National / International News

The virtual doctor will see you now

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-06-11 02:00

Walgreens, the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chain, has announced plans to provide virtual medical exams to patients in 25 states by the end of the year.

The news is part of a larger trend of giving patients less expensive alternatives to a doctor's office visit.

Patients will be able to use the Walgreens mobile app to access doctors who can then write prescriptions for common ailments such as, say, pinkeye or a sinus infection.

Jon Linkous is CEO of the non-profit American Telemedicine Association. He says the growing trend will increase healthcare access and provide greater convenience.

“Patients who are now customers can look at this application and avoid the long waits that it might take for them to get an appointment at a primary care doctor as well as having to go into a waiting room filled with other sick people,” Linkous says.

Walmart, CVS, and RiteAid are exploring plans to launch their own virtual clinics, but there are also risks. That is according to Andy Haig, director of e-Health at the University of Michigan.

“What's most important that people need to realize is that primary care medicine is a book that is about 20,000 pages wide, and there is a reason for that,” Haig says.

This is a business model, it’s not a quality model," he says. "A few major lawsuits may change things for the better, and I'm hoping that these large companies are smart enough to play the odds and be sure they have good quality and they place limits on their treatment.”

UnitedHealthcare and Anthem are also making plans to roll out telemedicine services by next year.

Advocates say insurers are driving away sick customers

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-06-11 02:00

The Department of Health and Human Services is currently in the initial review period for health care plans to be sold on exchanges for the 2016 open enrollment period. They’re making sure plans comply with the complex regulations in the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. But this time around, some groups are objecting to minute details in plans. Advocates and patients say some insurers are designing their benefits to drive away people with preexisting conditions.

One such patient is Sarah Truman, of Portland, Oregon. Truman wakes up every day and sorts through her stockpile of pills. “I take 17 pills a day—on a good day,” she explains.

Truman has psoriasis, the autoimmune disorder that causes flaky and scaly skin. She also has psoriatic arthritis, a related condition that causes painful joint swelling.

Even under her Obamacare plan, she still spends hundreds of dollars each month on co-payments. That's actually an improvement. But one crucial intravenous medication — a type of chemotherapy — costs more than a copay.

“That right now is $15,000 a month, and that’s treated as a co-insurance, not a co-pay,” Truman says.

Since Truman has 20 percent co-insurance rate, she pays 20 percent of the cost: $3,000 a month. Even though she has a well paying job, she still has to go to food banks to afford her kids’ food. Advocates say plans like hers force patients to either pay very high costs or find a different plan, thus undermining the purpose of the affordable care act.

Douglas Jacobs, a masters student in Public health at Harvard University, surveyed how plans priced their drugs

“We found a full one in four plans were practicing what we called 'adverse tiering,'” he says, meaning that the drugs a person needs for a condition are prohibitively expensive under that plan.

“The whole purpose of the Affordable Care Act was to distribute risk in a way that made healthcare affordable to individuals who couldn't get to it before Affordable Care Act was passed,” Jacobs says.

And advocates say the clearest-cut example of adverse tiering was found in Florida by the AIDS Institute.

“There are discrimination protections in the ACA, and they are trying to get around those,” explains Carl Schmid, the AIDS Institute’s vice president of policy.

The AIDS Institute says it's discrimination because some Florida plans put all HIV medications into the highest tier—even generics. Schmid says it’s a tiny nudge to keep expensive groups of people away from those plans. The AIDS Institute objected and sent a letter to the Obama administration.

“The administration has said that this is discrimination,” Schmid says. “Now we need them to enforce the law.”

They also complained to Florida’s insurance regulator, and eventually insurers placed some HIV medications into cheaper tiers. The insurers declined to comment on pending legal matters.

The Department of Health and Human Services is reviewing whether this kind of drug pricing is discrimination on the basis of preexisting conditions. Their ruling should apply by next year’s open enrollment.

Say yes to the Pinterest board

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2015-06-11 01:59
30 percent

That's the portion of Pinterest boards dedicated that are wedding-themed and set to private. Sometimes, you just want to plan your wedding in secret, and as the Washington Post reports, some of these brides-to-be are only lacking one thing for their perfectly manicured day: an actual groom.


That's how many workers have been laid off from J. Crew following a disappointing earnings report. This includes the current head designer, Tom Mora. As CNN Money reports, sales for the company were down 5 percent from this time last year.

8 years

That's how long a new deal between Nike and the NBA will last. As part of the agreement, the Nike swoosh will appear on uniforms, and Nike replaces Adidas as the exclusive provider of clothing for the league. As Time reports, fans and players of were dissatisfied with the style of uniforms provided. Apparently, basketball players don't like sleeves.


That's how many subreddits were banned by Reddit for violating its rules on harassment. As Mashable points out, the move is a distinct change in direction for the site, as it has previously let users largely guide the direction of the content. 


That's the average savings for customer buying a car from Costco. How does the superstore haggle the deals? By acting as the middleman between manufacturers and buyers, brokering deals on behalf of customers. And since 80 percent of its net revenue comes from member fees, it can afford to focus on lowering prices.

Pupil hunted after teacher stabbed

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-11 01:49
A teacher is stabbed and a pupil is being hunted by detectives in Bradford.

'Clean slate' urged on spying powers

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-11 01:37
The UK's terrorism watchdog calls for a new "comprehensive" law covering security services' powers to monitor online activity.

Services satisfaction is 'very high'

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-11 01:30
People across Wales remain "highly satisfied" with the NHS, education and with their daily lives, according to a national survey.

French PM to pay for football trip

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-11 01:19
France's prime minister says he will pay €2,500 (£1,825) for taking his children on trip by government jet to the Champions League final in Berlin.

Brazil overturns biography 'ban'

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-11 01:17
Brazil's Supreme Court overturns a law which allowed the subjects of unauthorised biographies to block publication.

A Suit That Turns A Person Into A Robot (Sort Of)

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-11 01:01

Robots are really bad at many simple, human tasks. One possible workaround: Combine the person with the machine.

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Charts will move to Friday in July

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-11 01:00
The Official Chart on BBC Radio 1 is moving from Sundays to Fridays on 10 July, to tie in with the new global music release day.

Experiencing The 'Realities Of Being A Police Officer'

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-11 01:00

A group that raises money for police officers subjected to investigation or lawsuits is using a simulator program to help outsiders understand the challenges of the job.

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VIDEO: How Sicily 'processes' rescued migrants

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-11 00:46
Many rescued migrants who arrive in Sicily from Libya are suffering from the effects of sexual and physical abuse, and many are carrying scabies, as Clive Myrie reports.

How this couch changed everything

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-11 00:41
How did this 1890s piece of furniture become famous?

SNP submits fiscal amendment to Bill

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-11 00:36
The SNP submits an amendment to the Scotland Bill calling for the Scottish Parliament to be given the power to introduce full fiscal autonomy.

America's Next Economic Boom Could Be Lying Underground

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-11 00:30

When it comes to improving the standard of living for Americans, the middle class could use some help. One Harvard economist says the help is underground, in the form of oil and natural gas.

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Surrogate Parenting: A Worldwide Industry, Lacking Global Rules

NPR News - Thu, 2015-06-11 00:28

In the U.S., surrogacy is a widely accepted practice, though it's governed by a patchwork of state laws. It's barred in some European countries, but widely practiced and large unregulated in India.

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Funeral for triple murder family

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-11 00:26
A funeral service is held for a family found fatally stabbed at their home in Didcot, Oxfordshire.

Burundi mediator quits his role

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-11 00:25
UN official Said Djinnit steps down from the role of mediating talks between the two sides in the Burundi crisis after calls for him to resign.

Ryanair told to sell Aer Lingus stake

BBC - Thu, 2015-06-11 00:20
Low-cost airline Ryanair has been ordered to sell most of its shares in its Irish rival Aer Lingus by the Competition watchdog.

How to ride 3,000 miles in 12 days

BBC - Wed, 2015-06-10 23:49
After breaking a bone while cycling 3,000 miles, the daughter of a famous space scientist explains why she's doing it all again.