH representatives every 90 days.
Six Connecticut nursing homes have been fined by the state Department of Public Health (DPH) for violations that resulted in injuries to residents. Bloomfield Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation was fined $3,000 for four incidents, spanning from 2015 to this year. On Oct. 8, 2016, a registered nurse found a resident unresponsive with no pulse. According to DPH, the RN did not do a full assessment or begin CPR.
The rate of infants dying suddenly and unexpectedly has dropped in recent years, but data show that racial disparities persist. Babies born to American Indian and Alaska Natives and African American families suffer much higher rates of sudden unexpected infant deaths (SUID) than other races and ethnicities, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show. Between 2011 and 2014, 194.1 American Indian and Alaska Native infants and 170.2 African American infants per 100,000 live births died from SUID nationwide. Those rates are significantly higher compared with 83.8 for whites, 51.1 for Hispanics and 32.1 for Asian or Pacific Islander babies per 100,000 live births, during the same time period. SUID encompasses sudden infant death syndrome, commonly known as SIDS, as well accidental suffocation and strangulation in bed, and other unspecified causes of death in children up to a year old.
Many consumers who obtain insurance through Connecticut’s health care exchange don’t understand the plans they buy—and can struggle to access care as a result, according to a new report. Insurance plans typically use complicated language that is difficult to understand, according to the Health Disparities Institute, UConn Health. As a result, some patients have trouble accessing care, experience delays in care, encounter administrative hassles and face other hurdles, the study found. The institute conducted a statewide poll last year among 516 adults who enrolled in qualified health plans through Access Health CT (AHCT), the state health insurance exchange created under the Affordable Care Act. Many struggled to understand basic insurance terms like “premium,” “deductible” and “co-pay.”
More needs to be done to educate all health insurance consumers, regardless of where they buy their policies, said Lisa Freeman, executive director of the nonprofit Connecticut Center for Patient Safety.