Today Brings Yet More Obamacare Non-Failure

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I’ve written frequently about the fact that the rapid growth in US health care costs has slowed down in recent years. Here’s the latest version of the slowdown, courtesy of the Urban Institute:

The raw data for this chart comes the national health expenditures forecast issued annually by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. As you can see, their latest forecast for the year 2019 is about $500 billion less than it was in 2010. The cumulative forecast for 2014-19 is now $2.6 trillion less than it was in 2010.

It’s hard to say how much, if any, of this decrease is due to Obamacare. My own guess is that the cost-saving parts of Obamacare haven’t had time to really kick in yet, which means the recent slowdown in health care costs is most likely just an extension of the slowdown that’s been percolating behind our backs for more than three decades.

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to say about Obamacare here. CMS did forecasts both before and after Obamacare passed, and they predicted that Obamacare would increase spending. Lots of conservatives predicted the same thing. But it didn’t happen. Here’s the chart for private health care spending:

The figures are even more dramatic for Medicare and Medicaid spending. The jury may still be out on Obamacare’s long-term effect on controlling health care costs, but one thing is sure: all the hysteria about Obamacare causing costs to skyrocket was entirely unfounded.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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