Health and health care news

This month, Medicare began covering annual CT scans for lung cancer screening for those at highest risk of the disease. It's the first time a screening option proven to save lives is available for the disease that causes 160,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.

Patty Wight / MPBN

AUGUSTA, Maine - Over the past two months, the state medical examiner says five babies in Maine have died, and their deaths have been directly related to unsafe sleeping practices.

A new nationwide Gallup poll finds that the number of Mainers without health insurance dropped significantly in the first year since the Affordable Care Act's insurance requirement took effect.

In 2013, 16.1 percent of Maine residents were without insurance; in 2014 that number dropped to 11.6 percent.

AUGUSTA, Maine - Nearly 80 percent of Maine residents who have signed up for health coverage on the exchange have selected plans with a Lewiston-based nonprofit co-op.

Maine Community Health Options CEO Kevin Lewis said Tuesday that 57,600 residents have enrolled with the company through the exchange.

Federal officials said last week that 74,792 people in Maine chose a health plan or were automatically re-enrolled in coverage as of Feb. 15, the last day of open enrollment. A special sign-up period will begin March 15 for some people.

Those who are just realizing that they'll have to pay a penalty in the 2014 tax year for failing to enroll in health insurance — and who missed the latest enrollment period which ended Feb. 15 — are being given another chance to get covered for 2015.

On Friday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, announced that a special enrollment period will be held this spring those who qualify.