Health Desk

Health Care
6:31 am
Sat November 30, 2013

How Will We Know If HealthCare.gov Is Fixed?

Health care specialist Stacy Chagolla helps William Bishop compare plans at an Affordable Care Act enrollment fair in Pasadena, Calif., this month.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Sat November 30, 2013 2:51 pm

Saturday is the day the Obama administration set as its deadline for making HealthCare.gov a "smooth experience" for most users.

A tech-savvy team of engineers, database architects and contractors has been working through the holiday to ensure the White House makes good on that promise, but judging the success of their efforts may take some time.

Read more
Health Care
6:22 am
Sat November 30, 2013

A New Worry Looms Online For The Affordable Care Act

Insurance companies say they are finding numerous mistakes on a digital form that's essential for signing up through HealthCare.gov.
AP

Originally published on Sat November 30, 2013 2:13 pm

Saturday is the day the Obama administration promised it would have HealthCare.gov working smoothly for the majority of people who need to sign up for health insurance.

As the Obama administration scrambles to fix the glitch-plagued site, experts are beginning to worry about another problem that may further impair the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

Read more
Shots - Health News
5:07 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

Popping A Baby Out Like A Cork, And Other Birth Innovations

The Odon Device was inspired by a YouTube video about how to remove a cork from the inside of a wine bottle.
The Odon Device

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 3:59 pm

Read more
Health
1:55 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

As HealthCare.Gov's Deadline Approaches, What Will Be Ready?

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 5:49 pm

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Ari Shapiro. Tomorrow is judgment day for healthcare.gov. The Obama administration has repeatedly said that by November 30, the troubled website will be up and running for the vast majority of users, and officials say they're on track to reach that goal.

Read more
Health Care
4:25 am
Fri November 29, 2013

Health Care Frustrations Turn Into Satisfaction For Ga. Man

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 10:42 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Now, we'll introduce you to someone who did successfully sign up for insurance on HealthCare.gov. Michael Lappin of Atlanta, Georgia had a reason to shop for insurance early. His husband has health care needs that made buying their insurance on the individual market difficult and expensive.

Jim Burress, from WABE in Atlanta, profiles the small business owner.

Read more
Health Care
4:10 am
Fri November 29, 2013

Sex, Alcohol Used To Sell Health Insurance In Colorado

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 10:42 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And here's one take on how the Affordable Care Act might be doing some good. It'll save young adults money - cash which they can then use to buy liquor and birth control. That's part of the message from a provocative new ad campaign in Colorado. In this encore broadcast, Eric Whitney has that story.

ERIC WHITNEY, BYLINE: You know your ad campaign's having an impact when a U.S. congressman is haranguing a White House cabinet secretary about it at a hearing on Capitol Hill.

Read more
Health Care
4:10 am
Fri November 29, 2013

Shopping Online For Health Exchanges Not Perfect Yet

Originally published on Fri November 29, 2013 10:42 am

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. Good morning. We hope many of you are enjoying some time off for Thanksgiving, maybe doing some shopping, but meanwhile work is continuing on the website for the federal health care exchanges.

Read more
Health Care
3:35 pm
Thu November 28, 2013

Obama Team Hopes Thanksgiving Table Talk Turns To Health Care

Ari Shapiro talks to Karen Pollitz, senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation, about Affordable Care Act talk at the Thanksgiving table. How will parents make their case? And will more people sign up over the long weekend?

Shots - Health News
3:02 pm
Thu November 28, 2013

Breaking Up With HealthCare.gov Is Hard To Do

Lara Imler has tried to cancel her enrollment on HealthCare.gov, but to no avail.
Annie Feidt Alaska Public Radio Network

Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 3:43 pm

Enrolling in HealthCare.gov is not easy, and it's been particularly difficult in Alaska. Just 53 people enrolled in the first month.

Anchorage hair stylist Lara Imler is one of the few who got through, as we previously reported. But Imler discovered problems with her application, and now she wants to cancel her enrollment.

Read more
Shots - Health News
1:03 pm
Thu November 28, 2013

Brain Cells 'Geotag' Memories To Cache What Happened — And Where

Benjamin Arthur for NPR

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 5:13 am

Think back to an important event in your life: a graduation, a birth, a special Thanksgiving dinner. Chances are you're remembering not only what happened, but also where it happened. And now scientists think they know why.

As we form so-called episodic memories, the brain appears to be using special cells in the hippocampus to "geotag" each event, researchers report in Science. The process is similar to what some digital cameras do when they tag each picture with information about where the image was taken.

Read more
The Salt
10:31 am
Thu November 28, 2013

Why We Give Thanks For The Health Benefits Of Cranberries

Zac Visco for NPR

Originally published on Thu November 28, 2013 8:08 pm

Many of us sitting down for Thanksgiving feasts today have made cranberries a part of our holiday table. And from a health perspective, those bitter, bright red berries should be on your list of things to be thankful for.

As my colleague Allison Aubrey has previously reported, the Pilgrims believed that cranberries could cure scurvy. They were wrong on their reasoning but right on the cure: The berries are packed with vitamin C.

Read more
All Tech Considered
9:03 am
Thu November 28, 2013

HealthCare.gov Team Working Through Holiday To Meet Deadline

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius visits navigators helping enroll people on HealthCare.gov.
Lynne Sladky AP

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 3:07 pm

Besides movie theaters and Wal-Mart, one place that will stay open this Thanksgiving is the new HealthCare.gov "exchange operations center." Staffers on the "tech surge" to fix the error-riddled site have just days to meet the Obama administration's self-imposed deadline for a functioning site.

Read more
Shots - Health News
8:08 am
Thu November 28, 2013

After The Cranberries And Pie, Let's Talk About Death

What seemed like a burden can become a gift.
iStockphoto

On Thanksgiving morning I'll be making pies with my mom, just as I have ever since I was a girl. But at some point I know we'll be talking about more than shortening versus butter. We'll be talking about how she would like to die.

A few months ago my mom fell at home and ended up being admitted to the ICU with four broken ribs and internal injuries. She was lucky. After two weeks in the hospital and a few more in a rehab unit, she's back home, using her new blue walker to get around.

Read more
Shots - Health News
3:30 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Small-Business Access To Online Health Exchanges Delayed Again

Small employers can still enroll in Affordable Care Act coverage through insurers or brokers, but not through the online exchanges.
iStockphoto

The Obama administration is delaying yet again online signup for small businesses through the Affordable Care Act. The program was intended to make it easier for small employers to provide health insurance to their workers on a more equal footing with big business.

Read more
Health
3:24 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

With November Ending, Taking Stock Of HealthCare.gov's Progress

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 9:04 am

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

President Obama pardoned a Thanksgiving turkey today. Now the question is whether the government's new health insurance website will also get a reprieve. After a disastrous rollout eight weeks ago, the White House says it's on track to have the site working smoothly for most users by this weekend. Many consumers say they have seen improvements to the site. But others are still hitting roadblocks.

Read more
Shots - Health News
3:08 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Booming Demand For Donated Breast Milk Raises Safety Issues

Madison Fitzgerald, 20, holds her baby, Jake, in the neonatal intensive care unit at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. Jake, who was born 16 weeks too early, receives donor breast milk every three hours by mouth.
Carrie Feibel/KUHF

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 9:04 am

The public health message that "breast is best" has been received loud and clear. More mothers in the U.S. are breast-feeding, and they're doing so longer than ever.

But those simple facts hide a complicated world where passions about breast milk run high, and demand has skyrocketed.

Women who have extra milk are intensively courted, by hospitals who need the breast milk for premature babies and by moms who can't nurse their own babies and don't want to use formula.

Read more
The Salt
2:57 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Did Your Thanksgiving Turkey Take Any Antibiotics?

Turkeys sit in a barn in Sonoma, Calif. An estimated 46 million turkeys are cooked and eaten during Thanksgiving meals in the U.S.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 6:02 pm

In our series Pharmed Food, we've been looking closely at how the livestock industry in the U.S. uses antibiotics, and what that might mean for human health.

And so as Americans prepare to roast and baste plump, juicy holiday birds, we couldn't help but wonder what antibiotics the average turkey might have been given.

Read more
Shots - Health News
2:42 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

In Rural Iowa, Distance Makes Health Care Sign-Ups A Challenge

Insurance help isn't easy to find in many Iowa counties.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 9:05 am

Broadlawns Medical Center has been serving low-income residents of Des Moines, Iowa, and the surrounding countryside for decades. Now there's a twist in Broadlawns' mission as a public hospital: helping people sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

On a recent Saturday morning, Jerrine Sanford traveled half an hour from the small town of Runnells to get her insurance questions answered at a hospital-run event.

Sanford, 47, is out of work because of a back injury. She's worried about the law's requirement that everyone have health insurance or pay a penalty.

Read more
The Two-Way
2:04 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Small Businesses Get One-Year Delay In Health Insurance Process

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 6:29 pm

The Obama administration announced it is delaying until November 2014 a requirement that small businesses shop for health insurance via the troubled federal HealthCare.gov site, which has been blamed for many problems since its launch last month. The shift applies to businesses with fewer than 50 full-time workers.

Read more
Shots - Health News
9:46 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Estrogen May Not Help Prevent Fuzzy Thinking After Menopause

Hormones clearly influence a women's health, but figuring out how is a tricky business.
Andrew Ostrovsky iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 10:16 am

There's a widely held belief that women experience moodiness and fuzzy thinking because of the drop in estrogen during menopause. And women have looked to hormone replacement therapy for relief.

But researchers increasingly think there's not much of a link between declining levels of estrogen during menopause and cognition.

Read more
Planet Money
4:19 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Ohio Hospital Puts Docs On The Spot To Lower Costs

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 12:57 pm

An aspect of the Affordable Care Act is meant to rein in exploding health care costs. To do that, the law has created hundreds of experiments in which hospitals have volunteered to participate. Our Planet Money team went to one hospital in Ohio that's trying to get doctors more involved in understanding hospital economics.

Politics
4:15 am
Wed November 27, 2013

Medicaid Drives Expansion Of Health Care Coverage

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 5:45 am

After years of wide spread fretting about the size of the federal debt and angst about new federal regulations for health care, one federal program is enjoying widespread popularity: Medicaid. Morning Edition examines this political paradox.

Shots - Health News
2:20 am
Wed November 27, 2013

To Changing Landscape, Add Private Health Care Exchanges

www.delightimages.com iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed November 27, 2013 10:30 am

We've been reporting a lot lately on the troubled rollout of President Obama's signature health care law. But at the same time, there are rumblings of a major shift in the way companies offer private health insurance to workers.

It involves what are called "private health care exchanges." These are similar to — but completely separate from — the public exchanges you've heard so much about.

Some experts say this new approach soon could change how millions of Americans receive their health care.

Read more
Shots - Health News
5:51 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

2009 Flu Pandemic Was 10 Times More Deadly Than Previously Thought

PLOS Medicine/Michaeleen Doucleff/NPR

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 9:10 pm

By the World Health Organization's official tally, the flu pandemic of 2009-10 killed 18,449 people around the world. Those are deaths of people who had laboratory-confirmed cases of the so-called swine flu.

But a fresh analysis says the real toll was 10 times higher — up to 203,000 deaths. And maybe it was twice that, if you count people who died of things like heart attacks precipitated by the flu.

Read more
Law
4:56 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Supreme Court Takes Challenge To Obamacare Contraceptive Rule

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take another case involving the Affordable Care Act, this time a challenge to the provision that for-profit companies that provide health insurance must include contraceptive coverage in their plans offered to employees.
Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 5:55 pm

President Obama's Affordable Care Act will be back before the Supreme Court this spring. This time, the issue is whether for-profit corporations citing religious objections may refuse to provide contraceptive services in health insurance plans offered to employees.

In enacting the ACA, Congress required large employers who offer health care services to provide a range of preventive care, including no-copay contraceptive services. Religious nonprofits were exempted from this requirement, but not for-profit corporations.

Read more
Research News
3:51 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Study Finds Plan B Pill Less Effective In Overweight, Obese Women

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 4:56 pm

Even as the Supreme Court takes up the issue of emergency contraception coverage, a new study suggests the most popular form of the drug might not work for most American women. It seems one formulation of the popular drug loses effectiveness in women who are obese or who weigh over a certain amount.

NPR Story
2:21 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Eating 'Wilder' Foods for a Healthier Diet

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. Hope you had a good Thanksgiving, this being the day after. One of the best parts of Thanksgiving is, I think, the leftovers. Don't they always taste better? Well, my next guest is here to tell us how we can get the most flavor and nutrition out of those leftovers and our food all year round.

Read more
Shots - Health News
12:07 pm
Tue November 26, 2013

Part-Time Workers With Minimal Health Coverage Get New Options

But maybe not the insurance.
Karl Dolenc iStockphoto

In January, part-time workers who have so-called mini-med health insurance plans with very limited benefits and annual caps on payments will begin to lose that coverage.

Under the health care overhaul, they can't be renewed after the beginning of the year. For some, that may be just as well. Part-timers likely will have better options in January.

Read more
The Salt
11:31 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Al Gore Goes Vegan, Following In Footsteps Of Bill Clinton

Former Vice President Al Gore has reportedly gone vegan.
Mark Lennihan AP

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 3:13 pm

The decision to give up entire food groups can be a radical attempt to reform an unhealthy diet, as former President Bill Clinton demonstrated when he revealed in 2011 that he'd gone vegan, after heart bypass surgery.

But more often in this day and age, eschewing animal products is political.

And so that's why we were interested to read that former Vice President Al Gore, one of the world's most famous environmentalists, had — like his former boss — gone vegan, too.

Read more
The Two-Way
11:27 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Supreme Court Will Hear New Challenge To Health Law

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear cases brought by companies who say they have religious objections to the Affordable Care Act's requirement that they offer employees health insurance that includes contraception benefits.

In a statement released late Tuesday morning, justices say they have consolidated four related cases and will hear one hour of oral arguments. That will happen next year, likely in late March.

Read more

Pages