Yesterday the blogosphere was crammed with charts showing that if the rise in healthcare costs is reduced by 1.5 percentage points a year, then long-term healthcare costs would be a lot lower than current projections. That’s hard to argue with, but what I kept wondering is, how are healthcare costs going to be reduced 1.5 percentage points a year? The Council of Economic Advisers produced the charts, so Ezra Klein asked CEA chair Christina Romer about this:
It’s not really something we looked at in the report. The report asks “if we manage to attain cost savings, what will it do to the economy?” We didn’t look so much at the mechanisms that would bring those savings about. It was more about what health reform can do. I didn’t get too much into the literature of how coverage could control costs. That’s another project for the CEA to take on!
Well, OK. I’m still a little confused about what the point is here, since I thought everyone was already largely in agreement that controlling the growth of healthcare costs would be a fine thing indeed. It’s how to do it that generates the controversy. So I guess I’m still not entirely sure what the point of this exercise was.