Health

Fotos GOVBA / Flickr

Cost comparison – it can be an effective way of saving money. Whether it's comparing the price of a cup of coffee – Starbucks versus Tim Horton's, for instance – or comparing gas prices in different parts of the city or state, checking out cost differences is, for many, just part of a regular day.

But what about comparing medical costs? Would you have any idea what, say, a hip replacement might cost at the hospital you go to?

If you could tease out those prices and compare them, you might find yourself wondering: Why do some hospitals in the same city or state charge thousands of dollars more for the same procedure? And why is it so tough to get those prices?

Those are the questions Ilene Wolff, a writer with DBusiness, explored in a recent story.

To compare prices of services at different hospitals, visit healthcarebluebook.comTo look up hospital quality information, visit hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan hospital emergency rooms and urgent care centers are seeing patients who’ve been injured during this cold snap.

Dr. Scott Lazzara is an urgent care physician at McLaren Greater Lansing.  He says he’s seen a lot of slip and falls.

“We’re seeing a lot of people who are falling, breaking their wrist, hurting their back, spraining their ankles,” says Lazzara.

Lazzara says people are so bundled up to fight the cold their vision is impaired and they're less able to avoid slipping and falling.

People in rural areas trying to enroll for health insurance as part of the new Affordable Care Act can face special challenges. Registration must happen online, and many people in Michigan’s rural counties do not have a home computer or access to the Internet. 

Moshe Reuveni / Flickr

The ACLU is suing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on behalf of a Michigan woman. At the heart of the issue is whether women can get appropriate medical care at a Catholic hospital.

This is becoming more important because more secular hospitals are merging with Catholic-affiliated health care providers. By our count, of the 187 hospitals in Michigan, 26 of them are Catholic. That's 14%.

*Listen to our interview above.

401(k) 2013 / Flickr

Michigan’s plan to expand Medicaid health coverage to more than 300,000 low-income residents has been approved by the federal government. The state’s plan will require co-pays and health care savings accounts.

Chuck Coker / Flickr

Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a bill into law that clears the way for pharmacies to sell medical marijuana in Michigan. But that’s only if the federal government reclassifies cannabis as a legal prescription drug.

There’s no clear sign that will happen any time soon.

e-cigarettedirect.com

Electronic cigarettes may be smoke-free, but they do contain nicotine, and that has parents worried.

E-cigarettes are battery-operated inhalers that simulate cigarettes.

Dr. Matthew Davis is director of the National Poll on Children's Health from C.S. Mott Children's hospital in Ann Arbor.

He says the devices are unregulated and no long-term health studies have been done.

http://uofmhealthblogs.org

A new organization in Ypsilanti that promotes cancer awareness for Native Americans is struggling to stay afloat.

Shoshana Beth Phillips is executive director of Heritage of Healing. It incorporates native traditions and activities into its services, and supports families with a parent dealing with cancer. (Phillips is originally from the Omaha Nation of Nebraska and was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer seven years ago.) 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan residents are expected to be among the biggest beneficiaries of a $100 million settlement with a Massachusetts pharmacy company linked to a nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis.

Authorities say 22 of the 64 people who died in the outbreak were from Michigan.

Attorneys for creditors of the Framingham, Mass.-based New England Compounding Center said Monday that they've reached a preliminary settlement to create a victim compensation fund worth more than $100 million.

John Eisenschenk / Creative Commons

Earlier this year, Flint’s Hurley Medical Center faced national media scrutiny when an African-American nurse was told not to care for a baby at a patient’s request. The case was settled outside of court.

Julie Gafkay represented that nurse and says she was not alone.

cswe.org

Social workers in Michigan are starting to wear many hats as health-care reform is implemented.

The expansion of Medicaid and the establishment of the state Health Insurance Exchange is expanding health-care coverage to hundreds of thousands of Michiganders.

Robert Sheehan is the executive director of the Community Mental Health Authority of Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham Counties.

He says all the changes healthcare are broadening the scope of social workers.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Blood donations tend to drop at hospitals and clinics across Michigan at this time of year.

That's why officials are urging Michiganders to consider rolling up their sleeves to give a lifesaving gift.

Dan Fox, with the American Red Cross, says between school vacations, snowy weather and busy schedules, the number of blood donations drop over the holidays, while the need for blood in local hospitals remains constant.

A computer screen showing HealthCare.gov in action.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It was October 1 when the Healthcare.gov website opened for business.The rocky launch of the public portal to the Affordable Care Act has consumed much of the nation's attention and news space.

The December 23 enrollment deadline is at hand. That's when you have to have signed up if you want a policy by January 1.

We wanted to see if the consumer experience with Healthcare.gov has improved - see what problems remain - and find out how many of us have been able to complete applications and actually select a marketplace plan.

Don Hazaert joined us today. He's the director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare. It's one of four navigator agencies in our state for the Affordable Care Act.

You can find the agencies here.

Hazaert said, no question, there have been significant frustrations with the enrollment process, but that has changed since December 1. The Healthcare.gov website is working much better. Hazaert says those people who have signed up since December 1 have had a much smoother experience, especially those signing up with a new account.

Navigators are still trying to work with those individuals who started the process prior to December 1. We asked so of our listeners about their experiences with signing up for health care coverage.

Tom is 57 and lives in Ann Arbor and has been out of work for a year and a half. He's been paying for health insurance out of pocket for himself and his wife. It's been very expensive. His insurance company helped him sign up on Healthcare.gov. He received a subsidy to help him cover his costs. His online experience was good. 

"The price of the new policy is about half the price of the old policy and the deductible is about half as well, so I'm in a win-win situation as far as that's concerned," said Tom.

Diane Kay is 33-year-old attorney from Brighton, MI. She had a job change and hasn't been insured since 2007. She has a pre-existing condition so insurance companies wouldn't cover her, or it was prohibitively expensive. She's still paying back a lot of debt she incurred from a stay in the hospital. She got insurance through Healthcare.gov in November and said the process was not difficult.

Sasha Acker is 22-year-old social worker from Kalamazoo. She works part-time and doesn't get insurance from the company she works for. She had an extremely frustrating experience with Healthcare.gov, but was eventually able to sign up for coverage. She's excited to have insurance but has not been able to log back in to make her first payment. 

"I called in about six times, and they told me basically that since they made a bunch of upgrades to the website some of the accounts got corrupted and people can't access them anymore. Nobody has a solution for me," said Acker.

Don Hazaert with Michigan Consumers for Healthcare says Acker will need to make a payment before the start of the New Year to get her insurance.

He says her frustration is most likely with the 800 number she's calling and that he suggests she get in touch with a health care navigator in Michigan.

Hazaert says in 2014, they look forward to moving the conversation away from a troubled website to the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

*This story was informed by the Public Insight Network.

Michigan Radio Newsroom

Fewer high school students are smoking cigarettes, according to a new study from the University of Michigan.

Researchers with U of M’s Monitoring the Future program have been asking teens about their smoking habits since 1975.  The research is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

In 1996, 49% of 8th graders admitted they had tried smoking a cigarette. This year that number dropped to just 15%.

Morguefile

The United States needs to do a better job of fighting the spread of infectious disease. And so does the state of Michigan.

That's according to a report released today by Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The report looked at whether states met ten key indicators showing their capacity to prevent and control infectious disease. Michigan met only five out of ten.

A computer screen showing HealthCare.gov in action.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More Michiganders are signing up for health insurance through the federal Affordable Care Act.

Problems with the federal website made it difficult for people to sign up initially.

In Michigan, fewer than 1400 people signed up in October. But after a website overhaul, more than five thousand Michiganders completed the process in November.

Capital Gains/©Dave Trumpie

Michigan is getting poor marks in a new national health survey.

For 24 years, the United Health Foundation has looked at the healthy or unhealthy habits of Americans.  

According to the American Health Rankings out today, nationally fewer people are smoking and more people are exercising. The national obesity rate held steady, which is the first time since 1998 that the survey didn’t record an increase.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

For most of her life, Kelly Rothe believed she was going to die of breast cancer.  

"It's all we knew. When everyone in your life gets sick, you just assume it's going to happen to you," she says. 

Rothe was just six years old when her mom was diagnosed. 

kakisky / MorgueFile

Here's something you can tell that neighbor whose power lawn mower shatters your Saturday morning quiet: You're making me sick!

Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and the Network for Public Health Law say Americans live in a dangerously noisy society.

U-M assistant professor of environmental science Rick Neitzel says noise does much more than cause hearing loss. He says  noise can contribute to heart disease, hypertension, sleep disturbances and learning problems in children.

From the report "Access to mental health Care in Michigan" / Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation

Michigan's mental health care providers are already stretched far beyond capacity, according to an Ann Arbor research agency.

A report released Thursday by the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation says the state's mental health system "is broken."

And if it's bad now, care providers will be overwhelmed when the Affordable Care Act takes effect next month.

shopsafetyproducts.ca

The Michigan Credit Union League wants to get automatic defibrillators into every credit union in the state.

Jon Looman is the CEO of Community West Credit Union.   He had a heart attack and collapsed while teaching an indoor cycling class last year.

He says he survived thanks to an AED, and plans to order one for every one of his credit union's branches.

“They save lives, plain and simple. They just save lives,” says Looman, “And even better than that, they improve the quality of life after a heart attack if you act right away with one.”

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

New research from the University of Michigan may show a way to help older people recover their independence after suffering a serious injury.

It’s estimated that 40% of trauma patients will be 65 and older during the next four decades.

Getting geriatric patients back on their feet and independent is especially difficult.

U of M researchers interviewed older patients a year after being seriously injured in an accident.

Ed Uthman / Creative Commons

Maybe don't read this story right after plowing through a pecan pie, ok? 

Because a group of scientists are finding that what young women eat during puberty could determine how breast cancer cells develop in their bodies for the rest of their lives.

The culprit: high-fat diets.

It's not just about weight: high fat diets may hurt skinny and heavy women alike 

Michigan researchers say eating lots of fat as a teen can speed up breast cancer cell development, especially for cancers usually associated with young adult women. 

Rina Miller / Michigan Radio

As  Americans gather to celebrate the holidays, many will be joined by family members of the furry persuasion.

Most dogs like to position themselves near the dinner table, ready to Hoover up any morsels that fall to the floor, eyes beseeching  diners as they lift  each forkful of feast. 

Cats may be more assertive and attempt to tiptoe among your fine glassware and serving platters.

But as we humans are well aware, just because something is delicious doesn't mean it's good for us.

That goes for pets, too.

Safety is gradually improving, but toy-shoppers should still be watchful this holiday season.

That’s the main message from this year’s annual ‘Trouble in Toyland’ toy safety report from the Public Interest Research Group in Michigan (PIRGIM).

The group says the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, passed in 2008, has improved toy safety.

But it warns that some toys can and do fall through the regulatory cracks. The group found toys that exceed federal standards for lead, cadmium, phthalates, and other toxins that can impair child development.

And PIRGIM suggests some of those laws could be tightened up, too.

Spokesman Eric Mosher points to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pencil case. It contains much more of the toxic element cadmium—about 600 parts per million--than federal law allows.

C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health, 2013

Overall, 44% of parents say they'd allow their child to take part in medical research if the child had the disease being studied.

Yet only 5% say their child has participated in a medical study.  

That's according to a recent National Poll on Children's Health conducted by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan.

Michigan Kids Count

A new study finds economics play a significant role in Michigan’s infant mortality rate.

The Michigan Health Equity Status Report used data from 2010.   The report is a joint effort between the Practices to Reduce Infant Mortality through Equity Project (PRIME), and the MDCH Health Disparities Reduction and Minority Health Section.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michiganders at risk of losing their health insurance because of Obamacare may be getting a reprieve.

It’s estimated that more than 200,000 policies in Michigan could be at risk of being canceled because the policies don’t meet the minimum standards of the Affordable Care Act.

After a public outcry, President Obama asked the states and insurance companies to keep those policies in effect for another year. 

healthcare.gov / YouTube

It’s been more than a month since the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplace has open, and to say the rollout has been problematic would be an understatement.

With the glitch-ridden healthcare.gov website, and the natural confusion that comes with breaking new ground, it’s no wonder that many insurance-seekers don’t even know where to begin to find health insurance under the ACA.

Enter Don Hazaert, the director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare. MCH is one of four navigator agencies in Michigan for Obamacare.

But what does a navigator do? What can’t they do? And where do Michiganders stand with their healthcare?

Hazaert met with us in the studio, to discuss how those looking for coverage for Michigan actually do it.

For more information, visit enrollmichigan.com or any of the websites below:

consumersforhealthcare.org

communitybridgesihc.com

accesscommunity.org

aihfs.org

Listen to the full interview above.

Flickr user fimoculous / Flickr

If you find yourself craving an icy-cold cola or some ginger ale, maybe a Frappuccino coffee, should you be able to crack open a can or a bottle when you want? Even if you know it’s not good for you?

The University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers say maybe not. So, starting today, you will no longer be able to indulge that sweet tooth of yours. They will become one of the first in Michigan to stop selling all sugar-sweetened beverages, with the goal of giving us a not-too-subtle nudge over to healthier drinks.

Theresa Han-Markey has been a registered dietician for over 20 years. She is the Bionutrition Manager at the Michigan Critical Research Unit and she’s the Internship Director for Dietetics at U of M. She joined us today to give us a closer look at this sugar crackdown.

Listen to the full interview above.

Pages