Health Desk

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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Health Desk
6:10 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Mammography In 3D

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; during the fall veto session, doctors traveled to Springfield to show state legislators how 3D mammography (the scientific term is tomosynthesis) works, and its benefits.
Credit File photo

  Illinois requires insurance companies to cover routine mammograms, but that doesn't necessarily include a new method of detecting breast cancer.

A mammogram is a low-dose of x-rays doctors use to spot breast cancer. An important tool, to be sure, but one that can result in false-positives.

Dr. Sarah Friedewald says that'll happen a lot less if women also get a 3D mammogram. Likewise, she says, the new technology makes it easier to spot abnormalities.

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The Two-Way
5:23 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Obama Vows HealthCare.gov Problems Will Be Fixed 'ASAP'

President Obama speaks Wednesday at Boston's Faneuil Hall about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Darren McCollester Getty Images

President Obama on Wednesday said he takes full responsibility for the troubled HealthCare.gov website and is determined to make sure it gets fixed "ASAP."

"The website hasn't worked the way it's supposed to in these past few weeks," he told an audience in Boston. "There's no denying it. The website is too slow ... and I'm not happy about it."

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Shots - Health News
5:00 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Notices Canceling Health Insurance Leave Many On Edge

One person who got a letter canceling his health insurance was Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. He holds up the letter during a congressional hearing Wednesday on insurance problems. He says his family chose to buy private insurance rather than use the congressional plan.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

President Obama repeated this line or a variation of it many times during the campaign to pass his landmark health care bill: "If you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan, period."

But while that might be true for people who get health insurance through their employer, it's not true for many people who buy their policies in the individual market — about 5 percent of the nation's policyholders.

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The Salt
4:40 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Soylent: An Offbeat Food Idea Investors Are Taking Seriously

There are people who'd rather not eat food? Yes. And Silicon Valley investors are betting they'll buy Soylent.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 2:18 pm

Back in April, we described Rob Rhinehart's experiment concocting something that could give him all the nutrition and none of the hassle of food.

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Shots - Health News
4:15 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Online Advice Can Hurt Teens At Risk For Suicide, Self-Harm

Illustration by Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 3:54 pm

If you're wondering how to conceal the wounds caused by cutting, a form of self-harm, the Internet can tell you how.

"Those long gloves, the cool stripey ones that cover half your arms, could help," advises one post on an online forum.

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Health Care
4:12 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Here's What You Need To Know About Obamacare And Your Health Plan

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 5:00 pm

The latest complaints about the health law center around the question of whether you can keep your current health plan if you like it. There actually are rules associated with the law that try to protect that right. Here's a primer on those rules.

Shots - Health News
2:00 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

The Long List Of Health Apps Features Few Clear Winners

He's not checking your blood glucose levels. He's playing Words with Friends.
Anna Zielinska iStockphoto.com

Here at Shots we get all kinds of pitches about the latest smartphone app that promises a profound improvement in our health. But truth be told, Candy Crush gets a lot more exercise than all those medical apps we've downloaded. And it turns out we're not alone.

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Shots - Health News
12:22 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Why Insurers Cancel Policies, And What You Can Do About It

Many people who buy their own health insurance are being told their policieswill be canceled. New coverage may cost more and sometimes less, but it can't be denied because or pre-existing conditions.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 12:33 pm

Health insurers are ending policies for what could turn out to be millions of Americans. The moves have rattled consumers and stoked new debate about the health care law.

No one knows for sure right now how many of the estimated 14 million people who buy their own insurance are getting cancellation notices, but the numbers appear to be big. Some insurers report discontinuing 20 percent of their individual business, while other insurers have notified up to 80 percent of policyholders that they will have to change plans.

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Planet Money
12:15 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

Confused About Health Insurance? Take Our Quiz!

Karen Bleier AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 9:29 am

Any day now — assuming the government manages to fix HealthCare.gov — millions of people will start shopping for health insurance.

Will those shoppers know what they're doing? More to the point, if you're one of those shoppers, will you know what you're doing?

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The Salt
11:57 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Before Marathoners Had Energy Bars ...

These are food.
NPR

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 12:36 pm

In its October/November issue, Running Times has a piece by distance running great Bill Rodgers. Among the most compelling of his reflections are the details on his diet while training for the 1976 New York City Marathon:

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Shots - Health News
8:55 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Victims Of Tainted Steroid Injections Still Struggling

Scans from patients with fungal meningitis show evidence of a stroke (left) and arachnoiditis.
New England Journal of Medicine

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 9:41 am

A year ago, public health officials were scrambling to figure out why people across the country were suddenly coming down with life-threatening cases of meningitis.

The outbreak eventually was traced back to contaminated steroids produced by the New England Compounding Center. All told, 751 people contracted fungal meningitis and other infections from the tainted shots; 64 died.

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Shots - Health News
3:29 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Violence, Chaos Let Polio Creep Back Into Syria And Horn Of Africa

The Ethiopian government has set up about a dozen vaccination booths along its thousand-mile border with Somalia.
Jason Beaubien NPR

Originally published on Thu October 31, 2013 5:27 pm

Update on Thursday, Oct. 31, 6:30 p.m. ET:

A spokesman for the World Health Organization said Thursday that it was mistaken about the polio outbreak in Somalia spreading to South Sudan. The virus has been detected in Kenya and Ethiopia this year. But South Sudan has not recorded a polio case since 2009.

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Shots - Health News
4:27 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Insurance Cancellations Elbow Out Website Woes At Health Hearing

Marilyn Tavenner was the first Obama administration official to testify before Congress about the troubled launch of HealthCare.gov.
Chip Somodevilla Getty Images

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 6:57 pm

When the head of the agency responsible for the troubled Healthcare.gov went before Congress for the first time since its foibles became apparent Oct. 1, she probably didn't expect that many questions would be on something else altogether.

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Middle East
4:01 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

Polio Returns To Syria As Health System Crumbles

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 6:57 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel.

After weeks of uncertainty, the World Health Organization today confirmed that polio has reemerged in Syria for the first time in 14 years. Earlier this month, health officials reported that 22 children in eastern Syria were paralyzed by what appeared to be polio. And now the WHO says, so far, 10 of the cases have tested positive for polio.

NPR's Jason Beaubien reports.

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Shots - Health News
3:26 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

For A Longer Life, You Might Try Mowing The Lawn

Spiffing up the garden may also make your cardiovascular risk profile look better, too.
Lauren Mitchell Flickr

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 4:16 pm

We all know we're supposed to exercise daily, but precious few of us do. And it only seems to get harder with age.

There's a reason to try harder, though. Tacking more years of good health on to your life may be as simple as mowing the lawn more often and engaging in other everyday physical activities.

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The Salt
12:57 pm
Tue October 29, 2013

A Japanese iPhone Gadget Teases The Tummy With Food Smells

Simply plug the Scentee device into your iPhone jack and let the scent of grilled meat waft your way.
YouTube

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 2:35 pm

Have you ever wished that your iPhone could bring you the smell of coffee, curry or steak?

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Shots - Health News
10:56 am
Tue October 29, 2013

Short-Term Insurance Skirts Health Law To Cut Costs

Health insurance that lasts less than a year may look like a deal, but there could be hidden costs.
iStockphoto.com

What a difference a day makes. Consumers who buy a health policy good for only 364 days might save hundreds of dollars in premiums, but they could also find themselves without important benefits and charged a penalty for not having insurance next year.

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All Tech Considered
9:53 am
Tue October 29, 2013

How You Handle Screen, Technology Time With Your Kids

Among families with children age 8 and under, ownership of tablet devices has jumped fivefold since 2011, reports the nonprofit Common Sense Media.
Jeremy Hiebert Flickr

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 12:00 pm

Smartphones and tablets. You can't miss them, and your kids can't resist them. Even the smallest children — 40 percent of kids 8 years old and under — have used their parents' mobile devices, according to a survey out this week by the nonprofit Common Sense Media.

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Shots - Health News
9:37 am
Tue October 29, 2013

How A Wandering Brain Can Help People Cope With Pain

A brain that can let other thoughts bubble up despite being in pain might help its owner benefit from meditation or other cognitive therapies.
iStockphoto.com

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 4:17 pm

When some people are in pain, the experience is so intense that they can't think of anything else. But others can turn their minds elsewhere and feel better.

Why? The difference may be due in part to brain wiring, researchers say, and knowing more about how it works may someday make it easier to match people with effective pain treatments.

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All Tech Considered
1:54 am
Tue October 29, 2013

How Video Games Are Getting Inside Your Head — And Wallet

Austin Newman, 10, of Menlo Park, Calif., is not allowed to play video games during the school week. His mother, Michelle DeWolf, says she had to take that step to keep her son focused on his homework during the week.
Michelle DeWolf

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 11:21 am

This week on All Tech, we're exploring kids and technology with posts and radio pieces about raising digital natives. Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments, by email or tweet.

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Shots - Health News
4:30 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

More Technical Issues For Obamacare, But Good News For Medicare

Gone is the smiling young woman who used to grace HealthCare.gov. Now it's time to get down to work.
www.HealthCare.gov

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 4:02 pm

Monday was yet another troubled day for the Affordable Care Act.

Sunday night, the outside vendor that operates two key parts of the website that lets people browse and sign up for health insurance experienced a failure.

The failure took place at a vendor called Verizon Terremark and presumably affected other clients as well as HealthCare.gov, the federal website that people use to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

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The Two-Way
3:38 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Judge Rules Texas Abortion Restrictions Unconstitutional

Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 4:06 pm

New abortion restrictions passed by the Texas Legislature are unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Monday in a divisive case the state has already vowed to appeal.

In an opinion issued Monday, District Judge Lee Yeakel said the state's effort to regulate abortions violated the rights of doctors who perform the procedure to do what they determine is best for their patients, and would unreasonably restrict women from accessing abortion clinics.

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Shots - Health News
3:36 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Eeek, Snake! Your Brain Has A Special Corner Just For Them

Illustration by Daniel Horowitz for NPR

Originally published on Wed October 30, 2013 4:17 pm

Anthropologist Lynne Isbell was running through a glade in central Kenya in 1992 when something suddenly caused her to freeze in her tracks. "I stopped just in front of a cobra," she says. "It was raised with its hood spread out."

Isbell, who is at the University of California, Davis, says she has spent the past couple of decades trying to understand how she could have reacted before her conscious brain even had a chance to think — cobra!

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Shots - Health News
2:22 pm
Mon October 28, 2013

Unlikely Multiple Sclerosis Pill On Track To Become Blockbuster

Biogen Idec

Originally published on Tue October 29, 2013 4:01 pm

There aren't very many drugs that are also, essentially, industrial chemicals available in railroad-car volumes, pharmaceutical chemist Derek Lowe noted on his blog, In The Pipeline, this spring.

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The Salt
9:06 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Buffett Family Puts Money Where Their Mouth Is: Food Security

Warren Buffett (left), Howard G. Buffett (center) and grandson Howard W. Buffett collaborated on a book about the challenges of feeding more than 2 billion more mouths by 2050.
Scott Eells/Bloomberg Bloomberg via Getty Images

Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 1:06 pm

Oh, what a job. You've got $3 billion to address society's most intractable problems. So what do you do?

If you're philanthropist Howard G. Buffett, son of famed investor Warren Buffett, you set a deadline: 40 years.

And you move at "fast-forward" speed (that's the way Warren describes his son's pace) to steer the most vulnerable people on Earth towards a future where food production is efficient, plentiful and affordable.

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Shots - Health News
2:35 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Some Health Screenings May Harm More Than Help

Stacy Riggs of Fairfax, Va., is prepped for a screening for atrial fibrillation by Life Line Screening medical assistant Kennea Blake at Messiah United Methodist Church in Springfield, Va.
Jenny Gold Kaiser Health News

Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 12:26 pm

Messiah United Methodist Church in Springfield, Va., is unusually busy for a Thursday morning. It's not a typical time for worship, but parishioner Stacy Riggs and her husband have come for something a little different: a medical screening.

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Shots - Health News
2:27 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Recipe For Strong Teen Bones: Exercise, Calcium And Vitamin D

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Fri November 1, 2013 6:03 pm

It's really only a sliver of time when humans build the bulk of their skeleton. At age 9, the bones start a big growth spurt. And by the time puberty ends, around 14 or 15 years old, the adult-sized skeleton is all but done, about 90 percent complete.

But doctors say a lot of children aren't getting what they need to do that. Calcium and vitamin D are essential, sure, but so is lots of time jumping and running.

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