Health Desk

Fatter paychecks, slimmer health insurance.

A recent survey found 1 in 5 people with employer-based coverage prefer fewer health benefits if it would mean a bump up for wages. That's double the proportion who said they'd make that choice in 2012.

Finding people's homes in Nigeria is a nightmare.

ZIP codes don't exist. House numbers are random. In poorer areas of the city, there's no such thing as urban planning. Houses are built wherever people can find a plot of land, for example. And many parts of the city aren't mapped out on GPS. Then, of course, there's the traffic.

How Can Text Messaging Save Lives?

Apr 1, 2016

Part 4 of the TED Radio Hour episode Crisis and Response

About Nancy Lublin's TED Talk

Activist Nancy Lublin explains how Crisis Text Line, the first 24/7 text line of its kind, has helped millions of people by providing direct support as well as anonymous data about people in crisis.

About Nancy Lublin

Part 3 of the TED Radio Hour episode Crisis and Response

About Melissa Fleming's TED Talk

Melissa Fleming, chief spokesperson for the UNHCR, tells the story of a young refugee who miraculously survived four days on a child's life ring after her boat was capsized in 2014.

About Melissa Fleming

Part 5 of the TED Radio Hour episode Crisis and Response

About Kitra Cahana's TED Talk

Photojournalist and conceptual artist Kitra Cahana describes how her father dealt with a stroke that left his body completely paralyzed, and how his experience of "locked-in syndrome" opened a world of unexpected opportunities for him.

About Kitra Cahana

Part 1 of the TED Radio Hour episode Crisis and Response

About Ken Kamler's TED Talk

Physician Ken Kamler describes his experience as a doctor on Mount Everest during one of its deadliest days in its history.

About Ken Kamler

There's a new tool for battling the opioid epidemic, compressed inside long, metal tanks at an emergency room in Paterson, N.J.

It's laughing gas, also known as nitrous oxide.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The World Health Organization says there is now scientific consensus that the Zika virus is connected with microcephaly — a condition in which babies are born with very small heads and brain damage.

Scientists have been working for months to confirm a link between Zika and microcephaly, ever since Brazil reported a startling increase in cases last fall.

It was a controversial move when Madison, Wis., decided to replace all its lead pipes in 2001. But that decision put the city ahead of the curve — allowing it to avoid the lead water contamination that is plaguing cities like Flint, Mich., now.

Madison started using copper instead of lead water pipes in the late 1920s. The bulk of the lead lines were located in the older part of the city, which is downtown near Wisconsin's state Capitol.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The price of quinoa tripled from 2006 to 2013 as America and Europe discovered this new superfood. That led to scary media reports that the people who grew it in the high Andes mountains of Bolivia and Peru could no longer afford to eat it. And while, as we reported, groups working on the ground tried to spread the word that your love of quinoa was actually helping Andean farmers, that was still anecdote rather than evidence.

One of the keys to providing good care in nursing homes is simply having enough staff. The federal government says about a quarter of all nursing home complaints can be traced back to low staffing levels. And studies have connected low staff levels to lousy treatment. The state of New Mexico connects it to fraud.

This story is part of NPR's podcast Embedded, which digs deep into the stories behind the news.

In the spring of 2015, something was unfolding in Austin, Ind.

Last year, a record number of migrants and refugees — more than 1 million — crossed into Europe, sparking a crisis as countries struggle to cope with the influx of more and more people.

And one element of the crisis is health care.

Migrants often have trouble getting medical care in the country in which they resettle. Those who are in the country illegally have an even harder time.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Water safety concerns aren't just in Flint, Mich., these days. Communities in three states in the Northeast have found elevated levels of a suspected carcinogen — perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA.

Used to make Teflon, the chemical has contaminated water supplies in New York, New Hampshire and Vermont.

After a four-month ban in the village of Hoosick Falls, N.Y., the New York State Department of Health declared the water safe to drink and cook with again on Wednesday. A temporary filtering system has brought PFOA levels down to nondetectable levels for weeks.

When a Connecticut woman who was HIV-positive died earlier this month, her family decided to donate her organs to others who needed them.

Doctors in Maryland announced Wednesday that they performed two landmark, successful surgeries with her kidney and liver — transplanting the organs to HIV-positive patients.

It's A Small World When It Comes To :-/

Mar 30, 2016

Body language can be a dead giveaway of where you're from. People can tell whether you're from Australia or the U.K. by the way you smile. They can tell whether you're from China or Egypt by the way you count using your fingers.

Last November, a couple from Washington, D.C., took a weeklong vacation. They visited Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. And got bitten by plenty of mosquitoes.

Two days after they returned home, the woman — who was pregnant — fell ill. She had muscle pain, a fever and a rash.

"At first she didn't think much about it," says OB-GYN Rita Driggers, who saw the woman at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "But then all the news started coming out about Zika, so the woman went and got tested."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

In the 1980s and '90s, many doctors told women going through menopause that they should take female hormones — estrogen and progestin — to alleviate symptoms like hot flashes and sleep problems. The hormone therapy was thought to have other benefits, too, like preventing broken bones, colon cancer and heart attacks.

For some people with Lyme disease, the illness seems to take a lasting toll.

Years after a standard two-week course of antibiotics against Borrellia burgdorferi or closely related organisms that cause the disease, these patients remain exhausted and foggy-headed. They suffer from chronic aches and pains and poor sleep.

Amanda Vinicky

It had been a long time coming, but Illinois' pilot program for medical marijuana has finally kicked off last November. It's been slow growing for the industry so far, and there are many restrictions.  The business HCI Alternatives has two medical marijuana dispensaries in the state now. 

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The FDA has updated the labeling for the abortion-inducing drug Mifeprex, allowing it to be taken at a lower dose and with fewer visits to the doctor's office.

The change brings the drug's label into alignment with common medical practice in 47 states — and will make the drug more accessible to women in three states, where lawmakers had required doctors to prescribe the drug according to the original label.

Mifeprex is the brand name for mifepristone, also known as RU-486. (It's not related to the emergency contraceptive known as the morning-after pill, or Plan B.)

Just how, exactly, could we wipe out a species of mosquito?

That's the question some of our readers wanted to know after reading our story that pondered the fate of the mosquito that carries the Zika virus, the Aedes aegypti. Would attempting to eliminate them be a good thing, or would it somehow backfire the ways things often do when humans meddle with nature?

If you're young and single, chances are you're rejecting potential dates left and right on apps like Tinder, Bumble and OkCupid.

It's a brutal virtual world. Hundreds of people are whittled down to a few in minutes. In the seconds you lingered on one person's profile, four pictures and an ambiguous job title, what made you swipe him or her to the right?

On a cold night in January 2012, Dustin Bergsing climbed on top of a crude oil storage tank in North Dakota's Bakken oil field. His job was to open the hatch on top and drop a rope inside to measure the level of oil. But just after midnight, a co-worker found him dead, slumped next to the open hatch.

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