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What We're Reading: US Mortality Declines After Increasing in 2015

AJMC Staff

In the first quarter of 2016, the death rate in the United States decreased after increasing in 2015. Mortality rate is a key indicator of the health of the nation and improvements in medical care and healthier living almost always drive the rate to decline, reported The New York Times. However, the increase in drug overdoses drove the mortality rate up. Death rates from heart disease, diabetes, and chronic lower respiratory disease were all lower in the first quarter of 2016 compared with a year ago. Unfortunately, it is still too soon to know if drug deaths declined in the first quarter of the year.
 
An infant death in Texas has been linked to Zika. According to The Washington Post, the mother had been infected during travels to Latin America during her pregnancy, and the baby had been born with microcephaly. Several other babies have been born with the birth defect, but the Texas case appears to be the only death. Meanwhile, as the number of cases of local mosquito-borne transmission of the virus increase in the Miami area, a majority of Americans are still largely unconcerned with Zika, the Post reported. Two-thirds (65%) say they are not worried about being infected with Zika or about a family member being infected.
 
In Ohio, some colleges are dropping student health insurance as a result of the changes enacted by the Affordable Care Act. In fact, it was becoming a hassle for students to waive the option insurance coverage in order to avoid being charged for it, according to The Columbus Dispatch. With the health law, more college students are arriving with health insurance since they can be covered on their parents’ plan until age 26. While Ohio State University is continuing to offer a student plan, enrollment has dropped 8% since fall 2011.
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