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Friday Favorites: High deductibles, iPhone medical research, and is pregnancy a 'life event?'



Tax Credits via Flickr Creative Commons

Last week, I asked you all to share your experiences with high-deductible health plans. Thanks to those of you who have answered my call!

Among those who responded was Ellen Augustiniak of Irvine. She was on one of these plans when she became very sick. Her doctor recommended a slew of diagnostic tests, but she balked. She didn't want to undergo any unnecessary tests, since she would have to pay for them out-of-pocket.

But in retrospect, "all the weird tests that he wanted to do might have caught my particular tumor more quickly," Augustiniak tells Impatient.

Here's another reader's story about high-deductible plans, plus three more of KPCC's top consumer-focused health stories of the week:

High-deductible plans: Hidden costs, obvious frustrations

Like Augustiniak, Kevin Dick of Palo Alto tells us that he and his family has relied on a high-deductible plan for several years because it's far cheaper than plans with higher premiums.

He says being on the hook for a greater share of his family's health costs has spurred him and his wife to seek fewer medical services, and to be more price-conscious when they do need care. Still, he admits, the process is maddening.

"Even if you're definitely saving money, it's frustrating when no one is willing to disclose prices to you," he says.

If you’re on a high-deductible health plan, share your experience here.

Feinstein and Boxer join push to let pregnant women buy health coverage anytime

Let's say you're on a high-deductible plan and you get pregnant. You might think to yourself, "I wish I could change health plans because I'm not prepared to cover the prenatal-related out-of-pocket costs that could be high and unpredictable."

Under the Affordable Care Act, women can't buy a health plan for the first time or change their coverage when they become pregnant if it doesn't happen during an open enrollment period. Childbirth, though, is a different story: It's considered a "qualifying life event," or a time when people are allowed to buy coverage outside of open enrollment.

But in a letter this week, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer asked Covered California to add pregnancy to the list of qualifying life events. There's a similar push to persuade the federal government to make the same rule change. Meanwhile, health plans are concerned that granting this request could drive up insurances costs for everyone else.

App Chat: Should you enroll in a medical study on your iPhone?

Imagine if researchers conducting medical studies could survey all 700 million-plus iPhone users around the world. The sample size would be huge!

This week, Apple introduced ResearchKit, which the company describes as a "powerful tool for medical research."

On Impatient, I describe how the platform is being used for a UCLA study on breast cancer. And on Take Two, Jacob Margolis explains how apps using ResearchKit work, and what you should know before you join one of these studies.

6 things you need to know about marijuana and CA employment laws

The headline says it all, folks. Have a great weekend!