Nov 13, 2019

Health care prices drive up inflation

Photo: Aric Crabb/Digital First Media/Bay Area News via Getty Images

Consumer inflation rose 0.4% in October, which was higher than expected due in large part to rising health care prices, according to new federal figures. The monthly spikes in inflation were especially prominent for health insurance costs (2.2%), prescription drugs (1.8%) and hospital services (1.4%).

The bottom line: "Inflation remains well-contained almost everywhere, with the major exception of the health care sector," left-leaning economist Dean Baker wrote in an analysis.

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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

Health care spending grew again in 2018 thanks to higher prices

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.

Go deeperArrowDec 6, 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