Good morning. It's been a long week, but the good news (for me, at least) is that Vitals will be taking a long weekend and won't appear in your inbox again until Tuesday.
Today's word count is 799, or a 3-minute read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Politicians love private insurance. The health care industry loves private insurance.
"Prices are definitely going up," Owen Tripp, CEO of health tech startup Grand Rounds, told Bob this week at the conference.
What they're saying: Many in the industry admit price inflation has been hammering the commercial markets for years.
The other side: Hospital executives said they charge commercial plans higher prices to make up for the lower rates they get from Medicare and Medicaid.
The bottom line: The private market is the main pot of money that everyone is chasing at the JPMorgan conference, and most in the industry don't see the rising spending within that market as a problem.
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
The moderate health care plans in the 2020 Democratic primary are well to the left of the moderate ideas before them, my colleagues Sam Baker and Alexi McCammond write this morning.
Democrats' appetite for government-run health insurance has steadily increased as the party has moved left and the health care system has gotten more precarious.
Obama also wanted to create a new public option — which moderate Democrats deemed too liberal and killed.
Between the lines: It's not the part that usually gets debated on TV, but the substantive policy argument for government-run health coverage is mostly about cost control.
Flashback: Insurers — not Republicans — came up with the famous "Harry and Louise" ads that helped doom Clinton's effort.
Go deeper: This is happening on other issues, too.
UnitedHealth Group blew the doors off the opening of earnings season this week, reporting a better-than-expected fourth quarter, Bob writes.
By the numbers: United reported a $13.8 billion profit on $242 billion of revenue in the full-year 2019.
BioMarin Pharmaceutical is eyeing a $2 million–$3 million price tag for its hemophilia gene therapy if it's approved, which could make it the world's most expensive drug, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Why it matters: It's a good reminder that today's pipeline is likely to cause a giant shock to the health care system over the next few years.
BioMarin argues that the lifetime cost of treating hemophilia is $25 million, making the company's gene therapy a relative bargain.
The New York Times spotlights Shaunna Burns, who posts videos on the popular social-media app offering life advice and encouragement — including one on hospital billing that garnered thousands of replies about "how baffling the American health care system can be," Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.
There are more authoritative resources out there — Burns' admonition to "Don't take an ambulance unless you are legit dying!" is understandable, but maybe not a maxim to live by.