Morgan Gleason is one of 3 in a million. Just 15, she was diagnosed in 2010 with Juvenile Dermatomyositis, an inflammatory disease of the muscle, skin and blood vessels, according ton the American College of Rheumatology. There’s no cause, no cure and the treatment sounds positively awful — the treatment puts her at risk of contracting “the painful and serious condition of aseptic meningitis,” her mother writes.
And so it was that Morgan found herself hospitalized to treat aseptic meningitis. But she became fed up by the constant early morning interruptions by the medical team charged with caring for her. Her mother recorded this video of Morgan demanding better treatment. “They come in at 6 in the morning and they don’t all come together.” ”I need sleep … I’ve tried to tell them, I give better answers, I’ll participate more,” if I get enough sleep. “I am a patient, and I demand to be heard,” she says. Anyone who has been in the hospital can probably relate.
The flu shot is the best way to protect yourself against the flu, health officials say. (GabrielSaldana/Flickr)
State health officials reported Friday that fatalities from influenza now stand at 95 statewide — with another 51 deaths reported from local jurisdictions under investigation.
That brings the total to 146 deaths — more than the 106 deaths California had during all of last year’s flu season.
“We so far have a much more severe season,” said state epidemiologist Dr. Gil Chavez with the California Department of Public Health. A child in Riverside County was among last week’s fatalities, bringing to three the number of fatalities in children statewide. All of them were under age 10.
Chavez noted that the H1N1 strain is the culprit and says the strain causes more severe disease and more deaths. In addition, it tends to hit younger people harder, in particular those with pre-existing health conditions. Continue reading
There’s caramel, and then there’s caramel color. It turns out the two don’t have much to do with each other. This matters to you if you drink soda.
Caramel color is the additive in many soft drinks and some foods that turns them brown. Some types of caramel color contain a chemical called 4-methylimidazole or 4-Mel, and 4-Mel is potentially carcinogenic. In 2011, the state of California added 4-mel to the so-called Prop. 65 list — a list of chemicals known by the state to cause cancer.
Consumer Reports published an analysis of various brands of soda on Thursday. They found that two brands exceeded a level of 29 micrograms per can or bottle: Pepsi One and Malta Goya. Consumer Reports cites state data showing daily consumption above that amount would cause one excess case of cancer in every 100,000 people. Continue reading
Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California. (Max Whitaker/Getty Images)
In issuing a final tally of 2013 enrollment, Covered California reported Monday that 500,108 people signed up for one of its health plans. Another 125,000 people enrolled in a health plan during the first two weeks of January, said Peter Lee, executive director of the agency.
“The momentum we have from the end of last year is still going strong,” Lee said in a press conference.
At her first doctor’s appointment, she was told that the practice was not taking any Covered California plans.
Medi-Cal, California’s public health insurance program for people who are low income or disabled, also showed strong enrollment — 584,000 additional applicants to Covered California appear to be eligible. When adding that number to the 630,000 Californians who transitioned to Medi-Cal from the Low Income Health Program on Jan. 1, more than 1.2 million Californians are newly insured in Medi-Cal. “Powerful numbers,” Lee said. “We are touching millions of Californians.” Continue reading
Patti Neighmond, NPR
Latino immigrants in the U.S. say the quality and affordability of health care is better in the U.S. than in the countries they came from, according to the latest survey by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. But many report having health care problems.
About a third of immigrant respondents (31 percent) said they’d had a serious problem with being able to pay for health insurance in the past 12 months. And more than 1 in 4 had a serious problem affording doctor and hospital bills and prescription medicines.
But the health issue that Latinos said is most concerning for them and their families — whether they were born in the U.S. or immigrated here — is diabetes. Last year, in another poll, Latinos said cancer was the biggest problem facing the country.
Hispanic populations have a high prevalence of Type 2 diabetes. About 10 percent of Latino adults have been diagnosed with it or have “prediabetes,” a stage of the disease that often goes undetected. Continue reading
Did this baby’s hospital charge $3,300 or $33,000 for delivery — or somewhere in between? (Shingo/Flickr)
The most common reason for hospitalization in the United States is childbirth. A new study published Thursday adds to the depth of research on cost variation in the American medical system.
In the study, researchers at U.C. San Francisco looked at 110,000 uncomplicated births across California and found that hospital charges for a vaginal delivery ranged from $3,296 to $37,227 and for a caesarian section the range was $8,312 to $70,908.
For health policy researchers, this is not a big surprise, said lead author Dr. Renee Hsia, an associate professor of emergency medicine at UCSF, but “most people that aren’t familiar with health care variation would be surprised and distressed.” Continue reading
Screen shot from CoveredCA.com, the website of Covered California.
Federal officials reported Monday that 2.2 million people nationwide have selected a plan in the new health insurance marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act. Nearly 500,000 of them are Californians.
The numbers were released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which also reported demographics across age groups, gender and tier of plan chosen.
While California makes up about 12 percent of the nation’s population, the state’s enrollment is 22 percent of the national total. Continue reading
By Patti Neighmond and Richard Knox, NPR
More than 1 in 4 adult Americans say they’ve recently suffered a bout of low-back pain. It’s one of the most common reasons people go to the doctor. And more and more people are being treated for it.
America spends more than $80 billion a year on back pain treatments. But many specialists say less treatment is usually more effective.
In fact, there’s evidence that many standard treatments for back pain — surgery, spinal injections and painkillers — are often ineffective and can even worsen and prolong the problem.
Dr. Jerome Groopman agrees with that premise. He suffered back pain for almost 20 years. He was a young marathon runner 32 years ago when back pain struck out of the blue.
“I couldn’t run. It was difficult to sleep,” he says. “I wasn’t confined to bed, but I was hobbling around.” Continue reading
It’s early days here in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
Friday morning, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Larry Levitt, an expert in health insurance policy, sent out a series of tweets. He said he hoped they were “concise thoughts on enrollment mix and the ACA.” Indeed, the tweets are a quick and insightful read:
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The governor’s budget is out and for the first time in years, California is expecting a multibillion dollar tax surplus. The governor is proposing a $8 billion in increased spending, with $670 million earmarked to expanded benefits under Medi-Cal.
The expanded benefits include mental health, substance use disorder, adult dental, and specialized nutrition services.
In his proposal, Brown noted that Medi-Cal is the “budget’s second largest program.” In keeping with his approach to being fiscally prudent, Brown included a warning about health care inflation and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. From his budget: Continue reading