Tag Archives: costs

Mississippi journalist’s reporting leads medical center to change billing practices

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.

In April, Anna Wolfe, who covers health care for the Mississippi Clarion Ledger, started reporting on what appeared to be staggeringly high bills for using the emergency room at the Batson Children’s Hospital, in Jackson. The hospital is part of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, the only academic medical center in the state.

Parents who brought their children to the ER were being charged thousands of dollars in unreasonable emergency room facility fees that do not match the level of care received, Wolfe reports. Since that article was published April 15, Wolfe has continued to cover the complex ways the hospital calculates its charges. In the bills Wolfe reviewed, the hospital adds facility fees for ER visits, fees that are based on the level of care administered. Continue reading

Reporters share how they uncovered the jaw-dropping price of rabies treatment

Bara Vaida

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 outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Journalists who had been looking for stories about the high cost of medical bills came across an unexpected one – the astoundingly high price of rabies treatments.

WebMD investigative reporter Brenda Goodman and Georgia Health News CEO Andy Miller began their investigation late last year after Miller received a tip about a Georgia resident who owed more than $10,000 for her treatment. Continue reading

Gaining a deeper appreciation for the costs of basic science

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.

Photo: Tara Haelle

It’s not difficult to understand why clinical trials are so incredibly expensive. There’s the recruitment of the participants and their compensation, the cost of the drugs themselves, the work that has to go into ensuring both participants and clinicians are appropriately blinded (at least in double-blinded trials), the many visits to monitor symptoms and improvement, the time spent crunching the data – the dollars add up fast.

It’s harder (at least for me) to grasp where all the money goes for basic science. It’s often just cells in a petri dish, along with the fancy (and very expensive) microscope and computer equipment needed to examine them. Continue reading

Series on pharmacy benefit managers makes complicated topic easier to understand

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: Thomas Hawk via Flickr

One of the most complicated topics to cover in health care today is the role of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Employers and health plans hire these middlemen to manage their prescription benefit programs for workers and health plan members.

Not only do PBMs contract with health plans, but some large health plans, notably UnitedHealthcare which owns Optum, have their own PBMs. Late last year, CVS Health, one of the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chains and owns Caremark, a PBM, said it would buy Aetna, one of the country’s largest health insurers. That deal is pending regulatory review, as Bruce Japsen reported for Forbes early this month. Continue reading

How Trump’s new drug proposal may impact older adults

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.

Photo: Jen R via Flickr

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Director Seems Verma are crisscrossing the country to tout the Trump administration’s plan to combat prescription drug prices. They promise that America’s Patients First, released by the president and HHS on May 11, will address significant roadblocks to lowering drug costs.

People age 65 and older account for 34 percent of all prescription medication use and 30 percent of all over-the-counter drugs purchased, according to this Medscape article. Azar, a former drug company executive, recently spoke with reporters and other stakeholders to promote the plan, saying that high prescription costs seriously threaten too many Americans’ health and wellbeing. Continue reading