Can people with low literacy easily access accurate info about COVID-19?

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

COVID-Literacy

Photo: Arturo Donate via Flickr

Nothing is more important during a pandemic than ensuring that the public consistently receives accurate information that they can understand. But even government websites designed with the intent to reach people with low literacy levels appear to be falling short of their guidelines for accessible text, according to an August research letter in JAMA Network Open. Continue reading

Nursing home commission recommends changes to combat COVID-19

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

nursing-home

Photo: IAPB/VISION 2020 via Flickr

A special commission looking into the large number of cases and deaths from COVID-19 in nursing homes says numerous changes are needed now, to mitigate further risk during this pandemic and avoid similar problems in the future. The commission’s final 186-page report, released Sept. 16, proposed 27 main recommendations grouped into 10 themes to improve infection prevention and control measures, safety procedures, and the quality of life of residents within nursing homes. Continue reading

Employers and insurers paid hospitals 247% more than Medicare rates, new study shows

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: stevenharman via Flickr

Research released today shows that from 2016 through 2018, self-insured employers and commercial health insurers in 49 states and the District of Columbia paid 247% more, on average, than what the Medicare program would have paid for the same inpatient and outpatient hospital services.

Researchers from RAND analyzed hospital claims data from 3,112 hospitals in every state except Maryland, which was excluded because the state has an all-payer rate setting model in which hospitals charge prices that are equal to what Medicare and private insurers pay, the report explained. The claims totaled $33.8 billion and came from self-insured employers, six state all-payer claims databases and health plans from 2016 to 2018. Continue reading

Get ready to take part in AHCJ’s first Virtual Freelance PitchFest

Pia Christensen

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.

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJEditors met with more than 60 freelance journalists seeking assignments at the Freelance PitchFest at Health Journalism 2016.

AHCJ’s annual Freelance PitchFest is going virtual for 2020.

With our annual conference having been postponed, AHCJ has searched for a way to replicate the opportunity for independent journalists to connect with editors and pitch stories to them.

We are happy to announce that editors from some of the top magazines and newspapers have agreed to go virtual to meet you for the AHCJ Virtual PitchFest. This session has been created to give you an opportunity to pitch your ideas one-on-one with editors from selected publications. Continue reading

Report card shows erosion of health insurance coverage in the states

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Chart: Commonwealth Fund

In four of the states that have not expanded Medicaid eligibility have among the highest rates of uninsured residents, according to a Commonwealth Fund report.Source: “2020 Scorecard on State Health System Performance,” The Commonwealth Fund, September 2020.

The coronavirus has certainly pushed the health care system into a crisis. Still, even before the pandemic began earlier this year, health insurance coverage in the states already was being eroded and health care costs were rising sharply along with the number of preventable deaths, according to a new report by the Commonwealth Fund.

In addition to those sad statistics, the fund’s researchers show in the 2020 Scorecard on State Health System Performance that racial and ethnic disparities were getting worse as well. Continue reading

Bias or comorbidity? Risk factors for respiratory disease aren’t always what they seem

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Bias or comorbidityBy this point, anyone who’s been covering or following COVID-19 knows that several comorbidities substantially increase the risk of complications and severe disease. Among those mentioned most often are diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

We learned of the associations between those conditions and more severe disease first from clinical anecdotes, then case series, then observational studies. But observational studies can almost never show causation. (I don’t think they can ever, on their own, show causation, but I add the “almost” because nothing in science is ever absolute.) Although diabetes is linked to poorer outcomes with COVID-19, it doesn’t mean having diabetes causes poorer outcomes. Continue reading