Shot: Almost 40% of Americans would struggle to handle a surprise expense of $400, according to a new Federal Reserve report.
Chaser: The average deductible today among all workers is more than $1,300, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
(Smart Brevity count: 990/<4 min. read)
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Every trip to a doctor's office or hospital adds more information to a deep, comprehensive record of who you are — physically, emotionally and even financially, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
Why it matters: Health care data breaches are more common than ever, putting our most sensitive personal information at risk of exposure and misuse.
How it works: Although electronic health records have pitfalls, they can help patients and the health care system overall.
Yes, but: "No one truly understands there's no such thing as deleting information from a health care file," said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum. "You cannot push the rewind button."
The medical details: Health records contain all the obvious stuff, such as height, weight and age; every appointment, vital sign, allergy, test, surgery, procedure and scan; and any prescription drugs you take, or have taken in the past.
The financial details: Insurance and contact information are always on file.
But that's not all: Uninsured or low-income patients can apply for hospitals' financial-assistance programs, but they have to prove they qualify.
The bottom line: All of this information can be exposed in data breaches, but also in medical malpractice lawsuits, workers' compensation lawsuits or custody disputes.
Sens. Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
A new Senate bill would tackle an array of health industry tactics that are costing patients a lot of money, but have largely fallen under politicians' radar until now.
The big picture: This is one of the most ambitious bipartisan health care bills in a long time.
Details: The bill, written by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray, pitches 3 options for ending surprise hospital billing, including a new one that could coax more doctors into accepting the same insurance plans as the hospitals they practice in.
It would also:
Also: A bipartisan House proposal released yesterday would restructure Medicare’s drug benefit and cap seniors’ out-of-pocket costs.
Also also: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week presented ideas for "Dems' forthcoming prescription drug negotiation bill," according to a senior Democratic aide and first reported by Politico.
Health clinics are coming soon to a retail storefront near you, Modern Healthcare reports, citing reports from several consulting firms.
By the numbers: The number of health care tenants in retail spaces has risen 47% over the past 3 years, and could double by 2022.
Everybody involved seems to like this idea. And it's not just pharmacies and walk-in clinics. Complex specialties like oncology are also looking to storefronts.
The big question: Will this trend help lower health care spending, by shifting care out of expensive hospital settings? Or will it increase them by driving more utilization, the way retail space was designed to do?
Yet another study is out showing that health care costs are wildly inconsistent, this time focusing on diagnostic tests.
Why it matters: This adds to the mounting pile of evidence that there often isn't much rhyme or reason to health care prices in the private sector.
Women aged 30–70 — particularly black women — have been getting aggressive and deadly types of uterine cancer at higher rates in recent years, according to new research published by the National Cancer Institute earlier this week.
Why it matters: Uterine cancer is the most common and second deadliest gynecologic cancer in the U.S. — and in contrast with many other cancers is projected to rise over the next decade, my colleague Eileen Drage O'Reilly reports.
Related: A separate study found that black men have the same risk of dying from prostate cancer as white men — when access to treatment and care are equal, NBC News reports.
Have a great weekend! Vitals will be off on Monday for Memorial Day but back in your inbox on Tuesday.