Category Archives: Women’s Health

FAQ: Administration’s new contraception rules explained

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Photo: Matthew Bowden

Photo: Matthew Bowden

The Obama administration has released new rules they say will give employees of  religiously affiliated organizations a way to obtain contraceptive services as part of their health insurance coverage while respecting the religious beliefs of their employers.

The announcement follows a controversy that has dogged the administration as religiously affiliated employers objected to efforts to expand contraceptive options for women under the health law.

Under the accommodation, an eligible organization does not have to contract, arrange, pay or refer for contraceptive coverage

.The latest regulations seek to satisfy complaints about earlier guidance on contraception coverage that instructed these employers to notify their insurers or third-party administrators if they did not want to comply with the law’s contraception coverage based on religious objections.

The regulations unveiled Friday would allow religiously affiliated employers to notify the government – rather than their insurer – of their objections to the law’s coverage of birth control.

The government will then notify the insurer to provide the contraception coverage. Continue reading

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New birth control rules appear to track Supreme Court suggestion

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Top row (left to right): Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, and Associate Justice Elena Kagan. Bottom row (left to right): Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, and Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Those who favor women being guaranteed no-cost birth control coverage under their health insurance say the new rules for nonprofit religious organizations issued by the Obama administration simply put into force what the Supreme Court suggested last month.

“We interpret what  [the administration] did to be putting into effect that order,” said Judy Waxman, vice president for health and reproductive rights at the National Women’s Law Center. She’s referring to the controversial Supreme Court order in a lower court case involving Wheaton College, a Christian school in Illinois.

The unsigned order agreed to by six of the nine justices said Wheaton College need not fill out and send to its insurance company a form opting out of offering the coverage. Instead, it could merely inform the government of its objections.

The new rules unveiled Friday require those with religious objections to providing some or all FDA-approved contraceptives to do exactly that – notify the government rather than their insurance carriers that they cannot provide the coverage. Continue reading

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Women’s health – week 50: Uterine Fibroids

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tacuin womenFor the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Uterine fibroids 

Uterine fibroids are very common in women of childbearing age. Fibroids are noncancerous tumors that grow within the wall of the uterus.

Fibroids may grow as a single tumor or in clusters. A single fibroid can be less than one inch in size or can grow to eight inches across or more.

Most fibroids grow within the wall of the uterus.

Fibroids are described based on where they grow: Continue reading

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Some insurers refuse to cover contraceptives, despite health law requirement

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nuvaring contraceptiveBy Michelle Andrews
KHN

How much leeway do employers and insurers have in deciding whether they’ll cover contraceptives without charge and in determining which methods make the cut?

Not much, as it turns out, but that hasn’t stopped some from trying.

Kaiser Health News readers still write in regularly describing battles they’re waging to get the birth control coverage they’re entitled to.

“We’ve seen this happen, plenty.”

In one of those messages recently, a woman said her insurer denied free coverage for the NuvaRing.

This small plastic device, which is inserted into the vagina, works for three weeks at a time by releasing hormones similar to those used by birth control pills. Continue reading

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Women’s health – Week 49: TMJ

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Researcher on Women’s Health

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and muscle disorders are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and muscles that control jaw movement.

Some estimates suggest that TMJ disorders affect over 10 million Americans and appear to be more common in women than men.

The exact cause of TMJ is not clear. Trauma to the jaw or temporomandibular joint plays a role in some TMJ disorders but, in most cases, symptoms seem to start without obvious reason.

A variety of symptoms may be linked to TMJ disorders. Pain in the chewing muscles and/or jaw joint is the most common symptom. Continue reading

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Women’s health week – 48: Drugs

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

As with many other diseases, the likelihood of becoming addicted differs from person to person, and between males and females.

For substance abuse overall, men are about twice as likely as women to be dependent on most illicit drugs and/or alcohol.

When someone first begins using drugs, addiction does not seem like a dangerous disease, and a person may perceive what seem to be positive effects of drug use. Continue reading

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Women’s health – Week 47: Alcohol

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Even in small amounts, alcohol can have negative effects on a woman’s health. In some ways, heavy drinking is a lot more risky for women than it is for men.

Women who drink more than one drink per day increase their risk for motor vehicle crashes, other injuries, high blood pressure, stroke, violence, suicide, and certain types of cancer. Continue reading

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Women’s Health – Week 46: Stroke

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

A stroke, also called a brain attack, occurs when blood flow to the brain suddenly stops. Blocked or damaged vessels are the two major causes of stroke.

During a stroke, brain cells begin to die because oxygen and nutrients cannot reach them. The longer blood flow is cut off to the brain, the greater the damage.

Every minute counts when someone is having a stroke. Immediate treatment can save a person’s life and enhance the chance for a successful recovery.

stroke

Diagram showing what happens in the brain during a hemorrhagic stroke and a ischemic stroke.

There are two kinds of stroke: Continue reading

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Half of abortion clinics in Texas close due to new state law

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200px-Flag-map_of_TexasBy Carrie Feibel, KUHF
KHN / JULY 18TH

This story is part of a partnership that includes Houston Public MediaNPR and Kaiser Health News. 

In just over the past year, the number of abortion clinics in Texas fell from 41 to 20, and watchdogs say that as few as six may be left by September.

Many of those closed because of the requirement that doctors at those clinics obtain hospital admitting privileges within a certain radius of the clinic, and many doctors couldn’t comply. That requirement began November 1. This week marks the one-year anniversary of the law that started it all.

Bitter fighting over the law last summer propelled state senator Wendy Davis into the national spotlight, and she is now running for Texas governor on the Democratic ticket.

“We’re seeing delays,” said Heather Busby, executive director of  NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. “We’re seeing people being pushed further into pregnancy, having to leave the state, having to drive and sleep in their cars in parking lots because of these barriers to access.” Continue reading

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Senate Democrats fight to reverse Supreme Court, state abortion restrictions

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Most of the momentum in fights over birth control and abortion has been in the direction of opponents of late. But you wouldn’t know that by watching the U.S. Senate.

Democrats who control the chamber have scheduled a vote for Wednesday on a bill that would effectively reverse the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling regarding contraceptive requirements in the Affordable Care Act.

And on Tuesday the Judiciary Committee heard testimony on a separate, sweeping measure that would invalidate many state abortion restrictions. Continue reading

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Women’s health – Week 45: Sexually transmitted infections

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s HealthSexually

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs): also commonly called sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), are infections you can get by having sex with someone who has an infection. Continue reading

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Women’s Health – Week 44: Puberty

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tacuin womenFrom the Office of Research on Women’s Health

Puberty is the set of physical changes that occur when a person becomes sexually mature. Puberty usually occurs between ages 10 and 14 for girls and ages 12 and 16 for boys.

In girls, the first sign of puberty is often breast development. Other signs are the growth of hair in the pubic area and in the armpits. Sometimes acne appears and, eventually, menstruation begins. Continue reading

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Did the Supreme Court tip its hand on contraception cases yet to come?

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The Supreme Court’s opinion Monday holding that some for-profit firms do not have to provide women the contraceptive coverage required under the Affordable Care Act if they have religious objections addressed only half of the ongoing legal battle over the birth control mandate.

But those on both sides of the issue think the court’s majority may have telegraphed which way it could rule when one of those other cases reaches the justices. Continue reading

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Hobby Lobby decision may not be the last word on birth control cover

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The Supreme Court’s decision Monday saying that “closely held corporations” do not have to abide by the contraceptive coverage mandate in the Affordable Care Act may not give those firms the ability to stop providing that coverage after all.

More than half the states have “contraceptive equity” laws on the books that require most employers whose health insurance covers prescription drugs to also cover FDA-approved contraceptives as part of that package. Continue reading

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