Some Little-Noticed Health Care Cost Triumphs

Today’s Managing Health Care Costs Indicator is $230,000

Some weeks, it seems like this blog is about nothing but waste, greed and misaligned incentives.   In contrast, I wanted to point out two optimistic news items from last week.

The first is that the number of dollars retirees need to put away to pay  for their post-retirement health care went down this year – for the first year in ten years that this indicator has declined, according to Fidelity Investments.  The required savings are still $230,000 per person - which is substantially more than the average retiree has socked away - so many near elderly are likely to be pauperized by their medical expenses. 

The second is that that the epidemic of lung cancer among women is finally receding (a little bit).  According to a report in the Washington Post.      The rate of lung cancer in women peaked in 2002, and has been decreasing since 2007, although this is the first year that decline reached statistical significance. 

The decrease in retiree health care costs is because of the Affordable Care Act, which is gradually removing the “donut hole” which forced retirees had to pay 100% of costs of prescriptions between about $900 and $4300.   Care isn’t getting less expensive – it’s just being paid for by the government rather than retirees.  Still - good news is good news.

The decline in lung cancer among women is unabashed good news.  Public health measures work – and when it comes to saving lives, prevention and decreasing risks are as important as miracle treatment breakthroughs.