Health Highlights: June 20, 2019

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

1 in 6 U.S. Hospital, ER Stays Result in Surprise Bills

About 1 in 6 U.S. hospital stays or emergency room visits result in “surprise” medical bills that can amount to thousands of dollars, a new study finds.

These “out-of-network” charges affect millions of people with what’s viewed as solid coverage from large employers, the Associated Press reported.

Rates of such charges vary widely between states, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation study. For example, they occur in 27% of emergency room visits and 38% of in-network hospital stays in Texas, compared with 2% and 3%, respectively, in Minnesota.

Rates were also higher in New York, Florida, New Jersey and Kansas, and lower in South Dakota, Nebraska, Maine and Mississippi, the AP reported.

A Senate panel is scheduled to vote next week on legislation to close the loophole that allows such charges.


U.S. Suicide Rate Rose 33% Between 1999 and 2017

The United States’ suicide rate in 2017 was 33% higher than in 1999 and is at its highest since World War II, according to a new study.

It found that suicide rates among Americans ages 15-64 rose from 10.5 per 100,000 in 1999 to 14 per 100,000 in 2017, CNN reported.

American Indian or Alaska Natives had the highest increase among all racial/ethnic groups, according to the findings released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Statistics.

There were significant increases in suicide deaths among girls and women in all racial/ethnic groups except Asian or Pacific Islander. The largest increase (139%) was among American Indian or Alaska Native girls and women, CNN reported.

Significant increases were also seen in suicide rates among boys and men in all racial/ethnic groups except for Asian or Pacific Islander. The largest increase (71%) occurred among American Indian or Alaska Native boys and men.

American Indian or Alaska Native, ages 15 to 44, had the highest suicide rates for both males and females in 2017, CNN reported.

A separate study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that suicide rate among U.S. teens ages 15 to 19 rose from 8 per 100,000 in 2000 to 11.8 per 100,000 in 2017. Among young adults ages 20 to 24, the suicide rate rose from 12.5 per 100,000 in 2000 to 17 per 100,000 in 2017.

A CDC report released last year said U.S. suicide rates rose 25% between 1999 and 2016, CNN reported.


New England Journal of Medicine Picks New Editor-in-Chief

The new editor-in-chief of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine is Dr. Eric J. Rubin, who was selected after a worldwide search and plans to start in September, according to the Massachusetts Medical Society, which publishes the journal.

“Dr. Rubin is a recognized and respected leader in the field of infectious disease, where he is known for his groundbreaking tuberculosis research and his personal dedication to often neglected populations of patients,” Dr. Maryanne Bombaugh, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, said in a society news release.

Rubin is chair of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases and a professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases.

Rubin succeeds Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, who has been the editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine since 2000.

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