Health care costs

The big picture

The health care debate we ought to be having

Health care is eating up more and more of Americans’ paychecks every year.

Dec 22, 2019 - Politics & Policy
Surprise bills are everywhere

These bills can be financially devastating for patients.

Aug 13, 2019 - Health
Deep Dive: The drug pricing maze

It can be enormously frustrating for patients — and profitable for everyone else.

Nov 17, 2018 - Health
By the numbers: Where America's health care spending goes

Almost one-fifth of the American economy

Jun 16, 2018 - Health

All Health care costs stories

FTC sues to block Philadelphia hospital system merger

Jefferson Health's flagship hospital in Philadelphia. Photo: Jefferson Health

The Federal Trade Commission and Pennsylvania's attorney general want to block the proposed merger between Jefferson Health and Einstein Health Network, arguing the combined system would control too much of the hospital services market in the Philadelphia area and consequently would have unfair pricing power.

Why it matters: This is the first time in more than three years that the FTC has challenged a large hospital merger, and this action could force Jefferson and Einstein to abandon their plans.

Go deeperArrow22 hours ago - Health

Cannabis-based drug is going mainstream

Epidiolex has a list price of $1,310 per bottle. Photo: GW Pharmaceuticals

Sales of the epilepsy drug Epidiolex hit almost $300 million in 2019, GW Pharmaceuticals reported Tuesday. Sales are expected to surpass a half-billion dollars this year as the drug gains more insurance coverage in Europe.

Why it matters: Epidiolex is the first FDA-approved medication made from a substance in cannabis, and it's starting to take off.

Go deeperArrowFeb 26, 2020 - Health

Insurer-owned clinics are taking on hospitals and physicians for patients

Illustration: Axios Visuals

Insurer-owned clinics are increasingly competing with hospitals and physicians for patients, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: Doctor groups and hospitals have invested heavily in purchasing physician practices, and are worried about insurers steering patients toward their own clinics.

Go deeperArrowFeb 24, 2020 - Health

Surprise billing may be about to get worse

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The problem of surprise medical billing — which Congress failed to solve last year — is about to get worse, thanks to a feud between an insurance giant and a company that employs thousands of doctors.

The big picture Parents who have babies in intensive care, women with high-risk pregnancies and people who need anesthesia could receive unexpected bills in the mail as a result of the fight between Mednax, the physician-staffing firm, and UnitedHealth Group.

Go deeperArrowFeb 21, 2020 - Health

UnitedHealth terminates handful of Mednax contracts

Photo: Marijan Murat/picture alliance via Getty Images

UnitedHealth Group will be ending contracts with Mednax anesthesiologists, neonatologists and obstetricians in four states this year, affecting $70 million of revenue, Mednax said Thursday. Mednax and UnitedHealth did not immediately respond to questions.

Why it matters: If the two sides don't strike a new deal, Mednax doctors will be out-of-network for all people who have UnitedHealth insurance, regardless if those doctors work at in-network hospitals — putting patients at risk of receiving surprise medical bills from those Mednax doctors. Congress has not resolved surprise billing.

Study: 50 million Americans donate to medical crowdfunding

An estimated 50 million Americans have donated to crowdfunding campaigns for medical expenses, according to a new study.

The big picture: People without insurance often have to shoulder enormous bills all on their own, and out-of-pocket expenses are a burden even for people with insurance. Friends and family are a big part of the unofficial health care system.

Go deeperArrowFeb 20, 2020 - Health

Democrats' quiet proposal to cut health care costs

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Yet again, the 2020 Democrats debated last night without devoting much attention to their very interesting ideas for controlling health care costs. But whether they talk about it or not, they've laid out a broad range of ideas for this incredibly pressing issue.

The big picture: Democrats' ideas run the gamut, from taking control over all health care purchasing to plans that would directly regulate a slice of the market, attempting to put pressure on the rest of it.

Go deeperArrowFeb 20, 2020 - Health

Health care prices still rising faster than use of services

Photo: Ricky Carioti/ The Washington Post via Getty Images

Employers, workers and families continued to spend a lot more on health care in 2018, but that wasn't because people used more services, according to the latest annual spending report from the Health Care Cost Institute, which analyzes commercial health insurance claims.

The bottom line: Higher prices remain the main culprit for exploding spending among those with private health insurance.

Go deeperArrowFeb 14, 2020 - Health

How doctors have shaped the fight around surprise medical bills

Doctors' extensive lobbying on surprise medical bills is partly to blame for Congress' inaction on the issue, reports Kaiser Health News.

Why it matters: "As Congress begins its 2020 legislative session, there is evidence the doctors' message has been received: The bills with the most momentum are making more and more concessions to physicians."

Go deeperArrowFeb 13, 2020 - Health

The boom times of insulin sales

Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

The three drug companies that control the insulin market have seen their net sales climb over the past 12 years even as they have had to agree to bigger discounts, according to an Axios analysis of insulins sold by Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi.

The big picture: Drug manufacturers have largely blamed the broken insulin market — where many people with diabetes are rationing their medication — on other actors within the supply chain. But insulin makers have still been able to collect more money overall and retain their power over the market.

Go deeperArrowFeb 13, 2020 - Health
More Health care costs stories