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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Companies rarely switch the health plans they offer to their workers, and seem to be especially cautious in the 2020 election year, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
The big picture: Medical and drug costs are crushing employers and workers alike. But altering benefits — which could require employees to change their doctors — could provoke even more anger.
By the numbers: Roughly half of employers offering health benefits did not shop around for new plans or insurance companies for 2019, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation's latest employer benefit survey.
"Disruption is the enemy," Mike Turpin, an employer health care consultant at the brokerage USI Insurance Services, said on a call with Wall Street investors last week.
Between the lines: More companies have moved workers into less comprehensive plans since the Affordable Care Act was passed, but those changes often have been met with either immediate condemnation (like Harvard in 2015) or delayed outrage as workers shoulder more costs.
Yes, but: Millions of people still switch health plans every year when they buy it on their own, change jobs, get laid off or retire.
The trial in an Ohio federal court will start today after settlement talks fell apart over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The big picture: While today's trial involves only 2 counties, it's considered a bellwether case for the thousands of lawsuits brought by cities and communities against drug manufacturers and distributors over their role in the opioid epidemic.
Details: Settlement talks broke down over how much the companies would pay and how it would be distributed among the plaintiffs. The settlement would have been worth as much as $48 billion and would have resolved thousands of lawsuits.
Read WSJ's explainer of what's happening and what's at stake.
A baby boy is monitored for opioid withdrawal inside a Charleston, W.Va. hospital. Photo: Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images
The story of babies born with opioid dependence across the country is, sadly, now a familiar one. But the epidemic's devastating impact on children goes deeper than that; it has left thousands of West Virginian children neglected, abused or in foster care, the Washington Post reports.
Why it matters: "West Virginia's journey provides a case study in how legal battles against drug companies can fail to balance the scales, leaving behind more conflict than resolution in communities still reeling from the crisis," the Post writes.
By the numbers: The state has settled 4 lawsuits for a total of $94 million — a small sum in light of recent settlement agreements.
The situation is dire. The Post reports that for more than a decade, foster homes and emergency shelters have faced bed shortages.
China wants to have better health care at a lower cost than the U.S. or other countries — a plan that involves extracting massive discounts from pharmaceutical companies, Bloomberg reports.
The trade-off for drug companies is access to China's enormous population and, thus, a giant market.
Between the lines: Chinese patients are now paying much less than Americans for the same drugs.
The bottom line: "China has set its sights on creating a holy grail healthcare system that satisfies patients' needs and control costs while still encouraging cutting-edge research — and the world is watching," Bloomberg writes.
Editor's note: The third item has been updated to use the reflect that babies were born with opioid dependence (not addiction).