health affairs


U.S. Health Spending Rises More Slowly, Hits 2.6 T (That’s Trillion)

Just out in the journal Health Affairs: The recession has slowed down the annual growth in the nation’s health-care bill to 3.9%, but the slowing seems to come mainly from strapped people passing up needed care. And the total still comes to a nearly unimaginable $2.6 trillion, or $8,402 per person.

‘A trillion seconds ago was 30,000 BCE’

Actually, not so unimaginable: I just got some help picturing a trillion from Stuart Altman and David Shachtman’s new book, “Power, Politics and Universal Health Care.” They quote Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber as telling audiences that a million seconds ago was just last week, a billion seconds ago Nixon resigned the presidency in 1974, and a trillion seconds ago was 30,000 BCE. Ullp. Per person, countries like Canada, Germany and France spend less than half what we do, they note.

From the Health Affairs press release:

Bethesda, MD— An extraordinary slowing of the growth in use of health care goods and services contributed to a second year of slow health spending growth in 2010, federal analysts reported in the January issue of Health Affairs. Persistently high unemployment, a substantial loss of private health insurance coverage, lower median household income, and the burden of increased cost sharing led people to forgo care or seek less expensive treatment options. Continue reading

Health Spending Rise To Steepen, Modest Bump From ObamaCare

One Health Affairs study, several interesting takes. The authors’ headline was: “National health spending projections through 2020: Economic recovery and reform drive faster spending growth.” I think my headline might be: “Yikes. Health spending continues its crazy climb, but you can’t much blame Obama.” Readers, your headlines? And should I add any other commentaries here?

From the abstract:

In 2010, US health spending is estimated to have grown at a historic low of 3.9 percent, due in part to the effects of the recently ended recession. In 2014, national health spending growth is expected to reach 8.3 percent when major coverage expansions from the Affordable Care Act of 2010 begin. The expanded Medicaid and private insurance coverage are expected to increase demand for health care significantly, particularly for prescription drugs and physician and clinical services.

This from NPR’s Julie Rovner

A fresh analysis of the nation’s health spending suggests that over the next 10 years, the Democrats’ Affordable Care Act will boost the number of people with health insurance by about 30 million, while health costs overall will rise by only one-tenth of a percentage point more than they would have if the law hadn’t passed. Let me repeat: one-tenth of a percentage point!

Now if that finding came from some left-leaning group, people might just shrug and go on about their business. But it’s published in the peer-reviewed journal Health Affairs and it’s the considered opinion of the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That’s not a group that’s been particularly kind to the health law. In fact, the federal actuary office’s original analysis of the impact of the ACA had been one of the main weapons Republicans have used to accuse the measure of costing more and doing less than the official estimators at the Congressional Budget Office.

And from our excellent local Managing Healthcare Costs blog: Continue reading