Kentucky’s public health commissioner is encouraged by the number of young adults who enrolled in health insurance on Kynect, the state’s online health exchange.
Fifty percent of new enrollees were under the age of 35, which Dr. Stephanie Mayfield says should mean cost savings.
"You would think this would be a healthier population who would be accessing the system for preventive measures and not as many chronic diseases," explained Mayfield. "It's an opportunity to intervene in the still relatively early years and have less of a financial impact on the system."
Dr. Mayfield spoke Tuesday at WKU about Kentucky’s health challenges.
The state has several initiatives underway that include reducing the rates of smoking, obesity, and cancer deaths, all by 2019.
With this year's deadline to register for individual health insurance just a weekend away, much attention is being lavished on two numbers — the 6 million Americans who have signed up so far, and the percentage of those folks who are (or aren't) young.
But experts say the national numbers actually don't mean very much.
The number of drug-addicted babies in Kentucky who are hospitalized has increased significantly in a little more than a decade.
The Courier-Journal cited a recent report from the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center showing that the number has gone from 28 in 2000 to 824 in 2012.
Although a multi-pronged effort was launched last year to fight the rising number of addicted newborns, medical professionals say it's not enough. Treatment centers are struggling to stay open, there are waiting lists to get in, and too many babies are born struggling.
Preliminary figures in the state report suggested that number of newborns treated for addiction rose even further in 2013 to more than 900.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
The Kentucky Senate has passed a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe, and patients to use, cannabis-based oil for medical purposes. The non-intoxicating cannabidiol has been used in other states to treat severe seizures in children, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder.
The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Julie Denton of Louisville who says the oil would be studied by Kentucky research universities. Doctors would be able to send patients to those universities to acquire the oil. The bill drew no vocal opposition in the Senate chamber.
It cleared the state Senate on Wednesday with a unanimous vote. The bill now moves to the Kentucky House for consideration.
The Kentucky House has passed a measure aimed at blocking minors from using tanning beds. The measure cleared the House on a 61-31 vote Monday and now goes to the state Senate for consideration.
The bill is sponsored by Democratic Representative David Watkins of Henderson. He cites rising rates of skin cancer, especially among young women, as the reason for his proposal to keep people under the age of 18 from becoming customers at tanning facilities.
The bill would make exceptions for minors who have been prescribed the use of tanning beds by physicians.