The Myth of Obamacare's Health Care Cost Control

Photo credit: US Mission Geneva / Foter.com / CC BY-NDPhoto credit: US Mission Geneva / Foter.com / CC BY-NDOn Obamacare's third birthday last month, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius tried  to pin recent slowdowns in health spending on the president's health care overhaul. "What's already in place," she said in an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe, "is really beginning to help people."

She went on to list a handful of the law's benefits and programs, and she finished with this: "What we're seeing," she said, "is costs really come down for the first time in a very long time. Medicare costs are significantly lower than they were. The cost trajectory is down."

It is. But probably not, for the most part, as a result of Obamacare. A study released this week by the Kaiser Family Foundation notes that from 2009 to 2011, national health spending grew at its lowest rate since the actuary's office at Medicare began tracking such spending. But the report finds that about 77 percent of that decline in growth can be explained by the economic downturn. Some of the decline is a result of health system changes, not all of which are even necessarily part of the health law (the slowdown, after all, began in 2009 before the law was passed), but the vast majority of the slowdown is a result of the sluggish economy. 

As the report explains, "this has major implications for policy, since health spending growth is a major driver of federal and state budgets through the Medicare and Medicaid programs." The report expects spending to pick up again by the end of the decade. 

Obamacare, in other words, has not fixed the bulk of the health spending problem, nor resolved Medicare's financing woes. Which is perhaps why some of the same activists who originally told us that we should pass Obamacare because it would help control costs are now suggesting that, since we've passed Obamacare, it's now time to start thinking about how to control costs. 

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  • The Sego Sago Kid||

    Hey, since Obamacare deepened our economic troubles, you could argue that it did have a hand in decreasing healthcare costs.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The proglodytes plan to control health care spending.

    1Pass Obamacare

    2??????

    3 Lower Healthcare costs.

    We laughed,
    until we realized
    ????? = kill the economy.

  • deified||

    Way to kill the comment thread by posting the obviously correct response.

    Why don't you just go around speaking the honest truth all day and the rest of us can go back to our families and jobs after having been made obsolete.

    jerk

  • entropy||

    He terk mah jerb!

  • Auric Demonocles||

    The alt-text is a myth too!

    Just like Sebelius' competence.

  • Rasilio||

    Yeah it's not like that picture was screaming out for Alt Text or anything, some possibilities...

    "Maybe it will go over better if we make a musical out of it"

    "This is how the death panels will hold their guns"

    "I am the very model of a modern health care bureaucrat, I've information on you copay penaltax and Death Panel"

  • cw||

    His third birthday? Huh?

  • cw||

    I mean, I get the guy acts like a toddler when he doesn't get what he wants...

  • cw||

    Whoops, oh shit. It says Obamacare. I read it as Obama's third birthday.

    Carry on.

  • nilecroc||

    OT: indie hollywood developer msjes deal with bittorrent, pisses off hollywood execs. http://m.ign.com/articles/2013.....-875950217

  • sarcasmic||

    Market failure. Bring on single payer.

  • cw||

    OT. The Republicans really, truly are the party of stupid:

    http://helenair.com/news/local.....963f4.html

    I mean, fucking eh, they have a majority in both chambers but can't even hold state spending level, much less cut any spending or lower taxes. My God are they a worthless bunch.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I can't wait to see what sort of useless moron the Republicans dredge up to run for Baucus' Senate seat.

  • John||

    If they are anything like Republicans in Kansas, they will dredge up some bible thumper who has a film on Youtube conducting exorcisms of the heathens in Africa ensuring that none of the stuff he says that makes sense ever gets heard and the state votes for some San Fransisco prog somewhere to the left of Nancy Pelosi who promises to be reasonable in the Senate.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    "What we're seeing," she said, "is costs really come down for the first time in a very long time. Medicare costs are significantly lower than they were. The cost trajectory is down."

    Stunning how blatantly she lies.

  • Pro Libertate||

    How odd that my healthcare costs are going up even faster since ObamaCarousel was passed. Must be an optical illusion created by Bushitler.

  • kinnath||

    Just more bulshytt from the adminstration

  • John||

    I now understand what it must have been like to live in Germany in the 1930s where the entire political class and much of the population believed insane things. Luckily the insane things these guys believe does not involve murdering millions of people. But thinking that you can provide healthcare to people who are not getting it now without increasing the supply of healthcare or increasing the cost to those who are paying for it is just as insane and irrational as thinking the Jews are secretly running the world and destroying the country.

  • SweatingGin||

    Luckily the insane things these guys believe does not involve murdering millions of people.

    Yet.

  • John||

    Yet. And it was the youth and university class who were the first and most ardent supporters of Nazism. They universities are always the first to buy into any insane idea.

    Here, we have college students crying with joy over the passage of a bill that is going to ensure their health insurance is priced by community rating rather than individual risk. The whole bill was designed to fuck the young, productive and healthy to prop up the old. You dumb asses are going to be off your parents' insurance someday you know.

  • SweatingGin||

    Seemed like some elements there were really trying to get the violence going with Occupy Wall Street. I figure it's only a matter of time before OWS 2.0 is up and running. If they're smarter, they'll start it before fall this time.

  • John||

    But the OWS people are so stupid they really seem incapable of figuring out how badly they are being screwed. Obama is robbing them blind and they think it is great. Beat me more Barrack!! Beat me more!!

  • some guy||

    Thank you, dude. May I have another?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    When I was in Montana the summer Obamacare was passed, there were 2 recent college grads (both in liberal arts) who were telling me how wonderful Obamacare is because without it, this multi-month trip that they saved for for years wouldn't have been possible due to having to pay for health insurance.

    Great. I pay your health insurance so you can go galavanting around from national park to national park for months at a time.

    Fuck these people.

  • John||

    It allowed them to stay on their parents health insurance. So people who don't have kids or whose kids are grown or gasp actually get a job before they are 26 pay higher premiums so they can go off and see the world.

    I would love to point out that some secretary making $30K a year at one of their parents employers is now just a little bit poorer so they could take their trip.

  • some guy||

    But people without kids have all that extra income. It's not fair that they get to keep it!

  • Homple||

    “I wonder how many Germans looked around in 1933 and said, ‘C'mon. How much worse could it really get?’”
    ~Brad Thor

  • The Late P Brooks||

    national health spending grew at its lowest rate since the actuary's office at Medicare began tracking such spending.

    Define, plz.

    Is this merely total nominal dollars spent, or is there some per-procedure element? If people are buying food and paying their utility bills instead of going to the doctor*, that is not necessarily an "improvement".

    *I think too many people go running off to the doctor unnecessarily (third party payers, cough cough), but that's a different discussion.

  • John||

    ^^THIS^^

  • ||

    THAT

  • John||

    And the other thing.

  • Lady Bertrum||

    ^^the other^^

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    I liked you two better when you weren't a couple.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Ken Langone is on Bloomberg right now, attempting to teach basic economics to the news readers. Like, "Government spending requires taking money from productive citizens."

    He also pointed out that Sarbanes Oxley has imposed huge costs on businesses, but nobody has ever been prosecute for violating it. I'm surprised one of the "hosts" didn't try to use that as evidence of the effectiveness of the law.

  • From the Tundra||

    Well, it was effective in getting shitload of companies to go private. Hindering small companies' access to capital, slowing growth, costing jobs. You know, to protect the investors...

  • John||

    It is also killing New York as a world financial center. After SARBOX why would anyone who didn't have to go public in the US?

  • Politics Debunked||

    re: "Some of the decline is a result of health system changes, not all of which are even necessarily part of the health law"

    The report notes that some of it is due to the rise of high deductible policies. Obamacare next year will limit how high the deductible may be

    http://www.politicsdebunked.co.....healthcare
    "Unfortunately Obamacare bans many high deductible policies to help drive up insurance premiums. In 2014 the deductible can't be over $2,000 for a single policy, with higher caps for those under 30 and families (with possible adjustments for flexible spending plans, though it limits contributions to them). The MLR requirements for Obamacare may either increase the the cost to use the less high deductible policies it does allow or drive them off the market"

    The page has hyperlinks to sources for those details. Obamacare, as it explains, is rigged to drive costs *up*, not down, due to crony capitalist favors which created the problems to begin with. Liberals fear corporate influence so we need to focus on the crony capitalist causes when dealing with this topic as that page does.

  • asd2001f||

    Obamacare, in other words, has not fixed the bulk of the health spending problem, nor resolved Medicare's financing woes. Which is perhaps why some of the same activists who originally told us that we should pass Obamacare because it would help control costs are now suggesting that, 北京德胜门中医院皮肤科http://www.bjlvyou123.com

  • Certified Financial Planner||

    Cost controlling for health care in our country is on of the biggest thing to look after. It need to be fix as soon as possible.

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