Health Insurance

Duke Energy provides electricity for most of North Carolina since the 2012 merger.
Duke Energy

Duke Energy is dropping its practice of paying for retirees' health benefits.  The country's largest utility joins companies like IBM, General Electric and Time Warner in the policy change.

 Instead of covering insurance for more than 14,000 retirees, Duke Energy will give them a yearly stipend.  Retirees can use that payment to buy their own coverage.  Dave Scanzoni is a company spokesman.

US Census
US Census Bureau

The latest Census report shows North Carolina continues a slow crawl out of the economic downturn.

In 2012, more people lived below the poverty level in North Carolina than they did the year before.  The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey shows 18% of North Carolinians live in poverty compared to about 16% nationally.

Ed Welniak heads the Income Statistics branch of the Census Bureau.

Blue Cross Blue Shield NC campus.
Blue Cross Blue Shield NC

Insurance provider BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina is expanding retail locations as the federal government prepares to launch the state's health care exchange. 

HealthServe is closing in Greensboro this week and 20,000 people will have to find a medical provider elsewhere.

An estimated 20,000 patients will be affected by the closing of a health clinic in Greensboro later this month.  HealthServe provides care for people who are low-income, and have little or insufficient health insurance. The clinic began as a volunteer effort by local doctors in the 1990s. HealthServe has lost funding from the County and Moses Cone Hospital. The State’s recent decision to not expand Medicaid was the third strike.

The White House

The state Department of Insurance has approved subsidized health care plans that will be available under the Affordable Care Act.

Several details of the plans remain sealed as trade secrets, including rates, deductibles and how many were approved.  Marni Schribman of the state Insurance Department says the plans will be part of North Carolina's health care exchange, which is scheduled to launch in October.

BlueCross BlueShield NC's Chapel Hill headquarters, a rhomboid-shaped glass building built in 1973.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina employees will soon move out of their landmark Chapel Hill headquarters and consolidate operations in Durham. The health insurer purchased two buildings on its Durham campus where they could move employees starting in September. 

Spokesman Lew Borman says the move is expected to save the company up to $2.5 million in operating costs annually.  As for the signature building they now call home, Borman says its fate is yet to be determined.

Duke Chapel, Duke University, Durham
Dave DeWitt

The student health insurance plan at Duke University will soon cover procedures for sexual reassignment surgery. 

The university will be the first in North Carolina to cover the service, starting this fall. Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek says the student health advisory committee recommended the change to complement existing benefits.

"A couple of years ago, we made certain that we had appropriate counseling support and hormonal therapy covered in the insurance policy for students," says Wasiolek.

500 New Health Insurance Jobs Heading To Greensboro
Jeff Tiberii

United Healthcare has steadily grown its Greensboro workforce during the past five years and on Wednesday announced plans for 500 new positions. The growth marks about the same number of additions United Healthcare made locally in 2012.

Graham Hughes

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina and Cary-based information technology giant SAS are collaborating to provide more personalized health care.

On May 8th, North Carolinians will vote on an amendment to the state constitution that would ban gay marriage and civil unions. Opponents of Amendment One claim the measure would have far-reaching consequences for gay and straight families alike. One claim is that some unmarried people and their children could lose health care coverage. Isaac-Davy Aronson reports for our series examining the arguments over Amendment One.