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Remaking Health Care

This column explores how health reform is changing the ways in which we pay for and deliver health care in the U.S. It also highlights the ways in which our current system is falling short on measures of coverage, access and affordability. On any given week, that could mean a look at how Republican plans to repeal Obamacare could reshape the individual insurance market, how the safety net system is adapting to new financial pressures, or how the trend of doctors and hospitals merging into ever-larger entities is driving up costs. We also explore health care costs and whether the Affordable Care Act or its successor plans can live up to the promise to rein them in. Throughout, we keep watch on how the goals of health reform intersect with the shaping power of markets and human behavior. Contributors include veteran health journalist Trudy Lieberman and independent health journalist Kellie Schmitt, with occasional contributions from independent journalists such as Susan Abram and Sara Stewart.

Picture of Trudy  Lieberman

On health care, the talk from presidential candidates has been way too sketchy and uninformative, argues contributing editor Trudy Lieberman. Policy details remain vague, and no one has gotten to the heart of what ails the system.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

A new Health Matters webinar this week explored just how different the health care spending map looks when researchers are given access to price and spending data from private insurance plans.

Picture of Trudy  Lieberman

With the third open enrollment period closing last Sunday and predictions suggesting fewer sign-ups than expected, it’s time to be clear about why it’s so difficult to get the remaining holdouts insured.

Picture of Trudy  Lieberman

Are insurance policies too complicated to understand? They always have been and always will be unless there are changes in the way policies work, or until there are rules to make it easier for buyers to compare options.

Picture of Judy  Silber

A complaint filed this week alleges that California is engaging in unlawful discrimination by paying some of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country to the state’s Medicaid providers. As some coverage pointed out, the notion that low rates are limiting access to doctors is “not unfounded."

Picture of Judy  Silber

The health insurance marketplaces offer consumers a multitude of options, but sorting out which plan bests suit their needs can be a slog. That’s especially true when it comes to figuring out whether a particular doctor is part of a plan’s network, since the directories are famously unreliable.

Picture of Trudy  Lieberman

Notions of personal failure and our collective ignorance of what it’s like to live on $8.60 a day help explain why 20 states have not covered the very poorest, and why Medicaid as we know it could disappear.

Picture of Gerald Kominski

The rising prevalence of "narrow" health insurance networks has set off alarms. But do such networks keep patients from getting good care? Not necessarily. The more relevant question is whether a provider network is adequate or not.

Picture of Trudy  Lieberman

Can you buy health care like computers? For years, health policy gurus, employers and entrepreneurs have argued you could. But growing evidence tells us that the focus on turning patients into shoppers has real limits.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

Health insurance premium hikes have been modest in recent years, but out-of-pockets costs are another story. Our Thursday webinar on "Out of Pocket: Surprise Costs After Health Reform" offered a primer on the trends and a host of story ideas for reporting on these topics.

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