health care

It’s that time of year again: open enrollment period, when consumers choose a health plan for medical coverage.

Customers can browse for insurance at Washington Healthplanfinder, now in its third year.  

Ten million people still don't have health insurance two years after the Affordable Care Act went into effect.

Some never bought a policy. But 20 percent went to the trouble of signing up on, or one of the state insurance exchanges, and even made payments. Then, those 2 million people let their insurance lapse.

NPR asked visitors to our Facebook page to tell us why.

Teal Victoria reads to her 3-year-old daughter Kai at their northeast Seattle home. Kai is on a ventilator and is cared for around the clock at home by her mother and her nurses.
Courtesy of Trujillo

Dozens of young Washington children who are dependent on ventilators could be living at home, but are stuck in expensive hospitals instead.

That's because Medicaid pay for nurses to care for them at home is so low -- about $10 an hour less than the market rate, reporter Levi Pulkkinen told KUOW's Jeannie Yandel on The Record.

Most women don't need to start getting an annual mammogram to screen for breast cancer until they turn 45, according to the latest guidelines from the American Cancer Society.

Previously, the society recommended women start annual mammograms at 40 and continue every year for as long they remained in good health.

Flickr photo/sea turtle (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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Seattle may be one of the country’s most progressive cities, but it falls short on services for elderly LGBTQ people, according to University of Washington researchers.

So they advise creating a new program to train health and human service providers in caring for older adults who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Department of Veterans Affairs
Department of Veterans Affairs

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray is calling for disciplinary action after a Veterans Affairs investigation found that staffers in Seattle dumped mail about vets’ benefits in a yellow bucket and left it for months. 

If you're struck by a macaw, sucked into a jet engine or are having relationship problems with your in-laws, fear not: Your doctor now has a medical diagnosis code for that.

On Thursday, doctors, hospitals and health insurers must start using the ICD-10, a vast new set of alphanumeric codes for describing diseases and injuries in unprecedented detail.

Until recently, nurses at Los Angeles County Harbor-UCLA Hospital had to maneuver through a maze of wheelchairs, beds, boxes and lights to find surgical supplies in the equipment closet for the operating rooms.

But as public hospitals like Harbor-UCLA try to cut costs and make patients happier, administrators have turned to an unlikely ally: Toyota.

Judy Naillon called her insurer several months ago to find out why she was being charged $35 every month for birth control pills. Her friends said they were getting their pills free under the federal health law.

Why wasn't she getting the same deal?

Online health insurance marketplaces are central parts of the Affordable Care Act. And, the federally run exchange, is where 27-year-old Kathryn Ryan, a restaurant server in Philadelphia, turned for health coverage, as soon as the law took effect.

"I was excited because if it weren't for Obamacare, I wouldn't be insured at all," she says. "I wouldn't have the ability to go to the doctor."

She can afford health insurance thanks to a $200 a month subsidy that brings her premium down to $60 a month.

By 2018, the state of Washington should have a treasure trove of data on the cost and quality of health care.

In a leafy suburb of Cleveland, 108-year-old Lakewood Hospital is expected to close in the next two years, for economic reasons. Mike Summers points to the fourth-floor windows on the far left side of the historic brick building. He recalls spending three weeks in one of those rooms. It was Christmas 1965 and Summers had a broken hip.

"I remember hearing Christmas bells from the church across the street," he says.

Maria Fabrizio

It’s a discussion that most people avoid: end-of-life planning.

Doctors say it’s important to have these conversations while you’re still able. But let’s face it, talking about advanced directives can be uncomfortable, even terrifying.

Alice Beaty watches her son Adam work on speech exercises at their home in Bellingham, Wash., on March 27, 2015. Adam is recovering from a severe car accident. It was initially unclear if he would survive.
KUOW Photo/Mike Kane

Palliative care has often been associated with elderly people who are dying.

Not anymore. Today, palliative care is more than that. It means supporting patients and their families, no matter their age. And it doesn’t mean that death is imminent.

Mark and Alice Beaty learned this first hand. A year and a half ago, they received a phone call that every parent dreads. Their son Adam had been in a rollover car accident on Interstate 5. He was 27 years old.

Greta Austin's family faced the issues surround end-of-life care when her father, George Austin, was diagnosed with cancer. He is pictured here with his wife, Shirley, On Easter Day, 2013.
Courtesy of Greta Austin

Greta Austin has spent a lot of time in medical waiting rooms.

Two years ago last fall, her father came to Seattle from Wisconsin for treatment, and she sat with him at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.