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.

  • Most health care companies are immune from the trade war, and Washington isn't about to impose any cost controls. And the industry will continue to benefit from the GOP tax cuts.

Hospitals' rush to issue new debt signals they will find ways to fill beds

Pharmaceutical companies will keep hiking the prices for popular treatments and fighting off cheaper competitors.

Insurers are benefiting from the rising popularity of private Medicare Advantage plans.

  • UnitedHealth, the largest health insurance company by revenue, just forecasted a very profitable 2020, in line with Wall Street's estimates.

Pharmacy benefit managers have faced challenges to their business models in states, but the biggest ones have insulated themselves by merging with insurance companies.

What to watch: Speaking of health care mergers, expect more of them, even after the spate of blockbuster deals over the past few years.

The bottom line: The health care industry's biggest threat is a Democratic administration focused on health care, but that's a long way away.

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Updated 31 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:15 p.m. ET: 32,381,243 — Total deaths: 985,104 — Total recoveries: 22,285,437Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4:15 p.m ET: 7,015,242 — Total deaths: 203,329 — Total recoveries: 2,710,183 — Total tests: 98,481,026Map.
  3. States: "We’re not closing anything going forward": Florida fully lifts COVID restaurant restrictions — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus.
  4. Health: Young people accounted for 20% of cases this summer.
  5. Business: Coronavirus has made airports happier places The expiration of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance looms.
  6. Education: Where bringing students back to school is most risky.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
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White House pushes to uphold TikTok ban

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday filed legal opposition to TikTok's request to delay a ban on downloading the app, with a judge expected to rule before the ban is set to go into effect Sunday.

Why it matters: The White House could have simply postponed the ban on its own for another week or two, as it did last Friday. This move suggests it's seeking to use the ban as leverage in ongoing negotiations.

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Substack and the future of media

Traditional media models, and even some of the digital ones, are either under pressure or outright broken. Some journalists have responded by going out on their own, leveraging a new group of startups that help them self-publish and monetize their work.

Axios Re:Cap digs in with Chris Best, CEO of Substack, which has more than 250,000 paying subscribers on its writer network.

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