All Health care costs stories

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.

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.