The Obamacare Escalator

I originally wrote this on my Facebook page. I am embedding that post below, but also putting the text here (including fixing some grammatical mistakes from the original post).

In 2009 White House economists tried to sell as a health cost-control bill, and some liberals still claim the recent spending deceleration is a result of the law even though it is really due to a bad economy.

On Wednesday, the actuaries at Health and Human Services released their new annual projected measurement of national health expenditures for last year and through 2023. Spending in 2013 grew at a relatively low rate of 3.6% which still outpaced real economic growth. They expect the rate to climb to 5.6% in 2014 and continue rising by 6% a year, on average, through the decade.

Health spending as a share of the economy rose to 17.2% in 2013 from 16.2% in 2007 and will hit 19.3% in 2023, assuming that GDP grows as much as the auditors project. In other words, will soak up nearly one of every five U.S. dollars instead of one of six. Taxpayers will finance 48% of that spending a decade out, up from 41% in 2007.

I have argued for years that the reason for healthcare expense growth is not the need for a single payer. Rather it is a combination of

  • The obstructionist policies of our trading partners (the US finances most medical research but foreign nations restrict the pricing of those same medicines).
  • The severe obesity of our people compared to the rest of the world.
  • The cost of medical malpractice coverage (unheard of in most of the world).
  • The high cost of treating trauma injuries due to gun shot wounds.

So we know that Obamacare didn’t end the lack of insurance coverage in the US. We also know that it is not going to bend the cost curve. What good does it do?

Here is the WSJ article that gave me the information for this post.

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