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What We're Reading: ACA Penalty; Unnecessary Treatments; Zika Vaccine Trial


A look at the millions of tax filers who chose the penalty over insurance coverage; the cost of unnecessary or excessively expensive medical care; Takeda begins the first Zika vaccine trial.

Millions Paid the ACA Penalty

In 2015, about 6.7 million tax filers chose to pay the Affordable Care Act's penalty rather than purchase health insurance. An analysis from The New York Times took a look at who these people are and noted that while a tax filer may be an individual or a whole family, the final number is still a fraction of the 29 million Americans who were uninsured. However, more than 12 million tax filers claimed an exemption for 2015 so they didn’t have to pay the penalty for not having insurance. The number of people who paid the penalty in 2015 was down from 8.1 million in 2014.

The Cost of Unnecessary Treatments

Unnecessary or excessively expensive medical care costs the US healthcare system more than $200 billion annually. A report from ProPublica delved into waste in the healthcare system, including new supplies being thrown away and arbitrary drug expiration dates. However, it is not easy to stop the wasteful use of procedures and care. Research has also found that unnecessary care happens in the intensive care unit, which is not only expensive, but can be harmful.

Takeda Begins Zika Vaccine Trial

The first clinical trial in the development of a vaccine for the Zika virus has started. The US government is backing the clinical trial program by Takeda. Earlier in the year, the government reduced support for development of a vaccine by Sanofi, reported Reuters. Both companies had been working on similar vaccines. Takeda expects results next year from the 240-patient phase I trial. Given the current development timeline, a vaccine likely won’t be ready until after 2020.

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