Health care costs

The big picture

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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Former FDA commissioner: "Reliable drug supply is absolutely critical"

Axios' Caitlin Owens and former FDA commissioner Mark McClellan. Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Having a reliable supply of pharmaceutical drugs throughout America will be "absolutely critical" to boosting affordability in health care during the Biden administration, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Mark McClellan said at a virtual Axios Event on Friday.

The big picture: McClellan, who served under President George W. Bush, says drugs having limited supply and limited competition leads to elevated pricing. He considers drug supply to be a national security and public health issue.

Jan 14, 2021 - Health

Drug companies keep raising prices

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

More than 100 pharmaceutical companies raised prices on over 600 drugs at the beginning of the new year, according to a new report from the advocacy group Patients for Affordable Drugs.

The big picture: Millions of people have lost their health insurance because of the pandemic, and uninsured patients must often pay the full sticker price for prescription drugs.

Exclusive: U.K.-based supplement startup raises $7.8 million

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

U.K.-based health tech company Bioniq will announce on Wednesday a $7.8 million Series A investment led by venture capital firm OKS Group for a U.S. and Middle East expansion.

The big picture: Bioniq, a supplement subscriptions and at-home testing services company, is among the many health-tech companies that have seen a boom in demand during the pandemic.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Jan 6, 2021 - Health

New York hospitals continue to sue patients over unpaid medical bills

New York's largest health system has continued to sue patients over unpaid medical bills amid the pandemic, even though most other hospitals in the state have suspended their claims, the New York Times reports.

Driving the news: Northwell Health, a nonprofit hospital system that is run by one of Cuomo's closest allies, sued more than 2,500 patients last year for an average of $1,700 in unpaid bills.

Dec 17, 2020 - Health

The U.S. spent $3.8 trillion on health care last year

Data: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. spent $3.8 trillion on health care last year, accounting for about 18% of the entire American economy, according to new federal data.

Why it matters: The U.S. has by far the most expensive health care system in the world, and every year it eats up a little more — from the federal government, states, employers and individuals.

Dec 15, 2020 - Health

The at-home health testing boom

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The pandemic has supercharged the market for at-home testing for a slew of common conditions — everything from cholesterol checks to cancer screenings.

Why it matters: At-home health tests can help Americans avoid a trip to the doctor’s office, though experts say they're not a perfect replacement.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Dec 14, 2020 - Health

Lawmakers reach deal on surprise medical bills

Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Key congressional committees on Friday announced that they've reached an agreement on how to prevent patients from receiving surprise medical bills.

Between the lines: This doesn't guarantee that the measure will become law, but it's a crucial step forward on an issue that resonates deeply with many Americans.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Dec 10, 2020 - Health

Health disparities are worse in the U.S.

Data: Doty, et al., 2020, "Income-Related Inequality In Affordability And Access To Primary Care In Eleven High Income Countries"; Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Socioeconomic disparities in health care are significantly worse in the U.S. than in other wealthy countries, according to a new study by the Commonwealth Fund, published in Health Affairs.

Why it matters: Wealthy Americans have long had better access to care — and therefore better outcomes — than poor Americans. And the coronavirus' disproportionate impact on low-income Americans and people of color has made those disparities glaringly obvious.

Cedar CEO: Consumers, employers drive change in health care pricing

Photo: Axios

Consumers and employers will drive changes in health care pricing and policy, Florian Otto, co-founder and CEO of Cedar, said on Tuesday at an Axios virtual event on the future of health care payments.

Why it matters: The U.S. spends more on health care than any other nation, but Americans do not enjoy better health outcomes. High health care costs affect how the country responds to major health crises — like the coronavirus — because people cannot afford to pay for testing or treatment, per the Washington Post.

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.

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