Health Care

The patient at the clinic was in his 40s and had lost both his legs to Type 1 diabetes. He had mental health and substance abuse problems and was taking large amounts of opioids to manage pain.

He was assigned to Nichole Mitchell, who in 2014 was a newly minted nurse practitioner in her first week of a one-year postgraduate residency program at the Community Health Center clinic in Middletown, Conn.

The past two years have been a time of reckoning for pharmaceutical manufacturers over their role in promoting opioid drugs that have fed a national epidemic.

It's a club no one wants to join, but many Americans these days find themselves automatically eligible for the "Bill of the Month" club.

Kaiser Health News and NPR began collecting people's health care bills for examination early this year. We have waded through roughly 500 submissions, choosing just one each month to decode and dissect. (If you'd like to submit your story or bill, you can do it here.)

Sherry Young just wanted to be able to walk without pain.

About three years ago, she began to experience sharp pain in her left foot. Her big toe had become crooked and constantly rubbed up against the adjacent toe, making it painful to run, walk or even stand. "I could not walk without intense pain unless I had a pad underneath my toes for cushioning," Young said.

An orthopedic surgeon told her that he could fix her problem for good. "He thought my foot was hitting the ground too hard and causing pain," said Young. "That's what he was trying to correct."

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

It’s hard to get basic health care like shots and x-rays in rural Oklahoma. The federal government considers all but one of the state’s 77 counties to have a primary care shortage. The problem is driving a legislative effort to allow highly educated nurses to fill that gap — but doctors and nurse practitioners are butting heads on who is qualified to help.

Lindsi Walker sits behind a glossy wooden desk at Cordell Memorial, a hospital on Oklahoma’s western plains. She’s surrounded by pictures of her family — a stethoscope hangs around her neck.

Richard Klein switched doctors last year. The new doctor put him on a new blood pressure drug.

But it didn't help.

The failure was entirely predictable.

Klein, an associate professor at Florida International University in Miami, realized later that he had tried the same medicine unsuccessfully a few years before, but he hadn't remembered that fact during the appointment.

It was an understandable mistake for Klein and his doctor.

Comprehensive health care coverage for more than 800,000 low-income people in New York and Minnesota, who pay a fraction of the typical cost of a marketplace plan, may be in jeopardy after the federal government partially cut funding this year.

Updated at 11:17 a.m. ET

Health care costs are "a hungry tapeworm on the American economy," Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett says, and now his firm is teaming up with Amazon and JPMorgan Chase to create a new company with the goal of providing high-quality health care for their U.S. employees at a lower cost.

Updated at 12:39 p.m. ET

Health care workers who want to refuse to treat patients because of religious or moral beliefs will have a new defender in the Trump administration.

The top civil rights official at the Department of Health and Human Services is creating the Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom to protect doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to take part in procedures like abortion or treat certain people because of moral or religious objections.

Over President Trump's first year in office, the U.S. underwent some changes that he would probably cheer. The economy continued strengthening (including, yes, the stock market, as the president likes to emphasize) and the number of people apprehended while trying to enter the country illegally fell sharply. However, some changes are less promising: The nation's carbon dioxide emissions rose, and the amount of student debt grew by $47 billion.

We have put together a wide variety of statistics to show how the U.S. has changed in the past year.

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