Stories by Bob Herman

The Affordable Care Act's free health plans

Roughly 4.7 million people who have no health insurance could get coverage next year without paying a dime for the monthly premium, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis.

Why it matters: If you make less than $50,000 as an individual or $103,000 as a family of four — and you can't get health insurance through your job or Medicaid — you could get coverage for free.

UnitedHealth Group's OptumRx is buying Diplomat Pharmacy for $300 million

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

UnitedHealth Group's OptumRx division is buying Diplomat Pharmacy for $300 million, roughly a month after Diplomat said it was running out of money and was exploring a sale.

Why it matters: Health insurance companies have tightened their oligopoly hold on specialty pharmacies.

The state of prescription drug spending

Data: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Office of the Actuary; Chart: Axios Visuals

Spending on prescription drugs in 2018 — both through premiums and out-of-pocket costs — grew a moderate 2.5% from the previous year, which was below the growth rates for hospital and doctor services.

Yes, but: That doesn't give a true accounting of total pharmaceutical spending. Spending on common and expensive drugs that are administered by providers is buried within the hospital and doctor statistics.