Health care costs

The big picture

UnitedHealth posts most profitable quarter in its history

The coronavirus kept people out of the hospital.

Jul 15, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic hasn't stopped drug price increases

61 of the drugs with price hikes were being used to treat coronavirus.

Jun 29, 2020
The coronavirus is slowing health care spending

Delayed care is beating COVID-19 cases right now.

May 21, 2020
Watch: As Medicare for All debate rages on, costs keep going up

Part 5 of our What Matters 2020 series.

Mar 6, 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
Deep Dive: The drug pricing maze

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

Nov 17, 2018

All Health care costs stories

Aug 3, 2020 - Health

The pandemic hasn't hampered the health care industry

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The economy has been tanking. Coronavirus infections and deaths have been rising. And the health care industry is as rich as ever.

The big picture: Second-quarter results are still pouring in, but so far, a vast majority of health care companies are reporting profits that many people assumed would not have been possible as the pandemic raged on.

Trump signs executive orders claiming lower drug prices

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Trump on Friday signed executive orders that revive several of the administration's previous drug pricing ideas — including attempts to require Medicare to pay no more for drugs than the lowest prices paid by other countries and changing how drug rebates work within industry middlemen.

Reality check: The Trump administration has not enacted any major policies on drug prices. Today's executive orders on their own have limited authority and could take a long time to go into effect, if they go into effect at all.

Jul 24, 2020 - Health

FDA approves third type of advanced cancer therapy

Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration has approved an advanced treatment for mantle cell lymphoma, a rare type of cancer affecting white blood cells. The one-time therapy, made by Gilead Sciences, is branded as Tecartus.

Why it matters: This is the third federal approval of a CAR-T therapy, a new-age cancer treatment in which a person's own immune system cells are extracted, reengineered, and then infused back into the person's bloodstream.

Jul 22, 2020 - Health

Hospital chain HCA posts massive Q2 profit despite pandemic

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

HCA Healthcare, the largest for-profit hospital chain in the country, smashed Wall Street's second-quarter profit expectations even though the coronavirus outbreak forced hospitals to halt elective procedures for several weeks during the quarter.

The bottom line: Medical claims and revenues noticeably declined among hospitals during the height of the pandemic, which has benefited health insurers. But that didn't prevent hospitals from making a lot of money, a large chunk of which was directly subsidized by taxpayers in the form of bailout funds.

Jul 17, 2020 - Health

Judge rules hospital outpatient payment cuts are valid

Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

A panel of federal judges upheld the Trump administration's cuts to Medicare payments for routine medical visits in a hospital outpatient office — a blow to the hospital industry, which will lose hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

The big picture: Hospitals last year successfully quashed a similar rule, which would have equalized Medicare's pay rates for basic doctor visits, regardless of whether they took place in a hospital-owned or independent clinic. The American Hospital Association said in a statement it is "carefully reviewing the decision to determine our next steps."

Jul 15, 2020 - Health

Health care's "COVID quarter" is here

A COVID-19 unit at a Houston hospital. Photo: Mark Felix/AFP via Getty Images

Health care companies will start reporting second-quarter financials in earnest this week, showing how the coronavirus lockdowns and subsequent reopenings affected their businesses.

The big picture: Revenues almost certainly will be down for most companies, as the virus forced people to stay at home and led to fewer people getting surgeries and going to pharmacies. But that doesn't mean profits were eliminated, and Wall Street has already pumped health care stock prices back to where they were pre-pandemic.

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.

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