Health

Updates on healthcare, nutrition, and medical research in Louisiana.

In Rural Alabama, Fighting HIV With A Game

Dec 3, 2014

HIV was once considered an urban problem. Now, parts of the rural South — where the stigma is strong but health resources and education are not – has some of the highest rates in the nation.

Don Benfield of Taylorsville, N.C., makes $11 an hour working for a mobile-home parts business, selling things like replacement doors and windows.

Benfield, 51, doesn't have health insurance.

"I haven't had health care insurance in years, simply because I haven't been able to afford it, especially with food prices, how they went up," he explains.

Benfield's employer does offer health insurance coverage, even though, with fewer than 50 employees, the business is not required to.

Healthcare.gov

It’s that time of year — the open enrollment period for health plans.

In the second year of insurance exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act, premiums in Louisiana, as elsewhere, will be higher on average.

“And there are some understandable reasons for that," said Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon. The No. 1 reason is that insurers can no longer turn away people with pre-existing conditions. "They have to take all comers."


An i1 Biometrics concussion-detecting mouth guard in its charging cradle.
Wallis Watkins

To keep a better eye on head injuries in the past, the LSU football team has had concussion detectors installed in players’ helmets. This season, LSU became the first team in the NCAA to try high-tech mouth guards to measure hits.


Diabetes is an expensive disease to treat, costing the United States $244 billion in 2012, according to an analysis of the disease's economic burden.

When the loss of productivity due to illness and disability is added in, the bill comes to $322 billion, or $1,000 a year for each American, including those without diabetes. That's 48 percent higher than the same benchmark in 2007; not a healthy trend.

The increase is being driven by a growing and aging population, the report finds, as well as more common risk factors like obesity, and higher medical costs.

You don't get a pass this year on big health insurance decisions because you're not shopping in an Affordable Care Act marketplace. Employer medical plans — where most working-age folks get coverage — are changing too.

Rising costs, a looming tax on rich benefits packages and the idea that people should buy medical treatment the way they shop for cellphones have increased odds that workplace plans will be very different in 2015.

On Election Day, Arizona voters approved a referendum that allows terminally ill patients to receive treatment with drugs and devices that haven't been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Arizona became the fifth state to approve a so-called right-to-try law this year.

The straight white men of Straight White Men aren't what you might expect. Near the beginning of the new off-Broadway play, two adult brothers play a homemade, family board game, refashioned out of an old Monopoly set. Because the family is liberal and progressive, it's called "Privilege." It makes fun of their own straight-white-male privilege.

"Ah, 'excuses' card!" one of the brothers exclaims. The other reads it aloud. "What I just said wasn't racist/sexist/homophobic because I was joking," he deadpans. "Pay $50 to an LGBT organization."

Lots of things can trigger an asthma attack, but one of the most common causes is odor — anything from the heavy scent of perfume to a household cleaner.

Jeffrey Craig Hopper is a probate attorney and Little League coach in Austin, Texas, so he knows all about following the rules. Still, accidents happen. Last June on the Little League field, an errant baseball smashed into his face.

His wife, Jennifer, remembers rushing to the field.

"His eye was swollen shut enough that we weren't sure if he could see," she says.

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