Peter Orszag’s graph of the year: The amazing, indisputable slowdown in health spending

December 30, 2013

Time has its "Person of the Year." Amazon has its books of the year. Pretty Much Amazing has its mixtapes of the year. Buzzfeed has its insane-stories-from-Florida of the year. And Wonkblog, of course, has its graphs of the year. For 2013, we asked some of the year's most interesting, important and influential thinkers to name their favorite graph of the year — and why they chose it. Here's Peter Orszag's.

orszag health graph

The great deceleration in health costs continues, with nominal Medicare spending actually lower in the first two months of fiscal year 2014 than in 2013.  Focusing on Medicare is particularly interesting, since there is no reason to suspect that Medicare spending has been affected by the recession.  If the slowdown in Medicare were to continue in the future, everything we think we know about the nation's long-term fiscal picture is wrong -- as this crucial graph from the Council of Economic Advisers shows. There's plenty we can be doing to increase the odds that the deceleration goes on.

- Peter Orszag was director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget from 2009-2010. He's a vice chairman at Citigroup and a columnist at Bloomberg View.

See all the graphs of 2013 here, including entries from Bill GatesJonathan FranzenPatty MurrayTyler CowenBill McKibbenEmily OsterTa-Nehisi CoatesBrian GreeneChuck Schumer,  Chris Hayes, and Ron Wyden.

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Dylan Matthews · December 30, 2013