A Plethora of Good News?

Today’s Managing Health Care Costs Indicator is $275 billion

Click on image to enlarge.  Source 
I wrote earlier this month that health care costs are rising less quickly than anticipated – due largely to the effects of the recession and substantially less generous insurance plans that leave patients shouldering a much higher portion of the total health care bill.  The CMS Office of the Actuary published data in the January Health Affairs that documents this.

Today’s Boston Globe (subscription required) reinforces this:

State regulators have approved premium increases averaging 2.3 percent for health insurance covering hundreds of thousands of residents, the most modest hikes in at least a decade and a sign that years of efforts to control costs may be working.

The Commonwealth Fund has calculated that the recent changes in the CMS estimate of total health care costs indicate that total health care costs will be $275 billion less in 2020 than estimated previously this year.   Health care costs are now estimated to be 19.8% of GDP in 2020; they were estimated to be 21.1% before health care reform was passed (and before we knew the depths of the Great Recession.

These pieces of good news are the direct result of the grim economy.  However, Austin Frakt of The Incidental Economist had an optimistic commentary last Wednesday entitled “How a health care efficiency revolution could make the next century even greater than the last.”

I’ve started a comment string with 5 factors that make it more likely we’ll welcome disruptive innovation in health care in the coming years, which can lower health care costs and increase value.  Austin added 6 more – and the list is now up to 16.  Go to this link to read the initial commentary and please add additional reasons (or object to those already posted.)