Health News Roundup

Eviction in America, hospital mergers and rising prices, and more in this week’s roundup


Eviction isn’t just about poverty. It’s also about race — and Virginia proves it.
Terrence McCoy, The Washington Post, November 10
What happens during an eviction couldn’t seem more straightforward: A tenant doesn’t have the money to make rent, so the landlord gives him or her the boot. New research, however, is complicating that picture of eviction in America. It’s not only a matter of poverty. It’s also a matter of race. That’s the striking conclusion of researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University, who published a report this fall that found eviction rates are disproportionately high in minority communities.


When hospitals merge to save money, patients often pay more
Reed Abelson, The New York Times, November 14
The nation’s hospitals have been merging at a rapid pace for a decade, forming powerful organizations that influence nearly every health care decision consumers make. The hospitals have argued that consolidation benefits consumers with cheaper prices from coordinated services and other savings. An analysis conducted for The New York Times shows the opposite to be true in many cases.

Soaring health care costs forced this family to choose who can stay insured
Aziza Kasumov, Bloomberg, November 13
The Maldonados’ story is a tale of a hardworking middle-class American family juggling finances. With the ever-present pressure of a mortgage and looming college tuition, many otherwise-financially sound families face a stark choice when health care premiums shoot wildly higher: Take on debt or opt out of the medical system and hope for the best. The Maldonados’ story is part of Bloomberg’s year-long examination of Americans struggling to afford the rising costs of health care—and the painful financial and medical trade-offs that inevitably follow. “We went by who got sick the most,” David Maldonado says.

children’s health

Outreach programs target asthma hot spots, but more help is needed
Steve Hamm, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, November 14
Connecticut’s asthma rate is worse than the nation’s. It’s 11 percent for children and 10.5 percent for adults—and rising. Neighborhoods in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven are among the hardest hit. Automobile exhaust, cigarette smoke and mold and vermin in sub-standard housing are among the triggers. Your ZIP Code matters. In Hartford’s North Meadows neighborhood, for instance, asthma in children from birth to age 4 accounted for 1,738 visits to hospitals per 10,000 residents in 2016, according to DataHaven. In comparison, the rate in Madison, a wealthy coastline town, was just 78.

Should childhood trauma be treated as a public health crisis?
Erin Blakemore, NPR, November 9
When public health officials get wind of an outbreak of Hepatitis A or influenza, they spring into action with public awareness campaigns, monitoring and outreach. But should they be acting with equal urgency when it comes to childhood trauma? A new study shows how the effects of childhood trauma persist and are linked to mental illness and addiction in adulthood. And, researchers say, it suggests that it might be more effective to approach trauma as a public health crisis than to limit treatment to individuals.