Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Harbinger of Doom

One of the many mantras of the GOP about Obamacare is that it will bankrupt the country and costs will skyrocket.

Wrong again.

The rollout of President Obama’s health care law may have deeply disappointed its supporters, but on at least one front, the Affordable Care Act is beating expectations: its cost.

Over the next few years, the government is expected to spend billions of dollars less than originally projected on the law, analysts said, with both the Medicaid expansion and the subsidies for private insurance plans ending up less expensive than anticipated.

Economists broadly agree that the sluggish economy remains the main reason that health spending has grown so slowly for the last half-decade. From 2007 to 2010, per-capita health care spending rose just 1.8 percent annually. Since then, the annual increase has slowed even further, to 1.3 percent. A decade ago, spending was growing at roughly 5 percent a year.


To be sure, the Affordable Care Act will lead to a drastic bump in health spending by the government starting next year, with an estimated nine million Americans signing up for Medicaid and perhaps as many as seven million buying a subsidized health plan through the government exchanges. But economists expect the underlying rate of spending growth to remain low.

And whatever the reasons for the slower growth, taxpayers appear set to reap some benefits.

Already, the Congressional Budget Office has quietly erased hundreds of billions of dollars from its projections. It now estimates that Medicare spending in 2020 will be $137 billion lower than it thought in 2010, a drop of 15 percent; Medicaid spending will be $85 billion, or 16 percent, lower; and private health insurance premiums are expected to be about 9 percent lower.

You’d think that the Republicans would be in favor of something that saved the country billions of dollars, wouldn’t you?  But in this case, they realize that if the healthcare law is a success, they’re up the creek.