The Diseases We Spend Our Health Dollars On – Washington Wire – WSJ

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Pie ChartAmericans spent the most–$234 billion–on circulatory diseases such as hypertension and heart disease in 2010.

Next came general preventive care and general medical care for everyday problems such as the common cold or flu, at $207 billion.

Musculoskeletal problems such back pain or arthritis came in third at $170 billion.

Some prominent disease categories represented smaller shares of spending.

For example, cancer represented 6.7% of spending, or $116 billion, and mental health conditions including dementia and depression accounted for 4.6% of spending, or $79 billion.

via The Diseases We Spend Our Health Dollars On – Washington Wire – WSJ.

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Health officials perplexed by vaccination skeptics – AP

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Boy gets shot vaccine injectionScientists have long assumed the problem is that some parents are simply misinformed, and providing them “corrective information” will clear things up. But some studies have shown that doesn’t seem to work. For example, in the last 15 years, a leading concern of many vaccine opponents is that shots trigger autism in children. One recent study found that some vaccine-opposed parents could be presented with medical evidence disproving that, and seemed persuaded. But they also said they still did not intend to vaccinate their kids.

via News from The Associated Press.

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Sign-up season is over, but the list of special enrollment events is expanding

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CalendarBy Michelle Andrews
KHN

When the annual sign-up period for individual Obamacare coverage ended earlier this month, it meant that in general, people are locked into their plans for the year.

There are exceptions, however, for those who experience life changes such as marriage, the birth of a child or the loss of their job-based coverage.

The list of situations that trigger a special, 60-day enrollment period will get longer in April, when a new rule issued by the Department of Health and Human Services takes effect.

The rule’s additional circumstances include:

  • Losing a dependent or dependent status because of divorce, legal separation or death. This provision would enable someone who no longer needs family coverage, for example, to switch to single coverage. Although not required until 2017, exchanges are encouraged to offer this as soon as possible.
  • An increase in an individual’s income to the federal poverty level in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid to adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($16,243 in 2015).At that income level, the person could qualify for premium tax credits that are available for those with incomes between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty level to make marketplace coverage more affordable.Last year, such individuals could also qualify for a special enrollment period, “but we read this as a bit broader,” says Sarah Lueck, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Last year, “you had to have applied for Medicaid to qualify.” Now, that’s not necessary.
  • If a court order requires someone to provide health insurance, the coverage must be available the first day the court order takes effect.“It’s extremely important for ensuring the coverage of children,” says Dania Palanker, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center.
  • People who are currently enrolled in non-calendar year plans will qualify for a special enrollment period when that coverage ends, even if they could renew them.

Please contact Kaiser Health News to send comments or ideas for future topics for the Insuring Your Health column.

Please contact Kaiser Health News to send comments or ideas for future topics for the Insuring Your Health column.

khn_logo_lightKaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Top five health stories of the week

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Credit: Dan Shirly

Credit: Dan Shirly

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5 things to know about the Supreme Court case challenging the health law

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Credit: Dan Shirly

Credit: Dan Shirly

By Julie Rovner
KHN

On March 4, the justices will hear oral arguments in King v. Burwell, a case challenging the validity of tax subsidies helping millions of Americans buy health insurance if they don’t get it through an employer or the government. If the court rules against the Obama administration, those subsidies could be cut off for everyone in the three dozen states using healthcare.gov, the federal exchange website. A decision is expected by the end of June.

Here are five things you should know about the case and its potential consequences:

1: This case does NOT challenge the constitutionality of the health law. Continue reading

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Going abroad to get medical care – Tips from the CDC

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From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Receiving medical care abroad can be risky.
Learn about the risks and how to minimize them.

Going Abroad for Medical Care

Airplane“Medical tourism” refers to traveling to another country for medical care. It’s estimated that up to 750,000 US residents travel abroad for care each year.

Many people who travel for care do so because treatment is much cheaper in another country.

In addition, a large number of medical tourists are immigrants to the United States returning to their home country for care. The most common procedures that people undergo on medical tourism trips include cosmetic surgery, dentistry, and heart surgery.

Risks of Medical Tourism

The specific risks of medical tourism depend on the area being visited and the procedures performed, but some general issues have been identified: Continue reading

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Immigration reforms don’t solve health issues

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BorderwallbrownsvileBy Tim Henderson
Stateline

President Barack Obama’s controversial executive action on immigration has highlighted a thorny health care issue for states: Potentially millions of immigrants could legally stay here and work, but still lack health insurance.

Unauthorized immigrants have limited access to health care coverage, and the president’s action likely will make them ineligible for most Medicaid services and bar them from purchasing insurance on the federal and state exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Some states have sought to solve the problem for low-income immigrants with separate state-funded insurance programs. Those that have not are wrestling with the consequences of a population that is going without routine care, which can drive up costs when preventable illnesses become serious health emergencies.

Millions of immigrants could legally stay here and work, but still lack health insurance.

Treating kidney disease as an emergency condition, for instance, costs almost five times what it would with routine care denied to unauthorized immigrants, according to a Baylor College of Medicine study published by the Texas Medical Association last year.

Unauthorized immigrants without health insurance present other problems for states. In Maryland, for instance, state attorneys face cases of criminally insane defendants who are no longer deportable but can’t get the follow-up care required for release into the community. Continue reading

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U.S. Push for Abstinence in Africa Is Seen as Failure Against H.I.V. – NYTimes.com

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AfricaThe $1.3 billion that the United States government has spent since 2005 encouraging Africans to avoid AIDS by practicing abstinence and fidelity did not measurably change sexual behavior and was largely wasted, according to a study presented on the last day of an AIDS conference in Seattle.

via U.S. Push for Abstinence in Africa Is Seen as Failure Against H.I.V. – NYTimes.com.

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Uninsured Ex-Sheriff Who Fought O-care Struggles To Pay Medical Bills

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Arizona FlagFormer Arizona county sheriff Richard Mack, a fierce opponent of Obamacare and a leader in the “constitutional sheriff” movement, is struggling to pay his medical bills after he and his wife each faced serious illnesses. The former sheriff and his wife do not have health insurance and started a GoFundMe campaign to solicit donations from family and friends to cover the costs of their medical care.

via Uninsured Ex-Sheriff Who Fought O-care Struggles To Pay Medical Bills.

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Going to the game? Pack earplugs and lose the vuvuzela, WHO says | Reuters

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Ear anatomy hearing Sports fans risk having their hearing ruined by deliberate attempts to increase stadium noise and they need to start seeing earplugs as something cool, the World Health

Organization said on Friday. Shelly Chadha, a WHO expert on preventing deafness, said some U.S. sporting crowds consider breaking noise levels as an achievement, and cited a 136.6 decibel world record claimed by Seattle Seahawks fans in 2013.

“Anybody who is exposed to 136 dB for even a minute is going to face some consequences,” she told a news conference.

via Going to the game? Pack earplugs and lose the vuvuzela, WHO says | Reuters.

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