Health Highlights: Aug 14, 2015

Health Highlights: Aug 14, 2015

Health Highlights: Aug 14, 2015

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

Nearly 950,000 Signed Up on HealthCare.gov After Open Enrollment

Nearly 950,000 Americans signed up for coverage on HealthCare.gov after the open enrollment period ended, the federal government says.

The new customers signed up with the federal health insurance exchange after they became eligible due to changes in their circumstances such as losing work-provided coverage or having a baby, the Wall Street Journal reported.

With these new sign-ups, it appears likely that the federal government will meet its target of 9.1 million to 9.9 million people who have paid for coverage through the insurance exchanges by the end of the year.

"So far this year, nearly 950,000 people have gained the peace of mind that comes with access to coverage by taking advantage of a special enrollment period, providing us with further evidence that the Health Insurance Marketplace is working for America's families," Kevin Counihan, CEO of HealthCare.gov, in a statement, WSJ reported.

That figure includes people who chose plans between Feb. 23, 2015 and June 30, 2015 in the 37 states that rely on the federal exchange. It does not necessarily mean they have paid premiums, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report released Thursday.

CMS said nearly 85 percent of those people signed uo for one of three reasons: half had lost their health insurance or access to minimal benefits required by law; 20 percent learned they were ineligible for Medicaid; and 15 percent found out they would have to pay a penalty for not having health insurance, WSJ reported.

The latest sign-ups included a large number of people 34 and younger, which suggests they had switched jobs, were no longer covered under their parents' plans, or had major life changes such as marriage or becoming a parent, CMS said.

During open enrollment this year, about 8.8 million people chose a plan or were re-enrolled through HealthCare.gov. As of March 31, 7.5 million people had coverage and paid premiums, and 2.9 million had obtained coverage and paid premiums through state-run exchanges, WSJ reported.

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FDA Approves Oxycontin for Children as Young as 11

Limited use of the widely abused painkiller OxyContin in children as young as 11 years old was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Studies by OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma "supported a new pediatric indication for OxyContin in patients 11 to 16 years old and provided prescribers with helpful information about the use of OxyContin in pediatric patients," said Dr. Sharon Hertz, director of new anesthesia, analgesia and addiction products for the FDA, NBC News reported.

OxyContin is a long-release version of oxycodone, which belongs to a family of powerful painkillers called opioids. These drugs are highly addictive and popular with addicts and drug dealers.

This newly-approved use of OxyContin in young patients is likely to be highly controversial, according to NBC News.

Opioids kill an average of 44 people a day in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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