Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Walmart has an extreme hands-on approach to its health care benefits, and Kaiser Health News reports on the latest frontier in that effort: imaging.

Driving the news: Walmart is already sending its employees to a specified set of high-quality health systems for surgery, and even covering their travel costs. But it figured out that about half of those surgeries were unnecessary, KHN reports, and traced those procedures back to errors in tests like MRIs and CT scans.

  • Walmart then hired the health care analytics firm Covera to figure out a network of high-quality imaging centers, and it now directs its beneficiaries to those centers — even if they're not the cheapest.
  • Employees don't have to use those centers, but Walmart pays for more of the bill if they do.

Quality ratings for imaging centers is hard to come by. Unless you work for Walmart and need a scan, it would be pretty difficult to find the highest-quality option in your area.

  • And, KHN notes, most employers are pushing their workers toward the cheapest options, rather than the best.

Our thought bubble: Walmart seems to be doing the thing everyone else talks about — trying to save money in the long run by investing in quality up front — with rigorous metrics and research to help define it.

Go deeper: Walmart employees must travel for some surgeries

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Coronavirus surge is sinking consumer confidence

Data: Hamilton Place Strategies, CivicScience; Chart: Axios Visuals

The rise in coronavirus cases in certain parts of the U.S. is stunting confidence across the country, a crop of new reports show.

Driving the news: After stalling during the previous two-week period, overall economic sentiment declined for the first time in two months, according to the Economic Sentiment Index, a biweekly survey from data firm CivicScience and Hamilton Place Strategies (HPS).

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Obama: Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage."
  2. Health: Mask mandates help control the rise in coronavirus hospitalizations. Hospitals face a crush.
  3. Business: Coronavirus testing is a windfall. Winter threat spurs new surge of startup activity.
  4. Media: Pandemic causes TV providers to lose the most subscribers ever.
  5. World: Putin mandates face masks.

The GOP's monstrous math problem

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Republicans, win or lose next week, face a big — and growing — math problem.

The state of play: They're relying almost exclusively on a shrinking demographic (white men), living in shrinking areas (small, rural towns), creating a reliance on people with shrinking incomes (white workers without college degrees) to survive.