Health Highlights: March 30, 2016

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Newly-Insured Under Obamacare Have Higher Health Care Costs: Report

Previously uninsured Americans who got coverage under health care reform tended to be sicker, use more health services and to have higher medical costs than those who already had insurance, according to a report released Tuesday by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

The report examined claims by 4.7 million people enrolled in Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans nationwide before and after major parts of the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2014, The New York Times said.

One part of the act forced insurers to provide coverage to people who were previously denied insurance due to their health problems.

Previously uninsured people who signed up for individual Blue Cross health plans in 2014 and 2015 had higher rates of medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, hepatitis C, heart disease and HIV than those who already had insurance, The Times reported.

For example, newly-enrolled clients were twice as likely to have diabetes or hepatitis C, and over three times more likely to have HIV.

Hospital admission rates were 84 percent higher and the frequency of visits to doctors and other health care providers was 26 percent higher among newly-enrolled people, compared with those who had coverage prior to 2014, The Times reported.

The findings show the importance of the health care law, according to Obama administration officials.

“It’s no surprise that people who newly gained access to coverage under the Affordable Care Act needed health care,” Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Ben Wakana told The Times. “That’s why they were locked out of coverage before.”

The higher use of medical services by previously uninsured people could fall as they receive care and medications to treat and prevent health problems, according to Alissa Fox, a senior vice president for the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

The new report helps explain why Blue Cross plans have asked for and received significant premium rate increases in many states, The Times reported.

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