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Visit One News Page for Health Insurance news from around the world, aggregated from leading sources including newswires, newspapers and broadcast media. Search millions of archived news headlines. This feed provides the Health Insurance news headlines.
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    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Teachers from at least four West Virginia counties are planning a one-day work stoppage to highlight their concerns over pay and health insurance. Media outlets report public school employees in Cabell, Lincoln and Wayne counties voted Tuesday to stay out of classes Friday. And Mason County schools announced Wednesday its employees […] Reported by Seattle Times 17 minutes ago.

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    Wall Street needs to brace for an even bigger inflation scare · *Concerns about inflation and higher interest rates have recently rattled investors. *
    · *But in the coming months, inflation could rise even higher on so-called adverse base effects. *
    · *Cellphone plans and physicians' services cheapened significantly last year, particularly around March and April. That could lead to an outsized year-over-year jump in inflation. *

    --------------------Wall Street is worried about inflation. 

    The anticipated January consumer-price index report, released Wednesday, didn't help calm those concerns. It showed the basket of consumer goods increased 2.1% year-on-year, more than economists had forecast.

    Inflation concerns intensified after the January jobs report showed the largest increase in average hourly earnings since 2008. This helped drive the stock market into a correction, as investors realized the era of low interest rates — a key catalyst for the bull market — could be fading away for good.  

    But an even bigger shock could emerge in April and May, when the reports for the preceding months are released. In April, year-over-year inflation would face what economists describe as an adverse base effect: because last year was unusually low, the rate of change could be larger than normal. 

    "I currently spend significant amounts of time on the phone, emails, and in meetings explaining this coming jump in the March and April inflation data, and I have come to the conclusion that this is not priced in to rates at all," said Torsten Sløk, the chief international economist at Deutsche Bank, in a note on Monday.

    *Blame cellphones and physicians*

    Inflation could rise even more in the coming months mainly because of two components that cheapened significantly a year ago: cellphone plans and medical services.

    Inflation started to fall early in 2017, defying many economists' expectations it would instead move closer to the Federal Reserve's 2% target. This was puzzling, since the textbook said prices should have been rising in a tight labor market and low unemployment environment. 

    The cost of cellphone plans and medical services were eventually blamed.

    Spearheaded by T-Mobile, the telecoms giants were engaged in a years-long price war that eventually forced all of them to offer customers cheap, unlimited data plans.

    And so, the drop in wireless service costs dragged the monthly change in the core personal consumption expenditures index, which strips out volatile food and energy costs and is the Fed's preferred way to measure inflation. 

    Last March, core PCE fell on an annual basis for the first time in seven years. It was mainly dragged down by cellphone-plan prices, which dropped 7% that month. 

    The Fed dismissed the inflation slowdown as being driven by "idiosyncratic" factors including cheaper cellphone services. The cost of service has since stabilized, and data from as recently as Wednesday shows that inflation is picking up.

    The cost of physicians' services was another drag on inflation last year that could add to the base effect in a few months. 

    Omair Sharif, a senior US economist at Societe Generale, points out the Bureau of Labor Statistics saw "large cash price decreases for office visits" to doctors last April; that month, the physicians' services index fell 1.2% seasonally adjusted, its largest such drop.

    Sharif explained that as consumers faced ever-rising deductibles on health insurance, more of them chose to pay for some services out-of-pocket, with cash. "Importantly, providers charge lower fees for services when they are being paid cash, as it cuts out costly back-office paperwork needed to deal with reimbursements from health insurers and the government," he said. 

    "Thus, the prospect of saving money by paying cash for services, which could lead to a smaller out-of-pocket payment than maxing out ever-increasing deductibles, seems to be partly behind the rise in cash payments."

    Besides these two quirks, inflation is likely headed higher, not lower, according to Nomura economists. That's because the US economy is being injected with fiscal stimulus through tax cuts and the economy is close to full employment. 

    "It almost goes without saying that against that backdrop, the risks to our inflation and interest rate forecasts are skewed to the upside," Lewis Alexander, the chief US economist, said in a note. 

    *SEE ALSO: Inflation rises more than expected after scare that rocked global markets*

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Microsoft President Brad Smith says the US shouldn't get 'too isolationist' Reported by Business Insider 1 day ago.

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    We're about to get the clearest picture yet on how far Trump will go to wreck Obamacare **

    · *Blue Cross of Idaho will being to offer plans that do not comply with Obamacare's basic regulations after a change by the state's government.*
    · *The so-called Freedom Blue plans would cap the benefits a person could receive in a year and charge people more due to a preexisting condition. *
    · *Neither of those features are permitted under the Affordable Care Act.*
    · *It is unclear whether the Department of Health and Human Services will step in and prevent Idaho from selling these plans.*

    --------------------Blue Cross of Idaho announced Wednesday it would take advantage of the state's new loophole for Affordable Care Act regulations, prompting questions over how the Trump administration will respond.

    In January, Idaho's government announced it would allow insurers to offer "state-based plans" that did not adhere to regulations set out by the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

    The plans would not have to cover all essential health benefits, which are 10 items of basic care areas any ACA plan must provide. They could charge people more based on their health history. Both of those conditions currently disqualify a plan from being sold on Obamacare's exchanges.

    Blue Cross Idaho, the largest Obamacare insurer in the state, said it plans to start selling "Freedom Blue" plans that do not comply with the regulations. The company will continue to offer ACA-compliant plans, which is required by Idaho to sell the less-regulated options.

    According to The Wall Street Journal, the monthly premium for a 45-year-old under a "Freedom Plan" would vary from $194.67 to $525.69, depending on preexisting conditions and other health risks. The current bronze level ACA-compliant plan from the insurer runs about $343.09 a month.

    These plans would also cap the benefits an individual could receive at $1 million a year, again violating the ACA's rules.

    *It's unclear how the Trump administration will respond*

    The Department of Health and Human Services has followed President Donald Trump's directions by allowing states to loosen regulations on Obamacare marketplaces. But the Idaho plan is the most envelope-pushing plan yet.

    Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at health policy think tank The Kaiser Family Foundation, tweeted that the Idaho plan is clearly flouting the law.

    "Idaho is allowing health insurance plans that charge sick people more than healthy people, have an annual limit on coverage, and don’t cover maternity care," Levitt said. "That’s simply not allowed under the ACA."

    Levitt said that while this may lower premiums for some healthy people, many "middle-class people with preexisting conditions will pay more."

    HHS is required by the ACA to step in and take over regulation of any state that does not meet regulatory standards, and the department has done so in four states already.

    Asked about the Idaho situation during a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, HHS Secretary Alex Azar said no one from Idaho has contacted the HHS about a waiver. When that happens, he said, the department could step in.

    "We will look at that whenever it comes to us, of course there are rules and there's a rule of law that we need to enforce," Azar said.  

    Levitt said that if HHS does not intervene in Idaho, the changes would likely open the door to more loosely regulated plans and allow state regulators to undermine ACA exchanges in their own states.

    "If HHS does not step in and enforce the ACA's insurance rules in Idaho, it won't just be about Idaho," he said. "Other conservative states will no doubt then start to allow insurance plans that don't comply with the ACA."

    *SEE ALSO: Idaho is pushing the envelope on ignoring Obamacare rules in a huge test for the Trump administration*

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How to make America great — according to one of the three cofounders of Black Lives Matter Reported by Business Insider 19 hours ago.

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    One CEO said he'll believe that Amazon et al can make a difference when he sees a drone flying into a pharmacy in Baker City. Reported by bizjournals 17 hours ago.

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    He's buying a stake in a generic drugmaker, a month after his company joined with JPMorgan Chase and Amazon to give employees a better option for health insurance. Reported by CNNMoney 13 hours ago.

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    Embrace Pet Insurance is teaming up with RescueBox to celebrate the Year of the Dog.

    CLEVELAND (PRWEB) February 15, 2018

    To celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year, Embrace Pet Insurance and RescueBox® are giving away several subscriptions for the curated goodie pet box. A survey conducted in 2015 by The Harris Poll found that 95% of Americans consider their pet to be a member of the family. While Chinese New Year is traditionally about celebrating with human family, 2018 is going to the dogs.

    The Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year throughout Asia, begins on February 16, 2018. This year is the Year of the Dog based on the Chinese astrological signs of 12 animals. A Dog year brings good things for those lucky enough to be born in it. All animals in the Chinese zodiac are special, but many believe that people born in Dog years are especially so. There are five types of dog: Wood, Fire, Earth, Gold, and Water, and birth year determines the type of dog a person is. This year is Earth Dog which hasn’t happened since 1958. The Earth Dog is known to be a good communicator, a serious soul, and very responsible in their work life.

    If you’re a Dog, then you have something in common with Embrace: your lucky color is purple. Red and green are also lucky colors for Dogs this year. Be mindful of blue, white, and gold though since these are deemed unlucky colors for Dogs in 2018.

    To celebrate the Year of the Dog, Embrace is hosting a giveaway with RescueBox® for a one-year subscription, a six-month subscription, and a three-month subscription. Box options range from small to large dogs and they even offer a box for cats. The lucky winners of the random giveaway will receive a box of premium products for their pet. Embrace Pet Insurance Marketing Manager Dawn Pyne, says, “One of Embrace’s core values is to give back to our community and we like to partner with others who align with us on that. RescueBox® is perfect because they donate five pounds of food and two vaccinations to shelter pets with each subscription.”

    Embrace kicks off the giveaway on Thursday, February 15 and it will run through the end of the month. Interested pet owners can visit Embrace’s Facebook page or visit for a chance to win. Cat owners are welcome to enter too!

    No purchase necessary. By entering this sweepstakes, you agree to the contest rules.

    About Embrace Pet Insurance
    Embrace Pet Insurance is an Ohio-based pet health insurance provider, offering comprehensive, personalized insurance products for dogs and cats across the United States. Embrace is consistently ranked as one of the highest-rated U.S. pet insurance companies and is a proud member of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. Embrace is the only company to offer a diminishing deductible feature, the Healthy Pet Deductible, and continues to innovate and improve the pet insurance experience for pet parents across the country. For more information about Embrace Pet Insurance, visit or call (800) 511-9172.

    About RescueBox®
    RescueBox® is a subscription box program targeting pet owners while assisting shelter pets in need. The idea for RescueBox was born from a desire to give back. A few years ago, the founders of came together to brainstorm new and unique ways to give back to the animal rescue community. They created a simple and easy way that delighted pets and their parents—RescueBox. With every RescueBox, subscribers will receive a curated box filled with a high-quality toys, delicious treats, and other tail-wagging or meow-inducing products. The best part? Each delivery will feature a rescue story that wouldn’t be possible without the generous donation your purchase provides. Millions of animals are abused and abandoned every single year. The team at RescueBox is working hard every single day to reduce that number. We couldn’t do it without your help. For more information about RescueBox, visit or call (800) 398-6081. Reported by PRWeb 8 hours ago.

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    StoneGate Senior Living, LLC, an award-winning full spectrum senior care and housing facility, announces a new in-network insurance provider agreement with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas for Colonial Nursing & Rehabilitation, a skilled nursing care, rehabilitative facility and long-term living center.

    LINDALE, Texas (PRWEB) February 15, 2018


    Lindale, Texas’ Colonial Nursing & Rehabilitation now offers Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance Option

    In a move that increases health care insurance options while delivering an opportunity for lower costs for consumers, StoneGate Senior Living, LLC, an award-winning full spectrum senior care and housing facility, announces a new in-network insurance provider agreement with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas for Colonial Nursing & Rehabilitation.

    Colonial Nursing & Rehabilitation is a skilled nursing care, rehabilitative facility and long-term living center providing comfort, care and exceptional amenities. Effective immediately, the Blue Shield Blue Cross agreement joins existing contracts with other Commercial Insurance, Medicare Advantage and the Health Insurance Marketplace plans.

    “The patients and residents of Colonial Nursing & Rehabilitation are our top priority, and our commitment is to deliver care, housing and rehabilitation that is exceptional in quality,” says Susan Fitts, StoneGate Senior Living Development Director, Colonial Nursing & Rehabilitation. “Having the ability to offer the reduced costs and flexibility of the Blue Shield Blue Cross contract to our patients’ insurance options reinforces this commitment to providing compassionate, cost-effective care.”

    The new in-network insurance provider agreements with Blue Cross Blue Shield for Colonial Nursing & Rehabilitation will allow for individuals with a commercial health insurance or Medicare plan to admit to Colonial with lower co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses.

    For more information, visit:

    About Colonial Nursing & Rehabilitation:
    Colonial Nursing & Rehabilitation has been serving the community of Lindale, Texas, since 1986. The 90-bed facility offers in-patient transitional care, outpatient rehabilitation and long-term living options. The facility offers a Rapid Recovery Rehabilitation for those needing skilled nursing and rehabilitation before returning home. Colonial also offers a program through Arkray USA, offering proactive personal diabetes and overall health management.

    About StoneGate Senior Living:
    StoneGate Senior Living is an award-winning full-spectrum senior care and housing company with 44 properties across Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. Recently ranked as the nation’s 31st largest transitional and long-term care company by Provider magazine, StoneGate is a fully-integrated post-acute health care company, with service-lines and business units that offer transitional care, long-term care, assisted living, memory care, rehabilitation, wellness, pharmacy, care navigation and post-acute analytical services.
    Learn more at Reported by PRWeb 5 hours ago.

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    Reported by SeekingAlpha 49 minutes ago.

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    Clinicians Can Now Access Continuing Medical Education Modules Around “Cost Conversations” and Promote Their Designation With Badges on Amino

    SAN FRANCISCO (PRWEB) February 15, 2018

    Costs of Care, a non-profit organization helping health systems deliver better care at lower cost, is collaborating with The Doctor’s Channel, dubbed by CNBC as the “educational YouTube for doctors,” and digital health company Amino to educate clinicians on how to discuss health care costs with their patients.

    As part of the initiative, Costs of Care, with the help of the University of Chicago, is utilizing The Doctor’s Channel to distribute its new continuing medical education modules that train clinicians on ways to identify and manage patients’ cost concerns. Clinicians who complete the modules will then have the opportunity to share a “Cost Conversations” badge across their digital networks, as well as have their accreditation acknowledged on Amino, where cost-conscious patients can access physician profiles and view designations.

    “Nearly everyone who receives healthcare in the United States is at risk of receiving care that is so expensive it threatens their financial security,” says Neel Shah, Founder and Executive Director of Costs of Care. He believes “improving affordability is essential to the well-being of our patients, and our cost conversation modules help clinicians help their patients tackle this complex issue.”

    Costs of Care’s four free, web-based, CME-approved, 15-minute modules can be viewed on The Doctor's Channel. The modules demonstrate common pitfalls, as well as practical solutions, in having cost conversations with patients and colleagues. Module topics include:
    1. First, Do No (Financial) Harm: Having Value Conversations with Patients
    2. GOTMeDS: Having Value Conversations with Patients about Medication Costs
    3. Teamwork Time: Having Value Conversations with Inter-professional Team Members
    4. Costly Conversations: Having Value Conversations with Supervisors and Consultants

    Hundreds of HCPs have completed the course to date and are immediately putting their learnings into practice.

    "The day after completing this training, I asked one of my patients about the financial implications of his recent hospitalization. He said a bill for an amount he could likely never pay had just arrived in his mailbox many weeks after he was discharged. Although he recovered medically, the financial burden of his hospitalization persisted. These modules make a clear case that delivering high quality health care is much more than having a deep understanding of physiology and pharmacology; cost, and the financial harm it could cause, will certainly factor into future conversations with patients about their options,” said Dr. Marcus Dahlstrom, an internist in Oregon.

    Costs of Care is also working with Amino to allow physicians to promote the completion of “Cost Conversations” modules with badges posted on Amino and viewable by consumers searching for care on Amino or through content and trusted partners across the web.

    Costs of Care and Amino will be sharing more about their partnership in a webinar for the ABIM Foundation hosted on YouTube, as well as at SXSW Interactive Festival on March 11th, 2018 as part of the panel Making Healthcare Price Transparency Available. For more information about the modules, visit Costs of Care’s website.

    About Amino:
    Amino is a digital health company that makes saving money on healthcare easy. Combining data, design, and consumer-first thinking, Amino offers information and services that guide people toward quality, affordable care. Its flagship product pairs transparency with a modern HSA to deliver smarter savings at every turn, so companies and employees get the most from their health insurance plans. The company is based in San Francisco and is backed by Accel, CRV, Highland Capital Management, Rock Health, and notable individual investors. For more information, visit

    About Costs of Care:
    Costs of Care is a nonprofit organization that curates insights from clinicians at the frontlines of health care to help health systems provide better care at lower cost. Connect at or follow us on Twitter @CostsofCare.

    About the Doctor’s Channel:
    In an age of media snacking and limited attention spans, The Doctor’s Channel has been providing our network of physicians with timely, practical and "to the point" content in the form of educational, lifestyle and free CME videos since 2007. The Doctor's Channel syndicates it's content to HCPs globally. For more information, visit, contact Michael Banks, MD at, or follow them on Twitter @doctorschannel Reported by PRWeb 5 hours ago.

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    The company has scored a big win. Reported by Motley Fool 5 hours ago.

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    Digital Prevention Leader becomes first company of its kind to achieve two leading data security certifications

    SAN FRANCISCO (PRWEB) February 15, 2018

    Building on a HITRUST Certification attained last year, Omada Health today announced that the company completed its SOC2 Type 1 Audit, becoming the first digital provider of intensive behavioral counseling to exceed both of these standards, delivering the highest level of data security for partners, customers, and participants. The SOC2 Type 1 Independent Service Auditor's Report focuses on five controls relevant to data security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality and privacy. Companies completing the audit have the option to be judged on one or more of the five categories; Omada met or exceeded the industry-leading standard in all five.

    "All of Omada's services, from verifying the clinical eligibility of our applicants to utilizing billions of data points to drive a truly personalized experience for participants, depend on a foundation of safe, secure, and private storage and transfer of information," said VP of Information Technology and Security, William Dougherty. "Trust and security are table stakes in healthcare, and Omada has invested in both because our partners and our participants deserve to have confidence in our platform."

    "Omada operates as a HIPAA-covered entity, and for our team to continue to build the trust necessary with our partners and our participants, the work of Bill and his team -- and the validation provided by this audit -- are critical," added Omada co-founder and CEO Sean Duffy.

    Omada acts as both a health covered entity and as a business associate under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). SOC 2 examinations may only be performed by a licensed CPA firm. Schellman & Company, LLC ("Schellman") performed as the service auditor for Omada.

    The SOC 2 (Service Organization Control for Service Organizations) evaluates applicants in five categories within the Trust Services Criteria of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants:· Security - Verifying the system is protected against unauthorized access, use, or modification to meet the entity's commitments and system requirements.
    · Availability - Verifying the system is available for operation and use to meet the entity's commitments and system requirements.
    · Processing Integrity - Verifying the system processing is complete, valid, accurate, timely, and authorized to meet the entity's commitments and system requirements.
    · Confidentiality - Verifying that information designated as confidential is protected to meet the entity's commitments and system requirements.
    · Privacy - Verifying personal information is collected, used, retained, disclosed, and disposed to meet the entity's commitments and system requirements.

    "It is always exciting to work with leading edge technology providers, but it is even more meaningful when the company's mission is to improve individual's health and quality of life," said Douglas Barbin, principal and CyberSecurity leader at Schellman. "While any successful SOC 2 report is an achievement, the alignment of Omada's security and privacy control activities with all five Trust Services categories is considered exceptional."
    About Omada Health

    Omada Health is a digital behavioral medicine company that inspires and enables people to change the habits that put them most at risk for chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The company is the largest CDC-recognized provider of the National Diabetes Prevention Program, and since its founding. Omada's program combines proven behavioral science, the power of professional health coaches and peer groups, connected technology, and world-class design to deliver clinically-meaningful results. The company operates on a pay-for-outcomes pricing model that aligns incentives between Omada, customers, and participants. Omada Health was named a 2016 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, and one of Fast Company's Most Innovative 2017. To learn more, visit

    For more information, contact:
    Adam Brickman
    (914) 548-3748
    Press(at)Omadahealth(dot)com Reported by PRWeb 4 hours ago.

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    BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Blue Cross of Idaho submitted to Idaho insurance regulators a set of health insurance plans that it hopes to sell under Gov. Butch Otter’s executive order. The Idaho Statesman reports Blue Cross submitted its five plans on Tuesday after the executive order required Idaho insurers to create “state-based” health plans that […] Reported by Seattle Times 2 hours ago.

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    Amid the evolving employer-sponsored health insurance market, Columbus Business First spoke with Patty Starr, executive director of the Health Action Council. Reported by bizjournals 3 hours ago.

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    Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to stabilize the individual health insurance marketplace received kudos from Milwaukee-area health care executives but his plan to require co-payments, drug-testing and work or job-training requirements on some Medicaid recipients did not. Reported by bizjournals 23 hours ago.

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    Dependents of El Paso County employees killed on the job, including slain sheriff's Deputy Micah Flick, will continue receiving health insurance for up to a year at no cost, the board overseeing benefits decided unanimously Thursday. Reported by Denver Post 7 hours ago.

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    The latest release of 2017 ez1095 software released in both single user and network versions for printing and efiling ACA forms to the IRS. Visit at no cost or obligation to test drive for up to 30 days.

    ATLANTA (PRWEB) February 17, 2018

    Business owners filing 1094 and 1095 ACA forms are accommodated with new ez1095 2017 (ACA) network version from The latest network/multi user release is for growing companies that need more than one person processing the forms on different computers. (Either in the same office or different offices) See if the network version is for you in the informational link below:

    Ez1095 will print 1095C, 1094C, 1095B and 1094B forms paper printing, pdf printing and efiling for the upcoming tax season. (efiling is an additional charge). The application has been implemented and approved by the SSA to print on plain white paper, saving form costs.

    Ez1095 ACA software is compatible with Windows 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista and other Windows system. Its quick data import feature saves customers valuable time and speeds up tax form filing.

    “ez1095 2017 ACA software has been released as a network version for processing forms in multiple offices.” said Dr. Ge, the founder of

    Developer’s created ez1095 software to adhere to the requirements by the government to file forms 1094 and 1095 starting in 2016. ez1095 software’s graphical interface allows customers to set up company, add employees, add forms and print forms soon after download. Customers can also click form level help links to get more details regarding the software.

    Potential customers can download and try this software at no obligation by visiting

    Paper print version includes-

    ACA filing for 2017
    Paper print form
    PDF printing for for ACA return and correction

    Efile Version includes-

    Paper form print & PDF print
    Generate XML eFile documents for testing, production original, replacement & correction
    Validate XML documents

    Multi-user efile version includes-

    All Single-user Efile version features
    Network: Multiple users can share data if needed

    General features include-· Print Form 1095 C: Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Insurance
    · Print Form 1094 C: Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns
    · Print Form 1095-B: Health Coverage
    · Print Form 1094-B: Transmittal of Health Coverage Information Return
    · Print recipient copies in PDF format.
    · Support unlimited companies.
    · Support unlimited number of recipients.
    · Fast data import feature
    · Print ACA forms 1095 and 1094 on blank paper with inkjet or laser printer.
    · Print unlimited number of 1095 and 1094 forms.

    Priced at just $195, ($295 for efile version) this ACA forms filing software saves employers time and money. To learn more about ez1095 ACA software, customers can visit

    Founded in 2003, has established itself as a leader in meeting the software needs of small businesses around the world with its payroll software, employee attendance tracking software, check printing software, W2 software, 1099 software and barcode generating software. It continues to grow with its philosophy that small business owners need affordable, user friendly, super simple, and totally risk-free software. Reported by PRWeb 12 hours ago.

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    HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The CEO of Connecticut’s health insurance marketplace is stepping down this spring. Democratic Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman says Jim Wadleigh (Wahd-LEE’) will leave as head of Access Health CT in April. Wyman chairs Access Health CT’s board of directors. Wadleigh has led the exchange for more than three years. He previously […] Reported by Seattle Times 7 hours ago.

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    LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada health officials say the state will save money when it ditches the federally run enrollment system in 2019 for a state-based website. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports Nevada Health Link received approval Thursday to use $1 million from a reserve account of the Nevada’s Silver State Health Insurance Exchange […] Reported by Seattle Times 4 hours ago.

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    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — The family of a slain Colorado sheriff’s deputy will continue receiving health insurance for up to a year at no cost after county officials extended the benefits. The Gazette reports the family of El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Micah Flick would have lost coverage at the end of the month, […] Reported by Seattle Times 3 hours ago.

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    CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — School teachers and public employees in West Virginia are planning a statewide walkout as they continue to protest low pay, projected hikes in health insurance costs and small proposed pay hikes. Media outlets report that the decision to hold the walkout this Thursday and Friday was announced by the American Federal […] Reported by Seattle Times 2 hours ago.

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    Nearly 9 million dogs and 4.5 million cats in the U.S. have health insurance. Reported by 18 hours ago.

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    A hot startup could be the perfect model for the JPMorgan-Amazon-Berkshire Hathaway healthcare initiative· *The news that JPMorgan, Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway are forming a new independent nonprofit venture aimed at lowering healthcare costs for their employees has people looking at employer-sponsored health plans in a new light.*
    · *The details of the new venture have been limited, which has left a lot of room for speculation about how it could play out.*
    · *One way would be for the companies, which already act as their own insurance companies, to form their own sorts of plans that fit their employees — from warehouse workers to Wall Street bankers. *
    · *An example of a new health insurer working with employers in this ways is called Collective Health. *



    A new nonprofit healthcare venture from business giants Amazon, JPMorgan, and Berkshire Hathaway has generated a lot of interest in a certain type of health plan: the self-insured employer health plan. 

    If you're an employee with a self-insured employer, it means that when you're an employee going to a doctor's appointment, your employer is ultimately footing the bill for the MRI you receive, rather than a health insurer.

    The insurance companies are there in the middle to handle the logistics of getting the claim from one place to another, which means you might not realize your employer's footing the entire bill on the other end. Employers pay insurance companies for their services on a per member, per month basis. More than half of the non-elderly population is covered by an employer-sponsored plan, and almost 80% of large companies are self-insured. 

    "I tell people, JPMorgan Chase already buys a $1.5 billion of medical, and we self-insure," JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon told Business Insider. It's why his company, along with Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway, two other massive self-insured employers, are looking for new options. "Think of this, we're already the insurance company, we're already making these decisions, and we simply want do a better job," Dimon said. 

    There are a few ways that could play out.

    The three companies could simply use the lives they cover to negotiate for better prices. Or, they could go in and create their own alternative health plan built around their priorities, like giving them more information via their phones or introducing more integrated wellness programs. 

    The wheels on this are already turning. For example, Collective Health, a startup that's raised $119 million from investors including Peter Thiel's Founders Fund and GV since getting its start in 2013, works with employers to build out plans that fit their needs, adding technology with the hope of making things like submitting claims and reading bills easier than it tends to be. 

    *A case study: Collective Health*

    Chief Health Officer Dr. Rajaie Batniji cofounded Collective Health with CEO Ali Diab, who was working in technology, including working on the search team at Yahoo. At the same time, Batniji was going the academic route, getting a PhD in healthcare financing.

    "I was taking the academic route thinking I'd make the system better by writing papers about it," Batniji said.  

    Like many startups with tech founders, the idea started out with a bad experience with the existing healthcare system. Diab was hospitalized in 2013 with an intestinal condition. While recovering, he kept getting bills that weren't exactly bills, and confusing statements about what was covered and wasn't. 

    They wanted to answer the question: "Can we provide a better user experience layer?" As they started to look into it, they realized they couldn't just add something on top: They'd have to go in and act as the plan. "You have to recreate the whole stack," Batniji said. 

    To start, they decided to tackle the employer-sponsored health plans. The employers already act like "mini health insurance companies," which means they can often move faster to adopt new technology than other plans can, Batniji said. 

    Collective Health's clients include tech companies Zendesk, Palantir, eBay, and Pinterest. In total, it covers about 125,000 members, consisting of employees and their dependents. 

    Batniji said there'd be some worries that because employees would regularly be able to access their health information, they might start to over-use it. So far, that hasn't been the case. Batniji said Collective Health has seen fewer ER visits, unnecessary imaging has gone done, and there's been an increase in behavioral health visits. 

    Collective Health also helps connect services companies might want to provide for their employees, integrating them into the plan. For example, an employer would like to cover therapy appointments for all employees, even if the therapist is out of network. If one company handles fertility benefits really well, that can be plugged in as well. Collective Health acts like a landing page, so that you have everything in one place from being able to search for doctors and facilities that are in network to what kind of breast pump is covered by your plan. 

    Batniji has one piece of advice to share with the teams at Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan as they try to lower costs and improve healthcare for their employees: "I think it's important for them to prioritize just like we did where you build and where you partner," he said.

    For Collective Health, that meant building out a system that lets them to connect to any medical network, but deciding to partner on determining the networks of doctors their plans include.

    *SEE ALSO: We asked Jamie Dimon why JPMorgan is forming a new healthcare company with Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway — here's what he said*

    *DON'T MISS: A bunch of people are betting that a 70-year-old health system could hold the key to fixing out-of-control healthcare costs*

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