Trending News Today: Wait Times for Veterans Seeking Healthcare Remains a Problem

Top news of the day from across the healthcare landscape.

Veterans Choice, which was implemented to reduce healthcare appointment wait times at Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics, was found to have actually increased the wait time. According to Kaiser Health News, there are 70,000 more veterans waiting over a month for an appointment compared with last year. This program allows veterans to see a non-VA doctor if they are either 40 miles away from a VA facility or if they faced a wait time of more than 30 days. The problem lies in confusion created by the program among veterans, doctors, and VA administrators, according to the study.

Due to companies withdrawing from healthcare exchanges in the upcoming year, many people in rural regions may only have 1 insurance plan to choose from. In total, there are over 650 counties that would only have 1 insurer in their exchanges in 2017, which is a significant increase from the 225 counties with 1 insurer in 2016. According to The Wall Street Journal, an official with the federal Department of Health and Human Services said there probably will not be areas with no marketplace insurers, but that possibility cannot be ruled out.

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield cited a $100 million loss in the individual market and has now asked the Maryland Insurance Commission for a 12.4% increase for the HMO plan and a 16% increase for other plans it offers, according to The Baltimore Sun. The company, Maryland’s largest insurance provider, said the premiums were not able to cover the cost of providing services to patients. Many other insurance companies are also requesting to increase their rates.