health

Regional
4:32 pm
Sat March 22, 2014

With Enrollment Deadline Looming, 'Kynectors' Reach Out to Uninsured

Kynector Sandra Lindsey fielded questions Saturday from Jason Abney about obtaining health insurance.
Credit Lisa Autry

Just over a week from now is the deadline for Kentucky’s uninsured to get coverage through the state’s health care exchange known as Kynect.  The state is working to reach as much of the uninsured population as possible.

On Saturday, several Bowling Green residents turned out for a sign-up event at the Greenwood Mall.  Among them was 32-year-old Jason Abney who was frustrated trying to navigate the website on his own.

"I didn't know exactly which website to go to because when you pull up Kynect on the Internet, it goes to three or four pages at a time, and it was just a hassle," remarked Abney.

Abney has been without health insurance the past year-and-a-half.  He lost coverage when he left his job at a Bowling Green manufacturing plant. 

“I used to have insurance when I worked for Magna and it was pretty good insurance.  I had a car wreck and they paid a bunch of hospital bills, so it pays to have insurance," he added.

Abney got assistance from Sandra Lindsey with Community Action of Southern Kentucky.  She’s a ‘Kynector,’ someone who’s been trained by state officials to help the public navigate Kentucky’s health care exchange.

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Health
6:40 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Kentucky House to Consider Bill Legalizing Medical Research on Cannabis Oil

A bill that would permit state universities to research and prescribe medicinal cannabis oil has passed out of a House committee.

Lawmakers in the House Judiciary Committee approved Senate Bill 124 by a unanimous vote. 

The proposed legislation would permit the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky to study the effects of a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant that some say alleviate symptoms of some neurological disorders.

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Health
5:54 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

WKU to Seek Private Operators for Campus Health Services

The new WKU Health Services facility was built in 2008.
Credit WKU

WKU is seeking to privatize the on-campus Health Center that serves students, faculty, and staff.

In an email to WKU employees Wednesday afternoon, President Gary Ransdell said he and Vice-President for Finance and Administration Ann Mead met with WKU Health Center staff to inform them of the decision.

Dr. Ransdell said the school could realize $1 million in savings by allowing a private operator to run the health center. He also said private sector medical providers could operate WKU Health Services in a more efficient manner, and offer "enchanced services" for students, faculty, and staff.

Dr.Ransdell described the WKU Health Center staff as “terrific”, and said the school would encourage the successful bidder to continue to employ current workers. However, the WKU President acknowledged that couldn’t be guaranteed.

Health
4:00 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Young People Are Falling Into A Health Insurance Subsidy Gap

Ashante Thurston, John Riascos and Julieth Riascos talk with Mario Ricart, a private insurance agent, about buying health insurance at a kiosk at the Mall of the Americas in Miami last year.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 3:50 pm

Some young people seeking to buy health insurance are finding themselves falling into a subsidy gap that leaves them ineligible for financial assistance that was heavily advertised.

Subsidies in the health law were designed to lower insurance costs for people who make around $11,000 to $46,000 a year.

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Health
10:58 am
Sat March 15, 2014

Gay Couples Entitled To Equal Family Health Coverage, Fed Says

The family health insurance rule applies only to married couples and not to those who are in domestic partnerships or civil unions.
iStockphoto

What insurers offer to spouses in a traditional marriage, they must make available to same-sex couples, the federal government said Friday.

The change means that same-sex couples, who haven't been able to buy family health policies, will be able to do so now.

"It's a big deal," says Katie Keith, director of research at the Trimpa Group, a consulting firm that works on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. "If you identify as married, it's hard to stomach that you can't get family coverage."

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Health
5:00 am
Sat March 15, 2014

Rogers Wants FDA to Pull Painkiller Off the Market

Zohydro is coming under fire from some Congressional lawmakers, including Rep. Hal Rogers of Somerset.

A Kentucky Congressman is pushing legislation to force the withdrawal of a powerful painkiller from the market.

Somerset Republican Hal Rogers says the drug will only worsen the nation’s prescription drug abuse problems. Rogers describes Zohydro as a “crushable, pure hydrocodone pill” that threatens to become the next Oxycontin, another crushable painkiller that has been widely abused across the nation.

The Courier-Journal reports a single Zohydro pill has up to five times more hydrocodone that medications combined with non-addictive drugs, such as Vicodin.

In addition to the U.S. House legislation, a similar measure has been introduced in the Senate.

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg has defended her agency’s approval of Zohydro, saying that the drug doesn’t contain the same risk of potentially fatal liver damage that is found in other pain-killing narcotics.

Over 40 consumer watchdog groups have petitioned the FDA to pull Zohydro off the market.

Health
4:01 am
Sat March 15, 2014

Rethinking The Five-Second Rule: With Carpet, There's No Rush

Bacteria don't wear wristwatches. But they can take their sweet time hopping onto a potato chip.
Greg Williams/Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 4:47 pm

Many of us will happily eat a gummy bear or cookie after it falls on the floor, as long as we snatch it up quickly. Say, five seconds or less, right?

Well, science just gave us another excuse to continue this food-saving habit, especially when it comes to carpet-dusted snacks.

Biology students at the Aston University in Birmingham, U.K., measured how quickly two common bacteria hop aboard foods dropped on tiles, linoleum and carpet.

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Health
2:14 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

With Deadline Approaching, Nearly 300,000 Kentuckians Have Signed Up for Health Insurance

The deadline to sign up for insurance through the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange, and avoid a 2015 tax penalty, is March 31.

The vast majority of Kentucky's health benefit exchange enrollees are signing up for coverage under Medicaid.

Numbers released Thursday by the state show 80 percent of those who have signed up for medical coverage through Kentucky's benefit exchange have done so through the expanded Medicaid program. The remaining 20 percent will get coverage through private insurance companies.

Kentucky has enrolled nearly 300,000 people so far in its health exchange, known as Kynect. Deputy Executive Director Bill Nold says officials are pleased with the number of young Kentuckians who have signed up through the exchange.

"If you look at our total enrollment, about 48 percent are under the age of 35," Nold said.

Health exchange operators throughout the nation have been concerned that not enough younger, healthier people would sign up for coverage before the March 31 deadline.

Those younger customers are needed to subsidize health care for older and less healthy individuals.

Sign Up Saturday

To avoid a tax penalty in 2015, people must have signed up for insurance by the end of March, or at least be insured for nine months of the year.

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Health
4:05 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Wake Up And Smell The Caffeine. It's A Powerful Drug

We love our morning coffee, but what's really in that piping hot cup of java? It's a powerful drug called caffeine.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 7:31 am

Many of us can barely make it through the morning without first downing a cup of hot coffee. It's become such a big part of our daily rituals that few actually give much thought to what it is that we're putting in our bodies.

To help us break down the little-known things about caffeine, NPR's David Greene spoke with Murray Carpenter, author of Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts and Hooks Us. These are the things you probably aren't thinking about as you wait in line at your local coffee shop.

Caffeine is a drug. Treat it as such.

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Health
3:00 pm
Sun March 9, 2014

Health Insurance Enrollment Deadline Three Weeks Away

A major deadline looms at the end of the month for Kentuckians still seeking health insurance. 

March 31 is the last day until November to sign up for insurance on Kynect, the state’s online health exchange.

"They would not be able to enroll in coverage again until the next open enrollment  period which, right now, we understand to be starting November 15 for effective dates of coverage of January 1, 2015," explains Janie Miller, CEO of Kentucky Health Cooperative.  "So basically for the remainder of this year they would not be able to get coverage for themselves or their family."

There will be exceptions for qualifying events such as marriage or job changes.   

According to the state, 279,601 people had obtained health coverage on the exchange, including 222,719 individuals who enrolled in Medicaid and 56,882 individuals who picked up private insurance as of last Friday.

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