About AHCJ: General News

New AHCJ resource to help reporters cover insurance Date: 10/08/13

Contact: Len Bruzzese, AHCJ, 573-884-5606

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The Association of Health Care Journalists has rolled out another Core Curriculum topic on its website. “Insurance” is the fifth in a series of core topic subject areas making up the curriculum. It is one of at least a dozen key subject areas the organization believes today’s health journalists will need to master to cover the beat well.

“Understanding health insurance in the United States has just gotten tougher,” said Len Bruzzese, executive director of AHCJ and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism. “Our mix of employer-based, federally backed and state-supported systems was already confusing for many. Now, the implementation of health reform means reporters need an even firmer grasp on what’s out there so they can assist the public.”

While AHCJ’s website already provides reference, education and training materials available to journalists on insurance issues, the new pages will offer a more central and cataloged collection of materials on the topic, with the practical daily guidance of a lead editor who specializes in the topic.

Each specialty topic page includes glossaries, key concepts, reporting tip sheets, weekly blog items, first-person stories by fellow journalists, videos, data and more. The topic home page serves as a launch pad to more resources on the healthjournalism.org site and elsewhere.

Massachusetts-based writer Joseph Burns is AHCJ’s topic leader on covering insurance. He produces reporting guides, seeks out reliable resources, assigns stories and blogs regularly. Burns has been covering health care since 1991 and writes frequently about health policy and the business of health care for a variety of publications, including Hospitals & Health Networks, Managed Care magazine, Ophthalmology Management, and The Dark Report

He works with Pia Christensen, AHCJ’s managing editor/online services, to find the latest material, edit contributions and make the site as easy to navigate as possible. The resources can be found at healthjournalism.org/insurance.

“The insurance industry is complex and in the midst of a landmark transformation as companies adjust to doing business under the Affordable Care Act and meet pressures to provide higher quality care at lower costs,” Christensen said. “Our resources will help journalists understand the insurance business, track important trends, find the untold stories and explain it all to their readers, viewers and listeners.”

The creation of the insurance pages was made possible by support from the Missouri Foundation for Health. The funders agreed reporters could use more help in reporting on insurance. Although the organization provided funding, it did not seek to influence any of the materials on the pages, Bruzzese said.

AHCJ previously launched core topics on health reform, aging and oral health and medical studies. Other topics on the horizon include social determinants of health and more.

The Association of Health Care Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing public understanding of health care issues. With nearly 1,500 members across the United States and around the globe, its mission is to improve the quality, accuracy and visibility of health care reporting, writing and editing. The association and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism provide training, resources and a professional home for journalists. Offices are based at the Missouri School of Journalism.