July 1 marks a big day for health reform

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Scott Hensley, on NPR’s Shots blog, has a nice rundown of the health care provisions that go into effect today, including the so-called tanning tax, high-risk insurance pools and the new healthcare.gov website.

For reporters writing about the tanning tax, we  remind you to look carefully at the numbers and be sure to accurately report the data behind this policy decision. Much of the reporting we’ve seen cites numbers presented by the World Health Organization: “use of sunbeds before the age of 35 is associated with a 75% increase in the risk of melanoma.” But that statistic represents the relative risk, while the absolute risk – the chance of something happening – is far different. Reuters Health Editor Ivan Oransky, M.D., has written about the subject for Covering Health:

“You can see how if someone is lobbying to ban something – or, in the case of a new drug, trying to show a dramatic effect – they would probably want to use the relative risk.”

For a detailed explanation, be sure to read Oransky’s post about the statistics on tanning.

If you’re reporting on the high-risk insurance pools that go into effect today, don’t miss our tip sheet on the topic, with story tips, suggestions and resources from four experience reporters. Apart from being a policy story, it’s of great interest to all your readers, viewers or listeners who have pre-existing conditions and are struggling to find coverage.

Another tip sheet addresses what needs to be covered now that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been passed and begins to be implemented.

A recent briefing, “Reporting on health reform between now and 2014,” offers further advice and resources from some top Washington, D.C.-based journalists on implementation deadlines, how to cover local issues, Medicare reimbursement rates, what reporters should look for in their states and more.

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