Category Archives: Uncategorized

Journalists expose significant problems with Medicare Advantage plans

Majority report from US Senate Finance Committee finds seniors subject to marketing scams from health insurers.

Seniors signing up for Medicare Advantage (MA) during open enrollment (which ends Dec. 7) have more reasons to worry now that reporters at Kaiser Health News, MedPage Today and elsewhere have continued to uncover significant problems with these private managed care plans. 

During open enrollment, reporters have a responsibility to explain the problems seniors may face with MA plans and to warn them about deceptive marketing practices.

And health care journalists should ask officials at the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) why it sets higher rates for health insurance brokers selling MA plans than the rates it sets for brokers to register seniors in Medicare Supplement (also called Medigap) plans that might be more appropriate for their needs.  Continue reading

Resources for covering RSV and the ‘tripledemic’

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio via pexels.

Are you looking for a Thanksgiving health story? Consider adding the brewing “tripledemic” of pathogens to your coverage. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, are overwhelming hospitals, and some health care experts are urging families to bring back some of the pandemic’s mitigation measures during the holiday.

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When to quote survey results: How to judge quality and recognize red flags

Courtney Kennedy (Photo courtesy of the Pew Research Center)

Journalists often include survey results in a story to offer a sense of public opinion. But not all surveys are created equal, and some should be avoided at all costs. 

In a recent phone interview, Courtney Kennedy, vice president of survey research and innovation at the Pew Research Center, a “nonpartisan fact tank,” shared advice with me on how to judge survey quality. 

A longer version of our conversation, which was edited for length and clarity, can be found at The Freelance Center. 

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Experts share databases and other useful resources for U.S. gun violence data

Thomas R. Simon, Ph.D., associate director of the CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention, addresses attendees during the “Everything you think you know about guns is wrong: Myths, facts and where to find the best research & data” session. (Photo by Erica Tricarico)

One of the most challenging aspects of writing about gun violence is finding good data. The CDC has reliable statistics on gun deaths, including accidents, suicides and homicides, but it’s historically been more difficult to find data on gun injuries or more detailed epidemiology.

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Election coverage lessons on Medicaid expansion, abortion, medical debt and dental insurance

South Dakota voters approve amendment to state constitution to expand access to Medicaid (Source: Status of State Medicaid Expansion Decisions: Interactive Map, Kaiser Family Foundation, accessed Nov. 9, 2022.)

Even while votes are still being counted, there are important lessons to be learned from the midterm elections on Tuesday. 

One of the big lessons is that when voters are asked whether to expand Medicaid, they mostly vote in favor, as happened when South Dakota approved an amendment to the state constitution this week, requiring the state to expand access to Medicaid benefits to low-income residents. 

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