Stories by Bob Herman

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.

Health care profits are soaring

Illustration of a man sitting at a table covered in healthcare bills
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Soaring health care costs are bad news for patients and taxpayers, but great news for the very profitable health care industry.

The big picture: The sector has profited heavily in 2019. Expect more of the same in 2020.

Health care spending grew at a faster rate in 2018

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

Americans spent $3.65 trillion on health care in 2018 — 4.6% more than the year before. That growth also was higher than the 4.2% rate from 2017, according to revised figures from independent federal actuaries.

Between the lines: U.S. health care spending climbed again not because people went to the doctor or hospital more frequently, but because the industry charged higher prices. And private health insurers didn't do a particularly good job negotiating lower rates.