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 - Health
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 - Health
The coronavirus is slowing health care spending

Delayed care is beating COVID-19 cases right now.

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

Part 5 of our What Matters 2020 series.

Mar 6, 2020 - Health
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
Deep Dive: The drug pricing maze

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

Nov 17, 2018 - Health

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Nov 9, 2020 - Health

Biogen's Alzheimer's drug will test the FDA's reputation

The FDA will make a final decision on aducanumab by March. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

An independent panel of medical experts overwhelmingly said last week there is not enough evidence for the Food and Drug Administration to approve Biogen's experimental Alzheimer's drug, aducanumab.

Why it matters: This is one of the most consequential drug evaluations in years, aside from pending coronavirus vaccines and drugs. The FDA is not required to follow the experts' recommendations, but bucking their advice and siding with Biogen's data-parsing would call into question the agency's standards and motives.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Nov 6, 2020 - Health

The election killed any dreams of big health care changes

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Jim Bourg-Pool, Jon Cherry/Getty Images

The likelihood of a Biden presidency and a closely divided Senate means that nothing big is likely to happen in health care for at least the next two years.

The big picture: For all the time Democrats spent debating Medicare for All, competing public insurance options and sweeping federal controls over drug prices, the near-term future for health policy will likely be about gridlock and incrementalism.

Nov 5, 2020 - Health

Health care still loves a divided Congress

Data:; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Health care stocks skyrocketed after Tuesday's election results indicated Republicans likely will maintain control of the Senate, all but assuring continued gridlock in both chambers of Congress.

The big picture: A Republican Senate means "the public option and direct government negotiation on drug prices are dead for at least the next two years," Spencer Perlman, an analyst at Veda Partners, wrote to investors Wednesday.

Nov 2, 2020 - Health

Health care industry has evaded major changes under Trump

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump vowed to overhaul the health care system, notably saying in one of his first post-election speeches that pharmaceutical companies were "getting away with murder" over their pricing tactics.

Yes, but: Four years later, not a lot has changed. If anything, the health care industry has become more financially and politically powerful.

Oct 28, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus testing is a windfall

Expand chart
Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

The sustained coronavirus pandemic is leading to especially large windfalls for labs and companies that make the materials used for testing.

The big picture: Detecting widespread infection and helping set up clinical trials isn't free, and the botched federal response will keep demand for these supplies high for a long time.

Oct 27, 2020 - Health

Florida's plan to import drugs from Canada hits setback

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis waves to supporters during a rally for President Trump last week. Photo: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Florida's $30 million contract to set up and operate a drug importation program didn't attract any private firms by its September deadline, Kaiser Health News reports.

Why it matters: The lack of vendor interest delays Florida's attempt to become the first state to import some drugs from Canada under recently finalized federal rules.

Oct 26, 2020 - Health

Intermountain, Sanford hospital systems plan to merge

Intermountain and Sanford control 70 hospitals across the West and Midwest. Photo: Intermountain Healthcare

Intermountain Healthcare and Sanford Health have agreed to merge, creating a system of 70 hospitals, hundreds of physician practices, and two health insurance companies across the West and Midwest, pending state and federal regulatory reviews.

Why it matters: A combined Intermountain-Sanford system would generate $15 billion of annual revenue, making it bigger than BlackRock or Uber, and would highlight how hospital systems are still pushing to consolidate despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Oct 16, 2020 - Health

A vast majority of Americans love pre-existing conditions protections

Reproduced from KFF; Chart: Axios Visuals

The vast majority — nearly eight in 10 — of Americans don't want to the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act's pre-existing conditions protections, according to a KFF poll.

Yes, but: Only 58% of Americans say the same about the law in its entirety, with the gap between the two positions largest among Republicans.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Oct 15, 2020 - Health

Medicaid enrollment projected to spike

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

States expect Medicaid enrollment to jump by 8.4% in fiscal year 2021, compared to 6.3% growth in fiscal year 2020, according to a new KFF brief. This growth is expected to be primarily driven by enrollment.

The big picture: The program is serving as a safety net for the millions of Americans who have lost access to their employer health insurance during the pandemic.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Oct 15, 2020 - Health

Outpatient visits bounce back

Reproduced from The Commonwealth Fund; Chart: Axios Visuals

Outpatient visits have returned to their pre-pandemic levels after declining by nearly 60%, according to a new analysis by the Commonwealth Fund.

Why it matters: The massive drop-off in people seeking medical care was bad both for providers and for patients, many of whom delayed care for conditions that may have worsened.

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