Health-care spending: The temporary calm

Posted: January 9, 2013 in economy
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A POLITICAL frenzy over health care consumed much of Barack Obama’s first term. By another important measure, health care was in a lull. America’s health spending in 2009 grew by 3.9%, the slowest clip since the government started keeping track. This pace remained unchanged in 2010. And, according to numbers published on January 7th by the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), it stayed steady in 2011, too. Health care’s share of GDP was also stable, at 17.9% (a staggering figure nonetheless). The real frenzy will come next year.This slowdown was not thanks to Mr Obama, much as some in his administration would like to claim as much. On January 7th Kathleen Sebelius, the health secretary, said “the statistics show how the Affordable Care Act is already making a difference.” But CMS’s actuaries reported that the law’s “impact on aggregate health spending growth was minimal in these years.” The main provisions of Mr Obama’s health law, including the individual mandate and the expansion of Medicaid, will take effect in 2014. Much of the slowdown in 2009, 2010 and 2011 was due to the recession. The key question is whether any of the trends observed in those years will persist in 2014. The new data provide a few hints.Beneath the stable growth, there were rumblings. For example, spending on doctors’ visits and prescription drugs rose even as spending on …

via Economic Crisis


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