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.
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.
The federal government has proposed raising penalties on hospitals that do not publish prices they negotiate with private health insurers.
Why it matters: Many hospitals were not complying with the new regulation that required them to post prices for at least 300 "shoppable" services, in part because the maximum penalty was only $110,000 per year. The federal government is proposing to raise the maximum penalty to $2 million per year for the largest hospitals.
Before the Cleveland Clinic said it would not administer Aduhelm, the new FDA-approved Alzheimer's drug, the hospital system was promoting the unproven drug on its social media accounts.
Why it matters: Cleveland Clinic was the first major medical center to say it would not use Aduhelm, and two hospital systems have followed the clinic's lead. But the abrupt change could confuse patients, who were told less than two weeks ago by the clinic that the drug offered "hope."
UnitedHealth Group isn't just making more money because people deferred care throughout the coronavirus pandemic. It's making more money because it's owning a bigger piece of the health care system.
The bottom line: Insurers keep more of the premiums they collect when they also own the medical providers that are paid those premium dollars. And no insurer has expanded as aggressively into care delivery over the years as UnitedHealth.
UnitedHealth Group collected $4.3 billion of profit in the second quarter, a 36% decline from the health care conglomerate's historically profitable second quarter last year, when the coronavirus suppressed care and led to the company paying out fewer medical claims.
Yes, but: The company's revenue in this quarter soared 15% year over year, and the $4.3 billion of profit was still 30% higher than the same period in 2019, before the coronavirus hit. UnitedHealth remains the most financially powerful private entity in the health care system.
Two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries don't have dental coverage, and half haven't been to the dentist in the past year.
The big picture: Democrats are pushing to have the program cover dental, hearing and vision benefits the same way it does other medical care.
Democrats took yet another step forward this week in their effort to slash what Americans — particularly seniors — pay for health care.
Driving the news: Senate Democrats unveiled their framework for a massive legislative package that includes several of the party's largest health care priorities.
Corporate America is expecting big jumps in profits in the second quarter. That's especially the case in health care, an industry that hasn't really lost a lot of financial momentum throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The bottom line: Health care spending is basically back to pre-COVID levels. Expect big numbers across the board.
Several hospitals have mounted a legal battle against the company that makes the da Vinci surgical robot, alleging its monopoly position forces hospitals to buy its maintenance services and replacement parts at inflated prices even though cheaper options exist.
Driving the news: In one allegation, a hospital says Intuitive Surgical remotely shut down a hospital's surgical robot "in the middle of a procedure" which forced the surgeon "to convert the procedure to open surgery with the patient on the operating table," after the hospital said it was considering a service contract with a third party.