Today’s Headlines: Health Plans, Circumcision and Head Lice

Choice of Health Plans to Vary Sharply From State to State: “When a typical 40-year-old uninsured woman in Maine goes to the new state exchange to buy health insurance this fall, she may have just two companies to choose from: the one that already sells most individual policies in the state, and a complete unknown — a nonprofit start-up. Her counterpart in California, however, will have a much wider variety of choices: 13 insurers are likely to offer plans, including the state’s largest and best-known carriers. With only a few months remaining before Americans will start buying coverage through the new state insurance exchanges under President Obama’s health care law, it is becoming clear that the millions of people purchasing policies in the exchanges will find that their choices vary sharply, depending on where they live.” (New York Times)

Do the Health Benefits of Neonatal Circumcision Outweigh the Risks? “Circumcision rates in the U.S. have been falling since the 1960s, when the vast majority of infant boys had their foreskins removed before leaving the hospital. These days, approximately 57% of boys are circumcised in U.S. hospitals, with the procedure generally being more common among whites and less common among black and Hispanic populations, according to estimates. Other boys are circumcised in religious ceremonies shortly after birth. While many factors likely influence circumcision rates, part of the decline occurred after 1999, when the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement saying the potential medical benefits of neonatal circumcision weren’t strong enough to recommend it as a routine procedure.” (Wall Street Journal)

Head Lice Don’t Take Summer Off: “If any of my neighbors had seen me ironing my daughter’s mattress while wearing a blue shower cap, they undoubtedly would have thought I was nuts. But after we found nits — lice eggs — in my 9-year-old daughter’s hair, I panicked. I washed her hair in olive oil and vinegar. I put her dirty clothes and linens in large plastic bags and washed them in hot water. I crammed pillows and stuffed animals into the dryer and set it on high heat. And yes, I even ironed her mattress because a friend told me heat kills lice. I’m embarrassed to say I wore that shower cap too often during the first few days after lice became part of our lives. I didn’t just wear it for ironing; I also used it when I tried to comb the nits out of Emma’s hair after using an over-the-counter lice treatment creme rinse.” (CNN)