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Listen: Noise Pollution, a Private Equity Lawsuit, and College Health Fees

The Rising Onslaught of Noise

California Healthline contributing radio correspondent Stephanie O’Neill explained that noise pollution from traffic, leaf blowers, construction, and other irritants is a growing problem that is not confined to our ears — and causes stress-related conditions like anxiety, high blood pressure, and insomnia.

California legislators passed two laws in 2022 aimed at quieting the environment. One directs the California Highway Patrol to test noise-detecting cameras, which may eventually issue automatic tickets for cars that make noise above a certain level. The other forces drivers of illegally modified cars to fix them before they can be re-registered.

However, most states haven’t addressed the assault on our eardrums. Read California Healthline correspondent Rachel Bluth’s coverage about the rising din, and its effect on our health, here.

ER Doctors Challenge Private Equity

California Healthline contributing radio correspondent Stephanie O’Neill also explained that emergency care physicians and consumer advocates are looking forward to a federal lawsuit against a private equity-backed staffing firm.

Most states, including California, have some rules against corporate ownership of medical practices, but they are rarely enforced. In the lawsuit, a physician group alleges that Envision Healthcare, owned by investment giant KKR & Co., uses a shell business structure to restrict physicians’ authority so they have no direct control.

The physician group wants the court to declare the practice illegal. The California Medical Association supports the lawsuit.

Read the original article by California Healthline senior correspondent and columnist Bernard J. Wolfson here.

Health Coverage for College Students

Mandatory medical insurance and health service fees are common at colleges as a condition of enrollment, California Healthline contributing radio correspondent Stephanie O’Neill reports. The costs vary by school but often can amount to several thousand dollars a year.

The University of Southern California, a private college, charges $2,273 a year for its Aetna student health insurance plan. The average cost at public colleges is $2,712 and $3,540 at private universities, according to a 2022 survey by Hodgkins Beckley & Lyon, a firm that provides consulting services to colleges and universities on health benefits.

For parents, these big payments might come as a surprise, making a barely affordable education feel even less so. Students can seek a waiver to university health insurance by showing they have their own insurance or are covered by a parent’s insurance that meets specific university criteria. Student health fees, however, generally can’t be waived.

KHN senior correspondent Phil Galewitz delved into the issue here.

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