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Daily Rounds: Unpayable Hospital Bills; House Calls For Kids; 'Coal Cares' Hoax; Metal Hip Study

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Up to $49 billion unpaid by uninsured for hospitalizations - USATODAY.com WASHINGTON — Uninsured Americans — including those with incomes well above the poverty line — leave hospitals with unpaid tabs of up to $49 billion a year, according to a government study released today. On average, uninsured families pay only about 12% of their hospital bills in full, a government study finds. On average, uninsured families can pay only about 12% of their hospital bills in full. Families with incomes above 400% of the poverty level, or about $88,000 a year for a family of four, pay about 37% of their hospital bills in full, according to the Department of Health and Human Services study.

The Doctor Will See You At Home, For A Price : Shots - Health Blog : NPR
As any parent knows, children are walking petri dishes, breeding grounds for all manner of ailments, from colds to earaches to lice. Scheduling a doctor's office visit during the middle of a workday is a hassle. Scrambling to get to the emergency room in the middle of the night is worse. And for stay-at-home parents with more than one child, getting to any medical facility with kids in tow is a nightmare. That's where house-call pediatricians come in. For parents who can afford to pay top dollar — a single visit could cost more than $300 — these doctors make themselves available 24/7 for everything from routine sore throats to flare-ups of chronic conditions like asthma. They may also care for children with complex medical problems or autism. (npr.org)

Spoof Site Mocks Coal Company With Promise Of Asthma Inhalers For Kids : Shots - Health Blog : NPR The hoaxers have come clean. A group called Coal is Killing Kids, which support strengthening of the Clean Air Act, has taken responsibility for the prank. In a statement, the group said that it had worked with Yes Lab, a project of The Yes Men. "People may laugh at our sick jokes," group spokeswoman Janet Bellamy said in the statement, "but they also understand the real health impacts of burning coal." (npr.org)

Studies Ordered for Makers of Artificial Hips - NYTimes.com In an unusual move, the Food and Drug Administration has ordered all producers of a popular category of artificial hip to undertake studies of the implants, which have been linked to high early failure rates and severe health effects in some patients. Under the order, producers of “metal-on-metal” hips will have to conduct studies of patients who received the device to determine, among other things, whether the implants are shedding high levels of metallic debris. Some patients have encountered that problem, including soft tissue damage that has disabled them. (nytimes.com)

Drugs: Pharmaceutical industry defends 'pay-for-delay' deals - latimes.com Brand-name drug companies and their generic rivals spend so much time and money attacking each other — in court, in Congress, and everywhere else lawyers and lobbyists do battle — that when they land on the same side of an issue it's a good guess that the consumer is getting whacked. Lately they've rolled out the big guns in defense of a practice that looks very much like collusion. And according to the Federal Trade Commission, it costs consumers and government agencies billions of dollars a year. The practice is known as pay for delay. It's what happens when a brand-name company with a valuable drug patent pays a generics company to drop a patent challenge. The goal is to delay the arrival of cheap generic alternatives for months or even years. (Los Angeles Times)

This program aired on May 11, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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