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How to localize rising healthcare expenses

October 1, 2019

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New findings show that Americans still face challenges with healthcare costs. Here's how business journalists can report on the issue. (Photo credit: www.pexels.com)

New findings show that Americans still face challenges with healthcare costs. A recent survey by Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation uncovered that expensive healthcare is still one of the most discussed issues for American citizens.

Business journalists can cover the issue by looking into one of the following topics.

Americans still struggle with expensive health care 

A Gallup and West Health survey revealed that Americans borrowed $88 Billion to pay for Health care in 2018. A lot of them fear that a major health problem can lead to a bankruptcy. 

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, half of U.S. adults claim that they have delayed or skipped healthcare or dental care procedures because of high prices. Those who already have health problems face more challenges. 

Peter G. Peterson Foundation says that “healthcare costs for Americans is projected to grow at an alarmingly high rate.” The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) indicated that costs may grow faster than the economy. Hospital care is one of the largest components of healthcare system in the U.S. It could possibly grow at an annual average rate of 5.6% over the decade. The article suggests that even small changes may have an impact on the overall situation.

Business journalists can report on possible cost raises in healthcare and its further implications. Develop this story with more reporting from sources such as NORC, West Health Institute, Person and Kaiser Health System tracker. 

“Surprise! You have a medical bill” 

A few months ago Kaiser Family Foundation published a survey that shows how often surprise bills affect the average American household. Millions of hospital stays or emergency visits put people with large employer coverage under the risk of getting an unexpected medical bill. Those who have large employer plans 16% of in-network hospital stays and 18% of visits in the emergency had at least one out-of-network charge in 2017. 

AHIP America’s Health Insurance Plans says at least one in five Americans will receive an unexpected medical bill from a doctor who is out of their health care coverage network. These events can put the citizens in thousands of dollars in debt. 

AHIP says the state law approach is an answer to the problem. Some states have already enacted laws and provide some kind of protection for citizens who are under the risk of receiving unexpected medical bills. 

Journalists can use the research above as a starting point to report on surprise medical bills. Deepen reporting by talking with doctors, medical staff and patients about the frequency of unexpected expenses and discussing the most effective/or ineffective state approaches. 

Can Americans afford to follow through medical prescriptions?

Not all Americans are able to follow medical prescriptions to complete their health care. According to Kaiser Family Foundation eight in ten (79 percent) Americans say the cost of prescription drugs is “unreasonable.” Drew Altman, CEO and President of Kaiser Family Foundation gave an interview to CBS News stating that the people in the study struggled with medical bills even though they have insurance. 

A number of adult Americans (29%) report not taking their medicine as prescribed because they could not afford it. The ones who struggle the most are those patients who have more serious health issues and therefore, require more drugs. 

Journalists can dig deeper into prescription drugs price tendencies throughout recent years by looking through the statistics on Person and Kaiser Health System tracker.


  • Nino Abdaladze

    Nino was a Fulbright Foreign Graduate Student at Arizona State University studying investigative journalism. Originally from Tbilisi, Georgia, she has been working there as an investigative reporter for the last 2 years writing stories about crime, e...

    View all posts

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