I and others said it before: Healthcare reform is (at least initially) about increasing access, not reducing cost. CMS agrees, as shown in its latest healthcare spending projections. The projections — published in the latest Health Affairs — suggest that through 2019 the average annual rate of increase in healthcare costs will be about 6.3% under reform legislation, compared to 6.1% had there been no reform.
The White House tried to spin the numbers, noting that spending per insured person will be 9% lower by 2019 because of reform. Duh! If you increase the number of insured by 33 million, of course spending per insured person will be down. Far more relevant is the fact that for a relatively insignificant increase in costs, millions more Americans will have much better coverage because of reform — with far fewer people left out in the cold. Furthermore, out-of-pocket payments by consumers will be down, while payouts by insurance companies will be up.
And now that we’ve addressed the access piece, perhaps we can get at the cost piece. Clearly, the legislation points us in the right direction; albeit a lot of work needs to be done.