Fact Check: Decline in health costs

Obama tried to attribute a 50-year decline in health costs to the health-care law, but much of it has not yet been implemented. Most economists say the slowdown is more likely because of the lousy economy.

“It’s tempting to think that provider initiatives are truly denting costs, but it’s hard for changes in provider behavior to influence costs before they occur,” said a recent article in Modern Healthcare magazine. “Instead, the drop in healthcare cost growth is primarily attributable to the Great Recession’s impact on employment, private health insurance, government revenues and budgets.”

Indeed, government actuaries in June published an article in Health Affairs predicting health-care costs would begin to spike as the health-care law was implemented. “For 2011 through 2021, national health spending is projected to grow at an average rate of 5.7 percent annually, which would be 0.9 percentage point faster than the expected annual increase in the gross domestic product during this period,” the article said.

Meanwhile, Romney blamed a rise in insurance premiums on the health care law. This is also overstated, since much of the health care law has not implemented yet.

Glenn Kessler has reported on domestic and foreign policy for more than three decades. He would like your help in keeping an eye on public figures. Send him statements to fact check by emailing him, tweeting at him, or sending him a message on Facebook.
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