5 Things We’re Reading on Health Care Costs

This week’s must-reads explore where our dollars go in the health care system, point to secret prices as a reason for out-of-control spending and uncover how something as small as an eye drop may be a hidden source of big waste.

U.S. health care spending is still rising

A new report from Altarum’s Center for Sustainable Health Spending shows spending on health care in the U.S. is still growing faster than the nation’s economy, though more slowly than it has in the past. Additionally, an increasing share of those dollars is going to outpatient settings rather than hospitals. Axios breaks down the report.

Are secret hospital prices fueling America’s health care spending?

Experts have blamed everything from overuse to unnecessary care and waste. But Vox reporter Sarah Kliff digs deep to find an entirely separate driver for the persistent rise in health care spending: secret, variable and high prices. Read her story, and learn more about her project to uncover secret prices here.

Maryland moves away from secret pricing

Some states are beginning to take a stand against keeping health care costs secret. Maryland recently launched WearTheCost.org, a website displaying quality and cost information aimed to help patients choose the best location for their care. A Health Affairs blog post provides more information.

An unlikely hidden cost in health care: wasted eye drops

Drug companies are intentionally making eye droppers that deliver more medication than human eyes can hold, concludes ProPublica reporter Marshall Allen, leading to waste that adds up and hits patients in their pocketbooks. Read more on the problem in NPR’s Morning Edition.

Value-based contracts with specialists could be key to cost savings

Accountable care organizations — providers who agree to take on financial risk for the quality and cost of their care — saved Medicare millions in 2016, new data show. But one ACO design in particular, involving specialists who treat end-stage renal disease, saved more money than ACOs with primary care providers. Modern Healthcare explains.

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5 Things to Read on Health Care Costs

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health care system work better?

Interested in ways we can make the health care system work better?