Healthcare Economics & Policy

CivicaRx, the not-for-profit entity created last year by a group of health systems and hospitals, is planning to achieve its goals of lowering drug prices and addressing shortages in hospitals by working directly with pharmaceutical companies and buying drugs, Bloomberg reported.

Getting to and waiting for a doctor’s appointment will likely take longer than getting a car repair, according to a recent analysis of travel and wait times among professional services by Altarum. All that waiting and traveling adds up to a significant burden in the U.S.–– an average of $89 billion annually in economic costs from 2006 to 2017.

The Kaiser Permanente School of Medicine, a new Pasadena, California-based medical school opening in 2020, will allow students to attend tuition-free for the first five graduating classes.

The healthcare sector will continue to eclipse more of the economy over the next several years, with national healthcare expenditures hitting 19.4 percent of GDP by 2027, according to the Office of the Actuary at CMS. From 2018 to 2027, healthcare expenditures will grow an average of 5.5 percent annually, hitting nearly $6 trillion.

The $69 billion merger between Aetna, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, and CVS, a major retail pharmacy chain and pharmacy benefit manager, has been touted as a “transformative moment” moment for the healthcare industry. Now that the deal has been completed, consumers are split on whether they'll move their care to the retailer. 

After acquiring Aetna for nearly $70 billion, CVS Health has taken a financial hit. During the three months ending Dec. 31, 2018, CVS Health lost $421 million in net income, according to its end-of-year financial results.

The healthcare sector has been on fire over the last several years, with investors in the space seeing big returns on stocks. Even during periods of volatility across the stock market at the end of 2018, the healthcare sector remained consistent, with “stellar returns,” Bloomberg reported.

Emergency department (ED) visits for people with at least one of six prevalent chronic conditions contributed to approximately 50 percent of all annual visits at nearly 750 hospitals in 2017. 

A bigger bonus size for physicians is associated with higher-value medicine, according to a recent study published in JAMA Open Network.

Surprise medical bills, where patients get a sky-high bill in the mail weeks after they received care, are a major issue for consumers. But one state that has tried to help alleviate the pain of the bills has been overwhelmed.

CMS’ newly proposed interoperability rules are a part of a broader effort to empower patients by ensuring they have access to their medical records, CMS Administrator Seema Verma said during the HIMSS conference in Orlando on Feb. 12.

Healthcare spending per person rose to an all-time high in 2017 for those covered by employer-sponsored insurance, according to the Health Care Cost Institute (HCCI). Average healthcare spending per individual rose 4.2 percent to $5,641, including medical and pharmacy claims.