Marshall Allen

Reporter

Photo of Marshall Allen

Marshall Allen was a reporter at ProPublica investigating the cost and quality of our health care. 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.

We Want to Talk to People Working, Living and Grieving on the Front Lines of the Coronavirus. Help Us Report.

Are you a public health worker, medical provider, elected official, patient or other COVID-19 expert? We’re looking for information and sources. Help make sure our journalism is responsible and focused on the right issues.

Key Missteps at the CDC Have Set Back Its Ability to Detect the Potential Spread of Coronavirus

The CDC designed a flawed test for COVID-19, then took weeks to figure out a fix so state and local labs could use it. New York still doesn’t trust the test’s accuracy.

Tell Us About the Health Care Industry’s Markups and Middlemen

Do you work in the health care industry? Can you tell us which industry players siphon away dollars without adding obvious value? Help us hold the industry accountable and find ways to lower costs.

We Showed How Easy It Is to Commit Health Care Fraud. Now Senators Want to Close the Loophole.

The bipartisan proposal comes in response to a ProPublica story that showed how a personal trainer posed as a doctor to defraud prominent health insurers.

What Happens When a Health Plan Has No Limits? An Acupuncturist Earns $677 a Session.

New Jersey’s health plan for school employees pays out-of-network providers virtually whatever they want. Dozens of acupuncturists and physical therapists earned more than $200,000 in 2018 from school staff alone. One brought in $1 million.

Un hospital cobra a una de sus enfermeras casi $900,000 tras dar a luz a una bebé prematura

Según Dignity Health, la enfermera de emergencias no cumplió con la fecha límite para agregar a su recién nacida prematura a su plan de salud, lo que la hacía responsable de las facturas médicas. La empresa rechazó las apelaciones de su empleada durante un año hasta que ProPublica se puso en contacto con ellos.

How One Employer Stuck a New Mom With an $898,984 Bill for Her Premature Baby

Dignity Health said its employee, an ER nurse, failed to meet the deadline to add her premature newborn to its health plan, so she was responsible for the medical bills. It rejected her appeals for a year until ProPublica called.

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.

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.

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.

Follow ProPublica

Latest Stories from ProPublica