Health Desk

The Affordable Care Act, Explained
6:16 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Your Questions About The American Health Care Act

There are many questions about the new health care law. Here are some answers.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Thu December 19, 2013 7:37 am

In recent months, NPR staff has published a series of questions-and-answer stories related to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Now we've compiled them into an interactive so you can explore answers that are most relevant to you.

There are nearly 80 questions, ranging from who's eligible to how much insurance might cost, among two dozen topics. Filter the list by selecting categories or asking questions.

Did we miss an important question? Let us know.

Read more
Health Care
4:37 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Questions Persist Regarding Affordable Care Act

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 7:02 am

The federal government's health care website seems to be working much more smoothly. But many people still have questions about the Affordable Care Act. For answers, they can go to NPR.org/ACA.

The Salt
1:58 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Amid Fields Of Plenty, A Farmworker's Wife Struggles To Feed Her Family

Food banks have become a primary source of nutrition for rural farmworker communities in the Central Valley.
Scott Anger KQED

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 9:25 am

Read more
Shots - Health News
4:40 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Why Glaxo Won't Pay Doctors To Sell Its Drugs Anymore

British pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline is pledging to revamp its relationships with doctors.
Sang Tan AP

Doctors talking up drugs to other doctors has been quite lucrative for pharmaceutical companies — and the physicians who moonlight as their salesmen.

Drugmakers learned long ago that deputized doctors were effective pitchmen. A doctor paid by a company to give a dinner speech or to chat over lunch with colleagues can go a long way toward changing their prescribing habits.

Read more
Politics
3:59 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Obama Meets With Tech Leaders, Taps Microsoft Exec To Fix HealthCare.gov

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:31 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. The government's health insurance website has a new Mr. Fixit. The Obama administration has hired a former Microsoft executive to oversee improvements. Kurt DelBene will take over for Jeff Zients, the former management consultant and White House staffer who was brought in in late October to help turn the troubled website around.

News of DelBene's appointment comes as President Obama met today with a group of high tech CEOs. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

Read more
Business
3:59 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

GlaxoSmithKline To Stop Paying Doctors To Promote Its Drugs

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:31 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Today, one of the biggest drug companies in the world announced changes to its marketing practices. GlaxoSmithKline says the idea is to be more transparent about how it sells its drugs. Among the changes, the company will stop paying doctors to tout its products to other doctors.

As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, the public interest community says this is a step in the right direction for an industry that's faced many legal problems.

Read more
Sports
3:59 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Some Competitors Say Free-Diving Needs A Safety Sea Change

Nicholas Mevoli smiles while diving in Curacao in October. He died a month later following an attempted dive in a free-diving competition in the Bahamas.
Daan Verhoeven Barcroft Media/Landov

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 11:31 pm

Dahab, Egypt, just north of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Sinai Peninsula, is perfect for free-diving. A diver can have tea in a simple beach cafe and then take just a handful of steps into the Gulf of Aqaba, where the seafloor plunges more than 100 yards into a wine-glass-shaped blue hole.

Read more
Shots - Health News
3:14 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

How The U.S. Helped Fight The Global AIDS Epidemic

A mother waits with her child at an HIV clinic in Nyagasambu, Rwanda, in February 2008. The clinic was built with a grant from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief initiative.
Shashank Bengali MCT /Landov

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 7:50 am

A decade ago, President George W. Bush announced an unprecedented global health initiative: $15 billion over five years to fight HIV in developing countries.

"There are whole countries in Africa where more than one-third of the adult population carries the infection," Bush said in his 2003 State of the Union address. "Yet across that continent, only 50,000 AIDS victims — only 50,000 — are receiving the medicine they need."

Read more
Shots - Health News
1:08 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Concussion Research Slowed By Shortage Of Donated Brains

Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher's body has been exhumed more than a year after he killed his girlfriend and himself so that his brain can be examined for signs of a degenerative condition linked to repeated concussions.
Seth Perlman AP

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 3:08 pm

Former NFL linebacker Jovan Belcher's body was exhumed last week so doctors can perform tests on the remains of his brain. The family hopes to find out if a degenerative brain disease played a role in Kansas City Chiefs veteran's death last year, when he shot his girlfriend then killed himself.

Read more
Shots - Health News
11:37 am
Tue December 17, 2013

The Case Against Multivitamins Grows Stronger

Though some people might need more of specific vitamins, multivitamins don't help most people, studies say.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 8:57 am

When I was growing up my mom gave me a multivitamin every day as a defense against unnamed dread diseases.

But it looks like Mom was wasting her money. Evidence continues to mount that vitamin supplements don't help most people and can actually cause diseases that people are taking them to prevent, like cancer.

Read more
Health
11:06 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Are Americans Getting Smarter About Obesity?

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:17 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Later this hour, we're going to deal with some common holiday dilemmas, such as how to deal with tantrums at the mall, how to deal with people who get a little too cute at a holiday gathering and how to move your spending habits from the naughty to nice column, at least for next year. That's all coming up.

Read more
Parenting
11:06 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Tantrums: To Control Or Not To Control?

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 12:17 am

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 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 we've all seen and perhaps experienced. Here it is.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHILD TANTRUM)

Read more
Shots - Health News
8:42 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Medicare Names Best And Worst Hospitals For Joint Replacements

Before you have get a new hip, you might want to check the government's list of best and worst hospitals for the operation.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 8:58 am

Around a million people get hip or knee replacements a year, and those operations cost Medicare and private insurers a lot of money. For the first time, the federal government is evaluating how good a job individual hospitals are doing.

Medicare has identified 95 hospitals where elderly patients were more likely to suffer significant setbacks and another 97 hospitals where patients tended to have the smoothest recoveries. (It's a long list that you can sift through here.)

Read more
Shots - Health News
4:17 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Doctor Helps Iowa Couple Face Illness On Their Own Terms

Dr. Tim Ihrig, a palliative care physician, treats Augie Avelleyra, 93, at his home in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
Courtesy of Paula Avelleyra

Originally published on Tue December 17, 2013 9:49 am

When Dr. Tim Ihrig crosses the threshold of the Avelleyras home in Fort Dodge, Iowa, he steps over a doormat that says, "One nice person and one old grouch live here."

It doesn't take long to figure out who the nice person is.

Phyllis Avelleyra grew up on a farm in western Iowa and met her husband, Augie, in "the big city," otherwise known as Fort Dodge. Population 25,000. The couple has been married for 60 years. They have five daughters, the oldest of whom is already a grandmother herself.

Read more
Shots - Health News
4:00 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

FDA Asks For Proof That Antibacterial Soaps Protect Health

There's no evidence that triclosan and other chemicals in antibacterial soaps do a better job than plain soap and water, the FDA says.
Kiichiro Sato AP

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 4:32 pm

In hospitals, people are bathed with soaps containing the antibacterial triclosan to reduce the risk of serious infections in surgery. But that doesn't necessarily mean we should be using triclosan soap in the kitchen and the bathroom, the Food and Drug Administration says.

The agency on Monday took a step toward restricting the use of triclosan and other antibacterial chemicals widely used in soap, deodorant, cosmetics and hundreds of other consumer products.

Read more
The Salt
2:45 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

In Florida, A Turf War Blooms Over Front-Yard Vegetable Gardening

Hermine Ricketts says she gardens for the food and for the peace it brings her.
Greg Allen NPR

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 7:06 pm

In tropical South Florida, it's growing season. Temperatures are in the 80s, there's lots of sun and good rain, and normally, Hermine Ricketts' plants would already be in the ground.

"By now, this should be probably Red Sails lettuce, which is a beautiful color lettuce, or purple mizuna, which is a beautiful filigreed purple leaf," she says.

But this year, Ricketts' vegetable planting has been derailed by a legal fight over what she can plant and where she can plant it.

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:40 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Novice Neurosurgeons Train On Brains Printed In 3-D

A simulated patient at the University of Malaya makes use of different materials to mimic the look and feel of human tissue.
Courtesy of Vicknes Waran

Originally published on Wed December 18, 2013 8:58 am

There's no such thing as too much practice when it comes to brain surgery.

Read more
Shots - Health News
1:27 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

As Far As Mom's Concerned, You'll Always Be The Little One

Being the littlest may mean more protection and care from parents, psychologists say.
Getty Images/Image Source

If you're a youngest child, your mother may call you "the baby," even if you're 6-foot-3. It can be endearing or annoying, depending on how you're feeling about dear old Mom.

But, it turns out, lots of parents think their youngest children are smaller than they really are, Australian researchers have found.

When they asked mothers to mark the height of their youngest child on a wall, they consistently marked it lower than the child's height. And not just by a little bit.

Read more
Health
4:03 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Why A Regular Bedtime Is Important For Children

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 4:15 am

Children who have irregular bed times are more likely to have behavioral issues than children who have a regular bedtime routine. A survey of 10,00 children showed that irregular bedtimes are linked with difficulties such as hyperactivity, acting out and being emotionally withdrawn. Researchers think inconsistent bedtimes probably affect young children like jet lag.

Shots - Health News
1:45 am
Mon December 16, 2013

Healthful Habits Can Help Induce Sleep Without The Pills

Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 2:23 pm

About one-third of American adults say they have problems falling asleep. And prescriptions for sleeping medications are on the rise, with about 4 percent of people using the drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But sleep specialists say people should exercise caution before deciding to take medication to help them sleep.

Read more
Global Health
7:23 am
Sun December 15, 2013

They Shot For Zero, But Couldn't Squash Polio In 2013

A polio worker vaccinates a child in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, in October.
Arshad Arbab EPA/Landov

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 1:43 pm

As we near the end of 2013, NPR is taking a look at the numbers that tell the story of this year. Numbers that, if you really understand them, give insight into the world we're living in, right now. Over the next two weeks, you'll hear the stories behind numbers, ranging from zero to 1 trillion.

The lowest number of polio cases ever recorded in the world during one year was 223. And 2013 was on track for an even lower number.

Read more
Shots - Health News
4:50 pm
Sat December 14, 2013

Before The Prescription, Ask About Your Doctor's Finances

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 7:45 am

Last month, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology issued new guidelines that could double the number of people taking cholesterol-lowering drugs.

The organizations receive financial support from drug companies, and many of the experts who worked on the guidelines have industry ties.

Read more
Around the Nation
4:12 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

For Many Urban Schools, Gun Violence Remains A Daily Reality

Trevor Watson, 14, says he hears gunshots in his Oakland neighborhood so often that "it doesn't even affect me anymore."
Brett Myers Youth Radio

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 5:56 pm

With its colorful box-style buildings with big windows, Castlemont High in Oakland, Calif., looks like any other school. But inside, teacher Demetria Huntsman and Joseph Hopkins, 16, are deconstructing a shooting that happened out front just 30 minutes before.

"We just, like, heard gunshots," Joseph explains. "We just ... turned around and started running. That's the closest I've ever came to almost, like, actually getting shot."

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:35 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

FDA Warns Against Test Touted As Mammogram Alternative

When it comes to taking care of the girls, mammograms are still the way to go.
iStockphoto

Mammograms are no woman's idea of fun, but if someone suggests that you could skip that aggravation just by vacuuming a little bit of fluid from the breast, think again.

Nipple aspirate tests being offered in doctors' offices are no substitute for mammograms, the Food and Drug Administration said Thursday.

Read more
Shots - Health News
12:07 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

A Nasty Fever Called Chikungunya Hits Close To Home

The chikunguyna virus was discovered in 1955 by two scientists in Tanzania.
EMDataBank using UCSF Chimera

Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 1:46 pm

Well, look what showed up on our doorstep.

The Western Hemisphere has an unwelcome visitor: a painful tropical illness called chikungunya fever.

And it doesn't look like the hard-to-say illness is leaving anytime soon. (You can hear how to pronounce it here.)

Read more
Fitness & Nutrition
11:21 am
Fri December 13, 2013

This Doc's Miracle Drug? Exercise

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 1:58 pm

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

You know the old adage, an apple a day keeps the doctor away? Well, my next guest might add to that. How about a jog a day keeps the doctor away, or a set of pull-ups? His new book is a prescription pad for a variety of ailments from anxiety and depression to heart disease, diabetes, low libido, arthritis, even cancer. But what's different about this medical book is that there are no drugs recommended, no trips to the pharmacy.

Read more
The Salt
9:08 am
Fri December 13, 2013

How Plastic In The Ocean Is Contaminating Your Seafood

"A lot of people are eating seafood all the time, and fish are eating plastic all the time, so I think that's a problem," says a marine toxicologist.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 9:38 am

We've long known that the fish we eat are exposed to toxic chemicals in the rivers, bays and oceans they inhabit. The substance that's gotten the most attention — because it has shown up at disturbingly high levels in some fish — is mercury.

Read more
TED Radio Hour
8:29 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Does Body Language Shape Who You Are?

James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 3:56 pm

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Spoken And Unspoken.

About Amy Cuddy's TEDTalk

Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how "power posing" can affect our brains, and might even have an impact on our chances for success.

About Amy Cuddy

Read more
Health Care
6:52 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Health Insurance Seekers Find Networks Missing Key Providers

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Across the country, many consumers shopping for health insurance on government-run exchanges are discovering that some of the best known doctors and hospitals will not be part of their health plan.

This is because as insurance companies try to make their plans more affordable, they' re using more restrictive, so-called skinny networks of health care providers.

NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.

Read more
Mental Health
6:52 am
Fri December 13, 2013

Does Winter Really Bring On The Blues? Maybe Not

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Well, it is that time of year again. For millions of Americans, the good cheer of Christmas and all the other festivals is marred by what many call the winter blues. Counselors, therapists, self-help books counsel us on how to beat the onset of depression brought on by wintertime.

Read more

Pages