Health Desk

Shots - Health News
2:45 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Exploring The Invisible Universe That Lives On Us — And In Us

Benjamin Arthur for NPR

Originally published on Tue November 5, 2013 2:28 pm

The next time you look in a mirror, think about this: In many ways you're more microbe than human. There are 10 times more cells from microorganisms like bacteria and fungi in and on our bodies than there are human cells.

Scientists increasingly think that these microorganisms have a huge influence on our health. Without them, our bodies don't seem to do as well. We don't seem to be as healthy and might actually get sick more often.

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Shots - Health News
2:16 am
Mon November 4, 2013

Getting Your Microbes Analyzed Raises Big Privacy Issues

Say hello to your microbiome, Rob Stein. Our intrepid correspondent decided to get his gut bacteria analyzed. Now he's wondering if he needs to eat more garlic and onions.
Morgan Walker NPR

Originally published on Tue November 5, 2013 2:28 pm

After spending months working on a series of stories about the trillions of friendly microbes that live in and on our bodies, I decided it might be interesting to explore my own microbiome.

So I pulled out my credit card and paid the $99 needed to sign up for the American Gut Project, one of a couple of "citizen science" or crowdsourced microbiome projects.

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Health Care
6:11 am
Sun November 3, 2013

Some Amish Opt Out Of Government-Sponsored Insurance

Originally published on Sun November 3, 2013 11:18 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now, to Indiana, where members of the Amish community are trying to figure out what the Affordable Care Act means for them, specifically the law's requirement that every person have health insurance. The Amish are religiously opposed to commercial insurance and they pride themselves on taking care of their own. Here's Dennis Lehman. He is the president of an Amish community health clinic in Topeka, Indiana.

DENNIS LEHMAN: We've always shared each other's burdens, so to speak. We help each other with free-will donations.

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Shots - Health News
3:22 am
Sun November 3, 2013

Minnesota Reaches Out To Uninsured Latinos, Wherever They Are

Health workers know places like Karina Cardoso's beauty salon in St. Paul, Minn., are prime places share information about the state's new health insurance options.
Elizabeth Stawicki for NPR

Originally published on Sun November 3, 2013 11:18 am

Minnesota's new online health insurance marketplace, MNsure, has been open for about a month, but getting the word out to hard-to-reach populations is just ramping up.

Outreach efforts have been slow to start due to delays in training navigators and finalizing MNsure's contracts with organizations who provide one-on-one help.

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Politics
4:49 pm
Sat November 2, 2013

How Is White House Handling HealthCare.gov Debacle?

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

This week, the secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, testified before Congress about the botched rollout of the HealthCare.gov website. It was the latest attempt at damage control by the Obama administration since the site went live a month ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SECRETARY KATHLEEN SEBELIUS: The website has never crashed. It is functional but at a very slow speed and very low reliability - and has continued to function.

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Health
4:38 pm
Sat November 2, 2013

With Rise Of Painkiller Abuse, A Closer Look At Heroin

The amount of prescription painkillers sold to pharmacies, hospitals and doctors' offices quadrupled between 1999 and 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Toby Talbot AP

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 10:26 am

Abuse of prescription painkillers is a "growing, deadly epidemic," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Oct. 24, the Food and Drug Administration recommended putting new restrictions on hydrocodone, sold as Vicodin and other brand names.

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Shots - Health News
3:38 pm
Sat November 2, 2013

Adding To Insurance Confusion, Outside Groups Try To Cash In

"Obamacare Enrollment Teams" give presentations on health insurance options and the Affordable Care Act, but are not actually affiliated with the government.
Lynn Hatter WFSU

Originally published on Sun November 3, 2013 5:51 am

Thirty or so attendees at St. Mary Primitive Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Fla., gathered on a recent evening to hear a presentation by the Obamacare Enrollment Team on their options to get insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

"If anybody is interested in getting enrolled, we can get you enrolled tonight," they were told.

Signs outside the church looked official: A familiar, large "O" with a blue outline, white center and three red stripes.

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Shots - Health News
4:34 am
Sat November 2, 2013

So You Found An Exchange Plan. But Can You Find A Provider?

New York University's Langone Medical Center in New York City is considered in-network for relatively few of the health plans offered in the state marketplace.
Glen Argov Landov

Originally published on Sun November 3, 2013 5:51 am

Consumers shopping for coverage on the new health insurance exchanges have been focused on the lowest-cost options. But some shoppers are trying to determine which plans offer the widest array of doctors and hospitals — and are finding that can be trickier than it sounds.

John Batteiger applied for insurance coverage on the New York state exchange. But after he'd selected a plan, he had second thoughts: He'd forgotten to check if the plan he picked included a hospital near him.

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Shots - Health News
4:19 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Feds To Ease Restrictions On Flexible Spending Accounts

Where did the money for those glasses come from?
iStockphoto.com

The Treasury Department is scrapping the rule that requires people to use or lose the money they set aside each year in accounts to cover health care expenses that are otherwise unreimbursed.

Instead, the department plans to allow people to carry over up to $500 of unused money to the following year, at their employer's discretion. That could start as early as the end of this year.

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All Tech Considered
3:44 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

HealthCare.gov's Rocky First Month Leaves Plenty Of Questions

Suzanne Cloud on the first day the health exchange marketplace opened, Oct 1. Because of problems with the HealthCare.gov website, she's now planning to use a paper application.
Elana Gordon WHYY

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 5:49 pm

When the federal health exchange marketplace opened Oct. 1, we visited jazz musician Suzanne Cloud in Philadelphia. She tried to start an account early in the morning, but technology thwarted her plans.

She wasn't alone, as it became clear quickly that the unprecedented system for Americans in 36 states to shop and enroll for health insurance was broken in several places. A week into her failed attempts, Cloud stayed positive.

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Shots - Health News
12:34 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Sorry, Red Sox, Heavy Stubble Beats Beards For Attractiveness

Hey man, that's sensitive: Mike Napoli of the Boston Red Sox pulls teammate Jonny Gomes' beard after hitting a three-run homer in Game 4 of the 2013 World Series in St. Louis.
Jamie Squire Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 4, 2013 3:02 pm

When Mike Napoli got up to bat in Game 6 of the World Series, my first thought was, "Oh my goodness, that beard is awful." But after the Red Sox's first baseman laid off a few bad pitches, I started liking the hair on his chin.

All that got me thinking about beards.

Sometime during evolution women lost their facial hair. This strong difference between the sexes implies that facial furriness, or the lack thereof, has played a role in how we picked our partners, at least at one point in human history.

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Barbershop
11:18 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Can We Compare Allen Iverson To Muhammad Ali?

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 3:13 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now it's time for our weekly visit to the Barbershop where the guys talk about what's in the news and what's on their minds. Sitting in the chairs for a shape-up this week are writer Jimi Izrael with us from Cleveland. Joining us from Boston, healthcare consultant and contributor to National Review magazine, Dr. Neil Minkoff. Here in our Washington, D.C. studios, Dave Zirin. He is sports editor at The Nation. And Corey Dade is a contributing editor for The Root. Take it away Jimi.

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Faith Matters
11:18 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Running On Faith To Lose Weight

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 3:12 pm

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

I'm Michel Martin, and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Coming up, the men's pro-basketball season is jumping off this week, and the Barbershop guys will talk about their pics and if anybody has got what it takes to stop the Miami Heat from a three-peat. But first, it's time for Faith Matters. That's the part of the program where we talk about matters of faith and spirituality.

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TED Radio Hour
8:34 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Success

Is success objective or subjective?
George Doyle thinkstock.com

"There is real danger of a disconnect between what's on your business card and who you are deep inside, and it's not a disconnect that the world is ready to be patient with." — Alain de Botton

Success has become synonymous with financial wealth, influence and status. But can we define success in another way — one that welcomes a broader range of accomplishment? It may not be as obvious as you think. In this hour, TED speakers share ideas for what makes us successful.

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TED Radio Hour
8:34 am
Fri November 1, 2013

What's A Kinder Way To Frame Success?

James Duncan Davidson TED

Originally published on Thu December 26, 2013 1:51 pm

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Success.

About Alain De Botton's TEDTalk

Alain de Botton examines our ideas of success and failure — and questions the assumptions underlying these two judgments. He makes an eloquent, witty case to move beyond snobbery to find true pleasure in our work.

About Alain De Botton

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Shots - Health News
7:44 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Seeing In The Pitch-Dark Is All In Your Head

I think I can see something.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 9:13 am

A few years ago, cognitive scientist Duje Tadin and his colleague Randolph Blake decided to test blindfolds for an experiment they were cooking up.

They wanted an industrial-strength blindfold to make sure volunteers for their work wouldn't be able to see a thing. "We basically got the best blindfold you can get." Tadin tells Shots. "It's made of black plastic, and it should block all light."

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The Salt
2:18 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Are Farm Veterinarians Pushing Too Many Antibiotics?

Cattle crowd inside a feedlot operated by JBS Five Rivers Colorado Beef in Wiley, Colo.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Mon November 18, 2013 4:27 pm

In a barn outside Manhattan, Kan., researchers from Kansas State University are trying to solve the riddle of bovine respiratory disease. They're sticking plastic rods down the noses of 6-month old calves, collecting samples of bacteria.

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Shots - Health News
2:16 am
Fri November 1, 2013

Which Plans Cover Abortion? No Answers On HealthCare.gov

In a hearing Wednesday, Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois questions Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about which insurance plans offer abortion services.
Jonathan Ernst Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 4:21 pm

As if the rollout of the federal health law didn't have enough problems, abortion is back in the spotlight.

How the various health plans in the exchanges would or would not pay for abortion was one of the very last issues settled before the bill was passed in 2010. Now abortion's invisibility on the federal HealthCare.gov website has some people pretty upset.

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Shots - Health News
5:25 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Polio Has Not Returned To South Sudan, After All

We reported Wednesday that the polio outbreak in Somalia had spread to South Sudan. But health officials say that they were mistaken. There have been no polio cases in the country since 2009.

The World Health Organization said previously that it had confirmed three cases of polio in South Sudan back in August.

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Shots - Health News
5:01 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

For The Young And Healthy, Health Insurance Is A Hard Sell

Students Amanda McComas, Rose Marie Chute and Sari Schwartz are approached in October at Santa Monica City College in California about signing up for insurance with the Affordable Care Act.
Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images

Getting young, healthy people to sign up for health insurance is seen as critical to the success of the Affordable Care Act. It's precisely those people who will help offset the cost of the older, sicker ones.

But while cheap health insurance and subsidies based on income are intended to make the program appealing to the young, what if they haven't even heard of the health care law? Or don't want to buy even an inexpensive policy?

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The Two-Way
3:39 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Local Charities Gear Up For Cut To Food Stamp Benefits

This shop in the GrowNYC Greenmarket in New York's Union Square accepts Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), or food stamp benefits.
Andrew Burton Getty Images

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 5:06 am

More than 47 million Americans who receive food stamps will be getting a bit less starting Friday when a temporary benefit enacted as part of the federal stimulus expires.

The Department of Agriculture, which runs the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program, or SNAP, as the food stamp program is formally known, says a family of four receiving $668 per month in benefits will see that amount cut by $36. One in 7 Americans receives food stamps.

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Shots - Health News
2:13 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Too Many Texts Can Hurt A Relationship, But

Illustration by Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 4:23 pm

Texting has become such a normal way to communicate that it's hard to imagine that we ever used our voices to tell our better halves, "Hey, I got the milk."

But when it comes to a committed relationship, researchers say it's better not to lean too heavily on the texts for the tough stuff. Stick to "I <3 U" rather than "I M sooo disappointed in you!!"

Texting terms of endearment really seems to help. Affirmations like that are associated not just with a more stable and satisfying relationship, but with mitigating hurts and frustrations.

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The Salt
2:08 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Candy Sales Are Flat; The Industry Blames The Weather

Halloween candy is offered for sale at a Walgreens store on September 19, 2013 in Wheeling, Illinois.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Halloween candy sales have been flat over the last few years. And candy makers point to several reasons, including one I hadn't thought of: bad weather.

"The past two years have been plagued with major weather disruptions in key celebration regions," Jenn Ellek of the National Confectioners Association tells us in an email.

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Health Care
10:59 am
Thu October 31, 2013

ACA Website: Is Government Technology Doomed To Fail?

The Obama administration is defending the Affordable Care Act over its faulty website, and reports that Americans are losing insurance coverage because of the law. To sort out the truth from the rumors, host Michel Martin speaks with Mary Agnes Carey of Kaiser Health News and technology developer Clay Johnson.

Africa
10:59 am
Thu October 31, 2013

In Uganda, "Cancer Is Death"

Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the U.S. is a fanfare of pink paraphernalia. But in developing nations like Uganda, cancer is stigmatized to the point that families often lie about their loved one's cause of death. Host Michel Martin speaks with journalist Joanne Silberner about her award-winning reporting on cancer around the world.

Shots - Health News
10:47 am
Thu October 31, 2013

AIDS Scientists Encouraged By Antibodies That Hit Monkey Virus

These HIV viruses even look a little like bull's-eyes.
A. Harrison and P. Feorino CDC

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 2:15 pm

Scientists have a new idea for beating HIV: Target the virus with guided missiles called monoclonal antibodies.

At least in monkeys infected with an experimental virus similar to the human AIDS virus, the approach produced what researchers call "profound therapeutic efficacy."

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Health
5:56 am
Thu October 31, 2013

'Sesame Street' Characters To Help Sell Veggies To Kids

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 6:22 am

Sesame Street is waiving licensing fees for two years so its characters can join forces with the Produce Marketing Association and first lady Michelle Obama's campaign against childhood obesity. On Thursday, Sesame Street's Rosita and Elmo announced the partnership with the first lady.

Shots - Health News
3:01 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Congressmen Berate Sebelius For Cancellations, Website Woes

"I apologize," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday at a congressional hearing on problems with HealthCare.gov.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 4:21 pm

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius headed to Capitol Hill Wednesday for a date with lawmakers frustrated by the rocky rollout of the HealthCare.gov website.

What she got at the House Energy and Commerce Committee was four hours of venting from Democrats and Republicands alike.

Like Medicare and Medicaid chief Marilyn Tavenner a day earlier, Sebelius opened her testimony with an apology.

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All Tech Considered
3:00 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Add Security To The List Of HealthCare.gov Tech Issues

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., asks about website security questions Wednesday at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on problems with HealthCare.gov.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 9:37 am

To the long list of problems plaguing HealthCare.gov, add data security. The enrollment site for the new health insurance exchanges had a security flaw that didn't get patched up when the exchange marketplace went live.

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Economy
2:58 am
Thu October 31, 2013

When 'Fixed Income' Means Getting By On Social Security

Gilroy Hain's only source of income is the $1,500 a month he receives from Social Security.
Ina Jaffe NPR

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 12:23 pm

Social Security has long been thought of as just part of a retirement plan — along with pensions and savings — but it turns out a lot of people depend on it for most of their income.

According to the Social Security Administration, nearly a quarter of older married couples and almost half of single retirees count on Social Security for at least 90 percent of their income.

Gilroy Hain proves that's not an easy life.

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