Health Desk

Planet Money
11:07 am
Tue November 26, 2013

3 Ways Obamacare Is Changing How A Hospital Cares For Patients

John Bazemore AP

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

The Affordable Care Act is transforming more than health insurance. In hospitals around the country, the legislation could transform the way doctors and nurses actually care for patients.

Part of the law is designed to rein in the nation's exploding health care costs by creating hundreds of little experiments that test new ways for hospitals to save money.

One example: At Summa Akron City Hospital in Akron, Ohio, doctors are preparing for a new way of doing business.

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NPR Story
10:54 am
Tue November 26, 2013

End-Of-Life Conversations Not Easy, But Necessary

A new report from the Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project shows that Americans' attitudes about medical care at the end of life are changing. And there's still widespread resistance to talking about the issue. Host Michel Martin learns more about the study's findings and how to have these conversations.

Krulwich Wonders...
9:56 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Born Wet, Human Babies Are 75 Percent Water. Then Comes Drying

Robert Krulwich NPR

Look at this baby.

Lovely, no? Now think of this baby abstractly — as a sack of hundreds of millions of atoms. Here's the atomic formula for a new human being, arranged by elements, according to scientist Neil Shubin.

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Business
4:14 am
Tue November 26, 2013

FDA Tells Company To Stop Selling Genetic Test

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 12:28 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A high-profile genetic medical testing company is in trouble with the federal government. The Food and Drug Administration has asked 23 And Me to temporarily halt its work.

As NPR's Rob Stein reports, the FDA has accuracy concerns.

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Shots - Health News
1:56 am
Tue November 26, 2013

These Californians Greeted Canceled Health Plans With Smiles

Amid insurance cancellations, some people are finding better coverage through Covered California, the state's health exchange.
Reed Saxon AP

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 12:28 pm

Barbara Neff of Santa Monica is one of the roughly 1 million Californians who recently got word that their health insurance coverage would be expiring soon.

The canceled plans sparked a political firestorm as people realized President Obama's promise — "If you like your plan, you can keep it" — didn't apply to everyone.

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Shots - Health News
1:52 am
Tue November 26, 2013

Emergency Contraceptive Pill Might Be Ineffective For Obese

Levonorgestrel, one of the main ingredients in emergency contraceptive pills, including Plan B, was found in a recent study to be less effective in overweight and obese women.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 12:28 pm

The Food and Drug Administration says it is reviewing whether the maker of the most widely used emergency contraceptive pill needs to change its label in light of new evidence that it doesn't work to prevent pregnancy in overweight or obese women.

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Shots - Health News
5:01 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Yes, Your Toddler Really Is Smarter Than A 5-Year-Old

Children under age 2 can reason abstractly, researchers say.
Jandrie Lombard iStock

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 12:42 pm

Parents, does your 18-month-old seem wise beyond her years? Science says you're not fooling yourself.

Very small children can reason abstractly, researchers say, and are able to infer the relationships between objects that elude older children who get caught up on the concreteness of things.

In experiments at the University of California, Berkeley, children as young as 18 months were able to figure out the relationship between colored blocks.

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All Tech Considered
4:19 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Helping Low-Income Seniors Build A Social Web Online

Hazel Avery, 86, holds her iPad for the first time. The Connecting to Community program, with funding from the AARP Foundation, teaches low-income seniors how to increase social engagement online. The Washington, D.C., program chose seniors with no previous computer experience.
Sarah L. Voisin The Washington Post/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 12:23 pm

The Internet is often considered the realm of the young. But in the U.S., people over 65 are one of the fastest-growing groups to go online, and social media usage among seniors has soared.

A program in Washington, D.C., is designed to bring more seniors online, especially those who are socially isolated.

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Shots - Health News
4:05 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

FDA Tells 23andMe To Stop Selling Popular Genetic Test

YouTube

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 12:41 pm

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Politics
3:32 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Rep. Issa Takes Anti-Obamacare Campaign To The States

Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, planned to hold at least four field hearings on the Affordable Care Act, which he blames for increased health insurance prices.
Mark Wilson Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 5:56 pm

The troubled rollout of the Affordable Care Act has given the GOP an opportunity to keep its attacks on the law alive.

On Monday, Republicans held the second of at least four planned hearings that Rep. Darrell Issa of California, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, has said will focus on health insurance price increases he blames on the Affordable Care Act.

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Medical Treatments
3:32 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

FDA Tells Google-Backed 23andMe To Stop Selling DNA Test

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 5:05 pm

The Food and Drug Administration has sent a warning letter to the company 23andMe demanding that its saliva test be taken off the market. The company claims the test can detect the genetic likelihood of more than a hundred diseases — a claim the FDA says the company has not proved sufficiently.

Parallels
9:04 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Can Child Marriages Be Stopped?

Christina Asima says she had no choice but to marry last year at age 12 to help care for younger siblings after her mother abandoned the family. But she says her husband was abusive, so she left him, and now must look after her 8-month-old son, Praise, alone.
Jennifer Ludden NPR

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 5:05 pm

Christina Asima seems tired for a 13-year-old. I meet the shy-mannered girl in the remote farming village of Chitera, in the southern African nation of Malawi. She wears a bright pink zip-up shirt and a blue print cloth wrapped up to her chest. Snuggled in that, hugging her side, is a chubby-cheeked baby boy.

My gut assumption is that the infant must be Christina's little brother. I know 8-month-old Praise is actually her son. Still, it's startling when, as we speak, she shifts him around front to nurse.

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Health Care
4:07 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Health Exchanges Brace For A December Deluge

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 12:11 pm

The race is on to get the federal insurance website HealthCare.gov working smoothly by the end of November.

And it's not just because that's what federal officials have promised. December could see a surge in demand for health insurance.

"There is an avalanche coming," says Bryce Williams, managing director for exchange solutions at the benefits consulting firm Towers Watson.

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Shots - Health News
1:54 am
Mon November 25, 2013

In Pregnancy, What's Worse? Cigarettes Or The Nicotine Patch?

Illustration by Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 12:41 pm

Lots of studies have shown that cigarette smoke isn't good for a fetus. So many pregnant women use nicotine gum or skin patches or inhalers to help them stay away from cigarettes.

A few years ago, Megan Stern became one of those women. "I smoked heavily for the first seven weeks of my pregnancy because I didn't know I was pregnant," she says. "It was an accidental pregnancy, and I found out while I was in the emergency room for another issue."

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The Sunday Conversation
4:45 am
Sun November 24, 2013

Caring For A Schizophrenic Son, Worrying About The Future

Gary Mihelish and his wife now teach classes for families that are coping with mental illness.
Courtesy of Gary Mihelish

Originally published on Sun November 24, 2013 5:25 pm

Each week, Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.

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Shots - Health News
4:43 am
Sun November 24, 2013

Colorado Ads Use Sex And Alcohol To Sell Health Insurance

This controversial ad riffing off the legendary "got milk?" campaign is one of several marketing health insurance to young people in Colorado.
Thanks Obamacare campaign

Originally published on Tue November 26, 2013 12:41 pm

Try this on for size: The Affordable Care Act is good for young adults because it'll save them money on health care, leaving them more to spend on liquor and birth control.

That's one way to interpret the message from a provocative new ad campaign in Colorado. Not everyone is thrilled with it.

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Health Care
6:35 am
Sat November 23, 2013

Obamacare Offers New Ways To Invest

Originally published on Sat November 23, 2013 10:18 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

While there is widespread frustration over the rollout of the health insurance exchanges, some people see opportunities. Venture capitalists are thinking a lot about what the health care industry may look like in the future while they invest today. Annie Lamont has been a health care venture capitalist for over 30 years. She's a managing partner at Oak Investment Partners. And we asked her what opportunities she sees coming up in her field.

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Health Care
6:35 am
Sat November 23, 2013

'Catastrophic Care' In America's Health System

Originally published on Sat November 23, 2013 10:18 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Health Care
4:01 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

On State Heatlh Exchanges, Some Successes, Some Failures

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 6:21 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

There has been a surge in the number of people signing up for health insurance on the California exchange. By mid-November, nearly four times as many people were signing up each day than when the exchange was opened. That's better, though the numbers are still shy of what the Obama administration had originally hoped for.

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Politics
4:01 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

White House Pushes Next Year's Health Plan Sign-Ups Later

Originally published on Sun November 24, 2013 5:32 pm

Another day brings another delay for the federal health law known as the Affordable Care Act.

On Friday, the Obama administration announced that, starting next year, it is pushing back the start of the sign-up period for those buying individual and small business insurance until mid-November, rather than mid-October. That will give insurance companies some extra time to set their premiums, given this year's difficulties.

And, as some analysts point out, the delay may also ease some political concerns for Democrats.

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Shots - Health News
3:59 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

More Children Are Being Medicated For ADHD Than Before

iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 5:03 pm

The number of children being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is on the rise, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And families increasingly are opting for medications to treat kids. Two-thirds of children with a current diagnosis are being medicated — a jump of 28 percent from 2007 to 2011.

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The Salt
1:58 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

This Is What America's School Lunches Really Look Like

Courtesy of DoSomething.org

Originally published on Mon November 25, 2013 11:08 am

School lunch has never been the stuff of foodie dreams. I'm still haunted by the memory of my elementary school cafeteria's "brain pizza" – a lumpy oval thing topped with fleshy white strips of barely melted mozzarella that clumped together like neurons.

And it looks like America's school cafeterias are still turning out the culinary abominations, judging by the images on Fed Up, a fascinating online project showcasing school lunch photos submitted by students across the country.

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Shots - Health News
12:30 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

Eye Makeup Used To Protect Children Can Poison Them Instead

A child wearing the traditional eyeliner kajal peeps from behind a door in Allahabad, India.
Rajesh Kumar Singh AP

Putting black makeup around a baby's eyes is a common tradition across India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some parents think the eyeliner protects the eyes or improves sight.

But two recent lead poisoning cases in New Mexico offer parents another reminder to be extra careful with cosmetics on children's faces.

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Food
12:06 pm
Fri November 22, 2013

A Handful of Nuts, a Lifetime of Benefits?

Transcript

IRA FLATOW, HOST:

This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I'm Ira Flatow. A growing body of evidence has been hinting that nuts - nuts - are good for us. The popular Mediterranean diet emphasizes nuts but, you know, most Americans only eat nuts on occasion. And I'm talking about, oh, that's less than once a week, except for me. I eat them every day, but that's another story.

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Shots - Health News
10:57 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Insomnia Could Raise Risk Of Heart Disease And Death In Men

There's more than one reason to aim for a good night's sleep.
Charles Taylor iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 1:49 pm

There are lots of reasons to aim for a good night's sleep. Sleep helps us retain our memories. It helps our brains get rid of harmful toxins. But sleep might also play a role in heart disease.

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Health Care
4:05 am
Fri November 22, 2013

California Will Not Extend Canceled Health Policies

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 4:45 am

California has rejected President Obama's offer to extend canceled health insurance policies. The board that oversees the state's health insurance marketplace voted unanimously Thursday to let canceled policies expire. The board said it didn't want to confuse consumers and disrupt the state's surge in enrollment.

The Salt
5:11 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Nuts For Longevity: Daily Handful Is Linked To Longer Life

Regular nut consumers had about a 20 percent reduction in all-cause mortality, including lower death rates from heart disease and cancer, a study found.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 2:02 pm

Americans have not always been in love with nuts.

Think about it: They're loaded with calories and fat. Plus, they can be expensive.

But Americans' views — and eating habits — when it comes to nuts are changing. Fast.

There's a growing body of scientific evidence that's putting a health halo over supermarkets' expanding nut aisles.

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The Salt
3:15 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Food Stamp Program Doesn't Guarantee Food Security, Study Finds

A sign in a New York City market window advertises the acceptance of food stamps.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Just as the food stamp program has been hit with funding cuts, a small study out of Harvard has found that the program isn't doing enough to ensure that its participants get a complete and nutritious diet.

The researchers wanted to find out how much the benefits provided through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, a critical source of food aid for 47 million needy Americans, improved individuals' food security.

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Shots - Health News
1:13 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Babies Seem To Know Themselves Soon After Birth

Researchers stroked babies' faces with a paintbrush while they watched the same thing happening to a baby in a video. How long the babies in the experiment watched the screen gave clues to what they were thinking.
Courtesy of Maria Laura Filippetti

Originally published on Thu November 21, 2013 2:20 pm

Understanding you exist as a person happens a lot sooner than you might think.

A study involving 40 cute, pudgy babies found that they were aware of their bodies — and even displayed a sense of ownership of them — less than two days after being born.

Both of those qualities are key ingredients in realizing your own existence, says the study's lead author, Maria Laura Filippetti, a doctoral candidate specializing in cognitive development at Birkbeck College, University of London.

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Shots - Health News
1:04 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Reinventing The Condom With Easy-On Tabs And Beef Tendon

One experimental condom has tabs on either side so it's easier to put on in the dark.
Courtesy of California Family Health Council

Originally published on Fri November 22, 2013 11:42 am

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