What We're Reading: Health Insurers Offer Free Doctor's Visits

What we're reading, January 4, 2016: health insurers offering free doctor's visits for some plans; some consumers find paying the Affordable Care Act penalty cheaper than buying insurance; and clinicians and patients are increasingly worried about opioid dangers.

In more than a dozen markets across the countries, health insurers will be offering plans that include free doctor’s visits—no copays, coinsurance or expensive deductible. According to Kaiser Health News, the move is a response to reports that despite signing up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many Americans have found high copays and deductibles make actually using their new health insurance too expensive.

Although 2016 is the year that penalties under the ACA’s individual mandate reach a tipping point so that purchasing health insurance is more affordable than paying the fine, this is not the case for all Americans. While the number of new enrollees is 29% higher than the same time last year, there are plenty of holdouts remaining, reported The New York Times. These individuals earn too much to qualify for federal subsidies and would prefer to hope they stay healthy throughout the year.

Clinicians and patients are increasingly concerned about the dangers of opioids. About two-thirds of health professionals believe patients are frequently taking more than prescribed and 69% said they are prescribing fewer opioids than in the past. In addition, almost half (46%) of patients agreed these drugs are being used in ways other than they had been prescribed, reported Medscape. However, only 23% of consumers report disposing of unused opioids, while 42% store these unused pills for future use, WebMD found.