Health Desk

Shots - Health News
5:12 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Stopping Microbes Not Missiles: U.S. Plans For Next Global Threat

Hannah Rood, 3, receives an H1N1 vaccine at a clinic in San Pablo, California, during the 2009 swine flu epidemic.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 6:58 pm

Spot the next plague before it arrives. Predict the next swine flu outbreak before it makes headlines. Even detect a biological weapon before it's launched.

These are the goals of an ambitious initiative, launched Thursday, to build a worldwide surveillance system for infectious diseases.

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The Salt
1:22 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Why Some Olympians Load Up On Salad Instead Of Pasta

Peter Frenette of the United States jumps during training for the Men's Normal Hill Individual ahead of the start of the Sochi Games.
Lars Baron Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 10:53 am

When we imagine Olympic athletes at the table before the most important competition of their lives, we might picture a huge plate of pasta, with Gatorade to wash it down and a well-deserved ice cream sundae for dessert.

Turns out, they might be preparing with a salad, a glass of beet juice and some almonds.

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Shots - Health News
11:11 am
Thu February 13, 2014

The 10 Places Where Health Insurance Costs The Least

St. Paul, capital of Minnesota, the land of inexpensive health insurance.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 3:55 pm

People in much of Minnesota, northwestern Pennsylvania and Tucson, Ariz., are getting the best bargains from the health care law's new insurance marketplaces. Their premiums run half as much as those in the country's most expensive markets.

The 10 regions with the lowest premiums in the nation also include Salt Lake City, all of Hawaii and eastern Tennessee. This ranking is based on the lowest cost of a silver plan, the midrange plan most consumers are choosing.

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U.S.
10:50 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Can Federal Program Keep Mom And Dad Together?

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 11:17 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. Valentine's Day is tomorrow and that means that millions of American men and women are making plans to please their romantic partners, at least in parts of the country where they are not buried under snow and ice. But what you might not know is that, for some years now, the federal government has been involved, not so much in romance, but in teaching families so-called relationship skills.

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Shots - Health News
9:21 am
Thu February 13, 2014

With This Year's Flu, Young Adults Are Not So Invincible

A flu shot would have helped protect young adults, but most didn't get it.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 10:40 am

We usually think of the flu as an illness that afflicts the elderly. But this season the virus seems to be hitting younger people hard.

This winter at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., the median age of people hospitalized with influenza was 28.5 years. Many of the worst cases of flu occurred in young, otherwise healthy people.

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Politics
4:39 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Big Changes To Employer-Based Health Care Won't Come Easy

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 6:29 am

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep.

Let's look for the truth behind some much discussed news about the Affordable Care Act. Congressional forecasters said last week that the law may cause fewer people to work full-time jobs.

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Shots - Health News
4:53 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

After January Surge, 3.3 Million Have Enrolled In Obamacare

Insurance guides work the phone bank at MnSure, Minnesota's health exchange, in St. Paul, Minn., in December.
Jim Mone AP

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 4:46 pm

January was a miserable month for weather, but the wintry blasts in much of the country weren't enough to stop people from shopping for health insurance.

More than 1.1 million people signed up for coverage through state and federal health exchanges in January, according to a just-released report, bringing the total to just shy of 3.3 million people.

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Shots - Health News
4:05 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Latest Evidence Against Mammograms Adds To Women's Uncertainty

Mammograms are a key screening tool for breast cancer. But critics say they're not good enough.
Salih Dastan iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri February 14, 2014 3:56 pm

Mammograms don't reduce the number of women dying from breast cancer, according to a large and long-term Canadian study. It's the latest chunk of data to raise questions in an increasingly partisan debate about the use of mammograms to screen for cancer.

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Health Care
3:29 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

We're Serious: The Onion Is Selling Health Care

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 7:00 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Here's a headline for you: Recently insured man can't wait to get out there, start seriously injuring himself. Well, if you're laughing then officials in Illinois may be getting their money's worth. The state has hired the satirical news site The Onion to help get the word out about the Affordable Care Act.

As NPR's David Schaper reports from Chicago, the hope is to get the attention of the state's young invincibles.

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Around the Nation
3:29 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

At 102, Reflections On Race And The End Of Life

Rosa Finnegan in her nursing home. "As nice as this place is," she says, "there's an undercurrent — it's sad, also. I get up now in the morning and I'll say to myself, 'What am I gonna do all day now?' "
Caitrin Lynch for NPR

Originally published on Thu February 13, 2014 12:22 pm

Rosa Finnegan celebrated her 102nd birthday on Wednesday. She was born in 1912 — the year the Titanic sank. She stopped working at 101 and now lives in a nursing home in Massachusetts. Time has gone by fast, she says.

Below are excerpts from Rosa's interview, reported and produced by Ari Daniel and Caitrin Lynch.

'Not One Bit Different From Me'

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Health
3:29 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

More Findings, More Questions About Value Of Mammograms

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 7:00 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

There's new evidence out today that's raising questions about whether women in their 40's and 50's should routinely undergo mammography to detect breast cancer. A new analysis of a big Canadian study found no evidence that regular mammograms save lives. The study even suggests that for many women, regular breast X-rays may do more harm than good.

NPR's Rob Stein joins us now to talk about this report. It appears in the British medical journal BMJ.

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The Salt
2:09 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

For Lower-Income Students, Snow Days Can Be Hungry Days

When schools close for bad weather, some kids miss out on much-needed nutritious meals. "It's hard to be a hungry person, and it gets harder when the weather is like this," Nancy Roman, president of the Capital Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C., says of severe cold and snow.
Jessica Glazer NPR

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 8:32 pm

For many Americans it's been a harsh, disruptive winter, from the country's Northern edges to the Deep South.

When cold snaps and blizzards shutter schools, kids miss more than their daily lessons. Some miss out on the day's nutritious meal as well.

This recently became apparent to school administrators in rural Iowa, where extreme cold delayed openings two days in a row at Laurens-Marathon Community School, where 59 percent of students who eat school lunch qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

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Shots - Health News
12:16 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Judge Dismisses Assisted Suicide Case Against Pennsylvania Nurse

Barbara Mancini with her father, Joseph Yourshaw.
Barbara Mancini via Compassion & Choices

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 2:39 pm

A Pennsylvania county judge has thrown out an assisted suicide case against a 58-year-old nurse named Barbara Mancini, who was accused of homicide last year for allegedly handing her 93-year-old father a bottle of morphine.

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Shots - Health News
9:25 am
Wed February 12, 2014

The High Cost Of Treating People Hospitalized With West Nile Virus

Small but costly: Dozens of mosquito species carry West Nile virus in the U.S.
Darren McCollester Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 4:11 pm

Fifteen years ago an unwelcome viral visitor entered the U.S., and we've been paying for it ever since.

The U.S recorded its first case of West Nile virus back in 1999. Since then, the disease has spread across the lower 48 states and cost the country around $800 million, scientists reported this week in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

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Parallels
8:41 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Belgian Proposal: Terminally Ill Kids Could Choose Euthanasia

Protesters in Brussels, Belgium, march on Feb. 2 against a proposed law that would allow terminally ill kids to choose euthanasia.
Virginia Mayo AP

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 8:00 pm

This week Belgium is expected to become the first country in the world to allow terminally ill children to choose euthanasia.

Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002 for those 18 and over, and the number of adults choosing a doctor-assisted death has been rising annually, reaching 1,432 in 2012.

But a bill before Parliament would lift age restrictions and allow terminally ill children to ask to be euthanized if they are in unbearable pain and treatment options are exhausted. In addition, their parents and medical team would have to agree.

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Around the Nation
5:05 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Why Is Tobacco Still The Leading Preventable Cause Of Death?

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 6:57 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

Fifty years after the landmark surgeon general's report that smoking causes cancer, former U.S. surgeons general are emphasizing that the key in the fight against tobacco is kids. They gathered for a youth tobacco summit in New Orleans yesterday.

NPR's Debbie Elliott reports.

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The Salt
2:38 am
Wed February 12, 2014

The Full-Fat Paradox: Whole Milk May Keep Us Lean

A customer shops for milk at a Safeway in Livermore, Calif. Although it may seem counterintuitive, there's growing evidence that full-fat dairy is linked to reduced body weight.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 10:52 am

I have to admit, I melt at the creaminess of full-fat yogurt.

It's an indulgence that we're told to resist. And I try to abide. (Stealing a bite of my daughter's YoBaby doesn't count, does it?)

The reason we're told to limit dairy fat seems pretty straightforward. The extra calories packed into the fat are bad for our waistlines — that's the assumption.

But what if dairy fat isn't the dietary demon we've been led to believe it is? New research suggests we may want to look anew.

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Shots - Health News
3:31 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Cervical Cancer Vaccine Also Helps Prevent Genital Warts

University of Miami pediatrician Judith Schaechter gives a girl an HPV vaccination in 2011.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

The HPV vaccine was created to protect women against the virus that causes cervical cancer. But it also helps prevent genital warts, a common sexually transmitted disease caused by the same virus, a study finds.

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Shots - Health News
2:33 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

In Illinois Deal, The Onion Will Promote Health Insurance (Really)

Would you buy health insurance from this man?
Get Covered Illinois

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 7:58 am

In a story that you'd think was ripped straight from the headlines of America's foremost made-up-news website, The Onion said it's coming up with ads to promote health insurance for young people in Illinois.

But it's true.

Get Covered Illinois, the state's health insurance exchange, has hired Onion Labs, The Onion's in-house ad team, to develop banner ads, a video and other online material to persuade people to sign up for insurance coverage.

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Parenting
10:57 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Children And Anorexia: Noticing The Warning Signs

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 12:38 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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U.S.
10:57 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Coping With The Cold Is About Survival For The Homeless

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 12:38 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Shots - Health News
10:15 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Despite Federal Rules, Some States Deny Family Policies For Same-Sex Couples

Even after marriage, some same-sex couple can't get family health insurance policies.
Diana Lundin iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 4:11 pm

Carl Bechdel and Dan Miller started looking for a family plan on the Pennsylvania health insurance marketplace last fall.

After submitting their application for a bronze-level plan to Highmark Blue Shield in early December, the couple became concerned when the end of the month approached and they hadn't heard from the insurer.

Bechdel called customer service and finally learned the reason: The company doesn't offer family coverage to same-sex couples.

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The Salt
7:34 am
Tue February 11, 2014

How Caffeinated Are Our Kids? Coffee Consumption Jumps

According to the pediatrics study, about three-fourths of children in the U.S. consume caffeine on a given day.
iStockphoto

Energy drinks tend to get a bad rap. The Food and Drug Administration has investigated reports of deaths and sicknesses linked to them. Hospitals have reported increased ER visits.

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Health Care
3:57 am
Tue February 11, 2014

U.S. Delays Obamacare Deadline For Some Businesses

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 12:28 pm

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The Obama Administration is delaying the part of the Affordable Care Act that affects businesses and the insurance they offer - again. As NPR's Julie Rovner reports, this time, the administration is calling its changes to the new law a phase-in.

JULIE ROVNER, BYLINE: OK, first off, the very smallest employers, those with fewer than 50 workers? They never had to do anything, and still don't.

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The Two-Way
5:47 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

U.S. Resets Obamacare Deadline For Some Businesses To 2016

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 7:50 pm

The Obama administration says businesses employing 50-99 people now have until Jan. 1, 2016, to provide health insurance, rolling back part of the requirement known as the employer mandate. Under the Affordable Care Act, larger companies must offer the coverage in 2015.

NPR's Julie Rovner filed this update for our Newscast desk:

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Health Care
4:26 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Health Law's Employer Mandate Hits Another Speed Bump

Still waiting for job-linked health insurance? Check the size of your company.
Vasilyev iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 2:55 pm

The Obama administration is, again, delaying implementation of a part of the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide health insurance to their workers (or, potentially, face penalties). But this time it's not the entire "employer mandate" that's being delayed (as it was in 2013) — just part of it.

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Shots - Health News
3:16 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Young And In Love? Thank Mom And Dad, At Least A Little

You learned it all from your folks, right?
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 4:11 pm

If you're happily in love, Mom and Dad may have helped.

Teenagers' relationships with their parents have a small but measurable impact on their romantic relationships up to 15 years later, according to researchers at the University of Alberta.

People who had a tumultuous relationship with Mom and Dad in their teens were more likely to face heartache down the road. And those who felt close to their parents during adolescence tended to feel more emotionally and physically satisfied in their adult romantic relationships.

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The Salt
2:39 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

The Neuroscience Of Munchies: Why The Scent Of A Burger Gives Us A High

Research in mice offers new clues as to why Harold and Kumar were so motivated to get to White Castle.
Todd Plitt/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 5:56 pm

From cinnamon buns in the morning to a burger after a long run, food never smells as good as when you're superhungry.

Now scientists have uncovered a clue as to why that might be — and it lies in the munchies and marijuana.

Receptors in the brains of mice that light up when the animals are high are also activated when the critters are fasting, French scientists reported Sunday in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

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Shots - Health News
11:49 am
Mon February 10, 2014

'Lung In A Box' Keeps Organs Breathing Before Transplants

The Organ Care System keeps lungs warm, breathing and nourished while outside the body.
MediCommConsultants

Originally published on Wed February 12, 2014 7:57 am

When doctors rush a lung to a hospital for a transplant, the precious cargo arrives in the operating room in a container that seems more appropriate for Bud Light — a cooler filled with ice.

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Behind Closed Doors
11:05 am
Mon February 10, 2014

The Truth About Miscarriage: Being In 'Gestational Limbo'

Originally published on Mon February 10, 2014 1:06 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now we go behind closed doors. That's the part of the program where we talk about issues that people usually keep private. And today, we are focusing on miscarriage. And if you've ever gone through it or know someone who has, then you know it's devastating and surprisingly common. The National Institutes of Health report that 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage.

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