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How An Obscure Government Code — 834 — Became Big In 2013

The fate of insurance coverage for millions rests on a form called the 834, the government code for electronic files. It's a number that would never have become a big deal had rolled out smoothly in the fall.

White House Announces Another Rule Change For Affordable Care Act

The White House announced another rule change for people signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Just in time for the holiday rush, the Obama Administration said people whose policies have been cancelled will be allowed to buy so-called catastrophic coverage plans. The high-deductible, low-premium plans that cover the basics and not much more had previously been limited to people under the age of 30 who had demonstrable financial need.

Angelina Didn't Help Educate People About Breast Cancer Risk

This summer, Angelina Jolie announced that she had both her breasts removed to reduce her risk of breast cancer. Her story got a lot of people talking. But they didn't necessarily learn more about the genetics of breast cancer risk.

Feds Drop Mandate For People Whose Insurance Was Canceled

People whose health policies were canceled get hardship exemptions that excuse them from penalties. They'll also have the option to buy catastrophic coverage. These little-noticed plans cover only three primary care visits, specified preventive services and medical costs that exceed a high minimum.

Health Care Rules Relaxed Again, 'Backlash' Follows

After the Obama administration announced that Americans who recently had their health insurance canceled can buy "catastrophic policies," the insurance industry said the change will cause more confusion.

How Fraud Flourishes Unchecked In Medicare's Drug Plan

Credit card companies routinely flag or block suspicious charges as they happen. Yet under Medicare, a convoluted and poorly managed system for catching fraud allows costly scams for prescription drugs to slide by. The federal government has done little to stop the fraud, an investigation by ProPublica found.

New York City Extends Smoking Ban To E-Cigarettes

The ban on the high-tech "vapor" cigarettes comes just weeks after New York became the first major U.S. city to raise the age for tobacco purchases to 21.
WAMU 88.5

Lawmakers Debate Whether To Seal Records For Pot Possession

Advocates for decriminalization of marijuana have found some success in the District, but before any decisions are made, lawmakers are deciding what to do with those who have already been convicted of possession.


Poll: Americans Favor Age Restrictions On Morning-After Pill

The legal wrangling over who should be allowed to buy the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill without a prescription came to an end this year. A federal judge ruled that the emergency contraceptive couldn't be withheld from girls 16 and younger. Despite the legal ruling, many Americans support age minimums and parental consent.

How To Make Sense Of Confusing, New Blood Pressure Advice

Many people over 60 won't have to work so hard to lower their blood pressure, if doctors adhere to guidelines for treatment. That's because there's a lack of proof that people with moderately high blood pressure can reduce their risk of heart attacks and strokes by trying to lower it substantially with drugs.