Be Well: Must reads on health reform in Kentucky, living with cancer, and conquering the snow

(Photo by Sarah Jane Tribble)
(Photo by Sarah Jane Tribble)

Gaining health coverage and addressing long held illnesses in Kentucky: Life after Jan. 1

Washington Post Reporter Stephanie McCrummen's latest report appeared from Breathitt County, Ky. this past weekend focuses on the Affordable Care Act's roll out in one of the poorest counties in the country.

Her writing will make you cringe as you hear the litany of illnesses that people have ignored because they couldn't afford health care. One couple had to sell their lawn mower to pay for a visit to the doctor. Some have gone bankrupt from doctor and hospital bills.

The story is it tugs at your emotions while taking on the tough question of whether the law will ultimately save the health system money.

McCrummen writes: "This is the world that many critics of the new health-care law have worried about, one in which the sick and the poor expand the ranks of Medicaid while other Americans see premiums rise, policies canceled or favorite doctors booted out of networks."

In Ohio, just like Kentucky, Medicaid has been extended to anyone earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level - or just under $16,000. Already, about 49,000 Ohio adults and children are have qualified for Medicaid since the expanded enrollment began. So, more people who've neglected their health will have a better chance to get attention they need.

Living with cancer: How Long Have I Got Left?

Thirty-six-year-old Stanford University medical resident, Paul Kalanithi's opinion piece for the New York Times puts a new perspective on the question of how to live each day.

Kalanithi was diagnosed with cancer and, at first, believes he is going to die quickly. But then… he doesn't. Instead, he is still alive, and working. But the cancer leaves him in this perpetual state of uncertainty. He thinks a lot about death, asking "how long do I have left" and why doctors are so reluctant to try and answer that question.

Doctor Kalanithi realizes from his own experience, there's a lot of uncertainty making this kind of prediction. For some diseases, he writes, the survival time may "resemble an airplane gently beginning its descent; for others its more like a dive bomber."

But there are many variables and doctors don't want to be too specific. So, what are patients to do …living but knowing they are dying? What is he doing with that uncertainty?

Finding Inspiration: Brain Surgeon Walks Six Miles Through Storm to Save Patient.

Dr. Zenko Hrynkiw, 62, spent hours walking through a snow and ice storm to save a life. The story first appeared on AL.COM, which is the Web site for the Birmingham News. USA Today and others have picked it up since. NPR's post includes a video.

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