Good morning … Is it possible to overdose on wholesomeness? Asking for a Mr. Rogers biopic starring Tom Hanks.
As much as health care dominated President Trump’s first year in office (and also the past eight years of domestic politics), don’t expect to hear a ton about it in the State of the Union address tonight.
Neither wages nor health benefits have kept pace with corporate profits over the past 17 years, and that means health care is eating up a bigger share of paychecks that already aren’t going as far as they used to.
What's happening: My colleague Bob Herman breaks it all down:
The bottom line: "If I were a middle-class American, I’d be outraged," says Regina Herzlinger, a professor at Harvard Business School. "I’d demand much greater transparency about how much I’m getting in health insurance and wages."
Go deeper: Read Bob’s story on Axios.com.
On average, Medicare beneficiaries are spending about 41% of their Social Security income on out-of-pocket health care costs, according to new research from the Kaiser Family Foundation. And half of all Medicare beneficiaries spent roughly 14% of their total income — not just from Social Security — on health care.
The gritty details, per KFF:
Why it matters: Health care is eating up more and more of everyone’s income — but that’s an especially difficult burden for seniors, who often live on fixed incomes.
Don’t forget: This is also a good reminder that while “Medicare for all” polls well as a synonym for single payer, actual Medicare for all would still leave plenty of room for out-of-pocket spending and even privately administered benefits.
Emergency room costs are high, and getting higher. But one insurer’s attempt to bring those costs down is essentially forcing patients to be their own doctors, and that doesn’t seem tenable, either.
Worth your time: Vox’s Sarah Kliff takes a look at these controversial cost-control measures in the second part of her series on hospital costs.
This is why we can’t have nice things. Rising ER costs really are a strain on insurance premiums, and hospitals have little incentive to reduce their own payments.
My thought bubble: Sure, everything would be easier if we were all doctors. But we're not.
What we’re watching today: The State of the Union, and at least a couple of the countless Democratic responses.
Senate health committee hearing on small business health plans. House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee hearing on the implementation of new rules for compounding pharmacies.
What we’re watching this week: On Wednesday, Medicare will be releasing preliminary payment rates and policies for 2019 Medicare Advantage plans.