Health

Michigan Office of Highway Safety

The number of Michigan drivers who always buckle up is declining. So the state is stepping up its annual enforcement campaign. Michigan still has one of the highest rates of seat belt compliance in the nation. But it slipped to 93% last year, from a high of 98% in 2009. Anne Readette is with the Office of Highway Safety Planning. She says the goal is to get back to 98% "I know it's a very high number," says Readette, "But we were there before and we do know it's possible." The decline in seat belt use coincided with a decline in spending on the annual Click it or Ticket campaign.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit officials are launching a new effort to reduce the rate of preterm births in the city. The rate of premature births in Detroit is 18%, among the highest in the world.

The city, Wayne State University and Detroit’s leading health systems are working together on the effort called Make Your Date.

Mayor Mike Duggan outlined how the program simplifies the way pregnant women can find prenatal care.

Health officials suspect undercooked ground beef.
user i believe i can fry / Flickr

State health officials say they're working with health departments in Kent, Livingston, Oakland, Ottawa and Washtenaw counties to investigate a cluster of recent illnesses due to the bacteria E. coli O157.

The state Department of Community Health and the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced Wednesday that the suspected source of the bacteria is ground beef.

More from the MDCH press release:

getoverit.org

A basic tenet of the Affordable Care Act is preventive care: Get people into the health care system before disease or disability set in.

But that's highlighting a problem with our medical education system. Medical schools are turning out too many specialists and not enough primary care physicians. Cynthia Canty spoke with Dr. William Strampel, dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Michigan State University. 

user striatic / Flickr

There's some pretty unsettling data that has come out about the health of the people who call the Upper Peninsula home. 

The Centers for Disease Control numbers say heart attack rates for the entire western and eastern UP for 2008-2010 are right up there at the highest level for the top five categories the CDC tracks.

What does the high rate of heart attack and heart disease say about health care and health habits in the UP? And what can bring those high rates down?

Dr. Teresa Frankovich, medical director for the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department, joined us. 

Listen to the full interview above. 

user striatic / Flickr

There is a distinct health care trend happening in Michigan. For-profit health care systems are taking over community hospitals.

The question has become, is this a way for a community hospital to stay alive, or even for it to expand and modernize? Or is it a trend where "bottom-line thinking" is going to affect patient costs and quality of care? 

Writer Julie Edgar explored these questions in her recent article for Bridge Magazine, and she joined us to discuss. 

University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

It turns out parents are just as likely as other motorists to talk on the phone, eat, text or engage in other risky distractions behind the wheel, even with their kids in the car.

University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital quizzed hundreds of parents with young children about their driving habits.

It turns out 90 percent admit to using their mobile phones, eating and feeding their kids while behind the wheel.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report claims teen pregnancies cost Michigan taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars a year. That’s a despite a sharp decline in teen birth rates during the past two decades.

Bill Albert is with the ‘National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy’, which produced the report.

Albert says the finding is based on their estimate of costs to public assistance programs, reduced earnings, criminal justice and lost tax revenues. But he says there is a bright side.

Farm in rural Michigan
user acrylicartist / MorgueFile.com

One of the most important aspects of the Affordable Care Act is consumer choice. More choice leads to more competition among insurers, and that can mean lower costs to consumers.

But, as Michiganders shopped for health coverage on the federal marketplace, the amount of choice was not even.

If you lived in Wayne, Oakland or Macomb Counties, you got to choose from 55 insurance plans. If you lived in Delta County in the Upper Peninsula, you were only offered 5 plans, all of them from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Josh Fangmeier is a health policy analyst with the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation. He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

User: Vangore / Wikipedia

Seventy-five years ago, one of the most influential books ever written was published. It has sold over 30 million copies. And what's inside this book has changed the lives of millions of people around the world.

The official title of the book is "Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism" written by the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson.

Dr. Howard Markel joined us today. He's the director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan. 

Wikipedia.org

Since January, Michigan hospitals have been dealing with the effects of a nationwide shortage of a critical supply of intravenous fluid.

The fluid is used in a wide variety of intravenous therapy, including chemotherapy. The shortage is blamed on reduced production and increased demand during the winter flu season.

Laura Appel is with the Michigan Health and Hospital Association. She says hospitals are working to share what fluid they do have.

State of Opportunity's new service, Infowire, looks at why so many young people who've aged out of foster care don't know they're eligible for health care. Foster care advocates are trying to get the word out. Do you know a young person who needs this information? Send them over to State of Opportunity and get them hooked up with the Infowire.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report says preventable dental treatment is taking a bite out of Michigan hospital emergency room budgets.

The Anderson Economic Group study says in 2011, about 7,000 people with cavities, abscesses, and other preventable dental problems showed up in Michigan ERs.  About 1,000 needed to be hospitalized.

Megha Satyanarayana

A South Lyon pharmacy has been shut down and the lead pharmacist fined for selling contaminated goods to a Detroit hospital.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s expanded Medicaid program is off to a fast start.  

Tens of thousands of people have signed up for the medical coverage in the first week since the enrollment opened.

The Healthy Michigan program has received nearly 55,000 applications since April first; 32,000 Michiganders have already had their applications approved. Tens of thousands more have been moved into the expanded Medicaid program from a different state health assistance program.

John M. Cropper / Flickr

There’s still so much we don’t understand about war vets and PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

Why some experience it, but so many others don’t. 

Why one vet can have symptoms right away, while another can be fine for years.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There’s been a big jump in the number of elderly people making living wills and other end-of-life directives.

Dr. Maria Silveira is a University of Michigan researcher. She says between 2000 and 2010, the percentage of elderly Americans with living wills or who gave a loved one power of attorney in health matters rose from 47% to 72%.

Silveira says the change may reflect different generational attitudes.

“I think this generation of older folks, Baby Boomers in particular, are more inclined to take charge,” says Silveira.

Today is the day.

If you don’t sign up for health-care coverage by midnight tonight, you might not be able to get coverage until next year. And if you choose not to get covered, you might get dinged on your 2014 taxes –also known as the "individual shared responsibility payment."

If you can afford health coverage, but you decide to do without, here's how much you might have to pay:

  • In 2014, it's 1% of your yearly income or $95 per person, whichever is higher.
  • In 2015, it’s 2% of your yearly income or $325 per person, whichever is higher.
  • In 2016 and later years, it’s 2.5% of your yearly income or $695 per person, whichever is higher. 
  • After 2016, the fee is adjusted for inflation.

To avoid any potential fees, you need to sign up by tonight.

There are exceptions.

Screen shot from healthcare.gov

Thousands of Michiganders are expected to be among the final crush of Americans trying to sign up for health insurance by Monday Obamacare deadline.

After Monday, people without health insurance coverage may face a penalty on their federal taxes.

Andy Hetzel is a spokesman for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan.      He says the state’s largest insurer has been getting 25,000 calls a week from people looking for help getting health care coverage.

“We’re seeing significant volumes of people reaching out to us now,” says Hetzel, “The people who are reaching out to us are a fraction of the marketplace.”

Hetzel says walking people through the sign-up, including assessing their eligibility for a federal subsidy to help pay their insurance premium, can take a while.   

Hetzel notes that many Michiganders will have the option of signing up for expanded Medicaid coverage starting next month.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report ranks the healthiest and least healthy of Michigan’s 83 counties.

Ottawa County topped the rankings as healthiest, while Wayne County placed at the bottom.

But there’s no geographic pattern to the rankings put together by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin researchers.

Ever since the day Garrett Peterson was born, his parents have had to watch him suddenly just stop breathing.

"He could go from being totally fine to turning blue sometimes — not even kidding — in 30 seconds," says Garrett's mother, Natalie Peterson, 25, of Layton, Utah. "It was so fast. It was really scary."

Andrian Clark / Flickr

March 31 looms ever closer.

That's the deadline for you to get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. After then, you'll only be able to get insurance on the health care exchange when there's a big change in your life: a birth, divorce, death, losing your employer-sponsored insurance, or moving to another state.

The latest numbers show 144,586 people in Michigan have gotten health insurance under Obamacare.

And, with more people covered, doctors and hospitals are expecting an uptick in treating one of our state's biggest health challenges: obesity. 

We're joined by Heather Howard, program director of the State Health Reform Assistance Network. 

Listen to the full interview above.

The broad view of the giant colon.
American Cancer Society

That one got our attention too.

The press release from the University of Michigan News Service starts with "here's your chance:"

The University of Michigan Health System will partner with the American Cancer Society to bring a 32-foot-long, 14-foot-high giant replica of the colon to Briarwood Mall, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 22, to raise awareness  of colorectal cancer.

What does such a thing look like? We asked for a few photos.

U of M physicians will also be on hand to answer any questions visitors might have.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is Director of the University of Michigan's Center for Healthcare Research.
user mudowp / Twitter

It was late last year that state lawmakers passed The Abortion Insurance Opt-Out Act.

Starting this Friday, insurance companies will not be allowed to sell policies that include abortion coverage as a standard feature.

Customers would have to buy separate add-ons, riders, to cover abortion and they would have to do it before ever knowing whether they will want to obtain an abortion.

And how that might or might not happen is pretty confusing.

Marianne Udow-Phillips is with the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation, and she joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

With less than four weeks to go in the open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, the push is on to reach the Latino community, which officials say has traditionally not had widespread access to affordable health insurance.

Mayra Alvarez, associate director of the Office of Minority Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, says the latest study finds that eight in 10 uninsured Latinos can now get a break on the cost of insurance.

Oregon Department of Transportation

More people in the state admit they text or email while driving now than they did than two years ago.

Sixteen percent of those surveyed say they have done it - or do it on a regular basis.  That's twice as many people as in 2012.

Lynn Sutfin is with the state Office of Highway Safety Planning.

"Texting and emailing, those are probably some of the chief ways that people communicate these days," says Sutfin.  "Unfortunately they are continuing to communicate that way when they're behind the wheel of a vehicle."

John M. Cropper / Flickr

Let's continue our look at military veterans in Michigan. Yesterday on the show, we talked about the disconnect between saying that we want to help veterans and actually putting policy into place that does that.

Today, we turned our focus to mental health.

Data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates about 22 vets a day are committing suicide.

And it's estimated one in five veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

There are dozens of programs the military has set up to help treat the mental illnesses and troubles vets are suffering.

But a panel of experts studied programs from the U.S. Department of Defense and came to a very unsettling conclusion: There is no evidence these programs actually work.

The report shows the programs were not created from evidence-based research, and do not have an evaluation process to see if they are effective or not.

Kenneth Warner chaired the research panel. He's also in the Department of Health Management and Policy in the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan.

*Listen to the interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michiganders have less than four weeks to find a health insurance plan.

After March 31st, people who have not signed up for health insurance will have to pay a federal tax penalty.

Gia Carroll is a health navigator with the Hamilton Community Health Network in Genesee County.    She says money is a bigger issue than health care coverage for many people she works with.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

In one month, more than 300,000 people are expected to begin signing up for expanded Medicaid coverage in Michigan. The Medicaid expansion is part of the federal Affordable Care Act.

"Healthy Michigan" would cover nearly everyone, under the age of 65, with an income up to 133% of the federal poverty limit. That translates to individuals making about $15,000 and families of four making less than $32,000.

user mconnors / morgueFile

Winter doesn't just mean freezing temperatures  – it's also a time when we are more likely to get sick. Which leads us to our next question: Do you vaccinate your kids?

It seems for more and more Michigan parents, the answer is no. 

When it comes to kids not getting vaccinated because their parents claim some personal or religious exemption, Michigan ranks number four in the nation. 

But resistance to vaccinations didn't just start with Jenny McCarthy or the study by British doctor Andrew Wakefield that alleged a link between vaccines and autism – a study that has since been discredited as being based on faulty science. 

It goes back long before that.

Gender and medical historian Jacqueline Antonovich has studied and written about the history of our relationship with vaccinations. 

Antonovich recently wrote in the blog nursingclio.org about this topic, and it was pretty personal for her, as someone who has had whooping cough.

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