To understand healthcare, pay attention to the stock market and companies earnings filings. This way you can capture a glimpse of how companies make money, how much they pay to acquire, how their incentives are aligned, how healthcare exchanges work and what value they deliver, how interest rates may affect their revenue (see HSAs), what they omit, and much more.

United Healthcare’s 2017 commercial cost trend was 5.5% on $201B in revenue. With all the clout, data analytics, scale, acquisitions and power, it’s very hard to bend the cost curve. But 5.5% should be a starting point in grounding expectations about what can likely change.

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