Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The coronavirus pandemic will likely reduce total U.S. health care spending — at least for a while.

The big picture: The pandemic is a health care crisis, but it's costing less than the other, routine care that's been postponed because of it.

By the numbers: Before the pandemic hit, the U.S. was projected to spend $4 trillion this year on health care, due in large part to the continued rise of prices.

  • A new Kaiser Family Foundation report and a new Health Affairs post by Richard Kronick, a former federal health policy researcher, indicate the pandemic may not increase spending and could lower spending below the $4 trillion projection.

Between the lines: Far fewer people went to their doctors and hospitals in March and April, according to KFF.

  • Health insurance companies have confirmed they are sitting on a lot of cash because medical providers aren't billing for as many services, drugs and equipment.
  • COVID-19 hospitalizations are so far tracking below expectations, but that could change "if we are individually and collectively extremely stupid" about reopening the economy, Kronick wrote.

The wild card: How quickly patients come back.

  • J.P. Morgan's May Proprietary Hospital Survey of 316 hospitals showed "significant improvement" in hospital revenues during the first two weeks of May, indicating some services are rebounding.
  • Congress also has subsidized the health care industry with $175 billion, or 5% of health care spending, in a bid to keep things normal.
  • "It is not yet clear how these upward and downward cost pressures will balance out in 2020 and 2021," KFF's researchers wrote.

What we're watching: Private insurers are setting premiums for next year, and states are looking at Medicaid budgets. Understanding how the pandemic is affecting the health spending influences how much everyone will pay in premiums and taxes going forward.

Go deeper

Natural gas pipeline project cancelled after Supreme Court victory

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Dominion Energy announced Sunday it has agreed to sell its natural gas transmission and storage network to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway in a deal valued at $10 billion, including the assumption of debt.

Why it matters: The deal comes as Duke Energy Corp. and Dominion Energy announced they are canceling their plans for the $8 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline following a Supreme Court ruling. The ruling removed major hurdles for the companies, but "recent developments have created an unacceptable layer of uncertainty and anticipated" for the project.

Trump campaign "strongly" encourages face masks at outdoor rally

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Trump campaign will be providing face masks and hand sanitizer for all attendees at an upcoming rally Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

  • The campaign said in an email on Sunday that attendees are "strongly encouraged" to wear the masks.

Why it matters: The campaign's first coronavirus-era rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was notable for its lack of masks.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 11,317,637 — Total deaths: 531,729 — Total recoveries — 6,111,910Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 2,852,807 — Total deaths: 129,718 — Total recoveries: 894,325 — Total tested: 34,858,427Map.
  3. States: Photos of America's pandemic July 4 ICU beds in Arizona hot spot near capacity — Houston mayor warns about hospitals
  4. Public health: U.S. coronavirus infections hit record highs for 3 straight days.
  5. Politics: Former Trump official Tom Bossert says face masks “are not enough”
  6. World: Mexican leaders call for tighter border control as infections rise in U.S.
  7. Sports: Sports return stalked by coronavirus
  8. 1 📽 thing: Drive-in movie theaters are making a comeback.