Health care costs

The big picture

The coronavirus is slowing health care spending

Delayed care is beating COVID-19 cases right now.

May 21, 2020
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
Surprise bills are everywhere

These bills can be financially devastating for patients.

Aug 13, 2019
Deep Dive: The drug pricing maze

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

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

Almost one-fifth of the American economy

Jun 16, 2018

All Health care costs stories

Jul 2, 2020 - Health

Amgen wins Enbrel drug patent appeal

Photo: Lewis Geyer/Digital First Media/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images

A federal appeals court has upheld Amgen's patents tied to its blockbuster arthritis drug Enbrel, a decision that will block biosimilar competition until 2029. The FDA approved the first biosimilar to Enbrel in 2016.

The big picture: Amgen is heavily reliant on Enbrel, which brings in more than $5 billion in revenue per year. Now, the company — which has spent more money on stock buybacks than drug research since 2016 — has almost another decade of monopoly control over the drug, which has a net price of roughly $44,000 for a year of treatment.

Go deeper: Biosimilars are barely a thing

Jun 29, 2020 - Health

Gilead sets price for coronavirus treatment remdesivir

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Gilead will charge U.S. hospitals $3,120 for the shortest treatment course of its coronavirus drug remdesivir for typical patients with private insurance, according to an open letter from CEO Daniel O’Day.

Why it matters: It is the first antiviral drug shown to effectively treat coronavirus in a major clinical trial, and Gilead's pricing decision may set the bar for how future treatments will be priced.

Jun 29, 2020 - Health

The coronavirus pandemic hasn't stopped drug price increases

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Pharmaceutical companies raised the price of 245 drugs between January 20 and June 20, according to a new analysis by Patients for Affordable Drugs.

Between the lines: Some of these drugs are directly related to the pandemic. And the hikes occurred against the backdrop of economic calamity hitting many American families.

Jun 24, 2020 - Health

Federal court rules hospitals must disclose their prices

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A federal judge upheld Tuesday the Trump administration's rules requiring hospitals to publicly disclose the prices they've negotiated with insurers — information that both hospitals and insurers would very much prefer to keep secret.

The state of play: The American Hospital Association sued to block the rules, arguing that they exceeded the administration's legal authority and infringed on hospitals' First Amendment rights. The court rejected both arguments.

Jun 23, 2020 - Health

The pandemic isn't stopping hospitals from consolidating

Atrium Health is offering to buy a local hospital for $3 billion. Photo: Atrium Health

Hospitals that have pocketed tens of millions of dollars in federal coronavirus bailouts are still pursuing big-ticket mergers and acquisitions.

Why it matters: The pandemic has dried up big parts of hospitals' businesses, and that's why Congress established a $175 billion bailout fund to help them. At the same time, they're spending millions on lawyers and advisers to explore deals that expand their business empires.

Jun 19, 2020 - Health

Chris Christie is lobbying for New Jersey's largest hospitals

Morristown Medical Center is Atlantic Health System's flagship hospital. Photo: Atlantic Health System

Three of New Jersey's largest tax-exempt hospital systems — Atlantic Health System, Hackensack Meridian Health and RWJBarnabas Health — have hired Chris Christie to lobby the federal government on federal health care bailout funds and Medicare payment policies.

Between the lines: Those three organizations have received more than $1 billion combined from the coronavirus bailout fund so far, according to data analyzed by Axios, and they oppose proposed Medicare rules that would force them to disclose negotiated prices.

Jun 17, 2020 - Health

Saving the elderly from coronavirus

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

As the elderly, especially those in nursing homes, bear the brunt of deaths from COVID-19, new approaches and tools to keep them safe are emerging.

Why it matters: Seniors are much more susceptible to the novel coronavirus, and the conditions in many long-term care homes facilitate the spread of COVID-19. Independent of the current pandemic, America and much of the world is aging rapidly and is in need of technologies to care for them.

Jun 17, 2020 - Health

Hospital systems Advocate Aurora, Beaumont in talks to merge

Beaumont's main hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. Photo: Elaine Cromie/Getty Images

Advocate Aurora Health and Beaumont Health have started formal merger discussions, the systems said today. The combined system would control 34 hospitals across Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, and would generate $17.5 billion in annual revenue, which would be larger than companies like Salesforce or Mastercard.

Why it matters: This transaction — which is being initiated during a pandemic that hospitals say has stretched them financially — would create one of the largest hospital systems in the Midwest. But the evidence has been thorough in showing hospital mergers don't lower prices and don't improve care quality.

Jun 16, 2020 - Health

Walmart buys tech firm that helps deliver medications to home

Walmart is getting more into home-delivered medications. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

Walmart has acquired CareZone, an app-based company that helps coordinate the delivery of people's medications. CNBC reported the deal was worth around $200 million.

Why it matters: Walmart now has the technology to mail prescription drugs to customers' homes or to arrange more pickups at its own pharmacies, which makes the retail giant more competitive in the multi-billion-dollar business of drug delivery.

Jun 11, 2020 - Health

More price-fixing lawsuits hit the generic drug industry

Sandoz, owned by Novartis, is facing more lawsuits. Photo: Sebastian Kahnert/picture alliance via Getty Images

A coalition of state attorneys general has sued more than two dozen generic drug companies and high-ranking executives, accusing them of conspiring to fix prices of their prescription pills and creams. Health insurer Cigna similarly filed a lawsuit of its own, arguing the price-fixing schemes led to massive "overcharges."

The big picture: These lawsuits build on previous ones, as well as three criminal admissions of guilt, and paint a bleak picture of the industry's practices.

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