Health Costs

COVID-19 continues to be a leading cause of death in the U.S. in September 2021

This updated analysis finds that in September 2021, COVID-19 ranked as the 2nd leading causes of death in the U.S., up from 8th in July, due to the more infectious Delta variant, insufficient vaccination, and reduced social distancing. An estimated 90,000 deaths from COVID-19 since June could have been prevented with vaccines.

Large Majorities Across Parties Favor Allowing the Federal Government to Negotiate Drug Prices, Even After Hearing Common Arguments About It

Most of the Public Lacks Confidence that President Biden, Congressional Democrats or Republicans Will Do the Right Thing on Drug Prices Allowing the federal government to negotiate with drug companies to lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries and people enrolled in private plans – a key cost-saving proposal in the Democrats’ massive reconciliation bill –…More

How does U.S. life expectancy compare to other countries?

This slideshow compares life expectancy in the U.S. and other nations. The data shows that life expectancy at birth is lower in the U.S. than other industrialized countries for both women and men. The life-expectancy gap between the U.S. and other countries narrows somewhat at older ages, but still exists.

How Marketplace Costs and Premiums Will Change if American Rescue Plan Subsidies Expire

In a new Policy Watch, KFF analysts explore the potential impact of the expiration of the American Rescue Plan Act’s enhanced financial help and new eligibility for the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance Marketplace federal subsidies. While the COVID-19 relief legislation passed earlier this year provides greater subsidy assistance through 2022, Democrats in Congress are…More

How Marketplace Costs and Premiums will Change if Rescue Plan Subsidies Expire

In this Policy Watch we explore the potential impact of the expiration of the American Rescue Plan Act’s enhanced financial help and new eligibility for the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance Marketplace federal subsidies. While the COVID-19 relief legislation passed earlier this year provides greater subsidy assistance through 2022, Democrats in Congress are currently considering …

How Marketplace Costs and Premiums will Change if Rescue Plan Subsidies Expire Read More »

Many Medicare Beneficiaries Face High Out-of-Pocket Costs for Dental and Hearing Care, Whether in Traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage

Many Medicare beneficiaries face high annual out-of-pocket costs for dental and hearing care — services that generally aren’t covered in traditional Medicare, but typically are covered by Medicare Advantage plans though the scope and value of these benefits vary, finds a new KFF analysis. The analysis shows that, among beneficiaries who used each type of…More

Dental, Hearing, and Vision Costs and Coverage Among Medicare Beneficiaries in Traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage

This analysis builds on our prior work – Medicare and Dental Coverage: A Closer Look – by analyzing hearing and vision use, out-of-pocket spending and cost-related barriers to care among Medicare beneficiaries as well as hearing and vision benefits in Medicare Advantage plans. It also incorporates top-level findings from the analysis of dental services to …

Dental, Hearing, and Vision Costs and Coverage Among Medicare Beneficiaries in Traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage Read More »

The Sleeper Health Cost Policy

In this Axios column, Drew Altman unpacks President Biden’s recent executive order on promoting competition, exploring its significance for new efforts to control health costs by addressing consolidation in the health care industry.

Most Insurers Participating in the Marketplaces Don’t Expect COVID to Affect Their 2022 Costs

After a tumultuous year of unpredictable COVID-19 changes to utilization and spending, a review of early rate filings for individual market insurers participating in the Affordable Care Act Marketplace finds that most are expecting a return to normal in 2022 without the pandemic playing a large role. The review of insurers’ preliminary rate filings in…More

Insurer Filings Suggest COVID-19 Pandemic Will Not Drive Health Spending In 2022

This brief reviews initial 2022 premium rate filings for Marketplace-participating individual market insurers in 13 states and the District of Columbia. Most expect health utilization patterns to return to pre-pandemic levels and therefore not factoring in any impact on their 2022 premiums.

FDA’s Approval of Biogen’s New Alzheimer’s Drug Has Huge Cost Implications for Medicare and Beneficiaries

The question of what would happen when a new, expensive prescription drug comes to market for a disease like Alzheimer’s that afflicts millions of people has loomed large in discussions over drug prices in the U.S. This brief analyzes the cost implications for Medicare and beneficiaries associated with Biogen’s new FDA-approved Alzheimer’s drug, which will …

FDA’s Approval of Biogen’s New Alzheimer’s Drug Has Huge Cost Implications for Medicare and Beneficiaries Read More »

Two-Thirds of the Public Say the U.S. Should Play a Major Role in Distributing COVID-19 Vaccines Globally, But Not Most Republicans

With increased attention to the global need for COVID-19 vaccines and the Biden administration’s announcement today about how it plans to distribute the first portion of the 80 million doses it will share by the end of this month, the latest KFF Health Tracking Poll finds that two-thirds of the public (66%) say that the…More

KFF Health Tracking Poll – May 2021: Prescription Drug Prices Top Public’s Health Care Priorities

The latest KFF Health Tracking Poll explores the public’s views on the U.S. role in distributing COVID vaccines to other countries, health care priorities for Congress, prescription drug regulations and price negotiations, and affordability changes in the COVID-19 relief bill.

Expanding Medicare to Adults at Age 60 Years—Medicare-for-More?

In this column for the JAMA Health Forum, Larry Levitt examines the implications of lowering Medicare’s age of eligibility, which is emerging as a potential pathway toward Medicare-for-all or a public option among single-payer advocates. He explores the implications for costs, industry, people and broader reform efforts.

Lowering the Age of Medicare Eligibility to 60 Could Reduce the Cost of Health Care and Have a Modest Effect on the Number of People Who Are Uninsured

A new KFF analysis shows that lowering the age of Medicare eligibility to 60 could improve the affordability of coverage for people who are already insured and expand coverage to over a million of the nation’s 30 million uninsured. Such a policy could provide a path to Medicare coverage for up to 11.7 million people…More

Health Insurer Financial Performance in 2020

This analysis examines insurers’ financial data across markets through the end of 2020. It finds that average margins remained relatively high compared to recent years, suggesting many insurers remained profitable even as health spending rebounded and COVID-19 cases surged in the fall and winter.

Vast Majority of Large Employers Surveyed Say Broader Government Role Will Be Necessary to Control Health Costs and Provide Coverage, Survey Finds

Top executives at nearly 90% of large employers surveyed believe the cost of providing health benefits to employees will become unsustainable in the next five-to-10 years, and 85% expect the government will be required to intervene to provide coverage and contain costs, according to a new survey released today from Purchaser Business Group on Health…More

Lowering the Age of Medicare Eligibility Would Likely Reduce Health Spending for Employers, But Raise Costs for the Federal Government by Covering More People in Medicare

Two new KFF analyses find that lowering the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 60 could significantly reduce health spending for employers, who could potentially pass savings to employees in the form of lower premiums or higher wages. Additionally, per person health spending for older adults who move from employer coverage on to Medicare…More

Health Spending for 60-64 Year Olds Would Be Lower Under Medicare Than Under Large Employer Plans

During the presidential campaign, President Biden proposed to lower the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 60. This analysis uses claims data for covered medical services from both large employer plans and traditional Medicare to illustrate the potential spending effects of using Medicare payment rates in lieu of higher rates paid by employer plans …

Health Spending for 60-64 Year Olds Would Be Lower Under Medicare Than Under Large Employer Plans Read More »

April 29 Web Briefing: How Large Employers View Rising Health Care Costs and the Role of Government

The COVID-19 pandemic and recent elections are changing the national conversation around expanding health care coverage and reining in rising health care costs. President Biden campaigned on a platform of expanding access to public health coverage in ways that could change the role of employer-sponsored health insurance, which currently covers about half of all Americans.…More

Analysis Finds That a Relatively Small Number of Drugs Account for the Majority of Medicare Prescription Drug Spending

A new KFF analysis finds that a relatively small share of drugs, mainly those without generic or biosimilar competitors, accounted for a disproportionate share of prescription drug spending in Medicare in 2019. This finding suggests that recent proposals that focus on prices for a limited number of high-cost drugs could achieve significant savings. The 250…More

Relatively Few Drugs Account for a Large Share of Medicare Prescription Drug Spending

As policymakers focus attention on proposals to lower prescription drug costs by allowing price negotiation or international reference pricing for a limited number of drugs, this analysis measures the share of total Medicare Part D and Part B prescription drug spending accounted for by top-selling drugs covered under each part.

Analysis: Hospital Price Transparency Data Lacks Standardization, Limiting Its Use to Insurers, Employers, and Consumers

In spite of a new price transparency rule that requires hospitals to publish the prices of common health services, comparing prices across hospitals remains challenging due to limited compliance with the law and a lack of standardization in the available data, a new KFF analysis finds. The federal rule, which went into effect on January…More

Early Results from Federal Price Transparency Rule Show Difficultly in Estimating the Cost of Care

A new issue brief examines compliance with a new federal price transparency rule and variation in payer-negotiated rates at U.S. hospitals. The analysis looks at the websites of the two largest hospitals in each state and the District of Columbia, and finds that a lack of consistency in the data and limited compliance among the…More

COVID-19 Pandemic-Related Excess Mortality and Potential Years of Life Lost in the U.S. and Peer Countries

A new issue brief reviews excess death rates in the U.S. and peer countries by age groups to examine how the pandemic has affected excess mortality rate among younger people. The analysis looks specifically at the excess deaths that arose in 2020 to examine how the age at death during the pandemic has differed between…More

Compared to Peer Countries, the U.S. Had the Highest Rate of Mortality Among People Under Age 65 and Potential Years of Life Lost in 2020 due to the Pandemic

A new KFF issue brief examines 2020 data on excess mortality – the number of deaths above what is expected in a typical year – and finds that among similarly large and wealthy nations, the United States had the highest premature excess mortality rate in 2020, indicating that younger people in the U.S. were more…More

KFF Tracking Poll: More Than a Third of Americans Say They’ve Struggled to Pay Living Expenses Since December; 6 in 10 Families Hit by COVID Have Lost A Job or Income

Majorities Favor Provisions to Expand Marketplace Tax Credits and Encourage States to Expand Medicaid As Congress considers an additional $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, more than a third (37%) of Americans say that someone in their household has had trouble paying basic living expenses over the past three months, the latest KFF Health Tracking Poll…More

KFF Health Tracking Poll: Economic Hardship, Health Coverage, And The ACA

This poll examines the public’s assessments of the Biden administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the impact COVID-19 has had on people’s finances, and support for provisions of the latest COVID-19 relief bill. It examines the public’s views of the ACA and possible next steps.

Analysis: Spending on Health Care Would Drop by an Estimated $352 Billion in 2021 if Private Insurance Used Medicare Rates to Reimburse Hospitals and Other Health Care Providers

Total health care spending for people with private health insurance would be an estimated $352 billion lower in 2021 if private insurers used Medicare rates to pay hospitals and other health care providers, rather than the substantially higher rates they currently pay, a new KFF analysis finds. That would represent a 41 percent decrease from…More

Limiting Private Insurance Reimbursement to Medicare Rates Would Reduce Health Spending by About $350 Billion in 2021

This analysis estimates the total annual reduction in health care spending by employers and privately insured individuals that would result from having private insurers reimburse hospitals and other health care providers at Medicare rates. In total, we estimate spending for the privately insured population would be an estimated $352 billion lower in 2021 if employers …

Limiting Private Insurance Reimbursement to Medicare Rates Would Reduce Health Spending by About $350 Billion in 2021 Read More »

The Language of Health Care Reform

Published in the Jan. 19 edition of JAMA, this article from KFF Executive Vice President for Health Policy Larry Levitt lays out the major health policy challenges that will confront President-elect Biden and potential approaches to major reform. While a big reform debate may not be likely this year, one is likely coming as the…More

Analysis Examines the Implications of Price Transparency for Providers and Patients as New Rules Go into Effect

A new KFF analysis examines how new federal rules on price transparency for health services may affect patient decision-making and market pricing. As of January 1, 2021, the United States Department of Health and Human Services requires that hospitals publish payer-negotiated rates for common services on their websites. A second set of rules, which requires…More

Get Ready for a Lot of Biden Executive Orders on Health Care

In this column for the JAMA Health Forum, Larry Levitt explores what President-elect Biden might do to advance his health care vision both through legislation and through executive orders and waivers and demonstrations.

Gaps in Cost Sharing Protections for COVID-19 Testing and Treatment Could Spark Public Concerns About COVID-19 Vaccine Costs

In the issue brief, KFF experts highlight the laws and regulations that are in place to ensure access to free COVID-19 vaccines for individuals regardless of their insurance status and explain how vaccine administration costs will be covered in private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, and for the uninsured.

Poll: Large Majorities Now Say They Wear Masks Regularly and Can Continue Social Distancing for At Least Six Months if Needed, though Republicans Remain Less Likely to Take Such Precautions

As winter sets in and COVID-19 cases and deaths reach records in most parts of the country, more Americans say they wear masks every time they leave home now (73%) than said so in May (52%), a new KFF Health Tracking Poll finds. A small minority (11%) say they wear masks only some of the…More

Health Insurer Financial Performance Through September 2020

In this brief, we analyze third quarter data from 2018 to 2020 to examine how insurance markets performed financially through the end of September. Average margins remained relatively high compared to the same point in recent years, suggesting many insurers remained profitable even as non-COVID-related care returned in the summer and fall.

How Might Internet Connectivity Affect Health Care Access?

A new chart collection looks at how internet access may affect health care in the U.S., as more providers turn to telemedicine during the pandemic. An estimated 25 million Americans – about 8% of the population – lack access to internet at home. Hispanic and Black Americans, seniors, rural residents, and those living in poverty…More

Tracking Section 1332 State Innovation Waivers

This interactive map shows the status of all Section 1332 waivers requested by states. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows states to apply for innovation waivers to alter key ACA requirements in the individual and small group insurance markets and can be used to shore up fragile insurance markets, address unique state insurance market issues, …

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Explaining Health Care Reform: Questions About Health Insurance Subsidies

This brief describes health insurance subsidies available through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, including premium subsidies that would be provided in the form of tax credits, as well as other subsidies that would lower cost sharing to eligible Americans. It provides details on who is eligible for the assistance, the maximum repayment limits for the …

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Analysis: COVID-19 Ranks as a Top 3 Leading Cause of Death in the U.S., Higher than in Almost All Other Peer Countries

A new KFF analysis examines leading causes of death and mortality rates in the United States and comparable countries. The U.S. has a higher COVID-19 mortality rate than many of its peer countries, with COVID-19 ranking as the nation’s third-leading cause of death in 2020, behind only heart disease and cancer. Among similarly large and…More

The Pandemic’s Effect on the Widening Gap in Mortality Rate between the U.S. and Peer Countries

A new KFF brief looks at where COVID-19 falls as a leading cause of death in the U.S. compared to similarly large and wealthy countries. The analysis finds that COVID-19 mortality rates are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., a ranking shared by only one peer country, Belgium. In several other peer…More

Want to protect people with preexisting conditions? You need the full Affordable Care Act.

In this perspective published by the Washington Post, KFF Executive Vice President for Health Policy Larry Levitt explains why the popular Affordable Care Act provisions that ensure people with pre-existing conditions can access affordable health insurance can’t easily be preserved if other related provisions are overturned.

Health Policy Resources for Covering the 2020 Elections

As the 2020 Election Day approaches, many candidates continue to focus on health care issues, including on the public health and economic response to COVID-19, the future of the Affordable Care Act, health care costs and abortion. To help reporters understand and cover these issues, KFF offers independent, non-partisan policy analysis, polling and other research and…More

KFF Health Tracking Poll – October 2020: The Future of the ACA and Biden’s Advantage On Health Care

The poll examines the public’s views on the Supreme Court case to overturn the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Less than a month from the results of the 2020 presidential election, this poll examines the top issues for voters (the economy, the coronavirus pandemic, health care, criminal justice and …

KFF Health Tracking Poll – October 2020: The Future of the ACA and Biden’s Advantage On Health Care Read More »

A Reconfigured U.S. Supreme Court: Implications for Health Policy

U.S. Supreme Court decisions shape health policy in important ways. The nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, if confirmed, is expected to establish a solid 6:3 conservative majority that could affect case outcomes in several areas. This issue brief considers the potential implications of a reconfigured Court for health policy issues, including those already on …

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Premiums and Worker Contributions Among Workers Covered by Employer-Sponsored Coverage, 1999-2020

This graphing tool allows users to explore trends in workplace-sponsored health insurance premiums and worker contributions over time for different categories of employers based on results from the annual Employer Health Benefits Survey. Breakouts are available by firm size, region and industry, as well as for firms with relatively few or many part-time workers, higher- …

Premiums and Worker Contributions Among Workers Covered by Employer-Sponsored Coverage, 1999-2020 Read More »

Average Family Premiums Rose 4% to $21,342 in 2020, Benchmark KFF Employer Health Benefit Survey Finds

San Francisco – Annual family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance rose 4% to average $21,342 this year, according to the 2020 benchmark KFF Employer Health Benefits Survey. On average, workers this year are contributing $5,588 toward the cost of family coverage, with employers paying the rest. The survey was conducted from January to July as…More

2020 Employer Health Benefits Survey

This annual survey of employers provides a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage, including premiums, employee contributions, cost-sharing provisions, offer rates, wellness programs, and employer practices. Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage reached $21,342 this year, up 4% from last year, with workers on average paying $5,588 toward the cost of their …

2020 Employer Health Benefits Survey Read More »

Health Care and the 2020 Presidential Election

This side-by-side comparison examines President Trump’s record and former Vice President Biden’s positions across a wide range of key health issues, including the response to the pandemic, the Affordable Care Act marketplace, Medicaid, Medicare, drug prices, reproductive health, mental health and opioids, immigration and health coverage, and health care costs.

The Veterans Health Administration’s Role During the COVID-19 Response

A new issue brief examines the role of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) during the coronavirus pandemic, and public health emergencies more broadly. The analysis finds that the VHA has provided assistance to 46 states and D.C., including treating over 270 non-veteran patients with coronavirus.

Drew Altman: The Pandemic is Boosting the Public’s View of Doctors

In this Axios column, Drew Altman looks at how the heroic performance of the nation’s doctors on the frontlines of coronavirus care and effective communication by many physician scientists on television, is shifting the public’s views, with twice as many Americans now saying doctors put people ahead of profits than they did in earlier KFF …

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Updated Dashboard Features New Data on U.S. Health System Performance

Newly updated and expanded, the Peterson-KFF Health System Dashboard compiles data on the U.S. health system’s performance in four areas: access and affordability, health and well-being, health spending, and quality of care. Users can explore trends over time, as well as disparities and differences across demographic groups.

State Data and Policy Actions to Address Coronavirus

Every state and Washington D.C. have eased or lifted at least one social distancing requirement — including 32 states that have eased or lifted stay-at-home orders. From May 21 to May 28, restaurants reopened to dine-in service in 4 more states, and 4 more states eased or lifted their gatherings ban. Between May 28 to …

State Data and Policy Actions to Address Coronavirus Read More »

New State Fact Sheets Highlight Key Data About Mental Health and Substance Use Needs and Capacity

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn are taking a toll on mental health for many Americans, with large shares of the public saying that related worry and stress is having a negative effect on their mental health. A new KFF analysis and series of state fact sheets examine mental health and substance use disorder…More

How does the quality of the U.S. health care system compare to other countries?

This chart collection compares the quality of health care in the United States to that in other wealthy and sizable countries. While all have seen improvements in health outcomes, the United States continues to lag behind, with higher rates of overall mortality, premature death and preventable death, as well as higher-than-average morality rates for each …

How does the quality of the U.S. health care system compare to other countries? Read More »