Health care

37,000 AT&T workers go on strike

(Reuters) – About 37,000 AT&T workers, or less than 14 percent of the company’s total workforce, began a three-day strike on Friday after failing to reach an agreement with the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier over new contracts.

This is the first time that AT&T wireless workers are on strike, which could result in closed retail stores during the weekend, according to the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union. The workers on strike are members of the CWA.

The workers are demanding wage increases that cover rising healthcare costs, job security against outsourcing, affordable healthcare and a fair scheduling policy.

Slightly over half of the workers on…

Global access to quality health care has improved in the last two decades

map of countries
HEALTH CARE PALETTE Countries shaded with cooler hues had better health care quality and accessibility in 2015 than those with hotter colors. Researchers created the Healthcare Access and Quality Index to assess each country’s status.

Health care quality and availability improved globally from 1990 to 2015, but the gap between the haves and the have-nots widened in those 25 years, researchers report online May 18 in The Lancet.

As an approximate measure of citizens’ access to quality health care, an international team of researchers analyzed mortality rates for 32 diseases and injuries that are typically not fatal when effective medical care is available. The team…

The Global Cyberattack And The Need To Revisit Health Care Cybersecurity

National Health Service (NHS) ambulance outside of Waterloo Station, London.

Last week’s global cyberattack garnered wide media attention, as it spread across nearly 150 countries. Among its primary victims was the United Kingdom’s National Health Service system, causing massive shutdowns and inconveniences to the country’s health care infrastructure. Though certainly not the only internationally scaled cybersecurity threat in recent years, this attack’s consequential impacts should serve as a stark reminder of the significant vulnerabilities within the intersection of technology and medicine.

Accordingly, experts need to revisit a few areas of concern in the health care industry which may be conducive to increased cybersecurity threats in the coming years.

Hospital/Health Care Systems

The Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Civil Rights, which oversees the enforcement of patient privacy laws such as HIPAA (Health Information Portability and Accountability Act), contends “that [the] personal health data of 30 million Americans has been compromised since 2009.” With the advent of electronic medical records and digital systems to store patient data, hospitals have become critically dependent on electronic media to provide patient care, and have thus become ripe targets for hackers which seek to extort or cripple large health care systems. Similar to the UK’s current crisis, extortionists often encrypt vital system and patient files, making it impossible to move forward with treatment or patient care. While some hackers cyber security seek payment prior to releasing the files, far larger concerns emerge when patient data itself is stolen, giving access to vital information about an individual’s health care records and overall biography. The potential misuse to this data is limitless, as medical records and specific patient files can fetch up to $500 to $1200 (per record) in unregulated forums.

Medical Devices

Revolutionary innovations in health care such as pacemakers, insulin pumps, and other medical implant devices have made it easy for patients to seek personalized and convenient care. However, many of these devices have…

Miss USA 2017 Kára McCullough Clarifies Her Controversial Stances on Feminism and Health Care

On the heels of her Miss USA win, Kára McCullough is spending her first days with the crown putting out the flames on a controversy her words ignited.

During the Q&A portion of the annual beauty pageant, the Washington, D.C. winner was asked whether she considered affordable health care for all United States citizens a right or a privilege.

“I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege,” she answered Sunday night. “As a government employee, I am granted health care and I see firsthand that for one to have health care, you need to have jobs.”

She also came under fire for her take on feminism, which she would like to exchange for the term, “Equalism.” “I don’t want to consider myself like this die-hard, you know, like, ‘I don’t really care about men,'” she said. “One thing I’ll say, women, we are just as equal as men when it comes to opportunity in the workplace.”

Kára McCullough, Miss USA 2017, Good Morning America
Kára McCullough,…

Miss USA clarifies: Healthcare ‘should be a right’

Miss USA clarifies: Healthcare 'should be a right'

The newly crowned Miss USA on Tuesday sought to explain that she thinks she is “privileged” to have healthcare, but that it should be a right.

“I would like to just take this moment to truly just clarify because I am a woman — I’m going to own what I said. I am privileged to have healthcare,” Kara McCullough said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“And I do believe that it should be a right and I hope and pray moving forward that healthcare is a right for all worldwide.”

McCullough ignited a firestorm on Twitter after her…

Jimmy Kimmel slams critics of his emotional health-care plea, calls out Newt Gingrich

Jimmy Kimmel (screengrab via ABC)

A week after Jimmy Kimmel shared the news about his newborn son’s heart defect — and made an emotional plea about preexisting conditions amid the health-care debate — he returned to his late-night show on Monday to huge applause from his studio audience.

“I made an emotional speech that was seen by millions. And as a result of my powerful words on that night, Republicans in Congress had second thoughts about repeal and replace…I saved health insurance in the United States of America,” Kimmel said triumphantly. He paused, then was “shocked” to discover the controversial bill passed in the House. “What’s that? I didn’t? I didn’t save it? They voted against it anyway?! I really need to pay more attention to the news.”

Anyway, Kimmel said, his son Billy is doing well. Kimmel also thanked viewers for their support. Then he noted that some people were very critical of his health-care comments. As you might expect, he did not hold back.

“I know this is gonna shock you — there were also some not-so-nice things that people said online about me, including members of the media,” said Kimmel, showing headlines from the New York Post (“Jimmy Kimmel’s obscene lies about kids and medical care”) and the Washington Times (“Shut up Jimmy Kimmel, you elitist creep.”)

Kimmel said he was proud of that label, because when he was growing up drinking powdered milk when his family couldn’t afford the liquid, his dream was to become an out-of-touch Hollywood elitist. “I guess it came true!” he exclaimed.

He continued the sarcasm. “I would like to apologize for saying that children in America should have health-care. It was insensitive,” Kimmel deadpanned. “It was offensive and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.”

He saved most of his ire for Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House. “There are some very sick and sad people out there. Here’s one of them, his name is Newt Gingrich,” Kimmel said. He ran a clip of Gingrich on “Fox News Sunday” criticizing Kimmel’s comments and saying that when a newborn has a heart problem, doctors will help immediately, and not wait until the family cuts a check.

“Yes, it is true that if you have an emergency, they will do an operation. And that’s terrific if your baby’s health problems are all solved during that one visit. The only problem is…

Saudi Women Will No Longer Need Men’s Permission to Seek Education, Health Care

Saudi Arabia is slowly – but surely – starting to join the modern world in terms of gender equality

Though the kingdom is still one of the most gender segregated nations in the world, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud announced that women will finally be allowed to work, study, and seek health care without needing a man’s consent.

This will allow millions of women to start employment in the private and public sector, pursue an education, and explore medical treatment…

How to Handle a Massive Medical Bill

“Have you noticed that your neck appears swollen?” That’s what the nurse practitioner asked about halfway through what I had assumed was a routine office visit.

Soon after, I was swiftly catapulted into a long series of office visits that were anything but routine. There were ultrasounds, biopsies, consults with specialists, an invasive surgery, an overnight stay in the hospital, and eventually, the ok from my docs to go about living a normal life.

That’s when the medical bills started rolling in.

Turns out I could kick thyroid cancer to the curb, but it wouldn’t be cheap. Medical care is expensive, not just for me, but also for the one in four American adults under age 65 who have past-due medical bills, according to a recent study released by the Urban Institute.

Still, knowledge is power. At least, it is according to the same Urban Institute study, which reported, “Adults with greater financial knowledge are less likely to have past-due medical debt.”

That’s good news for Wise Bread readers, who are keenly interested in the fate of their financial futures. Even so, a surprise bill, particularly a large one, can take even the most educated saver by surprise. The silver lining here is that there are several specific steps you can take to help minimize the pain that often comes with the arrival of an unexpected medical expense. (See also: What to Do If You’re Hit With a Huge Medical Bill)

1. Scrutinize your bill

According to various sources, as many as eight in 10 medical bills contain some sort of error — sometimes even multiple errors. I’m not surprised. Mine sure did.

When that first hospital bill arrived, it was for more than my annual deductible. A lot more. After suffering what felt like a small panic attack, I called my insurance company. As it turned out, they hadn’t received a bill from the hospital. Instead, the hospital had billed me directly.

It took a few frustrating phone calls, but the hospital ultimately fixed the mistake. Still, had the bill been for a less egregious amount, I may have overlooked the error and just paid it. I mean, how many of us scour the line items of those bills?

Turns out, we should.

“Sometimes, insurance companies or doctors’ offices make mistakes that they don’t realize,” says financial coach Maggie Germano. “They may have simply miscoded something. It’s up to you to follow up and make sure they aren’t charging you when they shouldn’t be.”

2. Negotiate with your health care provider

Looking over an itemized hospital bill…

Congressman fresh out of surgery is all smiles as he votes to take away your health care

Congressman Jason Chaffetz, R-UT, made sure to vote against Obamacare -- even after just getting surgery.
Congressman Jason Chaffetz, R-UT, made sure to vote against Obamacare — even after just getting surgery.

Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz from Utah was supposed to be at home resting from foot surgery related to a 12-year-old injury — instead he scooted into the Capitol with a big smile on his face as he voted to kill Obamacare.

The irony, of course, is that the House’s rushed health care repeal bill would allow states to get rid of protections for people with pre-existing conditions…

7 Ways Makers Are Increasing the Care in Health Care

What if hospitals had in-house makerspaces so that doctors and nurses could modify off-the-shelf medical supplies for increased patient comfort? That would be amazing. What happens when makers collaborate with disabled people to design accessible, low-cost medical devices? Innovation. Increasingly, makers are lending their skill sets toward amping up the care in health care. For instance, MakerHealth is not only leading the charge in helping to create makerspaces in hospitals, but they’re also building a powerful network of health care providers sharing how-tos. And with maker-made innovations like the mouth-controlled input device that enables people with little or no hand movement to operate a touchscreen device, the future of health care is looking brighter every day. Read on to learn more about seven powerful ways makers are helping people live fuller lives. Then come on out to the 12th annual Maker Faire Bay Area, May 19–21, to meet these makers and get inspired.

Makers Making Change

B.C. Canada’s Makers Making Change connects makers to people with disabilities who need assistive technologies. Together they co-create access solutions. Makers Making Change offers a repository of open-source assistive technologies, and in January of this year, they held a 48-hour Access Makeathon, where each person with a disability was linked up with a team of makers who built an open-source solution that directly addressed a need of the person they were paired with. Makers got the chance to apply their skills to address a real-world and each disabled person left the event with a working prototype that improved their quality of life. One of their featured projects is called LipSync, a mouth-controlled input device that enables people with little or no hand movement to operate a touchscreen device.

LipSync is open source, affordable, 3D-printable, Arduino-based, Bluetooth-enabled, and wheelchair-mountable. It can be built in a weekend, employs easy-to-source hardware, and costs around $300 instead of $1,500 (for the off-the-shelf equivalent).

From their site:

The Lipsync is a mouth-operated joystick that allows a person to control a computer cursor with a minimum of head and neck movement. All the electronics are housed in the ‘head’ of the device so there are no additional control boxes, making the LipSync a good candidate for portable, wheelchair-mounted applications. The mouthpiece is attached to a precision miniature joystick sensor that requires only a very slight pressure on the shaft in order to move a cursor on the screen. The mouthpiece is hollow and allows a person to perform left and right mouse button clicks by alternatively puffing or sipping into the tube.

An estimated 1,000,000 people in Canada and the United States have limited or no use of their arms, meaning they are unable to use touchscreen devices that could provide access to helpful apps and services. While solutions exist for desktop computers, they can cost up to $3,000 and do not work well on mobile devices.

On Saturday, May 20, Makers Making Change cofounder Chad Leaman will be speaking in Expo Hall on the Make: Live Stage at 4:15 p.m.

Here’s Leaman demonstrating how LipSync works:


Born out of MIT’s Little Devices Lab in 2008, MakerHealth originally began as part of an approach to reinvent the way MIT students were taught medical device design. The founders observed health care professionals around the globe creating their own modified solutions, and they recognized the potential positive impact of training these folks on the front line to go from from providers to prototypers. After all, these are the people who are most in touch with the direct needs of patients, many of whom are not served by off-the-shelf generic solutions. In a nutshell, Maker Health is out to revolutionize health care. They put it best, in their description that makes you want to jump up and say, “Let’s do this!”:

We believe everyone can be a medical maker. In a world where health care technology is increasingly black boxed and unaffordable, we found a stealth community of innovators working around the clock to make health better, by making their own devices to make us better. These are the health makers, the tinkerers and the explorers that inspire our team to create instruments, to rewrite medical education, and to build the invention infrastructure in hospitals around the world. Whether it’s a prototyping kit part of tomorrow’s doctor’s bag, or a MakerHealth Space laboratory dreaming up a prototype prescription, our global team is passionate about democratizing your ability to create and invent the things you can hold in your hand. These are the things that heal. And the things that our team is making sure you can make. We’re MakerHealth and you are a health maker.

Among their offerings is helping to start makerspaces in hospitals. The very first one of its kind is at…