Category Archives: Insurance

New Alzheimer’s drug draws attention from federal, independent groups

About Kerry Dooley Young and Joseph Burns

Kerry Dooley Young is an independent journalist and AHCJ's core topic leader on patient safety. Joseph Burns, a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance.

Group of Alzeimer's patients on a walk with caregivers

Photo: Global Panorama via FlickrGroup of Alzeimer’s patients on a walk with caregivers

Liz Seegert, AHCJ’s topic leader on aging, contributed to this article.

Federal policy experts and the influential Institute for Clinical Effectiveness (ICER) have announced separate discussions this month of the Biogen drug aducanumab (Aduhelm) to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

On July 15, ICER will ask one of its expert panels, the California Technology Assessment Forum, to consider the evidence available for aducanumab’s benefits and risks and vote on a series of questions about its effectiveness and value. ICER’s reports have clout because insurers use them to help determine how to cover drugs and medical treatments. The independent group earlier released a report critical of the evidence presented to date about aducanumab. Biogen, which told AHCJ it disagrees with ICER’s opinion of its drug, plans to have a representative speak at the meeting. Continue reading

In new book, award-winning journalist offers strategies for pushing back against high health care costs

About Joseph Burns

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

Marshall Allen

Marshall Allen (Photo by James Carbone)

One of the themes in journalist Marshall Allen’s book is that few American leaders — neither politicians nor the chief executives of American companies — have been willing to fight back against high and rising health care costs. Therefore, the work of taking on the medical industry and health insurers falls to consumers, writes Allen, an award-winning investigative journalist for ProPublica.

His book, Never Pay the First Bill. And Other Ways to Fight the Health Care System and Win, came out June 22 from Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House. Continue reading

ACA hits new high and survives in court, but journalists still have some explaining to do

About Joseph Burns

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

With just over a week to go in June, the Affordable Care Act has already had a very successful month in two important ways.

First, the ACA hit a record for enrollment, topping 31 million Americans since the law went into effect in 2014, according to a report the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued earlier this month. And, second, the ACA survived a challenge at the U.S. Supreme Court, as we reported last week.

To reach that figure of 31 million, the HHS report included the 20 million who have gained insurance through the marketplaces under the ACA itself and through other ACA insurance programs. Continue reading

Affordable Care Act survives again as SCOTUS rejects third challenge

About Joseph Burns

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

Photo by dbking via Flickr

Ruling 7-2 on Thursday in a challenge that Texas and other states brought against the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Supreme Court found the plaintiffs lacked the legal standing to bring the lawsuit.

“The decision preserves health insurance subsidies for more than 20 million Americans and protections for tens of millions more whose preexisting medical conditions could otherwise prevent them from obtaining coverage,” as David G. Savage explained in an article for The Los Angeles Times. Continue reading

How they did it: Reporting on junk health insurance plans

About Joseph Burns

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

Early in May, ProPublica health care reporter Jenny Deam wrote about the financial ruin that often results when unknowing consumers enroll in short-term health insurance plans. Her article of more than 3,000 words, “He Bought Health Insurance for Emergencies. Then He Fell Into a $33,601 Trap,” is an excellent example for any journalist looking to cover the complex world of health insurance plans that do not comply with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare.

Maya Miller, an engagement reporter with ProPublica’s Local Reporting Network, also contributed.

As the article notes, the Trump administration’s efforts to deregulate health insurance led to the proliferation of short-term health plans, boosting health insurers’ profits while leaving patients with unexpected bills. Deam also explained the steps the Biden administration has taken to bolster ACA-compliant plans offered through www.healthcare.gov and the state health insurance marketplaces. We reported on those efforts in February, in March and in April. Continue reading