Stories to cover before the ACA’s special enrollment period ends

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

Karen Politz, "How the American Rescue Plan Will Improve Affordability of Private Health Coverage"

Karen Politz, Kaiser Family FoundationThe American Rescue Plan provides better subsidies for health insurance premiums for those whose income is 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL), which is $12,880 for an individual and $26,500 for a family of four, to 400% of FPL ($51,520 for an individual and $106,000 for a family of four).

The Biden administration reported on July 14 that 2.1 million Americans had signed up for health insurance coverage on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges during a pandemic-related special enrollment period that began February 15. The next day, the administration announced a “Summer Sprint to Coverage” campaign before the special enrollment period ends on August 15.

From February 15 through June 30, 1.5 million Americans signed up on, and 600,000 enrolled in the 14 states and the District of Columbia that run their own state-based marketplaces. Since April 1, the administration noted that among those new and returning consumers, 1.2 million (34%) selected plans that require premium payments of $10 or less per month. Those lower rates are the result of increased premium subsidies under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) that Congress passed in March. Continue reading

Recording, transcribing just keep getting easier with new apps

About Barbara Mantel

Barbara Mantel (@BJMantel), an independent journalist, is AHCJ’s freelance community correspondent. Her work has appeared in CQ Researcher, Rural Health Quarterly, Undark, Healthline, and NPR, among others. She helps members find the resources they need to succeed as freelancers and welcomes your suggestions.

Photo: andreahelenajacobsen via Flickr

Photo: andreahelenajacobsen via Flickr

Until several years ago, I typed up my interviews as they were happening. The process gave me a headache and made my fingers ache, but I didn’t want to add extra hours of work transcribing a recorded interview.

Now that one of my editors has agreed to reimburse me for some professional transcribing and inexpensive voice recognition programs are improving every year, I no longer need to multitask during interviews. I can focus on the conversation and not worry that my fingers are in the wrong position on the keyboard and the last few paragraphs I typed are gibberish. Continue reading

Pandemic, closed clinics drove rise in drug overdoses and STDs, data show

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

Photo: G Witteveen via Flickr

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on July 16 published data showing drug overdose deaths soared 30 percent in 2020. Public health experts say infectious diseases connected to illicit drug use, such as HIV, hepatitis, sexually transmitted diseases and endocarditis, likely rose as well.

The increase is considered linked to pandemic-related shutdowns of health care facilities that provide testing for infectious diseases and treatment for substance use disorder last year. Physicians also say they are observing a spike in substance misuse and an increase in new cases of HIV and other infections connected to drug use. Continue reading

Health Disparities 2021 Report documents health inequities by state

About Melba Newsome

Melba Newsome is AHCJ's core topic leader for health equity and a veteran freelance journalist with more than 20 years’ experience. Her health and science features have appeared in Health Affairs, Oprah, Prevention, Scientific American, Chemical & Engineering News and North Carolina Health News.

America’s Health Rankings/United Health Foundation

Disparities by race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status and geographical regions persist in the U.S., despite significant public health advancements, medical breakthroughs and increased access to health care. In fact, health disparities have increased in certain areas, with a profound impact on the nation’s collective health and well-being.

That is the conclusion of the recently released Inaugural America’s Health Rankings Health Disparities 2021 Report from the United Health Foundation. Using 30 measures, the report paints a comprehensive portrait of health inequities and highlights the constant and changing contours of disparities in several subpopulation groups. Continue reading

New federal mandate should allow freer flow of medical information

About Kerry Dooley Young and Karen Blum

Kerry Dooley Young is an independent journalist and AHCJ's core topic leader on patient safety. Karen Blum is an independent journalist and AHCJ’s core topic leader on health IT.

OpenNotesPeter Elias, M.D., talking with a patient in a clinical visit. He shares his progress notes.

April 5 marked the official start of a federal mandate meant to allow consumers easier access to their medical records while also barring organizations from profiting by restricting access to this information.

The mandate states the eight types of clinical notes that must be shared, including:

  • Consultation notes
  • Discharge summary notes
  • History and physical information
  • Imaging narratives
  • Laboratory and pathology reports
  • Procedure and progress notes.

Continue reading