High prices for lifesaving rabies drugs, spending on unnecessary care and costly air ambulance rides are all covered in this week’s reads on health care costs.
Companies that fly medical helicopters are pushing for higher Medicare reimbursement, Axios reports. There are bills in the House and Senate that would increase Medicare rates for air ambulance services by 12 percent in 2018 and 20 percent in 2019 and 2020. Read more from Axios (and check out the MHCSW story on costly air ambulance bills).
Projections estimate health care spending in the U.S. will likely rise 5.3 percent this year, thanks mostly to the growing prices for medical goods and services and higher Medicare enrollment as baby boomers age into the program. Reuters has the details.
Hospitals in the U.S. routinely charge around $10,000 for lifesaving rabies treatment, an ongoing Vox investigation into emergency room charges found. In England, the same treatment runs patients about $1,600, which “shows that in the United States, pharmaceutical companies can set sky-high prices for lifesaving medication.” Dive into the issue with Vox.
Prescription drugs are less expensive in Canada than they are in the U.S., but it’s illegal for Americans to buy drugs from their neighbors to the north. Now, at least four states are trying to change that. They’re preparing to ask the Trump administration for permission to establish wholesale programs that could purchase drugs from Canada. CNN Money breaks it down.
A nonprofit examined insurance claims from over 1 million patients in Washington state and discovered more than 600,000 of them received a treatment they didn’t need — costing $282 million in one year. “It’s easy for a single doctor and patient to say, ‘Why not do this test? What difference does it make?’” the report’s author told NPR. But “little things add up,” she said. Get the full story here.