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UnitedHealthcare and the Health Care Cost Institute have ended their partnership. Photo: UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealthcare will no longer provide deidentified claims data to the Health Care Cost Institute, a nonprofit group that researches health care spending. Three other health insurers — Aetna, Humana and Kaiser Permanente — still give data and funding to HCCI, but Humana also has signaled it will stop doing so next year.

Between the lines: The medical claims data these insurance companies possess are very valuable, and ending a research agreement aligns more with their financial interests than the broader interest of industry transparency.

What they're saying: Niall Brennan, CEO of HCCI and a former data officer at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said that "nobody is mandated to be a part of HCCI," but it "was definitely a surprise" to hear UnitedHealthcare was ending their agreement. He directed other questions to the health insurer.

  • UnitedHealthcare said in a statement that it "appreciated the partnership" with HCCI over the past 7 years and that it still shared data with some academic institutions. But the insurer raised broader questions about "data security and privacy."
  • Humana did not immediately respond to interview requests.

Yes, but: All data shared with HCCI is stripped of personal information to protect patient privacy.

  • Financial considerations likely also played a role. Optum, a sister company to UnitedHealthcare, sells data analytics services.

Go deeper

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Three men, three countries and 46 seconds. That's all it took Tuesday morning in Tokyo for the men's 400-meter hurdles final to set the Olympics ablaze.

What happened: Norway's Karsten Warholm, just one month removed from breaking a 29-year-old world record, rewrote history with one of the most jaw-dropping races in human history.

White House: Over 110 million COVID-19 vaccine doses shipped, donated

Photo: Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The U.S. has shipped and donated more than 110 million coronavirus vaccine doses to over 60 countries, the White House said Tuesday.

Why it matters: It is more than the combined donations of all other countries, the White House said, citing the United Nations. Biden had pledged to donate at least 80 million vaccines by the end of June.

Why companies aren't paying more

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

If companies raised pay high enough, then maybe they wouldn’t complain about labor shortages that have forced them to forgo sales. But there seems to be a limit to how much a company is willing to pay, despite what seems like a clear opportunity to maximize the top line.

Why it matters: Companies have been scrambling to staff up amid a rapid economic recovery. Employers across industries have been raising wages in their efforts to be competitive.