5 Things We’re Reading on Health Care Access

This week’s health care access reads cover a surprise enrollment surge in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, a community paramedicine program in Minnesota, how discrimination negatively affects the health of sickle cell disease patients, and more.

Access is top-of-mind for health care consumers

Convenience-driven access and use of care clocked in as one of the top priorities for health care consumers in Deloitte’s Consumer Priorities in Health Care Survey, meaning people “still value the when, where and how of care and assistance in navigating these details.” A blog from America’s Health Insurance Plans shares more information.

Community paramedics help homeless access care

First responders in Minneapolis noticed a deluge of 911 calls after a health care clinic for the homeless closed its doors for the day, and most of those calls were not really medical emergencies. To improve appropriate care access, the city stationed a community paramedic at the clinic on nights and weekends to direct people to appropriate care. Community paramedics are first responders who are also trained in primary and preventative medicine. Read the Health Affairs article to see the program’s dramatic results. (Also see our previous MHCSW story and video on community paramedicine for Medicaid members.)

Discrimination is lowering life expectancy for sickle cell patients

Life expectancy for people with sickle cell disease is falling in the U.S., and most Americans living with sickle cell disease are African-American. “This group of people can live much longer with the management we have, and they’re dying because we don’t have access to care,” one physician told Kaiser Health News. “There’s no question in my mind that class and color are major factors in impairing their survival.” Read the full article for more.

Federal government plans to ease access to addiction treatment

In response to the raging opioid epidemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Nov. 1 a plan to let states design programs to improve access to addiction treatment centers. Read details from FierceHealthcare.

ACA enrollment surges compared with last year

In a surprising twist, more than 200,000 Americans signed up for health insurance on Nov. 1 through HealthCare.gov, the federal website used by 36 states for Affordable Care Act enrollment. That activity on this year’s first day of open enrollment was double the number of people who enrolled the first day last year – and comes despite the federal government pulling back support for promoting enrollment. Read the Washington Post for more details.

 Important note: Open enrollment runs Nov. 1-Dec. 15 this year!

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