Apr 16, 2019

Medicare isn't spending much on primary care

Primary care only accounted for between 2.1% and 4.9% of total Medicare spending in 2015, depending on how primary care is defined, according to a new RAND study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Why it matters: Primary care is a lot cheaper than, say, surgery for a condition that has gotten worse while untreated. We may not know the magic percentage of spending that should go toward primary care, but it's a good thing to consider when we talk about lowering costs.

The big picture: Greater focus on primary care is associated with high quality health care and lower costs.

  • While there's no consensus on what percentage of health care spending should go toward primary care, the RAND estimates are lower than estimates of what other countries spend.

Spending on primary care was lower among beneficiaries who were older, black, Native American, dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, and who had chronic conditions. Rates also varied by state.

Go deeper: 44 million Americans live with a primary care shortage

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Concern over coronavirus spread: Italy, South Korea and Iran report more cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The number of novel coronavirus cases in South Korea, Italy and Iran jumped on Sunday as infections in mainland China continued to grow, the latest figures show.

The big picture: As South Korea and Italy stepped up emergency measures amid rising case numbers, World Health Organization officials expressed concern about infections with no clear link to China. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,619 people and infected almost 80,000 others, with all but 27 deaths occurring in mainland China.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

Sanders reveals free childcare plan for preschoolers

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally on Saturday in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders announced on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday a new plan to guarantee free child care and pre-kindergarten to all American children from infancy to age four.

Details: In the wide-ranging interview, Sanders told Anderson Cooper he planned to pay for universal childcare with a wealth tax. "It's taxes on billionaires," he said.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Joe Biden places second in Nevada caucuses, ahead of Pete Buttigieg

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden a Nevada Caucus watch party in Las Vegas on Saturday. Photo: Ronda Churchill/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden secured second place in the Nevada Democratic caucuses with former Southbend Mayor Pete Buttigieg third, according to NBC News projections Sunday.

Why it matters: It's a boost for Biden, who's widely tipped to be endorsed by House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) on Wednesday, ahead of this week's South Carolina primary.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy