Stories by Drew Altman, Kaiser Family Foundation

Health care costs as much as a new car

Illustration of a car key with a health plus on the unlock button.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Buying a new car every year would be a very impractical expense. It would also be cheaper than a year’s worth of health care for a family.

Why it matters: The cost-shifting and complexity of health insurance can hide its high cost, which crowds out families’ other needs and depresses workers’ wages.

A small group of patients account for a whole lot of spending

Illustration of a $100 bill going into a small pill bottle
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

A very small group of patients with major illnesses is responsible for an outsized share of health care spending, and new data show that prescription drugs are a big part of the reason their bills are so high.

The big picture: Among people who get their coverage from a large employer, just 1.3% of employees were responsible for almost 20% of overall health spending, averaging a whopping $88,000 per year.

Medicaid should be a bigger part of the "Medicare for All" debate

Illustration of a pills capsule opening with state-shaped pills falling out
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The fact that “Medicare for All” would eliminate Medicaid hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as its elimination of private insurance. But it’s a move that would largely eliminate states’ role in the health care system.

Why it matters: State Medicaid programs are leaders in experimenting with delivery and payment reforms, efforts to control drug costs, and addressing social causes of ill health, such as poverty and poor housing. All of those projects would still be important in a single-payer world.