“What the Health?” by KHN: Why healthcare is so expensive, chapter $ 22K


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Congress appears to be making headway on its massive social spending bill, but even if it passes the House as planned the week of November 15, it is unlikely it will pass the Senate before the Thanksgiving deadline that the Democrats have set.

Meanwhile, the cost of employer-provided health insurance continues to rise, even with so many people giving up on care during the pandemic. The KFF Annual Employer Survey reported that the average cost of a work-based family plan has increased to more than $ 22,000. To provide what their workers need most, however, many employers have added additional coverage for mental health care and telemedicine this year.

This week’s speakers are KHN’s Julie Rovner, Politico’s Alice Miranda Ollstein, Bloomberg News’s Anna Edney, and CQ Roll Call’s Rebecca Adams.

Among the takeaways of this week’s episode:

  • Moderate Democrats, worried about the price of the social spending bill, said in negotiations last week that they wanted to see the full breakdown of spending and costs from the Congressional Budget Office. But House members likely won’t get that score before they vote on the bill. On the other hand, CBO is releasing its valuations piecemeal as analysts scrutinize specific sections of the huge bill.
  • If the House passes the bill next week, which the leadership has promised, the legislation could still undergo major revisions in the Senate. Some provisions will be subject to Byrd’s rule, which states that the elements of this type of invoice must be budget related. Republicans would have to contest parts of the bill and the MP will have to decide whether their objections are valid.
  • Among the provisions that some moderate Democratic senators might object to are paid family leave and the mechanism to lower the prices of Medicare drugs.
  • Congress looks to a very eventful end of the year, which could complicate the approval of the bill on social spending. Leaders have already postponed a bill to raise the debt ceiling and annual federal spending bills until early December.
  • A federal judge has blocked the Republican government of Texas. Greg Abbott’s order to ban the mandates of face masks in schools. But a final resolution is likely to take some time as the case is under appeal. Disability rights groups, which had sued to stop the governor’s order, said the ban prevented children with high-risk covid health from coming to school.
  • Despite conservative leaders’ opposition to vaccine mandates, the vast majority of workers got their shots, because they wanted them or because their employer ordered it. Lawsuits filed against such requirements in the workplace may not signal broad opposition among the population.
  • In its survey of employers’ health plans, KFF found that premiums are still rising faster than wages as health care costs continue to rise. Leaders of both political parties say they would like to reduce the cost of treatment, but no magic pill seems likely. Instead, lawmakers are generally more prone to the government collecting a larger portion of the country’s health care costs when they can’t find a way to cut that spending.
  • A key challenge in addressing rising healthcare spending in Congress is the power of the healthcare sector. With the narrow margins of political parties on Capitol Hill, it’s easy enough for industries to use their contributions to eliminate a couple of members and prevent major reforms from going through.
  • The KFF survey also documented the vast expansion of telemedicine coverage during the pandemic. While employers and the government are concerned that telemedicine will increase spending by duplicating services or allowing doctors to charge for services they once performed over the phone without billing, it will be difficult to put this genius back on track. Consumers like convenience. And some services, like mental health therapy or medical advice for rural residents, are much simpler.

Also this week Rovner interviews Rebecca Love, a nurse, academic and entrepreneur who has reflected a lot on the future of the nursing profession and where it fits into the US health system.

Plus, for extra credit, the speakers recommend their favorite health policy stories of the week that they think you should read too:

Julie Rovner: Washington’s monthly “The doctor won’t see you now, “By Merrill Goozner.

Alice Miranda Ollstein: NPR “Despite requests for improvement, air travel is still a nightmare for many disabled people, “By Joseph Shapiro and Allison Mollenkamp.

Rebecca Adams: by KHN “Patients went to the hospital for treatment. After testing positive at Covid, some have never gone out, “By Christina Jewett.

Anna Edney: Bloomberg News “All those 23andMe spit tests were part of a bigger plan, “By Kristen V Brown.

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