O.K., health costs may not be going up so fast, but they’re still going up

 

chcKaiserChartReinhardtCosts continue to rise, even if the rise has moderated somewhat. Health insurance premium increases of 20 percent for next year are not unheard-of, and somehow everyone wants to blame the Affordable Care Act — except for Uwe Reinhardt, the health  economist, who reported this week on a new Kaiser Family Foundation study.

Shockingly, he reports, “21 percent of the companies in the Kaiser survey paid premiums in excess of $19,387 for families and in excess of $7,062 for singles in 2013.”

“The gist of the preceding array of data is that even under what we now call ‘moderate’ growth in health care costs, stagnating incomes for millions of American households will put American health care as we have come to know it out of their financial reach, unless they receive substantial help from households in the upper third or so of the household income distribution.

“This central political dilemma in American health policy — leave health care to those who can afford it or increase tax revenues to broaden coverage — will continue as far as the eye can see. A good part of the current shouting match over the Affordable Care Act expresses anger over this dilemma, and it will not subside even after the act has been fully put in place.” Uwe Reinhardt, Economix blog, The New York Times, Aug. 30, 2013.