Healthcare Roundup—Speculation swirls around Trump's upcoming drug price speech

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What to expect from Trump's drug speech

During a speech at the White House on Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump plans to outline a number of different proposals to help address high drug prices in the U.S.

The administration released a series of proposals earlier this year (PDF) to curb drug prices.

Trump is expected to aim critiques at brand-name manufacturers who push for high list prices and make maneuvers to delay the entry of generics to the market, The New York Times reported.

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He is also expected to focus on the impact of foreign price controls which keep drugs more affordable in other countries, something that could end up driving up drug prices elsewhere in the world, Politico reported

A look at what's driving U.S. healthcare spending

Higher prices, rather than utilization, are the main driver of healthcare spending in the U.S. compared to other high-income countries, according to a collection of charts from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

For example, healthcare prices have grown nearly 22%, while prices in the general economy have only grown about 17%. The charts were released as part of a Kaiser Family Foundation/Peterson Center on Healthcare forum on healthcare prices in Washington.

Their work shows the average price of a full knee replacement for those in large employer plans increased from $19,595 in 2003 to $34,063 in 2016. That is 74% price growth, compared to a 28% increase in general inflation. (Release)

Workers not willing to pay more for better health benefits

Fewer than half of U.S. employees would be willing to pay more to get better healthcare benefits, according to the Willis Towers Watson 2017 Global Benefits Attitudes Survey.

The survey found 66% of respondents would be willing to pay more each month for more generous retirement benefits, and 61% would give up more pay to have a guaranteed retirement benefit. The same survey found 38% were willing to pay more each month for a more generous healthcare plan and 46% would be willing to pay more to have lower, more predictable costs when using healthcare services. The survey was taken of about 5,000 workers in the summer of 2017.

“While employees continue to feel vulnerable about their long-term financial prospects and say they are willing to pay more for greater retirement security, healthcare benefits evoke a much different response,” said Steve Nyce, Willis Towers Watson senior economist, in a statement. (Release) 

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