Health Buzz: George Clooney Recovers From Malaria

Best affordable health insurance options for young adults; what health reform means for you.


George Clooney Recovers From Second Bout With Malaria

George Clooney has made a full recovery after contracting malaria in Sudan. The actor, 49, who frequently visits the war-torn nation to do charity work, fell ill during the first week of January. Malaria—a mosquito-borne disease—can cause a high fever, chills, joint pain, vomiting, and anemia. It is the second leading cause of death in Africa, and in 2008, killed as many as 1,003,000 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. This is Clooney's second bout with the disease, his publicist told USA Today, adding: "George is completely over the malaria … This illustrates how with proper medication, the most lethal condition in Africa can be reduced to a bad 10 days instead of a death sentence." News of Clooney's condition broke on Thursday via Tweet from CNN talk show host Piers Morgan, whose interview with the actor, taped last week, will air tonight.

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  • Best Affordable Health Insurance Options for Young Adults

    If you're young, cash-strapped, and healthy, health insurance might seem expensive and pointless. It's not. An ankle-twisting fall on a hiking trail, a broken arm in a friendly soccer game, bronchitis that turns into pneumonia—you're potentially talking thousands of dollars in medical expenses, writes U.S. News's Megan Johnson. Who do you think will get the bill? See which of the following eight categories describes you, and check out experts' recommendations. Our health insurance glossary will help with unfamiliar terms.

    You're moving from high school into the workforce. If your parents are covered through an employer, try to stay on their plan, says Kathleen Stoll, director of health policy at Families USA, a healthcare consumer advocacy group. It'll cost less than getting individual health insurance on your own. If you're under 26 and unmarried, you can be insured as a dependent on your parents' insurance (unless you can get your own job-based coverage). Some states require insurers to extend parental coverage to adult children past age 26; in New Jersey, for example, eligibilty lasts until you're 30. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that about 1.2 million young adults will elect to stay on a parent's health plan in 2011. Downside: Coverage under a parent's plan has its cost. The average policy will cost about $3,380 for each person enrolled in dependent coverage in 2011, according to HHS estimates.

    You're headed for college. Most public and private four-year colleges offer health insurance plans for students who aren't covered through their parents. Yearly premiums could run as much as $2,400, but the average is about $850, about one-fourth the cost of premiums for employer-sponsored group plans. Downside: Part-time students may not be eligible. [Read more: Best Affordable Health Insurance Options for Young Adults.]

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    • What Health Reform Means for You

      Parts of the Affordable Care Act, health reform's official name, have already taken effect, U.S. News reports. Young adults now can stay on their parents' health policies up to age 26, for example, and at a more mundane level, sessions at tanning salons may cost more because of a 10 percent tax on tanning services imposed last July 1. What has happened so far that will matter to individual Americans, and what is coming in 2011 and beyond? Here's a quick rundown.

      1. What's happened so far. Health insurers can no longer impose lifetime caps on coverage, a boon for those with expensive chronic health problems like cancer or heart failure who find themselves bankrupt after their insurance runs out. Parents who have group policies through their employers are allowed to continue coverage for their unmarried children, as noted above—a pressing need especially now, with unemployment sky-high among recent college graduates. Health insurers must cover certain preventive services like osteoporosis screening for women over 65, smoking cessation counseling and interventions, colonoscopies, high blood pressure screening, and screenings for diabetes and sexually transmitted diseases. Seniors were previously required to pay part of the cost of Medicare services, including cancer screenings and annual physicals, but the law makes such preventive services free for most beneficiaries. People with serious health conditions that have prevented them from obtaining coverage will be eligible to purchase a policy from a high-risk pool in a government-subsidized exchange, at a cost similar to what healthy folks pay for their premiums. (Private insurers can still deny applicants based on pre-existing conditions up until 2014, when the exchanges open.) [Read more: What Health Reform Means for You.]