Recession, Not Obamacare, To Thank for Lower 2013 Health Costs
By Meghan Foley
In his 2013 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama proclaimed that, “Already, the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care ” in the United States. “And the reforms I’m proposing go even further,” he continued. “We’ll reduce taxpayer subsidies to prescription drug companies and ask more from the wealthiest seniors. We’ll bring down costs by changing the way our government pays for Medicare, because our medical bills shouldn’t be based on the number of tests ordered or days spent in the hospital. They should be based on the quality of care that our seniors receive.”
… Health care costs have indeed decreased in the past several years. After several years of moderate income growth and stagnant insurance coverage, actuaries at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, estimated that private health insurance spending growth held constant at 3.8 percent in both 2011 and 2012, growth equivalent to half of pre-recession levels. In 2013, growth is also projected to come in at 3.8 percent. But there is no sign that the Affordable Care Act was responsible for drop in health care-related costs.
Rather, the economic recession has been cited as the culprit, which seems reasonable given that costs are expected to jump 6.1 percent in 2014, the year the law’s individual insurance mandate is implemented. A report published in the journal Health Affairs, CMS actuaries provided evidence that the slowdown in spending is not related to Obamacare. “It certainly adds one more piece to the puzzle for those who say ’hey wait a second, this isn’t the final word on how to reform American health care,’” American Enterprise Institute policy analyst James Capretta, who worked in the administration of former President George W. Bush, said in an interview with Bloomberg.