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Finally, Some Good News About Health Care Costs

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Close up of health costs headline with stethoscope
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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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59 Comments

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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 The must have repealed Obamacare.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
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
walkupt

HEalth insurance premiums have increased since the advent of ObamaCare, but they have been increasing every year for many years. The largest increases ( 10%) were in 2000-2004. ObamaCare is designed to lower premiums in the long run.

August 21 2013 at 8:32 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
betty_brock

Just once I wish they'd tell us the truth. Insurance has gone up since Obamanocare.

August 21 2013 at 8:17 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to betty_brock's comment
Bob/Dot

Insurance has been going up long before Obamacare. It is now going up less than it would have without Obamacare.

August 21 2013 at 9:59 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Tom Harrell

I guess if you're a Politician or CEO of Walmart then the news if GOOD-----------If you're Joe the Plumber it SUCKS.(Joe the Plumber is now a Politician now so he don't care any more) ----------------they treat increasing Health care and Premium rates like the rise in BEEF prices ( EH, NO BIG DEAL, you can just buy CHICKEN INSTEAD) That's EXACTLY what they did on the COLAs for Social Security.

August 21 2013 at 8:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Tom Harrell's comment
betty_brock

Yeah, we have to pay for the deadbeats AND more for our insurance.

August 21 2013 at 8:19 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to betty_brock's comment
Terry

betty, apparently you can't read. The rising cost of health care has slowed. And if you don't think you were paying for the medical treatment of people with out insurance before, then you are delusional.

August 21 2013 at 8:40 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down
betty_brock

Terry, you don't live in the real world. STOP BELIEVING PROPAGANDA.

August 21 2013 at 9:32 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down
Larry

Out here in Realville, we are not seeing these skewed numbers; rather local doctors are fixing to retire, due to the onorous effects of Barrycare.

I don't know who believes these fluff articles, but it's not anyone here.

August 21 2013 at 6:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Larry's comment
betty_brock

Dopey Evan believes anything the lunatic left spews out.

August 21 2013 at 8:26 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply