|by Kelly Kennedy, USA TODAY|
Reduced health care costs for employers could lead to 200,000 to 400,000 new jobs per year by the second half of the decade, said
"If just half the recent slowdown in spending can be sustained, health care spending a decade from now will be
The Affordable Care Act is, in part, responsible for the lower costs, Furman and other health experts agree, while Republicans say the declining rate of increases come purely because of the slowed economy.
An economy hobbled by the recession and 2008 economic crisis played a role in some of the reduced spending growth, Furman said, but the report cited "structural change" caused, in part, by the law.
The report's release came as
The report did not surprise health economists, said
"What we do know is we were going nowhere fast," Gruber said. "We should let Obamacare play out and see if it can do even more."
Republican critics of the law, such as Senate Minority Leader
That report, published in September in the journal Health Affairs, also predicted a higher rate of increase in health spending than the
The actuaries report said health spending would increase after 2014 because of good economic conditions, coverage expansion in the law and the aging population. From 2012 to 2022, they expected national health spending to grow at an average rate of 5.8%. The
The actuaries credited restrained
Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker
"The idea that it's the economy is just silly," said
Instead, he said greater attention to cost controls by private insurers and government programs, as well as higher co-pays, has prevented unneeded procedures.
"Suppose the opposite were happening," Baker said. "Suppose growth went up to 8%. Does anyone doubt we would blaming
Gruber said the lackluster economy only plays a small role because of the continued trend and because the economy doesn't affect
Cost sharing's role
"Deductibles increased from 2006 to 2013," Furman said, but the pace of growth slowed from 2010 to 2013. "It didn't accelerate after the Affordable Care Act passed. In fact, it decelerated."
Because of cost reductions, the
One key area in which the law helped drive costs down, the report said, are the provisions that allow
"For a long time, (readmission rates) were hovering around 19%, and now they are continuing to go straight down," Furman said. "A very important part of the structural story is the Affordable Care Act."
Much of the reduction comes because as the government makes changes to its huge entitlement programs, such as
"If we pay hospitals 10% less, insurers will pay hospitals 7.5% less," Furman said, citing research that shows private insurers tend to change payments by three-quarters of what the government does.
The Consumer Price Index statistics released Wednesday showed that "year over year health inflation slowed," Furman said.
Private insurance spending grew at an annual rate of 1.6% in the last three years, Furman said, while
However, a recent survey found employers expect to see costs go up in 2014. Per employee benefit costs increased 2.1% in 2013, but the
But like Furman, they said the use of high-deductible health plans would continue to help slow growth. The survey includes 2,842 public and private companies with 10 or more employees.
The survey found that cost growth was lowest for small employers, whose costs rose about 1%; while it rose about 3.7% for employers with more than 5,000 people.
"The good news is that employers have already taken decisive action to slow cost growth so they will be in a better position to handle the challenges ahead," said
Baker agreed that he can't make better projections than the council or the actuary.
"Clearly Obama can't say it's 100% the ACA," he said. "But you get credit for the good things that happen, just like you get the blame for the bad things."
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