Health

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.

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.

CDC

Child deaths in car crashes have declined by 43% over the last ten years.

But the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says there's still work to do.

The CDC says one in three children 12 or younger that die in a car accident is still not properly restrained.

Dr. Erin Sauber-Schatz is with the CDC.   She says parent education and car seat distribution help make sure more children are buckled up properly, and she supports Michigan's car seat laws.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Opponents of Obamacare turned out for a meeting in Jackson today.  

Congressman Tim Walberg is holding a series of town hall meetings this week on the Affordable Care Act.

The Republican congressman is showcasing small business owners and patients who say they are paying more for health insurance under Obamacare.

Andrian Clark / Flickr

The latest figures from the government tell us that nearly 3.3 million Americans have signed up so far for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges. 

Officials are pointing to a surge in young people who are enrolling: The percentage of people age 18-34 who enrolled grew by three percentage points last month over the previous three months. 

Attracting these healthy young people to sign up is critical to the success of the Affordable Care Act, because they offset the costs of covering the older folks who are likely less healthy. 

So just what is the key to getting young Americans under the Obamacare tent?

CDC / wikimedia commons

Health officials in Kalamazoo are trying to ease parents’ concerns over a recent case of tuberculosis. A high school student tested positive for the bacterial infection last week.

“It sounds scary, but it’s not that scary,” said Linda Vail, director of the Kalamazoo County Health Department.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

How are we doing as a state and as a nation, when it comes to our emergency rooms and access to emergency health care?

According to a report card recently released by the American College of Emergency Physicians, not very well. Michigan received a grade of "D" in access to emergency care.

Why are we failing in access to this life-or-death care in Michigan?

Dr. Michael Nauss is a senior emergency room physician at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. And he's a board member of the Michigan College of Emergency Physicians. He joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Obama Administration says Michiganders are signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act at a faster pace than expected. But time is running out.

Michiganders have until the end of March to sign up for health insurance or face a federal tax penalty.

The Obama administration says through the end of January, about 112,000 Michiganders have picked insurance plans using the federal health care website.

CDC / CDC


It takes a lot of heavy lifting to become a physician, a nurse, a dietician or other health-care professional. Long years of coursework and clinical training leave little room to learn other important skills – the kind of skills that can make a health professional an important player in the public policy sphere and prepared to tackle some of our most urgent environmental health challenges.

That's why the Ecology Center is offering a new fellowship program that can train health professionals about effective civic engagement and environmental health risks.

Listen to the full piece above.

user striatic / Flickr

It could happen in a field near an abandoned building in Detroit. Or a now-defunct library in a small rural town.

The locations may differ, but the mission is the same: medical students reaching out to provide health care to uninsured people.

The student-run free medical clinic is an outreach effort that’s offered by most medical schools. Usually, it’s staffed by first and second year med students who are responsible for virtually every aspect of the clinic. An M.D. is on hand to write prescriptions and confirm diagnoses. But it really is these med students who are giving most of the care.

What are the pros and cons of these free student-run clinics?

Jennifer Xu is a medical student at the University of Michigan. She recently wrote a piece for The Atlantic entitled “Letting Medical Students Run The Clinic.” She joined us today to tell us more about it.

Listen to the full interview above.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.

David Van Andel, the chairman and CEO of the Van Andel Institute, says it's teaming up with Spectrum Health to try to do something about it.

401(k) 2013 / Flickr

What's your reaction when the conversation turns to America's soaring health care costs – when you hear that by 2020, just six years from now, our health care spending will hit $4.5 trillion?

Maybe it's all too big, too "macro" for us to absorb on a personal level.

So try this: Should your 92-year-old grandmother undergo coronary artery bypass graft surgery –surgery that costs upwards of $20,000?

What about a girl who's 17 years old? Her leukemia treatments aren't working. Her liver is failing, other organs are failing, she is near death and her family is demanding a liver transplant, which the surgeon proposed, but the HMO refuses to authorize?

These are real-life dilemmas facing doctors, patients, and us.

We want everything modern medicine can offer, but as taxpayers we want health care costs controlled.

Can we achieve both goals?

Leonard Fleck, a professor of philosophy and a medical ethicist from Michigan State University, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

user: RTD Photography

The question of how many stray animals are in Detroit has been talked about ever since Bloomberg News put out this piece with the typical "Detroit is a hellhole" headline:

Abandoned Dogs Roam Detroit in Packs as Humans Dwindle

Chris Christoff reported that the city had "as many as 50,000 stray dogs."

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported that other groups said there's no question that the number has been "wildly inflated."

Tom McPhee of the World Animal Awareness Society estimated there were between 1,000 to 3,000 stray dogs in the city.

Now, yet another estimate has been published.

nick see / flickr

It may soon become more difficult to smoke outdoors in Ann Arbor.

A proposed city ordinance would prohibit smoking at bus stops and parks designated by the city administrator.

It would also prohibit smoking near the entrances, windows and ventilation systems of city-owned buildings, which is already banned by a Washtenaw County ordinance.

The ordinance, introduced by council member Chuck Warpehoski, D-5th Ward, is on the agenda for Monday night's city council meeting.

CDC / wikimedia commons

A Detroit health care worker may have inadvertently exposed 560 people to tuberculosis.

TB is a highly contagious but treatable disease that often infects the lungs.

The Michigan Department of Community Health says the infected worker came into contact with 560 patients who had dental work performed between August and December of 2013 at four Detroit hospitals: Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford, St. John's, and University of Detroit Mercy Dentistry School.

The situation came to light after the worker developed symptoms and got tested.

Pages