Apr 18, 2017

We're taxing the poor to pay for the longer lives of the rich

Americans are living longer on average, but most of that added life expectancy is being lived by the rich. That's according to a new paper released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic research, wherein researchers showed that this trend has helped dramatically increase the Social-security and Medicare benefits paid to the rich, while the poor have seen their benefits decline or stagnate.

Why it matters: Entitlement reformers argue that Medicare and Social Security benefits should be delayed to reflect increases in life expectancy. But these data show that such a reform would disproportionately punish poorer Americans, who are already receiving a smaller share of benefits because life expectancy gains for that group have lagged.

Data: National Bureau of Economic Research; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

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Cigna's big divestiture on its life and disability insurance business

Photo: Julia Rendleman/Getty Images for Eventive Marketing

Cigna finally pulled the trigger on selling its life and disability insurance business, netting $5.3 billion after taxes from New York Life.

The big picture: Health insurers have been divesting products that have less to do with actual medical care and instead combining with companies that sell drug benefits

Go deeperArrowDec 19, 2019

The medications that are thrown away

Data: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Table: Axios Visuals

Last year, Medicare paid for $725 million worth of expensive medications administered in outpatient clinics — things like chemotherapy drugs — that ended up being discarded, according to new data released by the federal government.

Why it matters: Although that amount is just 2% of what Medicare paid for those types of infusion drugs, that's still a "very astonishing amount of waste," said Rena Conti, a health economist at Boston University who has studied the issue.

Go deeperArrowJan 6, 2020

Deficit balloons to $356.6 billion in first quarter of fiscal year

Photo: Bloomberg Creative Photos/Getty Images

The U.S. budget deficit hit $356.6 billion in the first quarter of fiscal year 2020, up 11.8% compared to the same period the previous year, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The deficit, which President Trump pledged in 2016 to eliminate within eight years, is on pace to exceed $1 trillion by the end of 2020. The U.S. has not seen $1 trillion annual deficits since the three years that followed the 2008 financial crisis, per the New York Times.

Go deeperArrowJan 13, 2020