Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Cost Still Not of Concern

The recently enacted health insurance reform law will increase the overall cost of health care more than was implied by the Obama administration during the legislative debate.

That is the conclusion of the chief Medicare actuary, Richard S. Foster, as reported in the April 24 issue of The New York Times. His study indicated that a result of the law would be to increase national spending for health care by $311 billion during the period 2010 to 2019.

The administration did not directly claim otherwise during the debate, but left a different impression by saying that the provisions of the law would “bring down health care costs for families and businesses and governments.” It may be true that the cost per covered person will be lower under the new law than it otherwise would have been, but the total cost will be higher because more people will have coverage. So the nation’s health care bill will go up.

None of that came as a surprise. Politicians are notorious for understating the cost of the programs they promote.

What was noteworthy in my mind was that the story in NYT was on page 8 of its Saturday edition. What that says to me is that cost is still not an issue of significant public concern, despite its threat to the financial stability of the nation.

One of the unintended consequences of health insurance is the separation of patients from the cost of care. What insured patients are aware of is the cost of insurance, which they blame on the insurance company, not on the providers who end up with the lion’s share of the insurance premiums the patients pay.

It means to me that our leadership, in and out of government, has a formidable challenge when it comes to convincing people that the cost of health care is a serious problem which we must deal with, even if it means some unpleasant inconvenience.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

FREE counter and Web statistics from sitetracker.com