Nov 19, 2019

Flu shots exemplify the health care system's pricing dysfunction

A nurse fills a syringe with the flu vaccine in 2018. Photo: Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Insured patients don't directly pay anything for flu shots, but they can be expensive — and these costs vary widely, California Healthline reports with Kaiser Health News.

Why it matters: It's well-documented that the prices of health care services vary widely by location, but the price discrepancy among flu shots — which are cheap — drives home how inconsistent and arbitrary the system can be.

  • Even if patients aren't paying these prices out of pocket, we all pay for inflated costs via higher premiums.

Case in point: KHN found that what its insurer paid for KHN employees' flu shots varied dramatically; the insurer paid $85 to one facility in Sacramento and $32 at a drugstore in Washington, D.C.

  • In D.C., Medicaid pays $15 for a flu shot.

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Health care profits are soaring

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.

Go deeperArrowDec 7, 2019

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.

Go deeperArrowDec 7, 2019 - Health

Republican satisfaction with health care costs surges under Trump

A new Gallup survey shows that Republicans have gotten a whole lot happier about the cost of health care since President Trump took office, while Democrats' satisfaction has plummeted.

Our thought bubble: There is very little reason for anyone to be satisfied with the cost of health care in the U.S. — and that has been true for a very long time.

Go deeperArrowDec 12, 2019