Health Desk

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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