Medical Costs in the News

In The News

Half of Americans are responsible for only 3 percent of health care costs

(The Washington Post, 04-03-17)

Here’s a simple reason crafting health policy is so devilishly hard: Most Americans are pretty healthy and a few are really sick.

When $65,000 a year for a drug is applauded

(CNN, 04-03-17)

wo new drugs were cleared to hit the market last week: an eczema drug that will cost $37,000 per year and one for multiple sclerosis that will cost $65,000.

Those Indecipherable Medical Bills? They’re One Reason Health Care Costs So Much.

(The New York Times, 03-29-17)

The catastrophe struck Wanda Wickizer on Christmas Day 2013.

Costly Doctors Don’t Provide Better Care

(The New York Times, 03-28-17)

Doctors who tend to spend more in treating hospitalized patients do not get better results than those who spend less, a new study has found.

States Cut Some Red Tape In Prescriptions

(The Huffington Post, 03-27-17)

Cameron Credle was barely more than a toddler when he was diagnosed with abnormally high cholesterol.

Telehealth Doctor Visits May Be Handy, But Aren’t Cheaper Overall

(NPR, 03-26-17)

Telehealth takes a lot of forms these days. Virtual visits with a health care provider can take place by video, phone or text, or via the Web or a mobile app.

Will NC raise the smoking age to 21? The only doctor in the state House wants the change

(News & Observer, 03-24-17)

A group of North Carolina House legislators, hoping to make it harder for teens to get addicted to nicotine, wants to raise the minimum age for buying cigarettes and vaping products to 21.

GAO Will Investigate Skyrocketing Prices For Orphan Drugs

(NPR, 03-22-17)

Acting on a request from three influential U.S. senators, the government’s accountability arm confirmed Tuesday that it will investigate potential abuses of the Orphan Drug Act.

Prescription Drug Costs Are On The Rise; So Are The TV Ads Promoting Them

(Kaiser Heath New, 03-20-17)

Laura Ries was moved to action when she saw a TV commercial that portrayed a woman enjoying time with her grandchildren after taking Lyrica, a prescription medication for diabetic nerve pain. Ries’ elderly mother suffered from just that problem.

Why Are Drug Prices for Rare Diseases on the Rise?

(The Huffington Post, 03-16-17)

For years Americans with Duchenne muscular dystrophy were able to import a drug, deflazacort, from outside the United States at a cost of about $1,200 per year.

$89,000 Orphan Drug Gets A New Owner — And Likely A New Price

(Kaiser Health News, 3-16-17)

Marathon Pharmaceuticals’ controversial $89,000-a-year drug that has drawn outrage from patients and intense questioning from Congress is getting a new owner.

NC ranks 35th nationwide in health care quality

(The News & Observer, 3-16-17)

North Carolinians are healthier than their neighbors in South Carolina, but not as healthy as the residents of 33 other states and the District of Columbia.

As Drug Costs Soar, People Delay Or Skip Cancer Treatments

(NPR, 03-15-17)

John Krahne received alarming news from his doctor last December. His brain tumors were stable, but his lung tumors had grown noticeably larger. The doctor recommended a drug calledAlecensa, which sells for more than $159,000 a year. Medicare would charge Krahne a $3,200 copay in December, then another $3,200 in January, as a new year of coverage kicked in.

For the first time since being diagnosed 10 years ago, Krahne, 65, decided to delay filling his prescription, hoping that his cancer wouldn’t take advantage of the lapse and wreak further havoc on his body.

Will the cost of cancer drugs break the economy?

(Modern Healthcare, 3-14-17)

If left unchecked, the rising cost of cancer drugs could have devastating implications for individuals, societies and national economies, a group of cancer physicians and researchers said.

Surgery or Drugs? Doctors’ Pay May Influence Choice

(The New York Times, 03-08-17)

Sometimes doctors choose to do surgery not because it is absolutely preferable to other treatments but because they get reimbursed for it, a new study suggests.

Senators want to prevent surprise colonoscopy bills

(The Washington Post, 03-08-17)

Maine Sen. Susan Collins is among a group of senators that wants to make sure senior citizens aren’t charged with unexpected bills after a colonoscopy.

Ouch: taking the sting out of medical expenses

(The Washington Post, 03-05-17)

Medical expenses are a burden whenever they hit, but a recent study found they’re most common around this time of year.

States push for more transparency over drug prices

(The Hill, 03-03-17)

States are responding to increasing drug costs with legislation that would subject drugmakers to more scrutiny over their pricing.

Data Note: Americans’ Challenges with Health CareCosts

(Kaiser Family Foundation, 03-02-17)

As lawmakers debate the future of the country’s health care system and outline plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, much of the current debate surrounds how to change or eliminate the health insurance marketplaces developed under the ACA where individuals eligible for financial assistance could compare plans and purchase insurance.

Facing Criticism, Drug Makers Keep Lid On Price Increases

(The Wall Street Journal, 2-26-17)

Facing mounting criticism about prices, drug companies put some limits on their increases this year.

5 Reasons Why An $89,000 Drug Has Congress Fuming

(Kaiser Health News, 2-16-17)

The latest flashpoint in the ongoing debate over high drug prices is Emflaza, an $89,000-a-year drug that treats Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

U.S. Healthcare Costs to Escalate Over Next Decade: Government Agency

(The New York Times, 2-15-17)

The cost of medical care in the United States is expected to grow at a faster clip over the next decade and overall health spending growth will outpace that of the gross domestic product, a U.S. government health agency said on Wednesday.

Why America’s health-care spending is projected to soar over the next decade

(The Washington Post, 2-15-17)

U.S. health-care spending grew 4.8 percent last year, as the country has emerged from a period of historically low health spending growth, according to new federal estimates.

Former FDA chief cites five things to watch for on drug approvals and keeping medications safe

(Modern Healthcare, 2-11-17)

The just-departed commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration has concerns about plans to speed up drug approvals and dramatically reduce regulations at the agency, as advocated recently by President Donald Trump.

Sicker-Than-Expected Obamacare Enrollees Causing Market Turmoil

(Bloomberg BNA, 2-10-17)

Sicker-than-expected Obamacare enrollees caused many insurers to lose money and leave the exchanges, increasing premiums for remaining enrollees.

One chart shows just how devastating healthcare costs are for American families

(Business Insider, 2-9-17)

Out-of-pocket healthcare costs in the US areamong the fastest-growing expensesfor Americans, and they can be devastating.

A drug company hiked the price of a lifesaving opioid overdose antidote by 500 percent

(Vox, 2-3-17)

In 1971, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug that could reverse a heroin or opioid overdose. More than 40 years later, makers of this drug, callednaloxone, are cashing in on the nation’sopioid painkiller and heroin epidemicand price-gouging consumers.

You might need nearly $350,000 to pay for health-care costs in retirement

(MarketWatch, 2-2-17)

When you have your health, your health-care costs in retirement will be high. And when you do not have your health, those costs will be even higher.

A Third of Americans Are Still Struggling to Find Affordable Healthcare

(Bloomberg, 2-1-17)

Uninsured rates in low-income families have fallen under the Affordable Care Act, yet more than a third of Americans continued to face difficulties paying their medical bills in 2016, a survey found.

The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country. Here’s what we’re buying.

(Washington Post, 1-27-17)

American health-care spending, measured in trillions of dollars, boggles the mind. Last year, we spent $3.2 trillion on health care — a number so large that it can be difficult to grasp its scale.

8 ways consumers can control their personal healthcare costs.

(The Hill, 1-26-17)

Everyone talks about how healthcare costs are rising. But there are ways for you to control your healthcare costs. Here are eight such ways.

U.S. Health Care: Highest Costs; Not Highest Results.

(The Wall Street Journal, 1-25-17)

With Congress now reconsidering rules affecting the U.S. health-insurance system, it’s worth taking a look at what lawmakers are up against: an expensive health-care network that doesn’t deliver the best results to the most people at the lowest cost.

Blame Technology, Not Longer Life Spans, for Health Spending Increases.

(The New York Times, 1-23-17)

American life spans are rising, and as they are, health care spending is, too. But longevity is not contributing to the spending increase as much as you might think.

We asked pharma executives the one question they didn’t want to hear about drug pricing.

(Business Insider, 1-23-17)

It’s shaping up to be another rough year for the drug industry.

Faced With Unaffordable Drug Prices, Tens Of Millions Buy Medicine Outside U.S.

(Kaiser Health News, 12-20-16)

As drug prices have spiraled upward in the past decade, tens of millions of generally law-abiding Americans have committed an illegal act in response: They have bought prescriptions outside the U.S. and imported them.

Drugmakers await FDA guidance on ‘off-label’ uses of medicines

(The Hill, 12-19-16)

Doctors commonly prescribe drugs to treat conditions the medications weren’t designed for, but for drugmakers, discussing such “off-label” uses can lead to trouble.

A Blueprint for Measuring Health Care Outcomes

(Harvard Business Review, 12-12-16)

The starting point for achieving value in any health care system is to measure outcomes.

Health Care Spending Spiked to $3.2 Trillion in 2015

(Yahoo News, 12-04-16)

The pace of U.S. health care spending picked up slightly last year, reaching a total of $3.2 trillion or $9,990 per person in the country. While a number of factors were at play, the increase was largely due to expanded coverage of individuals who signed up for Obamacare or who took advantage of a major expansion of Medicaid, according to a new study released on Friday.