Health and Wealth

Health money
Tax Credits / Flickr

 A health insurer has agreed to pay Missouri $4.5 million for covering certain elective abortions and failing to cover some autism treatments.

At schools that offer comprehensive sex education, students tend to get the biology and the basics — they'll learn about sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, how to put a condom on a banana and the like.

But some public health researchers and educators are saying that's not enough. They're making the case that sex ed should include discussion about relationships, gender and power dynamics.

Susanne Byerly can laugh now, four years later, talking about how she and her husband were trying to eat healthy food when they bought ground turkey for their spaghetti dinner.

Byerly, along with her husband, Jerry, and their two-year-old, Jack, were on vacation with extended family in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. While buying supplies at a local grocery store, they decided to swap ground beef for poultry because they were watching their weight.

alamosbasement / flickr

  

  When it comes to kids, physical health may be what sends them to the doctor. Scrapes and fevers may get students sent to the school nurse.

But studies from the National Institute of Mental Health show that half of all mental disorders start by age 14, and almost half of teens have a mental disorder.

Several years ago, Missouri State Representative Holly Rehder’s daughter struggled with prescription drug abuse. “She had cut her thumb at work and went and got stitches and got a prescription,” Rehder recalls. When her prescription ran out she continued using the pain killers, says Rehder, “because they were so easy to obtain.”

Now, Rehder is sponsoring a bill to make it harder for addicts to obtain drugs in Missouri.


Even as end-of-life planning gains favor with more Americans, African-Americans, research shows, remain very skeptical of options like hospice and advance directives. The result can mean more aggressive, painful care at the end of life that prolongs suffering.

KOMUnews / Flickr

Dr. Claudia Preuschoff is a pediatrician in Poplar Bluff. She often treats children from rural communities in her area, especially those who may need more than primary care.

“I just had a referral last week from a nurse practitioner in a much more rural area,” Preuschoff said. “The question was 'Do you think this child has autism, and if so what are we going to do about it?'”

According to a study by the CDC, the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder diagnoses in the United States more than doubled between 2000 and 2010.

In rural areas - where there are few medical specialists - the increase in identified cases of autism can be especially difficult to manage.

McDonald County, in the rural far southwest corner of Missouri, ranked last in the 2014 County Health Rankings for clinical care compared to other Missouri counties, a measure which includes access to doctors, dentists, number of residents who are uninsured, and a few other factors.


A hospital closure can send tremors through a city or town, leaving residents fearful about how they will be cared for in emergencies and serious illnesses.

A study released Monday offers some comfort, finding that when hospitals shut down, death rates and other markers of quality generally don't worsen.

On Saturday the Broadway Christian Church in Columbia will be hosting the mid Missouri Health Expo.

Jack Howard/KBIA

Missouri is home to two of the nation’s least accessible cities - St. Louis and Springfield. A group named WalletHub gathered information to compile this list of accessible cities. And one criteria it used was how easily people with disabilities can move around. Or, in the case of these cities, can’t.

But a new accessibility app called Compeer is currently being beta tested and may soon be able to help those with disabilities navigate cities more easily.

Tyler Adkisson

The six speakers representing the City of Columbia — including Mayor Bob McDavid — all shot a very clear set of data-backed messages to state legislators. But even with a multitude of statistics, one main point reigned above all others.

"So it's disingenuous for some legislators to say that we can't afford to expand Medicaid, just as it's disingenuous to say that Medicaid is broken," Fourth Ward City Council Member Ian Thomas said.


Updated at noon ET.

Nepal's devastating earthquake that hit Saturday is now blamed for at least 4,000 deaths. Reconstruction is estimated to cost billions. International aid efforts are underway, but aftershocks are rattling survivors' nerves and making the recovery even more challenging.

Rescue crews and aid groups are working to reach survivors — but their efforts are being hampered by the stricken areas' remote locations. Roads that are drivable are clogged with traffic.

Privately run Medicare plans, fresh off a lobbying victory that reversed proposed budget cuts, face new scrutiny from government investigators and whistleblowers who allege that plans have overcharged the government for years.

Mothers Exchanging Breast Milk Online in Columbia

Apr 22, 2015
Micheala Sosby / KBIA

When Sarah Cranston met Danielle Geurts, she had a lot of questions. She wanted to know about Geurts’ caffeine consumption, any medications she took, and her baby’s health. Cranston wanted to be sure Geurts’ breast milk was safe for her own 6-month-old son, Ian.

Cranston and Geurts met on a Facebook page for mothers looking to either donate or receive breast milk.

    

In Drogaria Tefé, a pharmacy in the small city in of Tefé in the Brazilian Amazon, the powerful antibiotic Clindamycin is as easy to access as a chocolate bar. The clerk will sell you either without a prescription. 

The Affordable Care Act requires all Americans to get health insurance or pay a penalty. To help coax people to buy a health plan, the federal government now subsidizes premiums for millions of Americans.

Lucia Sebastian is the Language Assistant at the Head Start in Noel, Missouri. She works with the numerous immigrant children who have limited English skills and need help to communicate.

She has a four-year old daughter enrolled at Head Start, but she recounted an incident where Head Start was instrumental in helping her older son, Victor.

When her son was eleven years old, he was playing baseball with a friend in the yard and got hit in the mouth with the bat. The blow knocked out several teeth, but Sebastian was unsure she could afford the costs of taking Victor to the hospital.


Gov. Nixon re-launches 100 Missouri Miles Challenge

Apr 16, 2015
Tyler Murry / KBIA

The Missouri Governor renewed his challenge to  Missourians to get outside and stay healthy.

Juhan Sonin / Flickr

Think about the information your doctor’s office or health insurance provider collects about you: your address, birthday and social security number. But they also have your medical history, current conditions and information about your insurance policy connected to your file.

 

All of this information is incredibly personal and to a hacker, it's incredibly valuable.

 


This piece comes from the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organization.

In February, Medicare announced that it would pay for an annual lung cancer screening test for certain long-term smokers. Medicare recipients between the ages of 55 and 77 who have smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for 30 years are now eligible for the annual test, known as a spiral CT scan.

Grant Gerlock

Just over a year ago, Tracy Dethlefs learned she has stage 1 breast cancer. Since then, she estimates she’s charted some 10,000 miles travelling from her farm near Loup City in central Nebraska to area hospitals for treatment. Every surgery, round of chemotherapy and radiation treatment was a road trip.

“Radiation treatments usually (take) only about 5 minutes (on) a day that they have to see you,” Dethlefs said. “But for a week, for seven weeks in a row, you’re driving every single day to the cancer treatment center. We’re about an hour away from cancer centers.”

 


j. stephenconn / Flickr

Some mental health providers in rural Missouri are raising concerns about a provision passed by the Missouri Senate that would shift about 200,000 Medicaid recipients onto privatized managed care programs.

Loretta Fuge is a psychologist based in Mansfield, Mo. Currently, Fuge is reimbursed for seeing Medicaid patients through the state’s fee-for-service model. She has some experience with managed care and, she says, she isn’t a fan.

Jack Howard/KBIA

After the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, electronic health records were put into effect in 2012 and were intended to reduce paperwork and increase the quality of care.

 

But when it came to nursing homes, the New York Times reported in August 2014 that staffing records used to rate nursing homes were mostly self-reported and possibly skewed. According to federal documents, a series of improvements including a more regulated, electronic system of staff recording, similar to that adopted under the ACA, were proposed to improve the care for nursing home patients.

 


By law, many U.S. insurance providers that offer mental health care are required to cover it just as they would cancer or diabetes care. But advocates say achieving this mental health parity can be a challenge.

Shelter Insurance will donate $450,000 to a project to build an apartment complex and temporary homeless shelter for veterans in Columbia called Patriot Place.  

The plan is to renovate the former Deluxe Inn on Business Loop 70 East into a campus with 25 on-site apartments and a temporary homeless shelter. There will also be space for case management and support services.

To survive, we humans need to be able to do a handful of things: breathe, of course. And drink and eat. Those are obvious.

We're going to focus now on a less obvious — but no less vital — human function: learning. Because new research out today in the journal Science sheds light on the very building blocks of learning.

Hidden inside all of us are likely thousands of viruses — maybe more. They just hang out, harmlessly. We don't even know they're there.

But every once in a while, one of these viral inhabitants might help us out.

Young people infected with a type of herpes virus have a better immune response to the flu vaccine than those not infected, scientists at Stanford University report Wednesday. In mice, the virus directly stops influenza itself.

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