Today's word count is 717, or a 3-minute read.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
The problem of surprise medical billing — which Congress failed to solve last year — is about to get worse, thanks to a feud between an insurance giant and a company that employs thousands of doctors, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
The big picture: Parents who have babies in intensive care, women with high-risk pregnancies and people who need anesthesia could receive unexpected bills in the mail as a result of the fight between Mednax, the physician-staffing firm, and UnitedHealth Group.
Where it stands: Certain Mednax doctors could be out of UnitedHealth's network as early as March, forcing UnitedHealth customers to pay the full cost if they see one of those doctors.
What they're saying: Mednax CEO Roger Medel said on an earnings call that UnitedHealth's terminations "were unilateral, without warning and unprecedented," and that he has reached out to UnitedHealth CEO Dave Wichmann.
The other side: UnitedHealth says Mednax doctors simply charge too much.
What's next: While the two sides argue, expect more billing horror stories.
A Silicon Valley startup is attempting to make executive physicals — which are frequently offered as part of C-suite compensation — available to a larger audience, STAT reports.
Between the lines: The $3,500 annual membership is cheaper than a $20,000 weekend at the Mayo Clinic, but is still expensive and still subject to the same criticism — mainly that it's unnecessary.
Details: The startup, Q Bio, will offer a 75-minute examination and includes an MRI scan and genetic analysis. More comprehensive (and expensive) options are also available.
The bottom line: It's unclear how many people have paid for such exams since the Q Center opened in Silicon Valley late last year, but the company apparently has already had to create a waiting list.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
The novel coronavirus has put a halt to pretty much every activity in parts of China, including elective surgeries like hip and knee replacements, Bob reports.
Between the lines: Medical device companies are starting to forecast large sales declines in their Chinese markets because people are staying at home.
Yes, but: People are expected to reschedule surgeries soon, assuming the outbreak tempers, and regular volumes in China are estimated to resume starting in April.
More than 20% of people taking care of a friend or relative say their own health is only fair or poor, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Why it matters: Unpaid caregiving can be physically, financially and emotionally draining, and the need is only increasing as Baby Boomers age, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.
Go deeper: America's caregiver crisis
The Trump administration's efforts to allow state and local health labs to test for the coronavirus have been delayed by problems with the CDC's test, Politico reports.
Why it matters: The point of additional screening capabilities is to catch individual cases before they become outbreaks, meaning that the delay could hamper the government's attempt to prevent such outbreaks.