Health Desk

Shots - Health News
4:17 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Fertility Drugs, Not IVF, Are Top Cause Of Multiple Births

Nurses tend newborns at Sloane Hospital for Women in New York City.
Pat Carroll Getty

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 8:29 am

Drugs that help women become pregnant have replaced in vitro fertilization as the main culprit behind high-risk multiple births, according to a study looking at births of triplets and higher-order multiples.

"IVF, which is usually the one we tend to point fingers at, was not the leading culprit," says Eli Adashi, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Brown University who was senior author of the study, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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The Salt
4:05 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

These Days, School Lunch Hours Are More Like 15 Minutes

Students at Lowell High School in Michigan sit down for lunch. Shorter lunch breaks mean that many kids don't get enough time to eat and socialize.
Emily Zoladz Landov

Originally published on Sat December 7, 2013 8:09 am

It's lunchtime at Oakland High School in Oakland, Calif., and that means fence hoppers. Several kids wear mischievous grins as they speedily scale a 12-foot-high metal perimeter.

In theory, anyway, Oakland High is a "closed campus." That's done in the interest of safety and security and to cut down on school-skipping. It means kids can't leave during school hours without parental consent, especially at lunchtime. But it doesn't stop several students from breaking out.

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Shots - Health News
3:25 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Second Meningitis Outbreak Erupts In Southern California

Administrators at University of California, Santa Barbara are encouraging fraternities and sororities to hold off on parties.
Damian Gadal Flickr

The University of California, Santa Barbara is experiencing a meningitis outbreak a lot like the one that hit Princeton earlier this year. The California university confirmed a fourth case of meningococcal disease on Monday.

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Shots - Health News
2:54 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Administration Says You Can Now Escape HealthCare.Gov 'Prison'

The HealthCare.gov jailbreak is on.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 8:32 am

The Obama administration says it has patched hundreds of software bugs infecting the government's health insurance website. That includes the notorious "prison glitch."

Martha Freeman of Pennsylvania encountered the bug when she tried to sign up for coverage for herself and her adult children. The website wanted documentation of the children's incarceration status.

Never mind they'd never been in prison. The website was soon locked up.

Freeman figured she was stuck in solitary, until she called the toll-free help line and discovered she wasn't alone.

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Shots - Health News
9:43 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Rule Spells Out How Insurers Must Cover Mental Health Care

Insurance plans that offer mental health benefits have to keep them in line with the coverage for medical care.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 3:41 pm

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 requires health plans that offer benefits for mental health and substance use to cover them to the same extent that they cover medical and surgical care.

Among other things, the law prohibits treatment limits and copayments or deductibles that are more restrictive than a plan's medical coverage.

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Politics
4:33 am
Wed December 4, 2013

Federal Health Insurance Website Features 'Reset' Button

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 6:03 am

The Obama administration is renewing its sales push for the president's signature health care law. On Wednesday, officials host a "youth summit" at the White House, where young people will be encouraged to sign up for insurance coverage. Their participation is crucial to help balance out the cost of insuring older, sicker people.

Shots - Health News
4:58 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Mammograms In 3-D May Be Better, But Hard Proof Is Missing

A woman is positioned for a traditional mammogram at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.
Bizuayehu Tesfaye AP

Originally published on Wed December 4, 2013 11:02 am

A newer form of mammogram may do a better job of finding cancer, a study finds. But the technology is still too untested to know if it's going to be useful for most women or even to know for sure who might benefit.

It's called breast tomosynthesis, or 3-D mammography. Since being approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011, the new type of scan has been touted by radiologists.

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Politics
3:06 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

White House Revs Up Delayed Push For Health Coverage

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 5:39 pm

With HealthCare.gov able to handle an increasing number of users, the Obama administration finally went on the offensive to urge Americans to sign up for new health insurance. The administration had planned a massive advertising and social media campaign to support the Affordable Care Act back in October, but the push was delayed for two months after the health insurance exchange website failed in its debut. The effort comes as the deadline for people to sign up for coverage starting next year looms.

The Two-Way
2:08 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

'This Law Is Working,' Obama Says Of Health Care

While conceding that "more problems may pop up as they always do when you're launching something new," President Obama on Tuesday said the troubled HealthCare.gov website "is working well for the vast majority of users" and his Affordable Care Act "is working and will work into the future."

"We may never satisfy the law's opponents," Obama added during an afternoon event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House. But, he said, "we know the demand [for health insurance] is there and we know the product on these marketplaces is good."

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Shots - Health News
12:34 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

Nonprofits Challenge Missouri Licensing Law For Insurance Guides

Nonprofits that are supposed to be helping people figure out their health insurance options are challenging an allegedly restrictive state law.
iStockphoto

In the first lawsuit of its kind, several nonprofit groups that received federal grants to help people sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act are suing the state of Missouri.

The Missouri law requires health insurance helpers called navigators to be licensed by the state, which involves passing an exam and paying a fee.

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Shots - Health News
10:00 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Overweight And Healthy: A Combo That Looks Too Good To Be True

Gym members warm up on treadmills at Downsize Fitness in Addison, Texas. Membership at the gym is limited to people who have a high body mass index.
LM Otero AP

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 8:30 am

Overweight or obese people are indeed more likely to die prematurely than people of normal weight, say researchers who've analyzed the data. Their conclusion throws cold water on recent studies that have found some excess weight isn't so bad.

Earlier this year, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that overweight people actually live a bit longer than their skinnier peers.

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Health Care
4:13 am
Tue December 3, 2013

HealthCare.gov Uses Waiting Room To Cool Traffic Surge

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 5:02 pm

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

As with other e-commerce sites, Cyber Monday was a busy one for the HealthCare.gov. It brought a surge in traffic to the government's beleaguered health insurance website.

Later today, President Obama will give a speech detailing the work of the technical teams who have been patching bugs and expanding capacity.

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All Tech Considered
5:03 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Could A Tech Giant Build A Better Health Exchange? Maybe Not

Workers process applications for Oregon's health exchange program. The state paid tech giant Oracle to build its online exchange, but with the site still not functional, people shopping for insurance have been forced to apply on paper.
Don Ryan AP

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 7:48 pm

Oregon has spent more than $40 million to build its own online health care exchange. It gave that money to a Silicon Valley titan, Oracle, but the result has been a disaster of missed deadlines, a nonworking website and a state forced to process thousands of insurance applications on paper.

Some Oregon officials were sounding alarms about the tech company's work on the state's online health care exchange as early as last spring. Oracle was behind schedule and, worse, didn't seem able to offer an estimate of what it would take to get the state's online exchange up and running.

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Shots - Health News
4:06 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Obama Launches HIV Cure Initiative, Ups Pledge For Global Health

President Obama walks into an auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building Monday for a speech about World AIDS Day.
Carolyn Kaster AP

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 4:45 pm

Commemorating the 25th World AIDS Day a day late, President Obama announced an initiative Monday to find a cure for HIV infections that would be funded by $100 million shifted from existing spending.

"The United States should be at the forefront of new discoveries into how to put people into long-term remission without requiring lifelong therapies — or better yet, eliminate it completely," Obama said at a meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next to the White House.

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Shots - Health News
2:17 pm
Mon December 2, 2013

Alleged Perils Of Left-Handedness Don't Always Hold Up

Lefties don't necessarily do everything with their left hand, and the ones who do might not use the right side of their brain for language.
iStockphoto

I recently stumbled upon a description of research out of Yale that suggested there was a link between left-handedness and psychotic disorders like schizophrenia.

Forty percent of those with psychotic disorders are lefties, one of the researchers said. That startled me. Only about 10 percent of people in the general population are left-handed. I'm one of them.

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Health Care
11:09 am
Mon December 2, 2013

HealthCare.gov Back On Track?

Originally published on Thu December 5, 2013 9:58 am

Transcript

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Health
11:09 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Black Churches And HIV: 'Sex Is A Reality ... We Gotta Deal With It'

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 11:15 am

African-Americans are the racial group most affected by HIV in the U.S., and many black churches are stepping in to do something about it. Pastor Timothy Sloan of Texas talks with host Michel Martin about destigmatizing the disease from the pulpit.

Shots - Health News
9:00 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Uninsured Fret About Getting Health Coverage By New Year's Day

For Tambra Momi, who has Dercum's disease, health coverage can't come soon enough.
Courtesy of Tambra Momi

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 11:07 am

Tambra Momi has been eagerly awaiting the promise of guaranteed health insurance.

Since 2011, she has battled Dercum's disease, a rare and painful condition in which noncancerous tumors sprout throughout her body, pressing against nerves.

Jobless and in a wheelchair, Momi needs nine different drugs, including one costing $380 a month, to control the pain and side effects. No insurer has been willing to cover her, she says, except a few that have taken her money and then refused to pay for her medications.

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Health Desk
7:18 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Downstate Cancer Rates Higher

A new study shows cancer rates are higher in downstate Illinois.  Smoking may be the reason.   

A report from the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and the Illinois Department of  Public Health of public health says the southern two thirds of Illinois have higher cancer rates and lower survival rates than those in the northern part.  The study looks at two decades worth of cancer statistics.  SIU Med School's David Steward says the likely culprit is lung cancer, which is especially higher in Men.

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Politics
3:50 am
Mon December 2, 2013

White House Confident Insurance Website Is Working Better

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 12:27 pm

In this, the first week of December, the Obama administration says it has met its self-imposed deadline of fixing the troubled healthcare.gov web site. And it says people should be able to sign up for health insurance. So, is it fixed and when will we know for sure?

Shots - Health News
1:54 am
Mon December 2, 2013

Parents Of Sleep-Deprived Teens Push For Later School Start Times

Maggie Starbard / NPR

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 4:32 pm

Cristina Sevin knows the drill. Her 15-year-old son Isaac's first alarm goes off at 6:05 a.m.

When he sleeps right through it, Mom starts the nudging. But she also has to wake up 16-year-old Lily. She flips on the bedroom lights. "Lily, you gotta get up!"

They have to be out the door before 6:35 a.m. in their Annapolis, Md., neighborhood in order to catch the bus for a 7:17 school start. "I wish I didn't have to be awake right now," says Lily.

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Shots - Health News
1:53 am
Mon December 2, 2013

School Stress Takes A Toll On Health, Teens And Parents Say

Colleen Frainey, 16, of Tualatin, Ore., cut back on advanced placement classes in her junior year because the stress was making her physically ill.
Toni Greaves for NPR

Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 4:35 pm

When high school junior Nora Huynh got her report card, she was devastated to see that she didn't get a perfect 4.0.

Nora "had a total meltdown, cried for hours," her mother, Jennie Huynh of Alameda, Calif., says. "I couldn't believe her reaction."

Nora is doing college-level work, her mother says, but many of her friends are taking enough advanced classes to boost their grade-point averages above 4.0. "It breaks my heart to see her upset when she's doing so awesome and going above and beyond."

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All Tech Considered
4:59 pm
Sun December 1, 2013

The Key Test For HealthCare.gov Is The Part You Can't See

The consumer-facing part of HealthCare.gov is working more smoothly, but how well the invisible back-end is working is unclear.
NPR

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 6:55 pm

Calling the improvements "night and day" from October, the Obama administration says it has met its goal of getting the troubled HealthCare.gov site working for a "vast majority" of users. But that's only part of a complex technology system that is designed to end with insurance companies providing coverage for millions of consumers.

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Health Care
7:24 am
Sun December 1, 2013

Humana Invites Mississippians Onto The Health Care Bus

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 1:25 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Mississippi is one of those states with a large number of uninsured, yet only a fraction of people have signed up for coverage. Some of the problems are related to the website, but it's also been a challenge to just get the word out. So, to get people onboard, one insurance company decided to take enrollment on the road. Jeffrey Hess with Mississippi Public Broadcasting reports on the insurance buses now rolling across the state.

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Health Care
7:24 am
Sun December 1, 2013

Is Health Care Website Ready To Roll?

Originally published on Sun December 1, 2013 1:25 pm

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. While many Americans are enjoying a four-day holiday this weekend, computer programmers have been working furiously to meet a White House deadline to improve the government's troubled Affordable Care Act website. As of today, most of the fixes were supposed to be done, meaning the site can handle as many as 50,000 users at once. In a press conference this morning, the administration declared victory. Here's Jeff Zeints of the White House.

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Health Care
4:08 pm
Sat November 30, 2013

White House Optimistic At Deadline To Fix Obamacare

The Obama administration set a self-imposed deadline of the end of November to have the major kinks worked out in HealthCare.gov, the website at the center of implementation for the Affordable Care Act. In the hours before its deadline, the site was taken offline for repairs. But the White House says the site is in much better shape than it was two months ago, when it launched and promptly failed to work for most users.

Health Care
6:31 am
Sat November 30, 2013

3 Stories From HealthCare.gov Users

Originally published on Sat November 30, 2013 9:21 am

The experience has been mixed for three people who signed on to the website to buy insurance. Scott Simon asks an office manager, a family therapist and a social media manager if they think the process has improved.

Health Care
6:31 am
Sat November 30, 2013

How Will We Know If HealthCare.gov Is Fixed?

Health care specialist Stacy Chagolla helps William Bishop compare plans at an Affordable Care Act enrollment fair in Pasadena, Calif., this month.
David McNew Getty Images

Originally published on Sat November 30, 2013 2:51 pm

Saturday is the day the Obama administration set as its deadline for making HealthCare.gov a "smooth experience" for most users.

A tech-savvy team of engineers, database architects and contractors has been working through the holiday to ensure the White House makes good on that promise, but judging the success of their efforts may take some time.

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Health Care
6:22 am
Sat November 30, 2013

A New Worry Looms Online For The Affordable Care Act

Insurance companies say they are finding numerous mistakes on a digital form that's essential for signing up through HealthCare.gov.
AP

Originally published on Sat November 30, 2013 2:13 pm

Saturday is the day the Obama administration promised it would have HealthCare.gov working smoothly for the majority of people who need to sign up for health insurance.

As the Obama administration scrambles to fix the glitch-plagued site, experts are beginning to worry about another problem that may further impair the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

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Shots - Health News
5:07 pm
Fri November 29, 2013

Popping A Baby Out Like A Cork, And Other Birth Innovations

The Odon Device was inspired by a YouTube video about how to remove a cork from the inside of a wine bottle.
The Odon Device

Originally published on Mon December 2, 2013 3:59 pm

An invention to help with obstructed labor has turned some heads — and not just because the idea came from a party trick on YouTube.

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