Drug prices, ACA boost spending rate

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.

Baklava makers roll dough in the Karakoy Gulluoglu Baklava factory on December 2, 2016 in Istanbul. (Chris Mcgrath/Getty Images)

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

IMF chief urges fight against misogyny

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

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