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

All Health care costs stories

Sep 23, 2021 - Health

Outpatient infusion centers offering Aduhelm

Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Some hospitals are refusing to administer Biogen's new Alzheimer's drug, Aduhelm, but many freestanding infusion centers are offering it despite concerns about the drug's safety and lack of effectiveness.

Yes, but: Hardly any patients are receiving the drug, even with infusion centers eagerly advertising it. Just over 100 patients have actually gotten Aduhelm so far, way below Biogen's already-tempered forecasts, STAT reported.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
Sep 22, 2021 - Health

Care for kidney disease plummeted in the pandemic

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

The number of patient visits for chronic kidney care plummeted by more than 26% in the early months of the pandemic, according to new data from the nation's largest insurer, UnitedHealth Group.

Why it matters: Researchers are racing to understand just how much care people skipped — and whether it actually affected their health.

Sep 22, 2021 - Health

Walgreens invests deeper in hospital specialty pharmacies

More hospitals are opening their own specialty pharmacies. Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Walgreens paid $970 million to increase its ownership of Shields Health Solutions — a company that helps hospitals run their own specialty pharmacies — from 23% to 71%.

Why it matters: Standard Walgreens pharmacies are ubiquitous throughout the country, but this deal will give Walgreens a bigger position in specialty pharmacies, which handle pricey medications for complex conditions and have become very lucrative.

Sep 21, 2021 - Health

Health care profits for me, but not for thee

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In July, the head of the American Hospital Association blasted UnitedHealth Group for its "jaw-dropping" profits in the second quarter. But an analysis of financial documents shows a sample of large not-for-profit hospital systems that collectively generated the same amount of revenue as the insurance giant were almost three times more profitable than UnitedHealth.

Reality check: Companies and lobbying groups often paint their business foes as the primary problems with the health care system, but each sector contributes to the system's dysfunction.

Sep 21, 2021 - Health

Democrats' case for prioritizing health care policies

Expand chart
Reproduced from Hart Research Associates; Chart: Axios Visuals

Health care advocates are making the case that the pieces of Democrats' legislative agenda that lower health care costs and expand coverage are the most popular with voters — and should thus be prioritized.

Why it matters: Democrats are trying to figure out what topline spending number they have to work with for their reconciliation package. The lower that number goes, the more the party will have to cut from the package.

Uninsured rates among Latinos rise

Latinos of all ages were the least insured group in the U.S. last year, according to census data released this week.

By the numbers: 24.9% of working-age Hispanics and 9.5% of those under 18 lacked health coverage in 2020.

Sep 17, 2021 - Health

Intermountain to acquire SCL Health

Intermountain Healthcare has found a new merger partner. Photo: Intermountain

Intermountain Healthcare will acquire SCL Health roughly six months after Intermountain and Sanford Health ended their merger attempt.

Why it matters: The combined Intermountain-SCL system will own 33 hospitals, will generate more than $13 billion of annual revenue and will dominate several areas throughout Utah and Colorado — consequently gaining leverage over health insurers and employers as a must-have network if the deal is finalized.

Sep 16, 2021 - Health

Pharma still isn't in the clear

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A key congressional committee failed to pass Democrats' signature drug pricing bill yesterday, but that doesn't mean the party's push to lower drug prices is anywhere near over.

Why it matters: Hundreds of billions of dollars are on the line — and Democrats need that money to pay for the rest of their giant legislative agenda.

Sep 14, 2021 - Health

Medicare to repeal medical device rule pushed by Trump administration

Medicare is rescinding a major medical device rule. Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is proposing to kill a regulation the agency finalized earlier this year under the Trump administration that would have required Medicare to pay for any medical device deemed as a "breakthrough" by the FDA.

Driving the news: After receiving public feedback, CMS determined the rule was "not in the best interest of Medicare beneficiaries because the rule may provide coverage without adequate evidence that the breakthrough device would be a reasonable and necessary treatment."

Sep 14, 2021 - Health

What hospitals don't like about Democrats' drug pricing bill

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Hospitals are worried that the Democrats' plans to curb prescription drug costs could be the beginning of a slippery slope that ultimately cuts into their bottom lines, too.

Why it matters: Hospitals and drug companies aren't always allies, and hospitals aren't likely to lobby very hard solely on pharma's behalf. But the industry could become another powerful opponent for Democrats if its own profits are on the line.

More Health care costs stories