Health

Annual medical costs for Idaho's indigent population doubled since 2002 to nearly $53 million, including both and state funding.

The chairman of the Catastrophic Health Care Fund, Roger Christensen, told Joint Finance-Appropriations budget writers Thursday the price tag dipped in 2013 due to a temporary federal program, but is expected to resume rising in coming years if nothing is done to contain expenses.

The Spokesman-Review reports mental health costs, in particular, for indigent people are worrisome.

Enrollment in Idaho's insurance exchange has blossomed after the federal government fixed the website that residents use to sign up for health insurance coverage.

Roughly 20,000 people signed up for individual and family coverage in time for it to begin Jan. 1.

That's up from 1,730 people who purchased coverage available via Your Health Idaho through Nov. 30.

The new total was announced Friday by Your Health Idaho spokeswoman Jody Olson.

The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Washington, Oregon and Idaho are among 25 states now facing widespread cases of the flu.

The deadly side of the flu emerged in Idaho this week, with an adult over 60 becoming the first person to die this season after being infected with the virus.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare made the announcement on Monday.

Every year, influenza contributes to the deaths of 36,000 people in the United States and causes more than 200,000 hospitalizations.

Idaho's share of the tragedy last flu season amounted to 35 people.

The dominant strain of flu being detected is a strain that first began circulating in 2009.

LeonardoRodriguez / Flickr Creative Commons

Bannock County commissioners have decided to include electronic cigarettes in the smoking ban in county buildings.

The Idaho State Journal reports commissioners unanimously approved the resolution Wednesday.

Commissioner Howard Manwaring says they received some complaints about the use of e-cigarettes in county facilities. He says their use is still perceived as smoking and they do have some odor.

Manwaring says no one spoke against the resolution during the public hearing before Wednesday's vote.

telephone, buttons, hotline
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Since the end of October, Idaho's Suicide Prevention hotline has fielded more than 800 calls. Now, the year-old hotline is expanding its hours of operation and may soon receive national accreditation.

The suicide prevention hotline continues to see an upward trend in the number of people calling for support. Currently, volunteers from Idaho answer the phone from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Outside those hours, all calls to 1-800-273-TALK are answered by people out of state.

The first numbers on enrollment under the new health care law confirm a slow start and mixed results in Northwest states.

In an effort to stop a spate of gonorrhea outbreaks, at least one public health department in the Pacific Northwest is offering a helpful service to infected patients: anonymous notification of former sexual partners.

That's right. A government worker will track down and contact each ex for you. Awkward for all concerned? Yes. But at a time when gonorrhea is becoming stubbornly drug-resistant, health officials see it as time — and embarrassment — well spent.

Board members of the Idaho health insurance exchange said Tuesday that they will keep secret the findings of a $15,000 taxpayer-funded investigation into how one of its own members won a lucrative no-bid contract.

Your Health Idaho board chairman Stephen Weeg said the two-week-long review by a private lawyer uncovered "lapses in judgment," though nothing illegal. Exchange executive director Amy Dowd last month awarded a technology contract worth up to $375,000 to board member Frank Chan, who quit the same day the contract was announced.

Public health officials say recent measles cases in the Northwest highlight the need to be vaccinated against the infection.

tanakawho / Flickr Creative Commons

Less than 30 percent of Idaho kids get developmental screenings recommended by doctors. That’s according to a report out this week from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids get screened for developmental problems at nine-months-old, 18-to-24 months and at 30 months.

Perry Brown, pediatric education director at the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho says those screenings are questionnaires doctors give to parents. Brown leafs through a file and pulls one out for parents of a 24-month-old.

medical image
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A southwestern Idaho school district is building an in-school medical clinic at Meridian's poorest elementary school in an effort to boost student health and reduce absenteeism.

Meridian School District Superintendent Linda Clark told the Idaho Statesman that the clinic will be the first in-school clinic in Idaho.

Health officials across the Northwest are trying to figure out why they’re seeing a big upswing in the number of people with gonorrhea this year.

medical image
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idahoans will be able to shop for and purchase insurance on the state's new health insurance exchange beginning Oct. 1. Under the federal health law, most Americans will be required to have health insurance coverage by Jan. 1, 2014, or they'll face a tax penalty.

New advisories from health officials in Washington and Oregon warn that some fish in the Columbia River aren’t safe to eat.

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