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Finally, Some Good News About Health Care Costs

Close up of health costs headline with stethoscope
Getty Images
For years, health insurance news has been steadily depressing. But for families that are concerned about their health insurance costs, there's a definite glimmer of hope: As Sarah Kliff recently pointed out in The Washington Post, the rate of growth in health care costs has dropped dramatically in the past few years.

Kliff cites two pieces of evidence: The first is the 2012 National Health Expenditures report, which showed that health care costs -- projected to rise at a steadily increasing rate for decades -- had actually achieved a steady state of growth, basically 3.9 percent a year. The second is a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which found that health care premiums rose 4 percent in 2013, almost a full percentage point less than in 2012. That's the lowest rate of growth in roughly 20 years.

It's not stunningly good news. While their rate of growth has slowed, health care costs and health insurance premiums are continuing to rise. Meanwhile, deductibles -- the amount that families have to pay before their benefits kick in -- are also going up, partly as a result of the growing popularity of high-deductible/low-cost insurance plans.

But there are also other reasons for the drop. The increased use of generic drugs has lowered costs, helped by the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare," which has eased restrictions. For that matter, general streamlining in the medical profession and increased efficiency among providers also might be helping to keep costs down.

To put Wednesday's modestly good news in context, last year's (comparatively) low 4.9 percent increase in health insurance premiums left experts predicting that rates would have to increase by 6.3 percent in 2013 in order to catch up. Instead, they went up only 4 percent. It's a small ray of sunshine, but in the context of consistently depressing health care news, any ray of sunshine is noteworthy.

Bruce Watson is DailyFinance's Savings Editor. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.


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betty_brock

GOOD NEWS ABOUT HEALTHCARE? The must have repealed Obamacare. Oh happy day.

August 22 2013 at 8:45 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
bambamsgolfcart

There is no such thing as the Affordable Care Act.

There is nothing affordable about it. Democrats call it a train wreck.

The very IRS agents that are supposed to enforce it don't want to be a part of it.
Unions don't want be a part of it
Even the very people in congress who supported the Obamacare debacle don't want to be a part of it.

The majority of Americans want Obamacare repealed and that number is growing.......

The copy and paste poster child of lunacy can stick it.

August 22 2013 at 9:16 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
mac2jr

Health Care according to the AMA ..


Health Care Organizations that Support the PP&ACA

American Medical Association (AMA)
American Nurses Association
American Academy of Family Physicians
American College of Physicians
Association of American Medical Colleges
American Osteopathic Association
Catholic Health Association
AARP
And more…

August 22 2013 at 3:47 AM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to mac2jr's comment
bambamsgolfcart

Liberal copy and paste nonsense by the AOL copy and paste poster child of leftwing lunacy

August 22 2013 at 9:20 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
betty_brock

mac and cheese is crazy.

August 22 2013 at 8:46 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
mac2jr

Sales of Health Care ..


Failing Health Care -- Lesson # 3

There are people called salesperson's that 'visit' dentist and doctor's offices constantly, and these people are 'sharp', they get paid the 'big' bucks for selling pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and medical equipment. They provide the latest and greatest to the medical community and usually while the doctor, dentist, or nurse is busy working on patients.. This is a distraction that can cause serious harm to the patients..

These salespeople are pushing products that are not necessarily FDA, or EPA, or CDC approved, and they are driving up the cost of medical care. As a patient that uses a drug or other medical device one gets to know and understand the way the body reacts to the item, and therefore, knows how to use the item. But, the doctors are being pushed to 'change' to the latest items, which may actually do more harm to the patient than good.

A seemingly minor change in a device design, or a medications formulation can result in massive negative reactions and this can lead to more medical expense, law suits, permanent injury or death, which is permanent.

Also, does the doctor need the latest 'toy' that has hundreds of new 'bells and whistles' that the doctor has to learn, rather than the equipment that he or she has been using and knows the quality of the results?

Agreed that some equipment and medication upgrades are beneficial, but are all necessary?

August 22 2013 at 3:47 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
mac2jr

Are we supplying good Health Care ..


Is health care failing.. Lesson # 2...

Yes, it is. Private health care via dentist, doctors, clinics, and hospitals is failing to supply good health care to the clients at an affordable cost, and the primary reason is that they are in competition with each other..

Normally, in Private Industry competition is good for the customer and drives down prices while pushing up quality, but this is NOT true of the For-Profit Health Care Industry.

To gain customers, the medical care industry continues to build pretty buildings, buy more expensive equipment, hire more expensive (presumable more experienced) doctors, offer more testing and services (many that are ego or fear driven, not actually medically needed), and doing more frequent and more expensive advertising.. NONE of these THINGS add to the quality of the medical care provided... NONE...

The PP&ACA, Medicare, and the Veterans Administration addressed these problems, but does not go far enough, the true value of medical care will come when the public realizes that is has been paying for inadequate care for decades and demand that we go to a full pre-birth, to post-death NON-PROFIT medical care system, which can be done by putting everyone on Medicare from birth to death, and by adding VA hospitals (rated some of the best medical care in the world) that take all Medicare patients, whether military service people or NOT.

Ref: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2005/0501.longman.html

August 22 2013 at 3:46 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
mac2jr

University of Pennsylvania ..


The CEO of the University of Pennsylvania has been preparing his staff for the event of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act coming into full effect, or NOT..

The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia is one of the nation's top 10 hospitals and is finding that by using the provisions of the PP&ACA, along with thousands of ideas from the staff, is not only giving better service, having less complaints, saving money, and advancing health care, but is also helping the hospital to its goal of becoming # 1 hospital in the nation..

August 22 2013 at 3:45 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
komivesdd

Health care costs are out of control because of the palatial care facilities that are popping up on every corner like drugstores. Duplication of facilities and poor utilization of existing ones. We don't need care facilities on every corner!!!

August 21 2013 at 9:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
betty_brock

The fact is, anything that is run through the government costs more, MUCH MORE.

August 21 2013 at 9:34 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to betty_brock's comment
Bob/Dot

A common fallacy. It's not true. Medicare, for example, is far more cost effective than private health insurance plans. Administrative overhead alone is far less.

August 21 2013 at 9:49 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
betty_brock

Senator Baucus, a Democrat says Obamacare is a train wreck.

I hear that lib train comin, it's rollin round the bend.
Ain't seen so much stupid since I don't know when.
.................SCREECH,.........CRASH.

August 21 2013 at 9:29 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to betty_brock's comment
Bob/Dot

IF true (you give no source or reference) it's one man's opinion, and because you're a Democrat you believe in him, right?

August 21 2013 at 10:05 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
betty_brock

JOBS, JOBS, JOBS. Criminals make jobs for cops, lawyers, judges and prison guards. Evan is so happy about that.

August 21 2013 at 9:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to betty_brock's comment
Bob/Dot

"We'll be laser focused on jobs, jobs, jobs" was the mantra of House Republicans in the last election. Other than wasting their time and taxpayer money on repealing Obamacare and renaming post offices, what have they accomplished regarding jobs?

August 21 2013 at 9:52 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply