The slowdown in spending is due in part to the recession and the tepid recovery—but not as much as you’d think. A recent paper by the Harvard economists David Cutler and Nikhil Sahni estimated that the recession explained scarcely more than a third of the spending slowdown. Oddly enough, the public debate over Obamacare has also played a role. Bob Kocher, who was a special assistant for health care in the White House in 2009 and 2010, did a report for Lawrence Summers on the past sixty years of health-care legislation, and found that when Congress seriously considered enacting health-care reform the rate of health-care spending often slowed for a year or two.
Sooooo, we just need to have an endless healthcare debate. Not too excited about that prospect and I like to talk health policy.
The article goes on to talk about how other changes—such as insurers seeking out cheaper quality care and the impact of ‘never events’—are also contributing to reduced growth of health care spending. A lot of talk, even before Obamacare, occurred in recent years about various ways to rein in costs. Some of that talk was put into action; now we get to see some of the results. Hopefully, some of the schemes will not only work well, but also scale.