Health Highlights: April 13, 2015

Health Highlights: April 13, 2015

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

Nearly 90 Percent of Adults Have Health Insurance: Survey

Nearly 9 out of 10 American adults now have health insurance, according to a survey released Monday.

That’s compared with slightly more than 8 out of 10 as recently as 2013, the Associated Press reported.

In the first three months of this year, 11.9 percent of adults said they did not have health insurance, which is the lowest level since the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey started tracking the statistic in 2008.

Gallup said an estimated 14.75 million adults have gained coverage since the fall of 2013, when the first open enrollment season was about to begin, the AP reported.

“The Affordable Care Act had three major objectives: increase coverage, slow the rate of increase in costs, and improve health,” survey research director Dan Witters said. “The first one is clearly a win. Coverage is increasing; there is no question about it.”

Hispanics showed the largest coverage gains of any ethnic/racial group, with an 8.3 percent fall in those without insurance. However, Hispanics are still more likely than other ethnic/racial groups to be uninsured, the AP reported.

While rates of coverage have risen among people in all income levels, those making less than $36,000 a year have had the largest gains, with an 8.7 percent fall in their uninsured rate since the end of 2013.

The overall uninsured rate is now significantly lower than it was in early 2008, before the recession, which suggests that the increasing number of Americans with health insurance is due to more than an improving economy, the AP reported.

“A big outstanding question is what will happen over the next couple of years,” according to Larry Levitt, a health insurance expert with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

“To meet expectations, enrollment has to continue to grow and push the number of uninsured down,” he told the AP.

The health care law also faces an upcoming Supreme Court challenge.


FDA Should Not Allow Snus Warning Label Changes: Advisory Panel

A panel of expert advisers says the U.S. Food and Drug Admnistration should not allow a Swedish company to market its smokeless tobacco pouches — called snus — as less dangerous to health than cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Swedish Match wants the FDA to permit it to revise warning labels on its snus, but the panel said Friday that company data do not support such a request, the Associated Press reported.

In a unanimous decision, the eight-member panel said the company’s data do not show that snus carry a lower risk of gum disease and tooth loss than other smokeless tobacco products.

Snus are popular in Scandinavian countries and part of a growing smokeless tobacco market in the United States, the AP reported.

The FDA typically follows the recommendations of its advisory panels.