Good morning. Yesterday I learned that the average person who lives in an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country drinks the equivalent of nearly 100 bottles of wine a year.
Today's word count is 884 words, or ~3 minutes.
Americans pay the most for health care, by far, out of all developed countries. But we don't have much to show for it in terms of health outcomes or access to care, according to a new OECD report.
Why it matters: As we debate reforms to our health care system, it's worth remembering that the U.S. is an outlier compared to other countries, which have figured out how to get cheaper care without sacrificing quality.
Almost all of the major health insurance companies are spending more on medical care this year than they have in the past, Axios' Bob Herman reports.
The big picture: Rising prices and more services for some sicker patients are among the many reasons why this is happening. That uptick in spending has freaked out Wall Street, even though insurers are still quite profitable.
Driving the news: Almost all of the eight major publicly traded insurers have shown their medical loss ratio — the percentage of premium revenues they're spending on medical claims — is rising this year.
Between the lines: Medical loss ratios are often higher for health plans that cover more older adults, the disabled and the poor, because those groups typically need more care or are in the hospital more frequently.
But costs have been climbing in some commercial markets, too.
The bottom line: Health insurance companies closely track their medical loss ratios and aim to hit those targets most often by charging higher premiums, denying care, forcing people to use lower-priced providers or declining to cover people they deem to be too expensive.
Privately insured people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction or mental health conditions pay more out-of-pocket for care and are more likely to see out-of-network providers than people with chronic physical health conditions, according to a new study in JAMA Network Open.
Between the lines: These costs prevent people from receiving care. The study used data from 2012–2017, a time frame during which the opioid epidemic was ravaging communities across the country.
By the numbers: Patients with mental health conditions spent $341 more on cost-sharing for out-of-network care than people with diabetes did.
This disparity is partially a result of how infrequently behavioral health providers participate in insurance networks.
Three cancer patients in the U.S. were the first to be safely injected with the gene editing tool CRISPR as a form of immunotherapy to fight their illness, AP reports.
Reality check: It's too soon to know whether the treatment will help, doctors say. The patients, who all failed multiple standard treatments, had varying results after two to three months, Axios' Marisa Fernandez writes.
The bottom line: Researchers are hoping to use CRISPR to treat some genetic diseases, including its progress in treating sickle-cell anemia.
Millennials' health problems are on the rise, with future adverse consequences to both their own finances as well as the U.S. economy, according to a new report by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association.
What they found: As millennials age, their health is declining faster than the previous generation's, and they're increasingly suffering from conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol, depression and hyperactivity.
The big picture: The biggest changes are in millennials' behavioral health. In 2017, accidental deaths, including overdoses and suicides, caused 60% of deaths among 25- to 29-year-olds, according to the CDC.
My thought bubble: Our health spending is already on an unsustainable path. This absolutely does not help.