Marshall Allen

Reporter

Photo of Marshall Allen

Marshall Allen investigates why we pay so much for health care in the United States and get so little in return. He is one of the creators of ProPublica’s Surgeon Scorecard, which published the complication rates for about 17,000 surgeons who perform eight common elective procedures. Allen’s work has been honored with several journalism awards, including the Harvard Kennedy School’s 2011 Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting and coming in as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting for work at the Las Vegas Sun, where he worked before coming to ProPublica in 2011. Before he was in journalism, Allen spent five years in full-time ministry, including three years in Nairobi, Kenya. He has a master’s degree in Theology.

How to Make Health Insurers Take Fraud Seriously

Experts say both employers and working Americans end up paying more when health insurance companies don’t report fraud to regulators and prosecutors.

We Asked Prosecutors if Health Insurance Companies Care About Fraud. They Laughed at Us.

To protect their networks and bottom lines, health insurers don’t aggressively pursue widespread fraud, making it easy for scammers. Then they pass the costs off to you.

Senators Call for Closing “Loopholes” That Make Health Care Fraud Easy

In response to a story by ProPublica and Vox that detailed how a Texas personal trainer was able to bilk private insurers for millions, six Democratic lawmakers are asking federal regulators to take action.

Health Insurers Make It Easy for Scammers to Steal Millions. Who Pays? You.

Health insurers are regarded as fierce defenders of health care dollars. But the case of David Williams shows one reason America’s health care costs continue to rise. The personal trainer spent years posing as a doctor and billing the nation’s top insurers, making off with millions.

What Can Be Done Right Now to Stop a Basic Source of Health Care Fraud

Fraud is one reason we all pay so much for health care. But there are simple fixes that would make it more difficult for scammers to operate.

Senators Call for Disclosure of Perks and Fees Paid to Health Benefits Brokers

A ProPublica story in February documented the hidden cash and gifts health insurers pay to influence independent brokers. In new proposed legislation, lawmakers say such fees should be revealed to employers.

I’m a Journalist. Apparently, I’m Also One of America’s “Top Doctors.”

Companies cash in by calling physicians “Super Doctor,” “Best Doctor” or “Top Doctor” and then selling them opportunities to boast about the honor. Experts call the accolades a “scam.” Giving me one highlights the absurdity.

Behind the Scenes, Health Insurers Use Cash and Gifts to Sway Which Benefits Employers Choose

The insurance industry gives lucrative commissions and bonuses — from six-figure payouts to a chance to bat against Mariano Rivera — to the independent brokers who advise employers. Critics call the payments a “classic conflict of interest” that drive up costs.

Your Medical Devices Are Not Keeping Your Health Data to Themselves

CPAP units, heart monitors, blood glucose meters and lifestyle apps generate information that can be used in ways patients don’t necessarily expect. It can be sold for advertising or even shared with insurers, who may use it to deny reimbursement.

You Snooze, You Lose: Insurers Make The Old Adage Literally True

Millions of sleep apnea patients rely on CPAP breathing machines to get a good night’s rest. Health insurers use a variety of tactics, including surveillance, to make patients bear the costs. Experts say it’s part of the insurance industry playbook.

In Montana, a Tough Negotiator Proved Employers Don’t Have to Pay So Much for Health Care

With its employee health plan in financial crisis, Montana hired a former insurance insider who pushed back against industry players with vested interests in keeping costs high. She proved, essentially, that bargaining down health care prices works.

From Ministry to Muckraking: The Biblical Basis for Investigative Reporting

Some people say journalists are “godless.” But I spent five years in full-time Christian ministry, and my faith has made me a better reporter.

Health Insurers Are Vacuuming Up Details About You — And It Could Raise Your Rates

Without any public scrutiny, insurers and data brokers are predicting your health costs based on data about things like race, marital status, how much TV you watch, whether you pay your bills on time or even buy plus-size clothing.

Why Your Health Insurer Doesn’t Care About Your Big Bills

Patients may think their insurers are fighting on their behalf for the best prices. But saving patients money is often not their top priority. Just ask Michael Frank.

Do You Work in the Health Insurance Field? ProPublica Is Investigating the Industry and We’d Like Your Help

We need your perspective on the health insurance hustle.

Unnecessary Medical Care Is More Common Than You Think

A study in Washington state found that in a single year more than 600,000 patients underwent treatment they didn’t need, at an estimated cost of $282 million. “Do no harm” should include the cost of care, too, the report author says.

Want to Lower Health Care Costs? Stop Wasting Our Money.

This year ProPublica documented the many ways waste is baked into our health care system, from destroying perfectly good medication to junking brand new supplies. Eliminating the waste could insure millions of Americans.

A Prescription for Reducing Wasted Health Care Spending

A ProPublica series has illustrated the many ways the U.S. health care system leaks money. Health care leaders and policymakers suggest ways to plug the holes.

More States Hatch Plans to Recycle Drugs Being Wasted in Nursing Homes

After reading ProPublica’s story, lawmakers in Florida and New Hampshire say they plan to follow the example of an Iowa nonprofit that redistributes leftover medications to needy patients.

Seven Ways Patients Can Protect Themselves From Outrageous Medical Bills

Experts in reducing charges for medical services say patients need to push for detailed answers up front about the true costs of their care.

Follow ProPublica

Latest Stories from ProPublica