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 about this topic, and it was pretty personal for her, as someone who has had whooping cough.


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.


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.

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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.

ahans / Flickr

Domestic violence is something that reaches every corner of American life.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence tells us that 85% of the people who suffer violence at the hands of an intimate partner are women.

One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. That’s 1.3 million women each and every year. And most of these women have mobile phones, computers, facebook pages, or some kind of an online presence.

The presence of these information communication technologies presents ever-growing challenges to a survivor trying to stay well away from an abusive partner.

Just how do these technologies influence interpersonal violence?

Jill Dimond is a computer science graduate from the University of Michigan. After she earned her PhD at Georgia Tech, she focused her efforts on what she calls "Human Centered Computing."

That includes forming a worker-owner technology cooperative called Sassafras Tech Collective helping social justice groups, non-profits, artists and others with web and app design and development.

For more information on online safety for survivors of domestic abuse, go to the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

*Listen to the audio above.

Zack Lee / Flickr

David Leveille published a story about the increasing popularity of hookah lounges in the Detroit area for PRI's The World.

Leveille spoke with pulmonologist Basim Dubayo, the associate chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at Wayne State University's School of Medicine.

user blwphotography / Flickr

What can a parent do to reach an autistic child, to forge some path through the barrier of autism spectrum disorder – a path that might somehow lead to greater understanding of that child’s mind, heart and soul?

That challenge is facing more and more families in America.

In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control found that one in 150 school-age children had been identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder. By 2008, that figure was one in 88 – an increase of 78%.

Consider more recent figures from a different government agency: the National Center for Health Statistics estimates that today, one out of every 50 school-age kids has the condition.

The experts tell us these higher numbers may not be so much a matter of more kids having ASD, but rather that health officials are getting better at counting those who do.

But behind all the statistics are the day-to-day stories of families coping with the often crushing challenge of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The uninsured and others have time to sign up for private insurance under the federal health care law without facing a tax penalty.

But one Michigan insurance executive doubts much new enrollment will occur before the March 31 deadline and cautions that the net number of people buying their own insurance in Michigan could stay flat this year.

by samantha celera

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Flu hospitalizations in Michigan are way up this season because of the spread of the more serious H1N1 strain of the disease.

The Michigan Department of Community Health says the good news is this year's flu vaccine targets the H1N1 strain, making it highly effective in preventing the disease.

The department says labs confirm 169 Michigan cases this season, compared with 338 a year earlier.

But department spokeswoman Angela Minicuci says there are 190 reported hospitalizations so far this season, up from 115 a year earlier. New numbers come out Friday.

The state doesn't track adult flu deaths. There's been one juvenile death this season.

Minicuci says officials hope people take the virulence of this season's outbreak as a warning to get vaccinated.

Courtesy of Children First

It's been a little over two weeks since the Affordable Care Act officially kicked in.

How many people have been able to enroll? How many are getting financial assistance to help pay for their plan? And what deadlines do we need to be aware of?

Joining us once more is Don Hazaert, director of Michigan Consumers for Healthcare, one of Michigan's four navigator agencies for the ACA.

Listen to full interview above. 

user striatic / Flickr

As the Affordable Care Act rolled out, there's been plenty of focus on physical health, pre-existing conditions. But we haven't heard too much about what the ACA means for treating Mental Illness.

And that is something that is a growing concern as mentally ill people fill Michigan's jails and prisons. What could it mean to these people to be able to obtain treatment?

Joining us is Ben Robinson. He's the President and CEO of Rose Hill Center in Holly, in Oakland County. They offer residential treatment for adults with mental illness. He's also on the Executive Board of the Michigan Association of Community Mental Health Boards.


It's starting to make its presence felt in empty chairs at the workplace and sad little Facebook status updates saying, "I'm sick."

Flu season is upon us.

Federal officials report 35 states are now experiencing widespread influenza activity with young and middle-aged adults being hit hardest this year rather than the usual pattern of seniors or children.

Dr. Matthew Davis, chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of  Community Health and a professor at the University of Michigan, joined us today to give us an idea of what the flu season looks like in Michigan.

Listen to the full interview above.

by samantha celera

About a dozen flu patients have been in intensive care at  University of Michigan hospitals on any given day since the new year began. Some are on advanced life support. Most are middle-aged.  And most have the H1N1 strain of flu.

Michigan has seen a flood of H1N1 flu cases in the last few weeks.

That's according to Dr. Matthew Davis,  Chief Medical Executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Center for Disease Control

Michigan was hit hard by the fungal meningitis outbreak, which stemmed from tainted steroids from the New England Compounding Center. According to the Center for Disease Control, 264 cases have been reported in the state – more than 100 more than any other state in the nation.

Victims and their families are urged to file claims for possible compensation through a $100 million victim compensation fund created by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Massachusetts; however, time is running short.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Blood banks in Michigan had much lower donation rates this week due to the weather.

Michigan Blood is a non-profit blood bank that usually collects 2,200 units of blood every week.

Spokesman Jim Childress says this week, donations dropped to 800.

“We do need people to donate at a higher rate than they normally do, and take this very seriously and help out the nation's blood supply,” says Childress.

The group is offering donors $10 Meijer gift cards and expanding its hours of operation through next Friday.

midiman / Creative Commons

An increase of cases of the flu in Michigan is prompting some hospitals to limit who can visit sick patients. They hope it’ll help prevent the spread of the flu.

University of Michigan’s hospitals aren’t letting kids younger than 12 visit the most vulnerable patients.

At Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo, there are similar restrictions, along with the number of visitors, or in some units, only immediate family members.

Dr. David Davenport is the medical director of  infection prevention and control at Borgess.

Douglas Jordan, M.A. / Centers for Disease Control

The same flu strain that caused the 2009 flu pandemic is back again this year.

Angela Minicuci  is a spokesperson for the state Department of Community Health.

She says everyone should be protected from H1N1, not just those considered high-risk, like the elderly, pregnant women, and people with chronic illnesses.

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

Listen to the full interview above.