health insurance

Cody Newill / KCUR

Hundreds of uninsured citizens flooded into Bartle Hall in Kansas City Saturday for one reason: to see a doctor.

The National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics collaborated with KC C.A.R.E. to bring 1,300 doctors, nurses and other volunteers to the city for a one-day free clinic.

The most common ailments doctors saw were high blood pressure, complications due to diabetes and severe dental problems. 

The top-of-the-ticket races may be commanding the most attention in this year’s Kansas election, but significant issues also are in play in some of the down-ballot contests.

Kevin Brown


Wichita physician Josh Umbehr has never understood the traditional model of health care reimbursement — the one in which doctors and hospitals fill out pages of forms to bill a patient's insurance company for everything from a $3 test to a $30,000 surgery.

“You don’t have car insurance for gasoline," Umbehr said in a recent phone interview. "Why would you have health insurance for family practice?”

With that philosophy in mind, Umbehr has operated on a kind of service plan for the human body since he opened his practice in 2010.

Anna Gorman / Kaiser Health News

Kaiser Health News

As soon as Deb Emerson, a former high school teacher from Oroville, Calif., bought a health plan in January through the state’s insurance exchange, she felt overwhelmed.

She couldn’t figure out what was covered and what wasn’t. Why weren’t her anti-depressant medications included?  Why did she have to pay $60 to see a doctor? The insurance jargon - deductible, co-pay, premium, co-insurance - was like a foreign language. What did it mean?

Missouri will allow health insurance companies to continue offering policies that otherwise would have been canceled under the terms of the new federal health care law.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon announced Thursday that the state will let insurers sell individual and small-group policies in 2014 that were to be canceled because they didn't meet federal coverage requirements taking effect next year. 


As part of KCUR’s ongoing reporting on health care in the Kansas City area, we wanted to know more about your experiences with gaps in health insurance.

We reached out on social media and on the air, asking Kansas Citians about their longest breaks from insurance. On Twitter, we asked people to tell us through the #TellKCUR hashtag.

The head of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and two members met Wednesday with President Obama to discuss the troubled rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, a moderate Republican who has generally supported the law, was invited but chose not to attend. NAIC President Jim Donelon, Connecticut’s insurance commissioner, organized the meeting.

Praeger said she wasn’t trying to distance herself from the controversy surrounding the law’s problem-plagued rollout.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has released the first official tally of how many Americans signed up for health insurance through the new exchanges during their first month of operation.

Enough Kansans have purchased a plan through the website, to fill an entire Kansas town—specifically, the town of Hartford, population 371. That figure led Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts to declare the health law a failure.

A new study from a non-profit research group says predictions of huge premium increases when the Affordable Care Act goes into effect in January are unfounded. 

Kansas is one of 10 states the Rand Corporation studied in detail. The study predicts that by 2016, only 6.6 percent of Kansans too young for Medicare will be uninsured. Without the new law, that figure would be more than 14 percent. 

KHI News Service

In a little less than two months, Kansans will be able to begin shopping for individual health insurance plans through the new, online marketplace called the exchange. Most of the plans will be sold by three companies.

According to Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, they'll be the same three companies that provide the bulk of health insurance in Kansas now: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Blue Cross of Kansas City, and Coventry.

How Obamacare Might Change Your Private Health Insurance

Apr 25, 2013

After the passing of the Affordable Care Act, confusion about the future of health insurance in our country has become the norm. But as the legislation comes into play in the next year, everyone from private health insurance companies to employers providing health care to their employees need to be well versed on the upcoming changes.

A special committee of transportation officials is still reviewing the amount of money MoDOT workers and State Troopers pay for health insurance. 

Wendell Potter, a former vice president of CIGNA, says that health insurers make promises they have no intention of keeping, flout regulations designed to protect consumers, and skew political debate with multibillion-dollar PR campaigns to mislead the press and public.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR
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Kansas Starts Developing Insurance Exchange

Jan 27, 2011

Kansas City, MO – Missouri's high risk insurance program has announced it's dropping premiums by as much as twenty five percent.

The state launched the pool this summer as part of the federal health law. But state insurance director John Huff says only a couple hundred people have enrolled in it so far. Huff says lowering the monthly premiums, which range from about $250 to $1,000, will hopefully change that.

"I hope it makes health coverage more affordable and accessible for Missourians - that's the intent," says Huff.

Jefferson City, MO – The Republican-dominated Missouri House has passed a non-binding resolution urging state officials to join a multistate lawsuit challenging the federal health care overhaul and calling on Congress to repeal the law.

The House approved the resolution Tuesday on a vote of 115-46.

The measure calls on Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster to join with other states in suing over the federal health care law passed last year, or to file a separate suit.

Salina, KS – Expanding health insurance coverage is one of the main goals of the Affordable Care Act. Most of the new health care law takes effect in 2014, but parts of it are in effect now. One such part is designed to make coverage available to a group of people who are among the most likely to be uninsured employees of small businesses.


Topeka, KS – Kansas could be one of the states that helps develop health insurance exchanges, part of the federal health reform law. The exchanges will be pools of insurance options that Kansans will be able to choose from. As KPR's Stephen Koranda reports, the federal government will be making grants available to states to develop test systems.


Topkea, KS – Insurance agents serve as a link between consumers and insurance companies. Some agents are worried that their role may disappear when the nation's new health care law takes full effect in 2014. More from Kansas Public Radio's Bryan Thompson.

2014 is when people who don't have group coverage through large employers will begin buying health insurance through a new web based system of exchanges.

Kansas City, MO – High risk insurance pools are designed to cover people with preexisting health conditions who can't get coverage. Missouri recently launched a new pool, subsidized under the recently passed federal health law. The program could apply to upwards of 150,000 residents, but not many are signing up so far.

Denied Coverage
Carolen Collins says she didn't think finding insurance would be such a problem when she decided to take early retirement from KU hospital two years ago.

Local Businesses Brace for Health Care Changes

Sep 16, 2010

Kansas City, MO – Small businesses throughout Kansas City are bracing for changes under the federal health law.

Jefferson City, MO – Union leaders in Missouri are not happy with a new health insurance plan for state employees. It replaces the current co-pay system with one that requires state workers to pay deductibles. Richard von Glahn is with the Missouri State Workers Union.

"We are frustrated because state employees are gonna be faced with higher out-of-pocket health care costs the Missouri legislature continues to choose policies that balance our revenue crisis on the backs of state workers," says von Glahn.

New High Risk Insurance Pool Opens Today In Missouri

Jul 15, 2010

Kansas City, MO – The U.S Department of Health and Human Services gave final approval yesterday to Missouri's new high risk insurance pool. The decision means a new coverage option is now available for Missourians with pre-existing conditions.

The Missouri Department of Insurance says it will start taking applications today for the pool. Travis Ford is with the department and says eligibility requirements are pretty simple.

Kansas' New High Risk Insurance Pool To Be Limited

Jul 1, 2010

Kansas City, MO – For the many people who have pre-existing conditions and struggle to get health coverage, some relief is supposed to come today. July 1st marks the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' start-date for new high risk insurance pools. But in Kansas, like many other states (including Missouri), the pool isn't ready yet. And once it is up and running, it's still going to be quite limited. Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger recently spoke with KCUR's Elana Gordon about the situation and what's accounting for the delay.