Employer coverage

Narrow health care networks aren't actually that common

Adapted from Kaiser Family Foundation; Note: "<49 workers" category includes firms that have 3 to 49 workers. Chart: Axios Visuals

There's been a lot of discussion of narrow provider networks and how they reduce costs by limiting access to the highest priced providers. They're commonplace in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces where about 10 million people are enrolled, and in the individual market generally — but they are actually quite rare in the group market, where about 152 million Americans get coverage through their employers.

Why it matters: Don't confuse the ACA with the health insurance market most people use. Narrow networks are the exception, not the rule, in the private insurance system overall, and there is little reason to believe that will change any time soon.

How consultants and pharmacy middlemen work the drug pricing system

An amber pill bottle with hundred-dollar bills stuffed inside.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Employers hire consultants to help them manage their prescription drug costs. But industry sources say those consultants don’t steer companies toward the best deals.

Why it matters: Prescription drugs represent one-fifth of employers’ spending on health benefits. Employers and employees alike are increasingly worried about drug prices and how those prices affect their premiums.