Archive for August, 2004

Students are still hooked on plastic

Ron Matus in St. Petersburgy Times reports:

College students are as mired in credit card debt as ever, despite a flurry of action by campus administrators and lawmakers since the late 1990s.

The average undergraduate finished school with more than $3,000 in credit card debt in 2001, according to the most recent figures from Nellie Mae, a leading source of student loans. That’s on top of student loans, which now average $20,000 for a four-year graduate.

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Many lost health insurance from employer, study says

John A. Macdonald in The Seattle Times reports:

Nearly 9 million Americans lost their employer-provided health insurance from 2001 to 2003, with low-income workers and Hispanics feeling the biggest impact, according to a study released yesterday.

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Strong parenting, counseling help teens in life after drugs

Jim Memmott in Democrat and Chronicle reports:

“It is best when the family is involved in the child’s treatment. Recovery is a family process. … One of the best things for me to watch is to see a family be reunited and to have gone through the process. The parents have gotten their child back and there’s hope.?

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Gene find hope for acne sufferers

BBC News reports:

Scientists have cracked the genetic code of a bacterium involved in acne, an advance they say could lead to new treatments.

The German team from Georg-August University in Gottingen found genes that help the bacterium attack and destroy components of human skin.

Others were involved in triggering inflammation.

Knowing how the bacterium causes acne could offer new avenues of drug research, say the authors in Science.

The common skin problem affects up to 80% of young adults, but can affect older people too.

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Most individual health policies lack pregnancy coverage

Kristen Gerencher in CBS MarketWatch reports:

When it comes to covering the medical costs of bringing a new human being into the world, women are largely on their own in the individual health-insurance market.

Many individual policies either don’t cover deliveries or offer coverage in the form of a rider, which costs extra and may require women to wait — sometimes for several years — before they qualify to have a covered pregnancy.

“The riders are sort of silly,” said Karen Pollitz, senior health-policy researcher at Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. “They’re expensive. You basically need to pay the premium on it for three years before it will cover anything.”

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Smoking During Pregnancy Linked to Cleft Lip in Newborns

Yahoo! News reports:

Women who smoke during pregnancy increase the risk that their babies will be born with cleft lip, new British research contends.

The study, conducted from 1997 to 2000, found a small increased risk of cleft lip — with or without a cleft palate — among babies born to mothers who smoked during the first trimester of pregnancy. The findings add to those of previous studies in North America and northern Europe.

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Kerry Health Plan Would Force Drugmakers to Accept Lower Prices

Bloomberg reports:

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s plan to make health care a right and “not a privilege'’ would give the U.S. government the leverage to force drug companies to cut some prices in half.

President George W. Bush, 58, opposes direct negotiation of prices with the $466 billion pharmaceutical industry. Most of the federal health-care system is already prohibited from such negotiations, in contrast to Canada and Europe, where governments have broad authority to influence prices.

Kerry, 60, wants a negotiation policy that would mirror the Veterans Affairs Department, which gets discounts of as much as 65 percent off average wholesale prices of drugs by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., GlaxoSmithKline Plc and AstraZeneca Plc

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War on cruelty hots up

Daryl Passmore in News.com.au reports:

Child protection services and animal welfare groups are joining forces to help tackle cruelty.

Disturbing evidence is emerging of links between animal cruelty, child abuse and domestic violence.

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Women in violent homes at higher risk of stillbirths

Amanda Dunn in SMH reports:

Young women exposed to violence are up to three times as likely to have a miscarriage, and are more likely to have a stillbirth, premature birth or an abortion than those free of violence, according to a survey.

In the study of more than 14,000 young women examining the impact of physical and sexual violence on their health, about one in 33 reported violence from a partner and a recent experience of violence, with one in 20 experiencing violence from someone other than a partner. Another 7 per cent had previously experienced violence from a partner.

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8 Things to Know When Dealing With Debt Collectors

Russ Wiles in The Detroit News reports:

If you’re contacted by a collection agency, consumer advocates say the first step is not to ignore the notification. If you fail to acknowledge a notice or phone call, a collector can place a demerit in your credit files after 30 days.

You can stop further contact by requesting this in a letter to the collection agency, although it’s possible another agency will step up.

Many collectors work on commission, a situation that can encourage aggressive tactics. Also, some agencies buy bad debts from merchants, banks and other businesses for pennies on the dollar, creating huge motivations to collect as much as possible.

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