Saturday, December 7, 2013

Slowly but Surely the Affordable Care Act is Working

I, for one, refuse to believe that the news about the Affordable Care Act is all bad. In fact, the brouhaha over the website, while a serious blunder, doesn't represent an irreparable problem. In fact media tends to refuse to consistently make the distinction between how the State Exchanges are faring in states that have accepted medicaid expansion (like California and Kentucky), and states that have refused to set up their own exchanges opting for the Federal Exchange (like Texas and Louisiana). 
Yes, some people have been informed of the cancellation of their health insurance policies, but how many of them, like one woman in California simply failed to get a full understanding of what she would be offered in the exchange and ended up paying only a few dollars more through the exchange. That doesn't mean that some won't have to pay more. But the catastrophic pain forecast by critics of the law are clearly hyping the misery of some to their own political advantage. 
And a recent column by Paul Krugman suggests that the longer term goal of President Obama's far reaching signature law, bending the curve on health costs, is indeed doing just that. Find the full column here and below you can find the report he references in the column...
"The law establishing Obamacare was officially titled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And the “affordable” bit wasn’t just about subsidizing premiums. It was also supposed to be about “bending the curve” — slowing the seemingly inexorable rise in health costs.
"Much of the Beltway establishment scoffed at the promise of cost savings. The prevalent attitude in Washington is that reform isn’t real unless the little people suffer; serious savings are supposed to come from things likeraising the Medicare age (which the Congressional Budget Office recently concluded would, in fact, hardly save any money) and throwing millions of Americans off Medicaid. True, a 2011 letter signed by hundreds of health and labor economists pointed out that “the Affordable Care Act contains essentially every cost-containment provision policy analysts have considered effective in reducing the rate of medical spending.” But such expert views were largely ignored.
"So, how’s it going? The health exchanges are off to a famously rocky start, but many, though by no means all, of the cost-control measures have already kicked in. Has the curve been bent?
"The answer, amazingly, is yes. In fact, the slowdown in health costs has been dramatic.
"O.K., the obligatory caveats. First of all, we don’t know how long the good news will last. Health costs in the United States slowed dramatically in the 1990s (although not this dramatically), probably thanks to the rise of health maintenance organizations, but cost growth picked up again after 2000. Second, we don’t know for sure how much of the good news is because of the Affordable Care Act.
"Still, the facts are striking. Since 2010, when the act was passed, real health spending per capita — that is, total spending adjusted for overall inflation and population growth — has risen less than a third as rapidly as its long-term average. Real spending per Medicare recipient hasn’t risen at all; real spending per Medicaid beneficiary has actually fallen slightly..."

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