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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2 hours ago - Health

Biogen pulled Aduhelm paper after JAMA demanded edits

Biogen has yet to publish aducanumab trial results in a peer-reviewed journal. Photo: Biogen

Biogen recently submitted a paper to JAMA, a top medical research journal, that analyzed results from the clinical trials of its new Alzheimer's drug, Aduhelm. However, Biogen later withdrew the paper because JAMA considered rejecting it unless edits were made, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The FDA's decision to approve Aduhelm has been mired in controversy; experts say there simply isn't strong enough data to show the drug works. And it appears medical journal reviewers also weren't sold on Biogen's interpretation of the data.

Latino children lag in health insurance

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Data: Pew; Map: Will Chase/Axios

Latino children in the U.S. are twice as likely to be uninsured as non-Latino children, according to an analysis by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

Why it matters: More than 1.8 million Latino children in the U.S. have not had health insurance since before the pandemic, putting them at greater risk for COVID-19. The virus has hit Latinos especially hard, resulting in higher infection rates, hospitalizations and unemployment.

Jul 23, 2021 - Health

Biogen's mad there's no hype for its Alzheimer's drug

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Biogen executives used their earnings day to take aim at critics and the media, saying the federal approval of the company's new Alzheimer's drug, Aduhelm, "has been the subject of extensive misinformation and misunderstanding."

Why it matters: Biogen has billions of dollars on the line with this drug, and uptake has been very slow so far due in part to the blowback. But the company's grievances don't change the fact that Aduhelm failed to slow the progression of Alzheimer's in late-stage clinical trials.

Jul 22, 2021 - Health

Turquoise Health gets seed funding to dig more into hospital prices

Insurance companies pay anywhere between $22,000 and over $100,000 for a joint replacement at IU Health's University Hospital, according to Turquoise Health. Photo: IU Health

Turquoise Health has raised $5 million in a seed funding round that will expand operations at the health care price transparency startup.

Why it matters: Federal law requires hospitals to publish all of their various prices, but many hospitals don't comply or barely comply. Turquoise brings the data together and makes it easier to digest for patients, researchers and others in health care.

Biden policy aimed at competition could impact hospital consolidation

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Biden’s recent executive order instructing agencies to develop policies to promote competition in the economy hasn’t received much attention.

  • But it could lead to new efforts to control health costs if his administration and Congress respond with measures to stem consolidation in the health care industry and promote competition to drive down prices.
Jul 21, 2021 - Health

Anthem still determining what to do with Aduhelm

Anthem's profits dropped in Q2, but still tallied $1.8 billion. Photo: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Anthem is "going to continue to evaluate" the data around Aduhelm, the controversial Alzheimer's drug, before making final insurance coverage decisions, CEO Gail Boudreaux told investors Wednesday.

Why it matters: Several other Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers have said they will not cover Aduhelm, but Anthem is still weighing the options like its competitor UnitedHealth, which also wants to wait and see what the federal government says.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Jul 21, 2021 - Health

America's avalanche of medical debt

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Americans' medical debt added up to about $140 billion last year, according to new research published Tuesday in JAMA. Americans owe debt collectors more medical debt than any other source of debt.

By the numbers: Looking at 10% of all credit reports from credit rating agency TransUnion, researchers said they found nearly one in five Americans had medical debt in collections in June 2020.

Jul 21, 2021 - Health

Dems eye big savings from repealing Trump's drug pricing rule

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Repealing one of former President Trump's last big moves on drug pricing may go a long way toward helping Democrats pay for two of their big legislative priorities.

The big picture: Repealing Trump's regulations on drug rebates could give Democrats upwards of $100 billion to help pay for other priorities.

Jul 21, 2021 - Health

The great patient influx

HCA's Medical Center of Trinity in Florida. Photo: Eve Edelheit/Bloomberg via Getty Images

If HCA Healthcare's second-quarter earnings are any kind of bellwether for hospital systems, then it's clear patients came back in droves to get emergency care or elective care that had to be delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The big picture: "Our volume, as indicated in the second quarter, will return to 2019 levels and perhaps moderately above that," HCA's CFO Bill Rutherford told investors.

Jul 20, 2021 - Health

UnitedHealthcare luring new members with Peloton perk

UnitedHealthcare is offering free Peloton memberships for some people. Photo: John Smith/VIEWpres via Getty Images

UnitedHealthcare said Tuesday it will pay for either a 12-month digital Peloton membership or a four-month "all-access" Peloton membership (each costs $156) for workers who are in a fully insured plan.

The bottom line: Health insurers want their members to be as young and healthy as possible so they don't have to pay out as much in medical claims. UnitedHealthcare is attempting to attract more of this affluent, healthy crowd through this Peloton perk.

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