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

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Politics: Trump calls Fauci a "disaster" on campaign call.
  2. Health: Coronavirus hospitalizations are on the rise — 8 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week.
  3. States: California to independently review FDA-approved coronavirus vaccines
  4. Wisconsin judge reimposes capacity limit on indoor venues.
  5. Media: Trump attacks CNN as "dumb b*stards" for continuing to cover pandemic.
  6. Business: Consumer confidence surveys show Americans are getting nervousHow China's economy bounced back from coronavirus.
  7. Sports: We've entered the era of limited fan attendance.
  8. Education: Why education technology can’t save remote learning.
Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The 2020 holiday season may just kill Main Street

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Online retail and e-commerce have been chipping away at brick-and-mortar businesses over the years but the combination of the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 holiday season may prove to be a knockout blow.

State of play: Anxious consumers say financial concerns and health worries will push them to spend less money this year and to do more of their limited spending online.

California to independently review FDA-approved coronavirus vaccines

California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California will "independently review" all coronavirus vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration before allowing their distribution, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced at a news conference Monday.

Why it matters: The move that comes days after NAID director Anthony Fauci said he had "strong confidence" in FDA-approved vaccines could cast further public doubt that the federal government could release a vaccine based on political motives, rather than safety and efficacy.