Health Highlights: March 19, 2014

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Playtex Breast Pump Power Adapters Recalled Due to Shock Risk

Certain power adapters used with a Playtex breast pump are being recalled due to a potential risk of electric shock, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

The casings on the AC/DC adapters used with the Platex Nurser Deluxe Double Electric Breast Pump may become loose and separate. The recalled adapters have product serial numbers from P12324-XXXX through P13205-XXXX and production codes from 1241 through 1324.

The adapters were included with the breast pumps, which were sold nationwide at specialty and online retailers.

Consumers with the recalled adapters should immediately stop using the adapter if the casing shows signs of separating, the FDA said. All consumers with the recalled adapters should contact Playtex for a replacement by going to the company's website.


Many Americans Believe Health Conspiracy Theories: Survey

A new survey finds that nearly half of American adults believe that cover-ups about a wide range of health issues are being carried out by companies, the federal government or both.

The online poll of more than 1,300 adults found that 37 percent believed that the Food and Drug Administration is keeping "natural cures for cancer and other diseases" under wraps due to pressure from drug makers, USA Today reported.

It also found that 20 percent of respondents believe that doctors and health officials promote child vaccines even though they "know these vaccines cause autism and other psychological disorders," and 20 percent believe that health officials are concealing evidence that cell phones cause cancer.

Smaller percentages of people believed conspiracy theories about the deliberate infection of blacks with HIV, genetically modified foods, and fluoride, USA Today reported.

The poll also found that 49 percent of respondents believed at least one of the conspiracy theories they were asked about and 18 percent believed at least three.

The findings published this week in JAMA Internal Medicine show a "a very low level of trust" in government and business, study co-author Eric Oliver, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, told USA Today.


Some Top Cancer Centers Not Covered by Insurance Exchanges

A number of the best cancer hospitals in the United States aren't covered by all insurers in state insurance exchanges, a situation that's causing concern among doctors and others, a new report says.

An Associated Press survey of nationally recognized comprehensive cancer centers found that only four of the 19 that responded said that all the insurance providers in their local insurance exchanges would provide coverage for patients.

For example, M.D. Anderson is included in less than half the plans in the Houston area, Seattle Care Alliance is included by only three of eight plans in Washington state, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering is included by only two of nine plans in New York City, and has out-of-network deals with two others.

Under the new health-reform law, the Affordable Care Act, insurers can't deny coverage to people with cancer or charge them more. But the fact that many insurers won't pay for care at the best cancer centers means that some patients won't be able to receive the most advanced treatment.

Until recently, insurers would have been competing to offer patients access to the top cancer centers. Now, it's all about cost savings, according to Dan Mendelson, CEO of the market research firm Avalere Health.

"This is a marked deterioration of access to the premier cancer centers for people who are signing up for these plans" under the Affordable Care, he told the AP.

Another problem is that it can be difficult for consumers to determine if an insurance plan covers care at a leading cancer care center. Finding out takes extra effort.

While there are concerns, there are positive developments in cancer care under the new health care law.

"Overall, when you look at the Affordable Care Act, it improves access to cancer care," Dr. Willie Underwood, associate professor of surgical oncology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., told the AP.

"When it comes down to the exchanges, there are some concerns that we have. That is not being critical, that is being intelligent. There are some things we should talk about ... before they start becoming a problem," he said.

"Patients may have fewer choices of doctors and hospitals in some exchange plans than others ... but the rules for such plans go a long way toward remedying the most severe problems that existed for decades," Steve Weiss, spokesman for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, told the AP.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

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