The nation’s health-care tab grew at the fastest rate in eight years in 2015, driven by coverage expansion in the Affordable Care Act and costly prescription drugs, the government said Friday.
The growth of 5.8 percent in 2015 boosted total health-care spending to $3.2 trillion, an average of $9,990 per person.
Health spending grew about two percentage points faster than the overall economy in 2015, the report from nonpartisan economic experts at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said.
The report found that the federal government became the largest payer for health care in 2015, accounting for 29 percent of overall health spending. That was followed by households (28 percent), businesses (20 percent), and state and local governments (17 percent).
Spending by private health insurance plans increased by 7.2 percent in 2015, and Medicaid spending grew by 9.7 percent.
Spending on prescription drugs dispensed through pharmacies increased by 9 percent in 2015, growing faster than any other category, including hospitals and doctors.
Medicare was a bright spot, growing only by 4.5 percent.
— Associated Press
International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Friday called for greater attention to protecting the dignity of women, saying everyone has a responsibility to combat misogyny.
Asked what the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president means for gender equality, Lagarde told Bloomberg editor in chief John Micklethwait in New York that she hoped that “elegance in dealing with people” will prevail over “low instinct and disparaging comments.”
She emphasized that her comments were not addressed to the president-elect, noting that there are “many sectors of the world where women are suffering an attitude which puts them in a lower position.”
But she called misogyny inexcusable, and said it is “each and every one of our responsibilities to make sure” that attitudes that harm women don’t take hold.
Lagarde, 60, is the first woman to lead the IMF. She has been a proponent of empowering women, urging countries such as Japan to make it easier for women to enter and stay in the workforce, and she often speaks with women’s groups during her visits abroad.
Lagarde said Friday that global leaders who claim to be feminists need to take more action to help women enter and stay in the workforce — from requirements for parental leave to removing discriminatory laws. Corporations need to do their part by ensuring gender equality on their boards of directors, Lagarde said.
— Bloomberg News
● U.S. regulators are calling out AT&T and Verizon for exempting their own video apps from data caps on customers’ cellphones. The Federal Communications Commission sent letters to the country’s biggest wireless carriers Thursday saying the practice, known as “zero rating,” can hurt competition and consumers. The agency had warned AT&T in November and said Friday that AT&T’s response did not ease its concerns. Other services — for instance, Hulu or Netflix — can pay Verizon and AT&T so that consumers could also use those apps without eating up data.
● Federal regulators said Friday that they had approved Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals’ drug Jardiance to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death in patients with Type 2 diabetes. Jardiance, also known as empagliflozin, was approved in 2014 to help lower blood sugar in patients with Type 2 diabetes. At the time of initial approval, the Food and Drug Administration had asked that a separate trial be conducted to show the drug did not increase the risk of cardiovascular problems.
● Woolrich, the oldest manufacturer of outdoor wear in the United States, has merged with its European partner and will be headquartered in London. Woolrich President Nicholas Brayton told Pennlive.com that the merger with Italy’s W.P. Lavori in Corso will bring more jobs, mill renovations and development of company-owned land near Woolrich’s Pennsylvania mill. The two companies say it will enable Woolrich to grow globally. Family-owned Woolrich was founded by John Rich in 1830.
● Spain’s conservative government says it hopes to bring in an extra 7.5 billion euros ($8 billion) in taxes to help bring down its budget deficit next year to close to the 3 percent level permitted by the European Union. Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro said Friday the government hopes to get most of the money — 4.3 billion euros — from increased company taxes and the rest from anti-tax fraud measures and taxes on alcohol, tobacco and sugary drinks. Spain is battling to cut its deficit from an expected 4.6 percent of GDP this year to an EU-agreed 3.1 percent in 2017 to avoid sanctions.
— From news services