Skip to main content

Stethescope on top of pile of money
It looks like Bowles and Simpson and all of the other catfood peddlers just might have to rethink the excuse they use for their obsession with hurting old people: rising health care spending might not bankrupt the nation after all. Health spending has been slowing down for the last several years, leading the CBO to revise its projections for Medicare and Medicaid spending downward by hundreds of billions of dollars. Now, two new studies show that that slowdown appears to be systemic and potentially permanent, in part because of the recession but because of other factors.
Instead, the studies conclude, everything from consumer price shopping to patent expirations on brand name drugs is transforming the world's most expensive healthcare system in ways that will constrain costs for years to come.

If their argument proves correct, the Medicare health plan for the elderly could pay out $401 billion less in 2021 than government actuaries have projected, one of the studies calculates, while total spending over the period from 2013 to 2022 would be $770 billion less.

There's a cloud, however, surrounding the silver lining: health care spending has flattened, but families are taking on more of the still rising costs of health care.
Among other factors, the studies found that rising out-of-pocket payments had played a major role in the decline. The proportion of workers with employer-sponsored health insurance enrolled in a plan that required a deductible climbed to about three-quarters in 2012 from about half in 2006, the Kaiser Family Foundation has found. Moreover, those deductibles—the amount a person needs to pay out of pocket before insurance steps in to cover claims—have risen sharply. That exposes workers to a larger share of their own health costs, and generally forces them to spend less.
So the high cost of health care for average people with employer-based insurance is still a problem and still has to be addressed through health care reform on the provider side, rather than the insurance side. The cost issue in health care, the fact that the U.S. spends insanely higher amounts than any other industrialized nation for worse outcomes, is still a major problem.

But, and this is a big but, spending growth for patients whose health benefits haven’t changed, including Medicare and Medicaid enrollees, has also slowed.  And that means that Washington's obsession with the deficit—and the large part of it health care spending comprises—has been significantly overstated. Medicare and Medicaid are not likely to be bankrupting the nation any time soon, and should not be included in any grand bargain. In fact, thee doesn't need to be a grand bargain at all. The deficit is not strangling us. There are far more important priorities for our economy. Like jobs.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue May 07, 2013 at 08:40 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (32+ / 0-)

    "There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning." —Warren Buffett

    by Joan McCarter on Tue May 07, 2013 at 08:40:13 AM PDT

  •  Medicare Is Already Meeting Simpson-Bowles Target (12+ / 0-)

    so it must be taken completely off the debt table.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue May 07, 2013 at 08:48:10 AM PDT

  •  I bet the sequester keeping seniors from getting (9+ / 0-)

    their cancer treatments is saving a boatload.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Tue May 07, 2013 at 08:51:52 AM PDT

  •  this is a huge story (7+ / 0-)

    way more important than the admittedly fascinating and bizarre [tabloid] triple kidnap case in OH or the SC-01 special election.

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Tue May 07, 2013 at 08:55:48 AM PDT

  •  Good lord. (0+ / 0-)

    More and more of the costs of healthcare are being pushed on working Americans -  higher and higher deductibles.. Higher premiums projected under Obamacare.  My company is facing 30% increases next year.

    Americans are facing higher healthcare costs but paying more for it themselves - and cutting back and not getting treatments.

    And this is a big deal for you, Joan?  Something to celebrate?

  •  But, but, but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Barton Funk

    Obamacare has already quadrupled healthcare costs and prevented everyone from getting health insurance plus killing thousands of seniors with the death panels.

    How can this be????

  •  It's not about deficits for the cat food kings; (5+ / 0-)

    it's about 'being serious' and 'making the hard choices' that will mean brutal suffering and crushing poverty for the working poor as they head into their 60s and 70s. While Erskine and Bowles enjoy their millions of dollars in swag from Conservative think tanks and Peterson 'fix the debt' scamsters.

    Just like the Republicans in Congress, it's not really about the deficit. Never was, never will be. If it was really about the deficit, we could all go home and start spending more stimulus money because the deficit is falling like a stone.

    But it's really about shitting all over poor people and elderly retirees, and calling it 'courage'.

    Moral pygmies, all of them.

  •  "other factors"??? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, nchristine

    Do you mean like my Mother and Aunt whom have two different "insurance" plans?  My Mother has coverage that my step father, at 76 yrs old is still working for and my Aunt whom has Medicare and nothing else?

    Just talked to my Mom this morning and she couldn't understand why Medicare wouldn't pay for the same medical treatments for my Aunt that she get's covered.

    They have the same COPD condition and the same doctor yet my Aunt can't get the same treatment as my Mom does.

    As for this:

    So the high cost of health care for average people with employer-based insurance is still a problem and still has to be addressed through health care reform on the provider side, rather than the insurance side.
    Ignores this:
    Moreover, those deductibles—the amount a person needs to pay out of pocket before insurance steps in to cover claims—have risen sharply. That exposes workers to a larger share of their own health costs, and generally forces them to spend less.
    How can our for-profit system be fixed?

    My employer based coverage costs me $1800 a year and they haven't yet, after 2 1/2 yrs, been able to find me a PCP in my area taking new patients? That cost is expected to rise 17% this year.  Since my employer pays 1/2, that means it's going to go up 34%.  

    Add to that when I got sick last summer and thought I had strep throat, without a PCP, I was forced into 2 choices:  wait 3 business days to get "pre-approval" or go to go to an Urgent Care Facility and pay a $250 deductible.  I realized if I had strep throat, I couldn't continue to work (losing pay every day at my $9 an hour job) without getting everyone else sick or go and get treatment.  I went, only to find out that it was cheaper for me to self-pay than use the coverage I'd already paid for.  

    I effectively have no healthcare even though I'm paying insurance for it.

    What's the solution?

    -7.62; -5.95 The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.~Tesla

    by gerrilea on Tue May 07, 2013 at 10:30:21 AM PDT

  •  The deficit scolds want to hurt the elderly and (0+ / 0-)

    the poor ... and it is a transpartisan desire.  No amount of evidence would help that.  Hell, even the White House - THIS IS A VICTORY FOR THE ACA, their signature accomplishment.  These savings, part of the real powerhouse that would actually fix the deficit for real - do we expect the WH to be able to turn around from threatening the safety net to make a full throated defense of gubment efficiencies in healthcare and possibly expansion therein?  

    I'd tell you - but I'd have to stop laughing first.

  •  Recently, I received a nasty email.. (0+ / 0-)

    ..from Alan Simpson (in response to an email that I had sent to him regarding his stance on Social Security). When I mean nasty, I mean nasty, complete with violent imagery. I'm tempted to forward the email to Kos himself, just to let him know he isn't the only person who receives hate mail!

    Failure to Publicize Acts of Hatred Only Allows Them to Fester and Metastasize.

    by BoxerDave on Tue May 07, 2013 at 02:06:21 PM PDT

  •  Recently, I received a nasty email... (0+ / 0-)

    ..from Alan Simpson (in response to an email that I had sent to him regarding his stance on Social Security). When I mean nasty, I mean nasty, complete with violent imagery. I'm tempted to forward the email to Kos himself, just to let him know he isn't the only person who receives hate mail!

    Failure to Publicize Acts of Hatred Only Allows Them to Fester and Metastasize.

    by BoxerDave on Tue May 07, 2013 at 02:06:47 PM PDT

  •  Obamacare is working, but without further (0+ / 0-)

    regulation of deductibles and other insurance co practices, consumers will see higher premiums where the insurance co's can afford it.

    The patent expirations on key drugs (like statins) and the elimination of pre-existing conditions have really lowered costs for people who have conditions that need to be maintained long-term but do not necessarily require hospital stays.  

    Alternative rock with something to say: http://www.myspace.com/globalshakedown

    by khyber900 on Tue May 07, 2013 at 02:08:36 PM PDT

  •  Even on medicare (0+ / 0-)

    On income of $700/mo $100 is for gap insurance.  Each visit is $30 for visit, $30 for xray, $30 for any other service.  It means I think before going in, but medicare saves my life.  Turning 65 was a big day after years of yearly increasing health care premiums.  My sons pay more and more of their
    health care bills with co-pays and other expenses.  No reason to ever consider the GOP attacks on "entitlements" because it is smoke screen for their real agenda.  Also they enjoy attacking Granny or any other poor or needy person.

  •  But of course our friends on the other (4+ / 0-)

    side of the isle won't believe this, and since they have nothing much else to do other than open Benghazi hearings and testimonies or try to repeal Obamacare. I will still prefer Medicare for all, and a not for profit health care system, its the only way to substantially lower health care costs!!

  •  What I find interesting is that recent Medicaid (0+ / 0-)

    study.  It showed improvement in depression and of course catastrophic illness for those on Medicaid vs. those uninsured, but no change in non-mental health chronic disease markers.

    Ostensibly it was about Medicaid, but what it really shows is that when it comes to managing and preventing chronic disease, the current medical establishment is a bunch of quacks.

  •  Maybe that Time's article 'jumped the shark!? (0+ / 0-)

    When 'Time' starts bitching about healthcare profiteering it may be time to sell your healthcare stocks and maybe go profiteer on Syrian arm deals...

    http://www.time.com/...

  •  price (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alice kleeman
    Instead, the studies conclude, everything from consumer price shopping to patent expirations on brand name drugs is transforming the world's most expensive healthcare system in ways that will constrain costs for years to come.
    Americans pay more for medicines because drug companies charge us more.  The same drugs, manufactured in the same plants, are more expensive here.  I don't believe GM charges less for Chevies in Spain--but Pfizer charges less for its drugs there.

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Tue May 07, 2013 at 02:28:04 PM PDT

  •  Republicans will not be deterred (0+ / 0-)

    by this reality. They will just move the goalposts to make absolute reductions in the size of government the goal.

  •  Shhhhh!!!! We're supposed to hate Obama (0+ / 0-)

    Sarcasm...:)

    "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Tue May 07, 2013 at 02:32:04 PM PDT

  •  This is great news![*] (0+ / 0-)

    I'd feel a lot better about this if a substantial part of the cost reduction wasn't, you know, people going to the doctor less to save money. I can't speak for the rest of the nation, but that's what's driving down health costs in Oregon right now.

    ‎"Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor." - Norman Mailer
    My Blog
    My wife's woodblock prints

    by maxomai on Tue May 07, 2013 at 02:40:24 PM PDT

  •  Imagine with SinglePayer would do -- Aetna and (0+ / 0-)

    Cigna are still taking billions out of the pie that they don't deserve or earn.

  •  The deductable issue happened to me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    james321

    I now have a $2000 dollar deductable, which I will only reach if I become seriously or catastrophically ill. This basically means in a normal year for me, I have no health insurance.  I can't afford that.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site