Health

Brought to you in part by: Dartmouth-Hitchcock

Drug and alcohol abuse put a $1.84 billion strain on the New Hampshire economy in 2012, according to a new study. That figure was almost three percent of the state’s GDP in that same year.

Saturday marked the beginning of the second round of open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. And in New Hampshire that means a lot more options this time around for the nearly 100,000 residents without insurance.

Here's the problem: five insurers offering forty plans, each with varying premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and co-pays. Who could blame you for being confused?

New Hampshire residents get their second chance to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act starting Nov. 15. 

The second enrollment season for healthcare.gov runs through Feb. 15. More than 40,000 New Hampshire residents selected health plans during the first enrollment period, which ended March 31. 

Jack Rodolico

Once you hit 65, there’s a line of thinking that goes like this: Medicare is there to protect your health, and your wallet.

That’s mostly true. But about 10 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in New Hampshire – about 26,000 people – are susceptible to hospital charges that would be illegal on the private insurance market.

And most of those people are probably unaware if and when they pay those charges.

Richard Greene is one of those people. It all started with a pain in his shoulder.

The Lamprey Health Care center in Newmarket is getting a $242,000 grant through the Affordable Care Act to create or expand its mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.

The grant is part of $51 million in grants announced Thursday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The money is going to 210 health centers to expand services to 440,000 people around the country.

At Lamprey, the grant means the number of people in New Hampshire with access to mental health or substance abuse treatment will increase by just over 200.

NHPR

The Department of Health and Human Services is delaying part of New Hampshire’s Medicaid Managed Care program.

Transferring New Hampshire’s Medicaid program to so called managed care is a huge, sprawling puzzle. The idea is for private insurance companies to take over the state program that provides health insurance for low income residents. And the trickiest part will be transferring the care of the sickest residents – people with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injuries.

NHPR Staff

A new data set gives a bird’s eye view of New Hampshire’s uninsured residents – and how they stand to gain health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The data itself is not shocking. State health officials and insurers alike know New Hampshire’s most rural communities have the highest rates of uninsured. But this is the first time that information has been aggregated into a map that viewers can navigate on a county-by-county basis.

Vanderbuilt.edu

When her son came home from school one day last March, Jessica Giberson was disturbed. She noticed her son’s genitals were bruised and swollen. Giberson’s son is developmentally delayed.  

"He is nine years old. He’s more like a three year old in a nine year old’s body," says Giberson.

Giberson says she complained to the Crotched Mountain Foundation School, but that nothing ever came of it. Then in June, she got a call from the school.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

State health officials say in the highly unlikely event any Ebola patients are identified in New Hampshire, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon has agreed to accept them.

The Department of Health and Human Services says each of the state’s 26 hospitals are prepared to identify and isolate a potential Ebola patient, but that long-term care would be better managed at the Lebanon hospital, or a designated national center.

Outside of three cases in Dallas, Texas, no one in the U.S. has been diagnosed with Ebola.

Nicole McCracken

State health officials say a survey shows there’s progress being made in the battle against childhood obesity in New Hampshire.

A statewide survey that tracked the actual weights of third-graders finds obesity rates have dropped by a whopping 30 percent since 2008.

Director of Public Health José Montero says when he saw the numbers, he recalculated them all himself to make sure there wasn’t a mistake.

He says they’re correct, and mark a tremendous step forward in childhood health.

Patrick Ireland

Prescription drug abuse causes more deaths in New Hampshire each year than car accidents, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

New Hampshire’s prescription drug monitoring program launched Thursday.

David Strang, an emergency room doctor and chairman of the advisory board to the New Hampshire Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, says the program will make it harder for addicts and drug dealers to do what’s called “doctor shopping.”

Maine Community Health Options

One of the new insurers set to begin offering plans on New Hampshire’s health care exchange next year announced its rates Thursday.

Maine Community Health Options is one of five insurance companies offering plans in 2015.

The non-profit, member-run co-op, was the first to announce its rates, saying it will offer ten different plans and will include all of the state’s 26 hospitals in its provider network.

Dr. John Yindra, the company’s Chief Medical Officer, says people with chronic conditions will be able to choose from a range of plans, and costs should be low.

Jack Rodolico

Yusuf Valera resents that he has to buy health insurance. He’s never had it, and he says he doesn’t want it now.

"I don’t have much of a choice. If I don’t do it, then they’re going to take money out of my taxes anyway," Valera says.

The irony is Valera stands to gain - in a big way - from the Affordable Care Act. Yet like most New Hampshire residents, he simply doesn't like the law.

Mr.Ripp

State health officials say a New Hampshire resident has died from Eastern Equine Encephalitis, or EEE.

The Manchester resident was likely exposed to EEE in August, then passed away in September. This is the second EEE-related death and the third human case of EEE this year.

The virus spreads from birds to humans through mosquito bites. Symptoms come on like the flu, then in some people lead to encephalitis, or severe brain swelling.

Alex Proimos via Flickr CC

Gov. Maggie Hassan says more than 20,000 people have signed up for health coverage under New Hampshire's newly expanded Medicaid program.

New Hampshire's previous Medicaid program covered low-income children, parents with non-disabled children under 18, pregnant women, older residents and people with disabilities. The expansion adds anyone under 65 who earns up to 138 percent of federal poverty guidelines, which is about $15,900 for a single adult.

VGo/NHPR Staff

Football faces increasing criticism as mounting evidence shows the dangers of concussions, in particular undiagnosed concussions.

A new telehealth initiative at Dartmouth College aims to eliminate those undiagnosed concussions by bringing neurosurgeons to the sidelines--via robot.

On the sidelines of the Dartmouth/Penn football game, neurosurgeon Robert Singer watches carefully.

"A lot of these hits are shoulder hits. What we’re looking for are direct head to head kind of contact, that type of thing."

Associated Press

Hospitals across the state say they’re ready for the unlikely possibility that a patient with Ebola could walk through their doors.

There are a lot of reasons it is unlikely Ebola could come to the Granite State. There are no direct flights from West Africa to any New England airport. Also, Ebola only spreads from direct contact with an infected person.

St. Joseph Hosptial, Nashua

One in five Medicare patients treated for a list of common conditions - like pneumonia and heart failure -  are readmitted to the hospitals that treated them within a month.

One way the federal government is trying to improve that is by penalizing hospitals based on their readmission rates. It’s a provision of the Affordable Care Act that will hit 2,610 hospitals across the country next year, including nine in New Hampshire.

NHPR

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said the state will wait until April before it puts Medicaid patients with chronic conditions under the oversight of two managed care companies. In fact the state has not announced when that transition will happen.

New Hampshire is postponing a crucial phase of Medicaid managed care. The delay follows concerns raised by advocates of patients with complicated health conditions.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

Dartmouth-Hitchcock is working to stem the spread of scabies at its Lebanon facility. The infectious but non-fatal skin condition has been found in two people so far.

The first was a patient who arrived at the hospital in mid-August with a number of health conditions. That patient, who’s still in the hospital, wasn’t diagnosed with scabies until late September. Since then one Dartmouth staff member has been diagnosed and treated.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center is trying to prevent the spread of a skin condition known as crusted scabies. Also called Norwegian scabies, the disease is non-life threatening and easily treatable if caught in time.

Maine Community Health Options

A health insurance cooperative based in Maine has received $67 million federal loan to expand into New Hampshire’s healthcare exchange.

When the federal healthcare marketplace opened in 2013, Maine Community Health Options made waves when it grabbed a whopping 83 percent market share in Maine. The small cooperative outcompeted Anthem - the only other insurer on Maine’s marketplace at the time, and currently the only insurer on New Hampshire’s healthcare exchange.

Jack Rodolico

Anyone can take a first aid class to learn how to perform CPR or splint a broken bone. But how should you respond to someone not in a physical health crisis, but a mental health crisis?

Mental health professionals in New Hampshire are promoting a course in mental health first aid. The goal is to train the general public to recognize the signs of mental illness - and encourage them to intervene.

For 20 years, Charlie fought bruising battles with mental illness. When he was at his lowest point, here’s how he describes his life.

Centers for Disease Control

  One of the people infected with Eastern Equine Encephalitis in New Hampshire this year has died from the disease. The 51 year old woman spent nearly a month in the hospital before succumbing to the illness.

According to the online obituary of a Rhode Island Funeral Home, Diane Humphreys of Conway passed away in a hospice home in Maine on September eighteenth.

Humphreys was the first confirmed human case of triple E in the state back in August.

A plan to make the Monadnock region one of the healthiest communities in the country has received a financial boost from the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $1.1 million to Healthy Monadnock 2020, an initiative of Cheshire Medical Center-Dartmouth Hitchcock Keene. The hospital is working with schools, farmers and other private and public entities to prevent some of the leading causes of death, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Jason Meredith

New Hampshire has a higher rate of breast cancer than any state in the U.S. according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 2011 - the most recent data available is from back - out of every 100,000 people in the state, there were 141.7 cases of breast cancer. In part, that’s because of demographic; breast cancer is most prevalent in white women, and New Hampshire is about 94 percent white.

Jack Rodolico

The number of urgent care clinics in New Hampshire has almost doubled since 2012. And in the next year, three such clinics will open their doors in the City of Keene. That will mean more choices for patients in the Monadnock Region - and stiff competition for the clinics.

Urgent care clinics are often called retail healthcare. You’ll see the clinics in strip malls. The idea is you can walk in without an appointment, be treated by a doctor for anything from a bad cut to a broken finger to a sore throat, and get out -- quickly.

Jack Rodolico

New immigrants often face an unexpected challenge: how to navigate away from an American diet that takes a toll on your health? That’s becoming easier in New Hampshire due to a network of markets and farms that carry familiar foods for the state’s foreign residents.

New Hampshire is home to a small but growing immigrant population; about one in 20 Granite Staters are foreign born. And there’s an experience that unites many of them: that bewildering first visit to an American grocery store.

via SEC.gov

The six New England governors are urging the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary to reverse the Food and Drug Administration's approval of a powerful new painkiller, Zohydro.

In a letter dated Thursday, the governors of Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island tell Secretary Sylvia Burwell that the region is in the midst of an addiction crisis.

The drug Zohydro is an extended-release capsule that contains up to five times the amount of narcotic hydrocodone previously available in pills.

Michael Dorausch

A new study out of Dartmouth tracks a rise in healthcare costs across northern New England. It is not exactly surprising data. But what is new is that the information is even available.

Between 2008 and 2010, people on private insurance in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont saw healthcare costs climb by 4.5 percent annually.

For just shy of a decade, northern New England states have required insurance companies to report how much they pay for services like blood tests and X-rays. That’s important because, historically, these data lived in the dark.

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