Monday was yet another troubled day for the Affordable Care Act.
Sunday night, the outside vendor that operates two key parts of the website that lets people browse and sign up for health insurance experienced a failure.
The failure took place at a vendor called Verizon Terremark and presumably affected other clients as well as HealthCare.gov, the federal website that people use to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Messiah United Methodist Church in Springfield, Va., is unusually busy for a Thursday morning. It's not a typical time for worship, but parishioner Stacy Riggs and her husband have come for something a little different: a medical screening.
It's really only a sliver of time when humans build the bulk of their skeleton. At age 9, the bones start a big growth spurt. And by the time puberty ends, around 14 or 15 years old, the adult-sized skeleton is all but done, about 90 percent complete.
But doctors say a lot of children aren't getting what they need to do that. Calcium and vitamin D are essential, sure, but so is lots of time jumping and running.
Relatively few people have enrolled in new health insurance plans since the Affordable Care Act exchanges launched this month. But some health care experts say it's early days yet — and that getting the right proportion of healthy, young new enrollees is just as important as how quickly people sign up.
The Congressional Budget Office projects that 7 million people will buy health insurance for 2014 through the new exchanges, integral to the implementation of the government's new health care law.
Originally published on Thu October 24, 2013 10:41 am
Five years ago, a landmark report excoriated the animal agriculture industry's practices and laid out a road map for how it could do better. But in the years since, the problems are just as bad — and maybe even worse.
That's the conclusion of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. This week, the center scolded the industry again with a review of how it has fared in the years since the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production released its original report.
In the corporate world of American health care, psychologists and other mental health therapists are still mostly mom-and-pop shops. They build their own solo practices, not unlike Lucy in the Peanuts comic strip gang who hung her own shingle: "Psychiatric Help, 5 [Cents] — The Doctor Is In."
We're used to relying on antibiotics to cure bacterial infections. But there are now strains of bacteria that are resistant to even the strongest antibiotics, and are causing deadly infections. According to the CDC, "more than 2 million people in the United States every year get infected with a resistant bacteria, and about 23,000 people die from it," journalist David Hoffman tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross.
Not all viruses are bad for us. Some of them might even help up us fight off bacterial infections someday.
Naturally occurring viruses called bacteriophages attack specific types of bacteria. So researchers at the University of Leicester decided to try and take advantage of phages' bacteria-destroying powers to treat infections with Clostridium difficile, a germ that that can cause severe diarrhea and inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.
If you're among the estimated 27 million Americans who suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee or hip, then perhaps you've tried the nutritional supplements glucosamine and chondroitin. They've been marketed for joint health for about 20 years, and sales are still brisk. But do they help?
Some horses might say yes. The supplements were first tried in horses, and there's some evidence that the supplements might improve joint function for them.
The federal government is considering whether to allow scientists to take a controversial step: make changes in some of the genetic material in a woman's egg that would be passed down through generations.
A malaria vaccine studied in more than 15,000 African children has been found to reduce the number of cases of disease by 27 to 46 percent.
That's only modest efficacy compared to most accepted vaccines. But this would be the first anti-malarial immunization on the market, and its developers emphasize that it still prevents a lot of cases. Its main sponsor, GlaxoSmithKline, says it's good enough to justify seeking regulatory approval in 2014.
Last year, Kathy Noyes began to notice that her 12-year-old son, Jonathan, was eating more than usual. She caught him eating late at night. She found empty peanut butter jars and chip and cookie bags stashed around the house.
She didn't know what to make of it. Her friends said, "Well, my boys eat a lot too. They're growing boys. Just wait till you get your grocery bill when they're 16."
But Jonathan soon started to be sent home from school frequently because he was sick.
Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 4:56 pm
What will it take to make intrauterine devices sexy?
IUDs are highly effective forms of contraception, but fear of side effects, lack of training for doctors and costs can keep women away. Health organizations and private companies are trying to change that by breaking down misconceptions and broadening access.
The contraceptives are inserted into the uterus and can prevent pregnancy for years. And they're reversible. Shortly after they're taken out, a woman can become pregnant.
Originally published on Fri October 4, 2013 10:34 am
Many online journals are ready to publish bad research in exchange for a credit card number.
That's the conclusion of an elaborate sting carried out by Science, a leading mainline journal. The result should trouble doctors, patients, policymakers and anyone who has a stake in the integrity of science (and who doesn't?).
The business model of these "predatory publishers" is a scientific version of those phishes from Nigerians who want help transferring a few million dollars into your bank account.