The 5 Biggest Healthcare Stories Of 2018 And The Bad News Ahead

Drs. David Feinberg (left) and Atul Gawande (right) made big moves and earned major headlines in 2018 but will their new roles usher in serious healthcare changes? Photo by Lisa Lake, Getty ImagesGetty

Dems take House. Kavanaugh confirmed. Trump undermines Obamacare. Baby genetically altered. Drug pricing under attack. Gawande becomes CEO.

Bold, juicy and salacious, these headlines kept the spotlight on healthcare throughout 2018. And despite the hype these stories generated, here’s a rather boring prediction for 2019: Not much is going to happen to U.S. medicine next year.

In fact, 2019 will be a year of ongoing inaction and erosion within the U.S. healthcare system. This puttering will ultimately set the stage for industry-wide change down the road.

Before we get to the future, let’s go back to what sparkled in 2018:

1. The Midterm Election: A Healthcare Referendum

Without question, the biggest story of 2018 was the midterm election. In the run up, opinion polls ranked healthcare as the top issue among voters, especially among women.

Though the GOP retained control of the U.S. Senate, Democrats took over the House with a party-wide vow to protect healthcare coverage for everyone with preexisting conditions. In their campaigns, Democrats reminded voters often that their Republican opponents thrice tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2017.

In February 2018, Obamacare favorability reached an all-time high of 54%, eight years after the law’s passage. Though the ACA had been a thorn for congressional Democrats in every previous election cycle, Obamacare became a progressive rallying cry during the 2018 midterms, helping democrats net at least 40 new seats in Congress.