Pumpkin carvin’
To:Brew Readers
Healthcare Brew // Morning Brew // Update
Have a healthy girl Halloween.
Morning Brew October 04, 2023

Healthcare Brew

Happy Wednesday! Now that we’re well into autumn, we want to talk about one of our favorite fall snacks that happens to have lots of health benefits: pumpkin seeds. Full of nutrients and antioxidants, studies say that pumpkin seeds may reduce the risk of certain cancers. Take this as extra incentive to carve a pumpkin and bake the seeds afterward—just don’t forget to add some seasoning.

In today’s edition:

Startups go down

🛒 Secret shopping

Kept coverage

—Maia Anderson, Kristine White


Bankrupt girl summer

A paper boat made of $100 bills sinking Ales_utovko/Getty Images

Health IQ is the latest startup to file for bankruptcy, following in the footsteps of Babylon Health and Pear Therapeutics, despite raising roughly $200 million from top venture capital (VC) firms, including Andreessen Horowitz. Babylon and Pear both reached valuations of more than $1 billion each before filing for bankruptcy.

The digital health landscape has struggled in 2023 with fewer investors and funding deals as well as smaller deal sizes. The year is on pace to be the lowest digital health funding year since 2019, according to digital health strategy group and venture fund Rock Health—and the consequences are starting to show.

Health IQ, which filed for Chapter 7 on August 30, used artificial intelligence to forecast the health needs of older adults and match them with a Medicare Advantage plan, Forbes reported. In the bankruptcy filings, Health IQ reported that it owed $256.7 million and had just $1.3 million in assets, according to Forbes.

Keep reading here.—MA

Do you work in healthcare or have information about the industry that we should know? Email Maia at [email protected]. For confidential conversations, ask Maia for her number on Signal.



What doctors need to know about Ozempic

The Crew

The rise of social media has seen an increasing number of healthcare fads, encompassing diets, exercise regimens, and now prescription drugs. Such is the case with Ozempic, the diabetic medication serving as social media’s newest hot topic because of its weight loss side effects.

We break down the rise of the new “it” drug and how it’s popularity is impacting patients’ health. Read the full report here.


Price transparency

A woman works in front of her laptop while holding a baby in one hand and a phone in the other. Fizkes/Getty Images

Forget undercover boss; try undercover shopper.

A new study from researchers in the US and Canada found that prices for vaginal childbirth and brain MRIs (interesting picks, we thought) varied dramatically between what’s posted online and what the hospital tells a patient over the phone.

For the study, “secret shoppers” collected cash prices for those procedures at 60 hospitals across the US, including top-ranked and safety net institutions, between August and October 2022.

Of the 60 hospitals surveyed, 22 listed prices online and gave over-the-phone estimates for a vaginal birth. Prices at ten of those hospitals differed by 25%, while nine hospitals had a difference of 50% or more between online and phone healthcare costs, according to the study. Online prices for a vaginal birth at a top-ranked hospital ranged from $0 to $55,221, with a mean of $23,040, the study found.

Keep reading here.—KW

Do you work in healthcare or have information about the industry that we should know? Email Kristine at [email protected]. For confidential conversations, ask Kristine for her number on Signal.



Coverage restored

A stethoscope next to a ball of yarn unravelling Amelia Kinsinger

Close to half a million people will regain their Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage after an issue with the redetermination process was discovered, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on September 21.

During the pandemic, CMS paused Medicaid’s annual redetermination process, which checks recipient eligibility, to ensure no one lost government health insurance. The pause, which began in March 2020, was lifted in April 2023. Now, states are working through a three-year backlog—and it’s proving to be quite the challenge.

What’s the issue? Many states use software to automatically verify whether recipients are still eligible for Medicaid and CHIP, according to the New York Times. CHIP provides health coverage for children in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough for private insurance.

Keep reading here.—MA




Crack the payment code. With rapidly changing industry rules, staffing shortages, and evolving patient expectations, it’s getting more complicated for providers to get, well, paid. Check out this new eBook from Zelis, Achieving True Payment Efficiency, and learn how to smooth out payment processes + hone in on the bigger picture of your finances.


A laptop tracking vital signs is placed on rolling medical equipment. Francis Scialabba

Today’s top healthcare reads.

Stat: Less than a quarter of US adults are “definitely” getting the Covid-19 booster. (US News & World Report)

Quote: “The state of Virginia and the state of Tennessee took a chance on [Ballad] to do the right thing. And they’ve proven that they are not worthy of that chance.”—Michele Johnson, executive director of nonprofit Tennessee Justice Center, on Ballad Health’s unfulfilled promises to deliver quality care after state regulators let them merge with other hospitals five years ago (KFF Health News)

Read: A visiting researcher blew the whistle on a top New York City hospital that used a fluid with safety warnings and no FDA approval—and it didn’t tell patients. (the New York Times)


The side effects of healthcare fads

Storm clouds raining down tape measures and Ozempic syringes Morning Brew

Ozempic, the diabetic prescription medication, is serving as social media’s hottest topic because of its weight loss side effects. We’ve put together a guide of what healthcare professionals need to know about the drug taking the media by storm. Check it out.


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Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.