Health Desk

Health Desk
9:15 am
Thu January 9, 2014

The Cost Of Keeping A Small Town Ambulance Service

Credit Auburn Ambulance Service

When it's a matter of life and death, you call for an ambulance.  But seconds can save lives.  Having an ambulance close by is a luxury for some communities, especially in smaller, rural areas.  There's a cost and often, the number of calls are too few to support it.

In Auburn, it's a similar story.  But the Auburn Area Ambulance Service won't give up.  The not for profit has found a way to get donations.  It's launched a subscription service.

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Shots - Health News
8:58 am
Thu January 9, 2014

How Medigap Coverage Turns Medicare Into A Health Care Buffet

How about back surgery, a cardiac catheterization and an MRI scan?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 2:01 pm

Restaurants know customers eat more at fixed-price buffets than when they pay a la carte. Economists have been saying for years that the same kind of behavior goes on in the federal Medicare program for seniors and the disabled.

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Shots - Health News
2:39 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Legal Loopholes Leave Some Kids Without Dental Insurance

Kamora Cyprian got her teeth cleaned at a free health care event in the Los Angeles Sports Arena in September 2012.
Kevork Djansezian Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 9:21 am

If you think buying health insurance under the Affordable Care Act has been complicated, just wait. Buying dental coverage on the health exchanges, it turns out, is even more confusing.

Dental coverage for children is one of the benefits that must be offered under the law. But, it turns out, a loophole in the law means that — in most states — families don't actually have to buy that coverage.

These rules are so confusing that they even tripped me up.

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Shots - Health News
3:37 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

So Are 2 Drinks A Day Really Too Many?

This looks like way more than one too many.
Chris Gramly iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 5:33 pm

A lot of us are drinking too much, and on Tuesday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called us on it.

More than eight drinks a week for women and 15 drinks a week for men can get you into trouble, the CDC warned.

But that doesn't seem to jibe with other studies that found that drinking alcohol makes for better heart health, several Shots commenters noted. Shana Cuddy wrote:

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Shots - Health News
1:41 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Sealant Inspired By Beach Worm Could Become Surgical Superglue

The superglue developed by scientists sticks to wet, bloody surfaces. Researchers hope the adhesive could one day seal a torn vessels or fix heart defects.
Randal McKenzie / McKenzie Illustrations.

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 4:05 pm

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Shots - Health News
11:25 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Where The Smokers Are Now: Bulgaria, Greece And Macedonia

Where are the smokers? Look for the colors reminiscent of a cigarette ember.
IHME

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 2:01 pm

Since the surgeon general's report laid bare the health hazards from smoking 50 years ago, the proportion of Americans who smoke has fallen dramatically.

About 19 percent of American adults smoke these days, compared with about 42 percent in 1965.

Smoking has become less prevalent in other countries, too, including Canada, Mexico and Iceland.

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Krulwich Wonders...
7:27 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Am I Going To Die This Year? A Mathematical Puzzle

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 11:56 am

A few years ago, physicist Brian Skinner asked himself: What are the odds I will die in the next year? He was 25. What got him wondering about this, I have no idea, but, hey, it's something everybody asks. When I can't wedge my dental floss between my two front teeth, I ask it, too. So Brian looked up the answer — there are tables for this kind of thingand what he discovered is interesting. Very interesting. Even mysterious.

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The Salt
6:21 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Think You're Cold And Hungry? Try Eating In Antarctica

Morrie Fisher drinks at Mawson Station, an Australian base in East Antarctica, in 1957. Apparently, these sorts of amusements tend to pop up when you're bored in a barren landscape.
Courtesy of the Australian Antarctic Division

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 12:24 pm

If the icy blast of polar air that's descended upon much of the U.S. over the last couple of days has you reaching for the cookie jar for comfort — and ready to give up on those New Year's resolutions — then seriously? It's time to toughen up. Just think: At least you're not in the Antarctic.

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The Salt
6:05 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Top Diets Of 2014 (Hint: It's Probably Not What You Think)

Spanish rice dinner that could qualify for the top-ranked DASH diet. Here's the DASH-approved recipe." href="/post/top-diets-2014-hint-its-probably-not-what-you-think" class="noexit lightbox">
Keep the rice brown and the skin off the chicken for a Spanish rice dinner that could qualify for the top-ranked DASH diet. Here's the DASH-approved recipe.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 12:27 pm

U.S. News has ranked 32 diets, and which one comes out on top?

The DASH diet. It's an acronym for a dreadfully dull name, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet. Haven't heard of it?

True, it doesn't get much buzz.

But it's been around for a long time, and there's solid evidence that it works, not just for weight control but also to lower high blood pressure (a condition that affects 1 in 3 adults in the U.S.).

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Shots - Health News
5:03 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

50 Years After Landmark Warning, 8 Million Fewer Smoking Deaths

Tobacco companies incorporated doctors in their ads, such as this 1930 Lucky Strike campaign, to convince the public that smoking wasn't harmful.
Stanford University

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 2:22 pm

Saturday marks an important milestone in public health – the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health.

Few if any documents have had the impact of this one — both on the amount of disease and death prevented, and on the very scope of public health.

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Shots - Health News
3:53 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Cold Weather Tips To Keep Your Pets In Good Health

Courtney Martin jogs through the snow with her dog, Theodore, in St. Louis. Missourians and their pets muddled through another frigid day Tuesday.
Jeff Roberson AP

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 7:00 pm

Here I sit shivering, wishing I were a dog or cat to get through this cold snap.

A built-in fur coat, no commute and maybe some quality time by the fireplace. What could go wrong?

Quite a few things, it turns out.

The friendly animal lovers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's Ryan Hospital report seeing a few wintery problems for pets in the ER over the last few days. Some you might not have expected.

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Shots - Health News
2:48 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Mindfulness Meditation Can Help Relieve Anxiety And Depression

Western medicine has questioned the medical benefits of meditation.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 8:38 am

People are increasingly turning to mindfulness mediation to manage health issues, and meditation classes are being offered through schools and hospitals.

But doctors have questioned whether this ancient Eastern practice really offers measurable health benefits. A fresh review of the evidence should help sort that out.

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Shots - Health News
1:11 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Drinking Too Much? Don't Count On Your Doctor To Ask

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 1:23 pm

Most of the people who have problems with drinking aren't alcoholics, and having a brief chat with a doctor is often all it takes to prompt excessive drinkers to cut back.

But, it turns out, doctors aren't bringing the topic up. More than 80 percent of adults say they've never discussed alcohol use with a health professional, a survey finds.

Young people and binge drinkers were most likely to be asked about alcohol use, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Law
12:20 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

New Law Allows Transgender Students To Choose Bathrooms And Sports Teams

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 2:15 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Health Desk
11:06 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Memorial's Ed Curtis On Passavant Partnership

Credit Passavant Area Hospital

Passavant Area Hospital in Jacksonville could soon be affiliated with Memorial Health System, which already oversees hospitals in Springfield, Taylorville and Lincoln.
The Passavant Board has agreed to partner with Memorial, pending regulatory approval.

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Shots - Health News
10:33 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Health Care Inbox: From Medicaid Eligibility To Tax Credits

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act draws even more questions than when the law was on the drawing board.
iStockphoto

The new year is upon us, and with it a fuller implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The questions about the health care law haven't slowed. Here are some of the latest queries and answers.

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The Salt
7:42 am
Tue January 7, 2014

To Make Healthier Choices, Color-Code Your Food (Green Means Go!)

At NPR's Sound Bites Cafe, all food gets coded with one of three circles: Green is reserved for the most healthful dishes; yellow flags the "good choices;" and red signals the high-calorie foods to grab "on occasion."
NPR

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 12:27 pm

Could a little red circle really make me bypass short ribs and mashed potatoes for some cod and rice instead? You've got to be kidding.

Well, a team of doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital sure think so — at least sometimes — and they have a study that backs them up.

It's research that hits close to home: Last April, when NPR moved into new headquarters, we got a snazzy new cafeteria. And little colored circles started popping up on menus.

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Business
3:59 am
Tue January 7, 2014

In 2012, Health Care Costs Grow More Slowly Than U.S. Economy

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 5:56 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

I'm David Greene.

We have been hearing for, well, what feels like forever about skyrocketing health care costs. It's at the center of debates in Washington and state capitals. And many people feel the impact on their wallets and pocketbooks. But here's this reality: Spending on health care, while still going up, appears to be rising more slowly. 2012 was the fourth straight year of modest growth.

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Health
3:59 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Patients, Consumer Advocates Question Hip Implant Settlement

Originally published on Wed January 8, 2014 5:56 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The company that made a defective artificial hip has agreed to pay more than $2 billion to thousands of patients who had to have those implants replaced. But some patients are questioning whether the settlement is enough. Consumer advocates say the deal with Johnson & Johnson does nothing to prevent faulty medical implants from getting on the market in the future.

NPR's Rob Stein reports.

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Shots - Health News
4:43 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Health Care Costs Grew More Slowly Than The Economy In 2012

NPR

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 3:55 pm

Health care spending grew at a record slow pace for the fourth straight year in 2012, according to a new government report. But the federal officials who compiled the report disagree with their bosses in the Obama administration about why.

The annual report from the actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, published in the journal Health Affairs, found total U.S. health spending totaled $2.8 trillion in 2012, or $8,915 per person.

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Shots - Health News
3:56 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

How Much Does A New Hip Cost? Even The Surgeon Doesn't Know

How much is that hip implant in the X-ray? Only the hospital administrator and the company that made it know for sure.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 12:07 pm

What will a gallon of milk set you back? How about a new car? You probably have a rough idea.

But what about a new knee or a hip replacement? Chances are you have no clue. And you aren't alone. The surgeons who implant the devices probably don't know either, a survey finds.

Medicare spends about $20 billion each year on implanted medical devices. Nearly half of the total goes to orthopedic procedures. As the population ages and more Americans get joint replacements, the spending on implants is likely to keep rising.

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The Salt
2:22 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Looks Like The Paleo Diet Wasn't Always So Hot For Ancient Teeth

Say aaaaaah! Dental caries and other signs of oral disease are plain to see in the upper teeth of this hunter-gatherer, between 14,000 and 15,000 years old. The findings challenge the idea that the original paleo diet was inherently healthy, says paleo-anthropologist Louise Humphrey. It all depended, she says, on what wild foods were available.
Courtesy of Isabelle De Groote

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 5:16 pm

One of the hinge points in human history was the invention of agriculture. It led to large communities, monumental architecture and complex societies. It also led to tooth decay.

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Shots - Health News
2:08 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Frostbite Tips For Novices: Skip Whiskey And Shed Your Rings

Jenny Hackett walks across a street in St. Louis, Mo., on Sunday. Subzero temperatures are predicted there Monday, with bitter cold sweeping east.
Jeff Roberson AP

Originally published on Tue January 7, 2014 7:38 am

Frostbite isn't usually a major worry here in Washington, D.C., but with wind chills below zero forecast for half of the Lower 48 by Tuesday morning, millions of people from the Plains to the East Coast will have to start thinking like Arctic explorers while waiting for a school bus or heading to work.

Noses, fingers, toes and ears face the biggest risk. Those body parts have less blood flowing through them and a lot less mass than the body's core. They're also more likely to be exposed to the elements. Obviously, bundling up those tender parts is key.

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Author Interviews
12:39 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Fear Of Fainting, Flight And Cheese: One Man's 'Age Of Anxiety'

Yuri Arcurs iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon January 6, 2014 7:09 pm

Atlantic magazine editor Scott Stossel has countless phobias and anxieties — some you've heard of, others you probably haven't.

"There's a vast encyclopedia of fears and phobias," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross, "and pretty much any object, experience, situation you can think of, there is someone who has a phobia of it."

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Shots - Health News
2:02 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Dental Coverage Deciphered, And The Latest On Sign-Up Deadlines

Laura Breland gets her teeth cleaned by Denise Lopez-Rodriguez at a community health center in Aurora, Colo., in 2012. Dental coverage is available through the Affordable Care Act.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 3:01 pm

New Year's Day marked the halfway point to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act for coverage this year.

And after a dismal start, things seem to be going a lot better on the HealthCare.gov website. Federal officials say more than 1 million people enrolled in coverage by the Christmas Eve deadline for coverage that began January 1.

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Shots - Health News
9:24 am
Sat January 4, 2014

22 States Curb Access To Abortion In 2013

Tamir Kalifa AP

The year 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

It also marked another year of success for those who would restrict or even outlaw the procedure.

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Shots - Health News
7:19 am
Sat January 4, 2014

Saving Babies' Lives Starts With Aquarium Pumps And Ingenuity

Neonatal nurse Florence Mwenifumbo monitors a newborn receiving bubble CPAP treatment in Blantyre, Malawi. The device was developed by students at Rice University in Houston.
Rice 360/Rice University

Originally published on Tue April 22, 2014 8:59 am

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Technology
7:43 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

For The Blind, Connected Devices Create A Novel Way To Read

This Braille reader connects to a smartphone.
John Suchocki The Republican/Landov

Saturday is World Braille Day, commemorating the birth of Frenchman Louis Braille, who was blinded in an accident when he was a toddler. Undeterred, he became a brilliant student but was frustrated that he couldn't read or write.

In school, he learned about a system of dots used by soldiers to communicate at night. Braille adapted that system into something that would transform the lives of the blind and visually impaired.

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Health Care
4:31 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

This Is Not Your Parents' Health Insurance

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 7:43 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish. It's been years since a new for-profit health insurance company launched in the U.S. The industry's dominated by large established firms. But some young tech entrepreneurs in New York believe they can take on the big guys, offering plans on the New York Exchange. NPR's Dan Bobkoff has their story.

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Shots - Health News
3:26 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

California County Pushes Drugmakers To Pay For Pill Waste

Ground zero for a new approach to prescription drug disposal.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri January 3, 2014 7:43 pm

The leftover prescription drugs you have around your house are at the center of a battle between small government and big pharmaceutical companies.

The immediate aim is to have the pharmaceutical companies take care of disposing of extra drugs. But Alameda County in northern California wants to make manufacturers think about the life cycles of their products — from their creation to what happens when they're no longer needed.

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