Dec 7, 2019 - Health

Deep Dive: The coming health care collision

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Health insurance through an employer — the way most Americans get it — costs an annual average of almost $23,000 to cover a family. That's enough to buy a new Volkswagen every year.

The big picture: While those costs keep rising, Americans' life expectancy is falling.

By the numbers: Altogether, the U.S. spent $3.6 trillion last year on health care.

  • We spend far more than any other wealthy country, and we are no healthier for it.

Be smart: We don't spend so much because we go to the doctor more than people in other countries. It's because we pay much higher prices for the same services — for MRIs or a knee replacement or new drugs — and those costs keep going up.

Our actual health isn't great, either.

  • Americans' life expectancy has been declining for three straight years — the first time that's happened in decades.
  • That's largely a product of the opioid crisis, which has proven difficult to arrest, in part, because the U.S. spends its money on treating physical illnesses, rather than on prevention or mental-health treatment.

These colliding crises are why health care is so dominant in the 2020 debate — and why it will stay that way.

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WHO warns of 13 emerging health threats including possible pandemics

Photo: Probst/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Government leaders need to implement a "decade of change" and invest more in the key health priorities and systems to prevent global health threats over the next decade, the World Health Organization warned last week.

What's new: Climate change, infectious diseases and epidemic threats, socioeconomic inequalities, and conflicts are some of the 13 urgent challenges WHO says will imperil global health — but addressing them is "within reach" if action is taken now.

Go deeperArrowJan 20, 2020

Private insurance is health care's pot of gold

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Private health insurance is a conduit for exploding health care spending, and there's no end in sight.

The big picture: Most politicians defend this status quo, even though prices are soaring. And as the industry's top executives and lobbyists gathered this week in San Francisco, some nodded to concerns over affordability — but then went on to tell investors how they plan to keep the money flowing.

Go deeperArrowJan 17, 2020

Opioid death rate in the U.S. decreased in 2018

Data: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Center for Health Statistics; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Opioid deaths in the U.S. decreased in 2018 after years of steady increases, while the U.S. life expectancy ticked up for the first time in four years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.

Between the lines: The effort to combat the opioid epidemic appears to be working, although the problem is far from solved.

Go deeperArrowJan 31, 2020 - Health