Surprise: US Healthcare Spending Accelerates at Fastest Rate in Years

Guy Benson
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Posted: Dec 03, 2015 1:57 PM
Surprise: US Healthcare Spending Accelerates at Fastest Rate in Years

Obamacare, we were told, would finally bend America's healthcare 'cost curve' down. This was a selling point touted by the law's proponents, even as critics pointed out the intuitive unlikelihood that a massive new government program would reduce overall spending on anything. The skeptics, of course, were correct. The cost curve has not been bent downward. The latest data reported by the Associated Press confirms that reality is quite the opposite:


Details:

A government report says U.S. health care spending last year grew at the fastest pace since President Barack Obama took office, driven by expanded coverage under his namesake law and zooming prescription drug costs. After five years of historically low growth, national health expenditures increased by 5.3 percent in 2014, reaching $3 trillion, or $9,523 for every man, woman and child. Wednesday's report by nonpartisan economic experts at the Department of Health and Human Services also found that health care spending grew faster than the overall economy, renewing concerns about affordability. The numbers may mean the end of an unusually long lull in health care inflation that has benefited the Obama administration. While the president's health care law has increased coverage, the cost problem doesn't appear to be solved.

The administration tried to claim credit for the fleeting "lull" (during which healthcare expenditures still increased), but the government's own economists have doused that self-serving fiction with ice water. Now that the law is fully implemented, costs are exploding. Cost curve: Up. Premiums: Up. Out-of-pocket expenses: Up. The Huffington Post's Jeffrey Young writes that of course healthcare spending is increasing because "Obamacare gave millions of people health coverage, and they're using it." Well, yes.  But if the law had been marketed as, we're going to spend a ton of taxpayer money to cover millions of people, and that's going to end up costing a lot of you more, the legislation would have been dead on arrival, even under the Reid/Pelosi regime.  Therefore, this law wasn't primarily sold on coverage (and as many Obamacare consumers are discovering, "coverage" does not necessarily equal "care"); it was deceitfully sold as a cost-reducer.  The Affordable Care Act.  That core sales pitch has not panned out on almost any level.  Hillary Clinton surveys the damage and echoes Obama's delusional, out-of-touch assessment.  It's working, America!

"It's working" so well that sticker shock is widespread, enrollment projections are sharply down, co-ops are dropping like flies, the largest insurer in the country is threatening to pull out of the market, and Americans -- especially uninsured ones -- are unhappy with the law.  Let's "build on" that "clear success," says Hillary.  In her defense, she really has no choice but to spout this denialist nonsense.  Obamacare was her idea, after all.  Also notice how she dodges the actual question.  Given the mood of the country, the empirical results, and various polls on that very issue, she probably understands that she can't give the real answer.  In fact, the law is such a failure that many consumers are turning to a worst-of-all-worlds scenario in which they purchase high-deductible plans to guard against catastrophe while being forced to pay the individual mandate tax, because their coverage isn't Obamacare-compliant.  Congressional Republicans are currently advancing a reconciliation bill -- not subject to the filibuster -- that would gut most of Obamacare (some conservative critics say it doesn't go far enough), and are looking to extend Marco Rubio's success in blocking federal 'bailout' funds from flowing to insurance companies who endure Obamacare-caused losses.