health insurance

Ansel Armstrong had just found a psychologist when COVID-19 turned the world upside down, forcing in-person care to go remote.

So video sessions replaced a 40-minute drive between Lawrence and Topeka.

“I love how much it frees up my schedule,” Armstrong said. It eased the process in other ways, too. “It’s like, you’re at home. I have my cat on my lap. I think it was a less stressful experience.”

A year into the pandemic, COVID-19 testing has become easier to get — just not necessarily cheaper.

If you go to the right locations, though, you can get a test for free instead of shelling out $100 or more.

For Kansas, sites that offer free testing are listed online, complete with information about wait times and booking.

You don’t have to show any ID or insurance. That eliminates the risk of a wrestling match later over billing.

Price tags matter, even when insurance pays

Carlos Moreno / KCUR

A skin biopsy at Lawrence Memorial Hospital goes for anywhere from $95 to $600. It all depends on who receives the bill. Removing a skin lesion, anywhere from about $120 to $920.

Now, because hospitals had to release millions of previously secret prices on Jan. 1, the public can see just how common price differences like these are.


Chris Neal for the Kansas News Service

If you’re buying health insurance on the Affordable Care Act exchange in Kansas, for 2021 you’ll have more options than ever — including a big player that sat out the Obamacare market the past few years.

Hunter Health

When a patient walks into Hunter Health Clinic in Wichita for an appointment, staff might ask them a variety of questions about their living situation: how much food someone has at home, if they’ve recently lost a job or if anyone in their household is struggling with addiction or their mental health.

The screening process is meant to determine someone’s social determinants of health, or conditions in their environment that could have an impact on their health. Lately, the clinic has seen an increase in people seeking care who’ve lost their health insurance after a layoff.

Kansans remain among the most vulnerable in the country to surprise medical bills — charges from outside an insurance network that the consumer only discovers after treatment.

A new research brief from the Kansas Health Institute points to studies suggesting the charges are common in Kansas. It’s part of a shrinking minority of states yet to pass laws reining in the practice.

Jim McLean / Kansas News Service

TOPEKA, Kansas — The two doctors running for the U.S. Senate in Kansas are offering very different prescriptions for increasing access to affordable health care during the coronavirus pandemic.

The cost of getting an appendectomy with private health insurance has soared since the early 2000s. So has the bill for a knee replacement.

But the secrecy of prices negotiated between health care providers and insurance companies makes it hard for employers to understand what they pay for a knee replacement and whether it’s a good price.

Researchers broadly agree workers suffer for it.

Scott Canon / Kansas News Service

Got a medical bill that seems too high? First step: Ask if there’s been a mistake. Next step, fight back.

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