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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 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.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

Across the country, patients who receive out-of-network care can face “exorbitant” charges for medical services compared to Medicare’s rates for the same procedures, and the prices can vary dramatically. But what explains these differences? It depends on who you ask.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

Out-of-network "surprise bills" are a growing problem. Patients think they're staying in their coverage network only to receive a bill for thousands of dollars after a procedure from, say, an anesthesiologist who wasn't included in their plan. So far, proposed solutions have proven controversial.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

People with insurance are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with a chronic condition than uninsured people. That means that as the number of insured grows, the health system will have to cope with an influx of patients newly diagnosed with conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

There’s no question that prescription drug prices are skyrocketing in the United States, and consumers aren’t happy about it. What’s more complicated, though, is understanding the complexities of the issue and reporting on what those soaring prices mean for consumers.

Picture of Kellie  Schmitt

Is health insurance ripe for disruption by newer, tech-savvy market players? Oscar, a newcomer to the California health insurance exchange, certainly hopes so, and has the market valuation to back it up. But will the company's growth and innovation largely be limited to tech-savvy millennials?

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