This is a BFD. Consumer healthcare costs fell in May for the first time in almost 40 years.
The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that U.S. consumers’ health-care costs fell in May for the first time in almost four decades,”The latest evidence that government policies and an expansion in generic drugs are holding back prices.”
Analysts attributed the falling costs to ObamaCare constraining government payments to doctors and hospitals, which they say is tricking down to consumers.
Alec Phillips, a Goldman Sachs GS -0.50% economist who follows health care trends, told the WSJ, “The slowing of healthcare inflation right now seems to be driven by onset of new policies. That is probably going to be a temporary factor.”
He explained that costs may rise in the next year, but a Pricewaterhouse Coopers report pointed out that provisions not yet implemented in the Affordable Care Act could help contain costs next year, “supporting proponents’ views that the law will push down costs in the long run.”
Ironically, analysts say other factors are contributing to the slowdown, for example, consumers are bearing more responsibility for the costs which makes them shop around more, which drives the prices down. In other words, the competitive market created by ObamaCare is working.
Randall Ellis, a professor of health-care economics at Boston University, explained to the Journal, “I think this is a longer-term trend. It appears that the reforms will stick and health-care exchanges and other policies will bring competitive pressure to markets.”
Conservatives call this the “free market”. This aspect of ACA was taken directly from conservative ideology, yet Republicans made ObamaCare their number one enemy and continue to waste taxpayer money trying to repeal it, while offering no alternative for the millions of uninsured. Those who already have insurance used to fund the uninsured via higher costs passed down to them due to the uninsured using emergency rooms for routine medical care. So this system implements a fairer disbursement of costs, and makes people accountable for their own medical care.
ObamaCare faces numerous challenges in implementation, and we should expect tweaks to be made along the way. But one of the reasons the law was so “long” (which allegedly prohibited Republicans from allowing their well paid legislative aides to read it) was precisely because lawmakers did their best to address the many issues such a huge change would create.
Recently debunked Republican scandal monger Darrell Issa (R-CA) jumped on a report issued Wednesday by U.S. Government Accountability Office that the computer systems to help Americans gain coverage on the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges may not be ready on time. Naturally, he sees only gloom and doom, “This law has been unpopular and unwieldy every step of the way. We are seeing a rollout marred by missed deadlines and incomplete programs.”
Perhaps if Republican governors around the country had started implementing the changes when they were required by law to do so, instead of waiting for the results of the 2012 election, things would be moving forward more quickly. But also, the healthcare plan is not nearly as unpopular as Republicans pretend it is. In fact, buried in the early polls they often cite was the fact that some people didn’t like it because it didn’t go far enough. They wanted universal healthcare, like many civilized nations enjoy.
The economy is improving, the deficit has been reduced by a rate not seen since Eisenhower, and now ObamaCare is using the free market to drive down prices. Sure, the path won’t be unfettered. But progress is being made, and the real BFD is this: Once again, a Democrat has taken the mantle of fiscal responsibility while Republicans sat sucking their thumbs over lost elections.
Republicans could have had a part in ObamaCare, and could have claimed some victory if only they had been willing to participate in the process. They chose to make it their enemy, and sit on the sidelines instead of engaging in the vigorous debate of ideas so essential to democracy. Luckily for us, President Obama sought input from willing experts and he ended up embracing part of a Republican idea in order to help the people.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.