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Data: Altarum Institute; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The coronavirus pandemic forced hospitals and patients to delay care — everything from heart procedures and knee replacement surgeries to lab tests and X-rays — but people have been flocking back to their doctors as coronavirus cases wane.

Why it matters: A return to normal levels of care means health care spending is back on the rise, which will continue to strain governmental budgets and people's paychecks.

By the numbers: Annualized health care spending hit almost $4 trillion this past April, up 32.4% from April 2020, according to an analysis of federal data from the Altarum think tank.

  • The pandemic hit health care spending the hardest between March and June of last year, with the nadir coming in April.

Between the lines: The increase in spending reflects both the mass cancellations of services last spring, but also the sizable surge of people coming back.

  • Dental care spending increased the most year over year in April (140%). Spending on hospital services and physician visits also jumped almost 60% each.
  • The country's persistently high health care prices also played a role in the increased spending, but health care prices have not been rising as fast as other areas of the economy because the federal government and private insurers set rates in advance, according to Altarum.

Go deeper: Aduhelm will balloon America's health spending

Go deeper

Sep 22, 2021 - Axios Denver

Denver's gun-related injuries spiked in 2020, reflecting U.S. trend

Firearm bullets. Photo: Jason Connolly/AFP via Getty Images

Trauma cases from gunshot injuries rose sharply last year in Denver, mirroring a national trend, hospital officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: The findings reinforce data showing a surge in gun violence throughout the city.

14 hours ago - Health

Manchin: "We need to stabilize" Medicare before expanding

Sen. Joe Manchin. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Thursday that Democrats "need to stabilize" Medicare before expanding the program, The Hill reports.

Why it matters: Progressives are hoping to expand Medicare through a broad social spending bill, which Democratic senators have urged Manchin to support. Manchin's vote is critical in passing any Democratic bill in the 50-50 Senate.

Sep 23, 2021 - Health

Newsom signs laws to boost protections for California abortion patients

California Gov. Gavin Newsom during an April news conference. Photo: Rich Pedroncelli/AP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday signed two laws that aim to protect the privacy of people seeking reproductive health care and enforce new safeguards against harassment of patients and providers.

Why it matters: The move comes in the wake of Texas' new abortion law, which bars abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and incentivizes people to sue individuals who help a pregnant person violate the ban.

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