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26% had health insurance gap in 2011, study finds
April 19th, 2012
06:23 PM ET

26% had health insurance gap in 2011, study finds

The fate of health care reform legislation is still up in the air, resting with the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on the law's constitutionality in late June.

But today's news about health insurance isn't about the justices; it's about the people who had gaps in coverage in 2011.

The Commonwealth Fund Health Insurance Tracking Survey of U.S. Adults found that 26% of Americans had a hole in their health insurance coverage in 2011. That would equate to about 48 million people who were uninsured at some point during the year, the Commonwealth Fund said.

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Health care costs to surpass total income?
March 14th, 2012
03:13 PM ET

Health care costs to surpass total income?

Take a close look at the chart up above. It’s taken from a new paper, in the Annals of Family Medicine. If you believe the doctors who put it together, it tells one of the scariest stories you’ll ever hear.

The gentle upward slope represents the median income for an American family, projected through 2035. The lighter colored curve is projected average spending on health care - insurance premiums, and out of pocket costs.

With current trends, the authors say, in less than 20 years the average family will face medical costs that are higher than their total income. All of it.
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Could electronic medical records add costs?
March 5th, 2012
04:01 PM ET

Could electronic medical records add costs?

Electronic streamlining of medical records has been touted as a way to save money, against the backdrop of a health care system that is characterized as wasteful. Electronic medical records (or "Health IT") are supposed to save billions of dollars by eliminating duplicate or unnecessary testing.

But a new study is saying just the opposite: Health IT may actually add cost to health care instead of curbing it.

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Santorum takes on EPA over mercury limits rule
January 3rd, 2012
07:15 AM ET

Santorum takes on EPA over mercury limits rule

Speaking to voters in Iowa Monday, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania ripped the Environmental Protection Agency's new rule placing first-ever limits on the amount of mercury that coal-fired power plants can emit into the air.

The GOP presidential contender claimed the new regulations would shut down 60 coal fired power plants in America, and he charged the EPA with basing its study on a philosophy of: "We hate carbon, we hate fossil fuels, we hate blue-collar Americans who work in those areas."

He specifically took issue with the agency's cost-benefit analysis, calling it "absolutely ridiculous" and "not based on any kind of science."

But the EPA's cost-benefit analysis cites peer-reviewed studies extensively in its 510-page "Regulatory Impact Analysis of the Final Mercury and Air Toxics Standards," which has been two decades in the making.
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Drug shortages hit an all-time high
December 16th, 2011
10:22 AM ET

Drug shortages hit an all-time high

Between 2006 and 2010, drug shortages increased by more than 200%, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Thursday. There were a record 196 shortages last year, and even more are expected in 2012.

“These shortages often force Americans to go without treatment,” Senator Tom Harkin said.

Renee Mosier is one of those patients who has been forced to forgo treatment and look for alternatives. The 61-year-old was first diagnosed in 2006 with ovarian cancer. After several successful surgeries and chemotherapy treatments, the cancer came back this past June.
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November 15th, 2011
04:09 PM ET

Health threats loom at Occupy protests

The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN Senior Medical News Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

As fall turns to winter, health problems could plague Occupy protests across the country, infectious disease experts say.

In New York City, police removed Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park, citing an “increasing health and fire safety hazard to those camped in the park.” A judge subsequently issued an injunction allowing the protestors back in.

Occupy movements across the country face three challenges: winter, sanitation, and crowding, says Dr. Buddy Creech, an infectious disease expert and associate director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Program.

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Efforts to end worm disease get British boost
October 5th, 2011
01:49 PM ET

Efforts to end worm disease get British boost

Britain will back a final push to wipe out a debilitating parasitic worm disease that is on the verge of worldwide eradication.

Former President Jimmy Carter, World Health Organization's director-general Margaret Chan and British officials in London, announced Wednesday a new campaign to rid the world of the Guinea worm, making it the second disease to be eradicated.

The British government pledged about $30 million in eradication efforts. International Development Minister Stephen O'Brien and Carter emphasized the need for donors to match the funds to get rid of the guinea worm. FULL POST


Why end-of-life planning saves money
October 4th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

Why end-of-life planning saves money

It's something no one wants to think about, but a reality if worst happens: What do you want to happen if you are on the brink of death and can't communicate?

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that advance directives are linked to less Medicare spending, lower likelihood of dying in a hospital, and higher usage of hospice care in areas of the U.S. that tend to spend the most on end of life care generally.  Advance directives, also called living wills, are documents that specify what kind of treatment you do or don't want to be given in various situations when your life is on the line.

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Asking the right questions about health care
August 18th, 2011
07:29 AM ET

Asking the right questions about health care

Thomas Pynchon once said: “If they can get you to ask the wrong questions, then they don't have to worry about the answers.”

Here’s the wrong question: Should we cut back on or even dismantle Medicare, or should we just keep raising taxes and let the deficit continue to increase unabated? Since neither choice is optimal, the debate - some say debacle - in Washington these past few weeks about how to deal with our rising deficit, much of which is due to rising health care costs, has polarized and paralyzed our country.

There is a third alternative: When we address the underlying causes of most chronic diseases - our lifestyle choices - our bodies have a remarkable capacity to begin healing, and much faster than was once realized. When we address these lifestyle causes, then we can make better care available at lower cost to more people. And the only side effects are good ones.
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Lawyers go toe to toe over health care law
June 8th, 2011
09:23 PM ET

Lawyers go toe to toe over health care law

Like top boxing prospects warming up for a title fight, lawyers for and against the massive health care law – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – staged a duel in Atlanta Wednesday, over whether the law is constitutional. Several cases are winding their way through the courts, but this one is the biggest – led by the state of Florida, joined by 25 other states. In March, Federal Judge Roger Vinson ruled that a key part of the law, the so-called individual mandate, is unconstitutional. The “individual mandate” is the requirement that individuals purchase coverage if they aren’t otherwise insured through a job, or through Medicare or Medicaid.

Attorney Paul Clement, representing the state of Florida, argued that the federal government can’t force people to buy a product – in this case, insurance. “In 220 years, Congress has never seen fit to use this power.” U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal, defending the law, had a more complex case to make – that people without insurance are already part of the health care market – part of interstate commerce – except that when they end up needing care they don’t pay for it.

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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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