Fun fact: Step and calorie counters don't actually help you lose weight, according to NYT. I'm feeling validated in my decision to do neither.
Today's word count is 792 words, ~3 minutes.
Seniors who use generic specialty drugs may end up spending more out-of-pocket than those who use the brand version because of how Medicare's prescription drug benefit is structured, according to a new study in Health Affairs.
The bottom line: "If you need a lot of drugs or some very expensive drugs you would save more money out-of-pocket by using brands instead of generics," tweeted one of the study's authors, Stacie Dusetzina.
Details: The problem is most acute for specialty drugs, which tend to be the most expensive on the market.
By the numbers: Even where competition among drugs is robust, patients whose prescriptions cost between $22,000 and $80,000 per year would save money if they used brand-name drugs instead of generics, the study found.
What they're saying: "We need to redesign [Part D] to work for people needing high-priced drugs. All of them. And we need to make generics CONSISTENTLY less expensive for patients than brands," Dusetzina tweeted.
More bad news, from my colleague Bob Herman:
Several issues could be driving this, said Eric Pachman, one of the founders of 46brooklyn.
Why it matters: "The generic marketplace is underperforming (relative to prior time periods) in its role to drive costs down," according to 46brooklyn.
Go deeper: The Connecticut attorney general has unsealed the entire complaint in the price-fixing lawsuit against generic drugmakers.
Bonus: 20 drug companies are raising the list prices of more than 40 drugs, including some used by hospitals that are in short supply, WSJ reports.
Air ambulances charge higher rates relative to Medicare than most other services, and these rates have increased over time, according to another new study in Health Affairs.
Why it matters: Insurers often don't contract with air ambulances, meaning patients may be charged exorbitant sums for emergency transportation whether they're insured or not.
By the numbers: Air ambulances charged between 4.1 and 9.5 times more than Medicare paid for these services in 2016, depending on the type of ambulance and type of charge.
What we're watching: Air ambulances are very unhappy with provisions of a Senate health care bill that would force them to separate out transportation and medical charges, prohibit them from balance billing patients, and establish a payment benchmark for out-of-network care.
Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images
Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents want the government to the provide a national health program without completely replacing private insurance, but they also say that Sen. Bernie Sanders is the candidate that can best handle health care, a new CNN poll found.
Yes, but: If this wasn't contradictory enough, three-quarters of Americans said that they feel like they understand what candidates mean when they say "Medicare for All," including 80% of Democrats.
Speaking of 2020, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said yesterday that his state will continue expanding government health benefits to adults who are living in the U.S. illegally, AP reports.
Why it matters: Immigrant health care is likely to become a huge topic on the campaign trail, especially since President Trump has already begun to weigh in against the proposals.