Patient medical bills as a reporting tool: Billing codes, benefit statements, medicare rates and chargemasters

  • Event: 2019 IRE Conference
  • Speakers: Jeanne Pinder of ClearHealthCosts; Chris Vanderveen of KUSA/9News Denver; Elisabeth Rosenthal of Kaiser Health News
  • Date/Time: Saturday, Jun. 15 at 9:00am
  • Location: Briargrove
  • Audio file: No audio file available.

Medical bills are an almost unending source of stories. The three panelists find motherlodes of willing patients who themselves supply deep research on very personal issues, stacks of paperwork and an almost inexhaustible desire to reveal their deepest personal secrets -- so you, the reporter, can tell a great story.


  • It's an endless source of deep engagement with your community, and deep praise from them. We all agreed that we have never had this kind of feedback in our careers in journalism.
  • It's not as hard as it seems -- a lot of sources have already done deep research by the time they find you.
  • People are angry and afraid, and motivated.
  • Yes, you can have policy impact: Our work speeds legislation and regulation.

Speaker Bios

  • Jeanne Pinder (@chcosts) is founder-CEO of ClearHealthCosts, bringing transparency to health care by telling people what things cost. Pinder was an editor and reporter at The New York Times for nearly 25 years. She volunteered for a 2009 buyout, and a year later won a shark-tank-type pitch contest to found ClearHealthCosts. Previous employers: The Des Moines Register, The Associated Press and The Grinnell Herald-Register, her family’s twice-weekly independent in Iowa.

  • Elisabeth Rosenthal, MD, editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News, is the author of the New York Times bestseller, “An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back.”  Before coming to KHN in 2016, she spent 22 years as a reporter, foreign correspondent and senior writer at the New York Times. Her 2013-14 NYT series, “Paying Till it Hurts,” helped spark a national conversation on the price of US health care. @RosenthalHealth

  • Chris Vanderveen's work on KUSA-TV's nationally recognized 9Wants to Know investigative team has led to changes in both state and federal law.  His ongoing "Show Us Your Bills" series highlighting the absurdities of the country's medical billing system has received, to date, a National Murrow Award, two Headliner Awards, the Sigma Delta Chi Award and this year's IRE Award for Broadcast/Video Division II. @chrisvanderveen

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