What We're Reading: 1 in 6 Get Surprise Medical Bill; 9/11 Dust and Prostate Cancer; FTC Approves UnitedHealth's DaVita Purchase

June 20, 2019

Surprise medical bills affect 16% of in-network patient stays and 18% of emergency visits; new research has identified a link between World Trade Center dust and prostate cancer among first responders; the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved UnitedHealth Group’s acquisition of DaVita Inc on the condition that it sells one of its newly purchased healthcare organizations.

One in 6 Insured Get Hit With Surprise Medical Bills

Amid state and federal efforts to combat surprise medical bills, a research brief from the Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker has found that approximately 1 in 6 people with insurance received surprise medical bills in 2017. On average, 16% of in-network inpatient admissions and 18% of emergency visits resulted in at least 1 out-of-network charge. For those with large employer coverage, emergency visits and in-network inpatient stays were more likely to result in at least 1 out-of-network charge in Texas, New York, Florida, New Jersey, and Kansas, and less likely in Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Maine, and Mississippi.

Study Links 9/11 Dust to Prostate Cancer

Previous research has shown that World Trade Center first responders have an increased risk of prostate cancer, and now a new study has identified a link between the 2. According to researchers, whose findings were published in the American Association for Cancer Research journal Molecular Cancer Research, dust from the building contained both carcinogens and tumor-promoting agents, which induced DNA damage, thereby promoting cell proliferation and causing chronic inflammation in the prostate. Among first responders in the study, the researchers observed that Th17 cells, a type of proinflammatory Th cell, were upregulated.

Federal Regulators Approve UnitedHealth’s Acquisition of DaVita

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved UnitedHealth Group’s $4.3 billion purchase of DaVita Inc’s physician group, one of the largest physician groups in the country. The Wall Street Journal reported that the approval came with the condition that UnitedHealth sell its recently purchased HealthCare Partners Nevada to Intermountain Healthcare, with the FTC alleging that the deal would create a monopoly in the Las Vegas area and that the combination would have resulted in higher healthcare costs and stifled competition. DaVita had bought HealthCare Partners in 2012.