Health Desk

Health Care
4:31 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Meet The Health Care First-Timers

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 6:44 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Millions more Americans now have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Much of the focus has been on coverage gaps, increased premiums and the clumsy rollout of the new law. But 6.1 million Americans, many of whom would not otherwise have health insurance, are now enrolled.

NPR's Nathan Rott has been talking with some of them.

(SOUNDBITE OF BABY)

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Shots - Health News
4:31 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

After Checking Blood Pressure, Kiosks Give Sales Leads To Insurers

SoloHealth owns 3,500 health screening kiosks like this one in San Francisco. In some states, the company sells customer contact information to insurers.
April Dembosky

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 3:56 pm

Those machines in drugstores and supermarkets that let people check their blood pressure also may be selling people's contact information to insurance companies trolling for new customers.

One of these kiosks sits in Aisle 10 of a Safeway in a city near San Francisco. Sitting down at the machine is like slipping into the cockpit of a 1980s arcade game. There are a big plastic seat and footrest for measuring weight and body mass index, a window for testing vision, and a blood pressure cuff. The kiosks don't charge people for the blood pressure measurement.

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Shots - Health News
1:50 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Blood Pressure Ruckus Reveals Big Secret In Medicine

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 3:55 pm

There has been a carefully guarded secret in medicine: Evidence is often inconclusive, and experts commonly disagree about what it means.

Most medical decisions aren't cut and dried. Instead they're usually made with uncertainty about what is best for each person.

This uncertainty secret has been revealed in a very public disagreement among experts about who should be treated for high blood pressure. The controversy hinges on the level of blood pressure that should serve as a trigger for treatment.

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Shots - Health News
11:37 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Biceps Curls And Down Dogs May Help Lower Diabetes Risk

Great-looking guns and lower diabetes risk, a nice twofer.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 4:04 pm

Women who work out with weights an hour a week cut their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and yoga or stretching exercises count, too, according to a study that tracked the health of almost 100,000 women.

Doctors have long known that regular exercise reduces the risk of diabetes, but that's always been translated as aerobic exercise like jogging or brisk walking.

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Sports
11:21 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Judge Blocks NFL Concussion Settlement

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Coming up, some corners of the Internet are melting down because of a reported shortage of Velveeta. And don't try to act like you don't know what that is. We'll talk about the history of the ooey, gooey stuff and why, in a buffalo mozzarella world, we still like it. But first, to football. This is golden time for pro-football lovers. Two teams will book their tickets to the Super Bowl this weekend after a long season of hard hits.

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Shots - Health News
10:00 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Feds Extend Coverage For People In High-Risk Insurance Pools

The tens of thousands of people with a history of serious illnesses who are enrolled in high-risk insurance pools created under the Affordable Care Act will have two more months before they lose that coverage, the Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday.

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The Salt
9:51 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Where In The World Is The Best Place For Healthy Eating?

The U.K. has plenty of fresh produce available, such as these vegetables on display at a garden show in Southport, England. But these healthy options cost more in the U.K. than in any other country in Western Europe.
Christopher Furlong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 3:03 pm

The Dutch are known for their lax drug laws, tall statures and proficient language skills.

Perhaps we should add stellar eating habits to that list, as well.

The Netherlands ranked as the easiest country in the world in which to find a balanced, nutritious diet, the advocacy group Oxfam reported Tuesday.

France and Switzerland shared the second slot. And Western Europe nearly swept the top 20 positions, with Australia just edging into a tie for 8th.

Where did the U.S. land?

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The Salt
2:04 am
Wed January 15, 2014

Soon To Be Big In Japan, Jim Beam's Roots To Stay In Kentucky

In a $16 billion deal this week, Japanese beverage giant Suntory announced it plans to purchase Beam Inc., maker of Jim Beam and owner of other popular bourbon brands, including Maker's Mark.
Bruce Schreiner AP

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 9:48 am

In a $16 billion deal this week, Japanese beverage giant Suntory announced it plans to purchase Beam Inc., the maker of Jim Beam bourbon and the owner of other popular bourbon brands like Maker's Mark.

Those and most other bourbons are made in Kentucky, and the deal has some hoping the drink's growth in the global market won't come at the expense of its uniquely Kentucky heritage.

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Shots - Health News
5:07 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Why The Youth Gap On Obamacare Exchanges Could Be A Yawner

Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 11:23 am

The dust is settling a bit after the administration released details Monday about who signed up for health insurance on the exchanges during the chaotic three months after they launched Oct. 1.

Just about everybody was watching to see how many young people piled in. Younger people are generally healthier, and their premiums tend to balance out insurers' outlays for older, sicker people.

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Health Care
3:48 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

The Young And Restless May Cause Drama For ACA

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 5:33 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

After a slow start, the Affordable Care Act is now attracting customers at a healthier pace. The government said yesterday that 2.2 million people have signed up for health insurance under the state and federal exchanges. But there's a serious red flag. A disproportionate number of new enrollees are middle aged or older.

Here's NPR's Jim Zarroli on what that means for the program and for insurers.

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Digital Life
3:48 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Dying In The Digital Age: When Should The Conversation End?

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 5:33 pm

An active conversation — and a hefty dose of outrage — is swirling on social media about the proper boundaries between public and private when it comes to illness and death. Lisa Adams, a stage 4 cancer patient, has been tweeting her experiences with the disease. Writers Bill and Emma Keller have derided her tweets as akin to "deathbed selfies." Melissa Block talks with Meaghan O'Rourke about how we treat dying in the digital age.

Shots - Health News
3:39 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Drug Tests Don't Deter Drug Use, But School Environment Might

So am I doing this to forget how much I hate my school?
iStockphoto

Schools that do random drug testing say it helps students say no to illegal drugs, while critics say it's an invasion of privacy. But feeling good about school may affect students' drug use more than the threat of testing.

A survey of high school students found that the possibility that they might face drug testing didn't really discourage students from alcohol, cigarettes or marijuana. But students who thought their school had a positive environment were less apt to try cigarettes and pot.

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The Salt
1:19 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Tobacco Returns To The Bar, This Time Inside Cocktails

The Step-dad cocktail at Bar Charley in Washington, D.C., features house-made tobacco bitters.
Courtesy of Leo Schmid

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 2:09 pm

Take a sip of the Oaxacan Fizz at Father's Office in Los Angeles and you'll discover the unmistakable taste of tobacco. That's because this cocktail is sweetened with a small amount of tobacco-infused sugar syrup.

"A lot of people say, 'I only smoke when I drink,'" says chef-owner Sang Yoon. "We say, 'Now you can do both.'"

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Shots - Health News
11:20 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Doctors Recommend Universal Diabetes Testing For Pregnant Women

Before you get too far along, you should get a blood test for diabetes.
Emiliano Rodriguez iStockphoto

All pregnant women should get tested for gestational diabetes after 24 weeks of pregnancy, a federal panel says, to reduce the risk of dangerous complications for both mother and child.

This isn't one of those controversial bits from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, like its recommendation that women under age 50 not get mammograms. Most obstetricians are already screening their patients for gestational diabetes.

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Children's Health
10:53 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Toddler Removed From Home After Viral Swearing Video

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but maybe you just need a few moms and dads in your corner. Every week, we check in with a diverse group of parents for their common sense and savvy advice. Today, we're talking about something you might have talked about yourself with other parents or friends if you've seen this video.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You a hoe (bleep).

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: You a hoe (bleep).

MAN: What's up then?

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Shots - Health News
9:58 am
Tue January 14, 2014

Ill-Defined Coverage Muddles Insurance For Developmentally Disabled

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 2:56 pm

A little remarked upon requirement in the federal health law expands treatments for people with cerebral palsy, autism and other developmental disabilities. But some advocates and policy experts are concerned that insurers may find ways to sidestep the mandate.

The health law requires that individual and small group plans sold on or off the health insurance marketplaces cover 10 essential health benefits, including "rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices."

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Health Desk
8:18 am
Tue January 14, 2014

More Than 61K Illinois Residents Pick Health Plans

Credit Get Covered Illinois

Federal officials say more than 61,000 Illinois residents signed up for health insurance during the first three months of the troubled HealthCare.gov website.  

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Health Care
6:32 am
Tue January 14, 2014

New York Consumers Frustrated By Insurance Delays

New York's health insurance marketplace is working, but some consumers are still having problems with insurers. Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield is the state's largest insurer and the target of a lot of consumer complaints.

Health Care
6:32 am
Tue January 14, 2014

More Sign Up On Government's Health Insurance Exchange

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. The math for Obamacare is improving but still not quite adding up. New numbers from the federal government yesterday show that 2.2 million Americans signed up for private health insurance by the end of the last year under the Affordable Care Act.

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Shots - Health News
2:33 am
Tue January 14, 2014

California Hospital Workers Pitch Obamacare To ER Patients

O'Connor Hospital in San Jose, Calif., is encouraging uninsured patients to sign up for coverage in the emergency room.
Sarah Varney for NPR

Originally published on Tue January 14, 2014 10:10 am

Angela Felan is sitting in the ER waiting room at O'Connor Hospital in San Jose, Calif. A blue surgical mask covers her nose and mouth, and a sweatshirt is pulled snug over her head.

She first came into the emergency room a few days ago with what she thought was bronchitis. The doctor prescribed an inhaler that cost her $56.

Felan, 31, works part time in retail and hasn't had insurance for at least a decade because she hasn't been able to afford it. "Unfortunately even not having insurance is just as expensive," she says.

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The Salt
5:22 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Coffee Myth-Busting: Cup Of Joe May Help Hydration And Memory

A barista makes coffee using the pour-over method at Artifact Coffee in Baltimore.
Benjamin Morris NPR

Originally published on Thu January 16, 2014 2:51 pm

Despite caffeine's many benefits, there's a belief out there that a daily coffee habit can cause dehydration.

So is it true? Not according to the findings of a new study.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. studied the fluid levels of 50 men who had a habit of consuming about three to six cups of coffee each day.

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Health Care
4:12 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Young People Account For A Quarter Of Health Care Enrollees

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 7:53 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

We have more details now on just who is signing up for insurance through the government's new healthcare marketplace. About a quarter of the people signing up are under the age of 35. As NPR's Scott Horsley reports, the Obama administration released its first demographic breakdown of the insurance customers today.

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Shots - Health News
3:33 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Older Folks Get Modest Memory Boost From Brain Boot Camp

Study participants were trained in practical reasoning skills like managing medications.
Jorge Salcedo iStockphoto

Older people who took a few weeks of classes to train their brains say their ability to perform everyday tasks declined less than people who hadn't had the training, even years later.

But the difference between them was modest at best, and wasn't independently verified. So it's impossible to know if the people were really doing better at tasks like reading bus schedules or completing order forms, or if they just thought they should be.

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December Enrollment Still Unknown
7:31 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Another Affordable Care Act Deadline This Week

It has been roughly two weeks since the first batch of consumers who signed up for the Affordable Care Act have been able to use their insurance. There's another deadline this week.

Consumers who signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act by Christmas saw their new benefits kick in Jan. 1.

There's no telling how many Illinois residents that is: the government hasn't released enrollment numbers for December. But insurers and so-called navigators, who are charged with helping people sign up, reported a last-minute rush.

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Shots - Health News
2:09 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Pain In The Back? Exercise May Help You Learn Not To Feel It

Janet Wertheimer does a back hyperextension exercise at Boston Sports Club in Wellesley, Mass. Regular exercise has helped control her chronic back pain.
Ellen Webber for NPR

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 3:56 pm

More than 1 in 4 adult Americans say they've recently suffered a bout of low-back pain. It's one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor. And more and more people are being treated for it.

America spends more than $80 billion a year on back pain treatments. But many specialists say less treatment is usually more effective.

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Author Interviews
3:57 pm
Sun January 12, 2014

Lessons On Blindness, 'For The Benefit Of Those Who See'

A blind child studies at the Braille Without Borders school in Lhasa, Tibet, in 2005. The program was the first of its kind in the country.
China Photos Getty Images

Originally published on Sun January 12, 2014 5:50 pm

In 2005, Rosemary Mahoney was assigned to write a magazine profile of the woman who started Tibet's first school for the blind, Braille Without Borders.

Sabriya Tenberken, who is blind herself, traveled to Tibet as a young woman and found that blind children there had no access to education, which motivated her to set up a program. During college in Germany, where she grew up, Tenberken also developed the first Braille script for the Tibetan language.

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Europe
8:56 am
Sun January 12, 2014

New Tax Can't Keep Greeks From Smoking

Originally published on Sun January 12, 2014 10:41 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

To Greece now, a country with one of the highest percentages of smokers in the world. At least 40 percent of the population over the age of 15 smokes, leading, of course, to rising rates of lung disease and lung cancer. Several years ago, the Greek parliament banned smoking inside restaurants, bars and public buildings. But it's rarely enforced. And even a new tax on cigarettes doesn't seem to be deterring Greek smokers. Joanna Kakissis has the story from Athens.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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The Two-Way
6:49 pm
Sat January 11, 2014

Main Contractor Behind HealthCare.gov To Be Replaced By Accenture

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 7:08 am

Updated 8:50 p.m.

The main contractor behind the embattled Affordable Care Act enrollment site, which suffered major technological issues after its Oct. 1 debut, will be replaced early this year.

Accenture will replace CGI Federal, the IT contractor that built HealthCare.gov, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Saturday. CGI Federal's contract expires on Feb. 28.

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The New And The Next
4:32 pm
Sat January 11, 2014

A Feminist Walks Into A Diet Clinic

Samantha Schoech is a writer and co-editor of the book The Bigger the Better, the Tighter the Sweater.
Courtesy subject

Originally published on Sun January 12, 2014 1:42 pm

Samantha Schoech has struggled with weight for most of her life.

"I am sort of a lifelong yo-yo dieter and like many women, weight is a frustrating topic for me," she tells NPR's Arun Rath.

As a feminist, she faces another struggle — the tricky prospect of balancing society's expectations of body image, without giving into them, and also wanting to be healthy.

She wrote about this tension in a piece for Ozy.com.

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Shots - Health News
12:52 pm
Sat January 11, 2014

5 Simple Habits Can Help Doctors Connect With Patients

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Mon January 13, 2014 9:06 am

I pulled back the curtain, ready to meet the next patient on my hospital rounds.

"Why are you standing there?" she asked me. "Come, have a seat, let's talk."

Lenore could have been my grandmother. She was 77 years old, and all of 93 pounds. What she lacked in girth, she more than made up for in chutzpah. She was one of the patients from intern year who I'll never forget.

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