Crushing Medical Debt

Nearly a quarter of us owe past due medical debt, and hospitals are moving more aggressively to collect. The rise is the result of a tradeoff–Americans have avoided higher health insurance premiums only to be jeopardized by extremely high deductibles and out-of-network costs. Experts explain what unpaid medical debt can mean, how patients can escape its clutches, and how one charity works to buy and forgive debt.

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Hand Washing And Handshake Bans

Some hospital units have set up handshake bans because too few healthcare workers wash hands well enough to keep from spreading germs. The general public is even worse at washing hands, which has caused spread of serious disease. Some experts say handshakes foster important human connections and oppose bans. Experts discuss and describe what it takes to wash hands well enough to be “clean.”

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Bridging The Vax/Anti-Vax Divide

The debate over vaccination isn’t as civil as it once was, and leaves little room for common ground or even discussion. Pro-vaccine advocates often point to science showing safety and effectiveness, but as a noted medical humanities researcher explains, values common among anti-vaccine advocates lead them to reject this science, and both sides need to understand where the disconnect comes from.

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Medical Notes: Week of December 1, 2019

A look at the top medical headlines for the week of December 1, 2019, including: A study that finds that artery blockages discovered during stress tests can be managed with medication. Then, a study indicating cigarette smoking has hit an all-time low. Also, having more meatless burgers now could cut your dementia risk later. And finally, if people are more anxious these days, maybe it’s because they’re not getting enough sleep.

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Mass Violence: How Much Is Mental Illness To Blame?

Mass shootings and other forms of mass violence are on the increase. Where to assess blame is in sharp dispute. A new report from a blue ribbon panel of behavioral scientists has found that mental illnesses carry some of the blame, but mental “distress” is a much more likely factor. Panel members discuss mental health first aid, red flag laws, and other report recommendations on ways to prevent mass violence.

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Climate Change = Less Nutritious Foods

Rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are making crops grow bigger & faster. However, researchers have found that these crops contain significantly lower levels of protein, iron, zinc, and other important nutrients, potentially endangering nutrition for hundreds of millions of people. Experts explain the effect will get worse as CO2 levels continue to rise, and what might be done to combat the problem.

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