Reducing the cost of Health Care while increasing access and quality of care was the primary goal of Health Reform. Are we seeing signs that it's starting to work?
Without specifically verifing that hypothesis, a new Harvard Study shows strong signs that this just might be the case.
Health care spending growth has famously slowed over the past five years, significantly enough that the Congressional Budget Office recently revised its projections of Medicare and Medicaid spending over the coming decade downward by hundreds of billions of dollars. Now, research papers suggests the recent slowdown doesn’t just reflect temporary economic weakness, but also structural shifts in how health care is delivered and financed — possibly attributable to the Affordable Care Act — and thus might be a harbinger of a longer-term trend.
“Our findings suggest cautious optimism that the slowdown in the growth of health spending may persist — a change that, if borne out, could have a major impact on US health spending projections and fiscal challenges facing the country,” the authors write.
Ok, so we're currently in Austerity-ville. We're in the Sequester. However it appears that the CBO latest projections in the reduction in costs to Medicare and Medicaid have risen to $770 Billion - which is about 3/4th of the entire Sequester.
In a related article, health care economist David Cutler attributes the majority of the slowdown to fundamental changes — including perhaps slowing technological and pharmaceutical innovation, and increased efficiency among providers. If current trends continue, he concludes, then over the next 10 years “public-sector health care spending will be as much as $770 billion less than predicted. Such lower levels of spending would have an enormous impact on the US economy and on government and household finances.”
To put it in perspective, that $770 billion is equivalent to about three-quarters of sequestration’s mandatory, indiscriminate spending cuts, which lawmakers have been unable to replace with either more targeted cuts or a mix of cuts and higher taxes. The paper implies that budget deficits will shrink by an amount similar to sequestration even if Congress were to simply rescind it.
Not only will public sector spending be reduced, the cost and expense of heathcare for the private sector is coming down, meaning that the economic speed brake that America's out-of-control Medical inflation just might finally be disengaged.
It means that wages may begin to rise and our enormous wage-gap might begin to close.
Now this study doesn't specifically attribute this change to the ACA, however the CBO itself has published their own projections of the impact of the ACA on Healthcare Premiums and Coverage.
The project that the number of uninsured persons in the U.S. will be reduced by 27 Million falling from about 58 Million in 2013 to 30 Million in 2023.
The Baseline CBO Budget Projections (Excel) indicates that the Deficit has come down from $1.1 Trillon in 2012 to $872 Billion in 2013. This downward trend is expected to continue until 2015 where CBO projects the deficit to be at $433 Billion. That's at 58% reduction, if we change nothing from where we are now.
We do not have a budget or debt crisis, nor do we need significant entitlement cuts - there are improvements that can be made but we're already headed in the right direction and the number one thing we can do is repair and restore the economy. Shrinking Healthcare costs - rather than cost shifting from the government to individuals as the GOP plans do - go a long way towards accomplishing that goal.