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Why the slowdown in healthcare costs?

Wed, 09/19/2012 - 9:29am
Mass Device
Merrill Goozner

Meghan McCarthy of the National Journal posted a good overview of the alternative explanations for the recent slowing in the increase in health care costs, which rose less than four percent in each of the past two years. Medicare costs, she points out, has slowed even more dramatically.The latest survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows insurance premiums rising just 4 percent this year.

The first reasons she offers parallel the official analysis from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: the recession has caused people to postpone elective surgeries or physician visits, which, like most health care, entail out-of-pocket costs. She then offers competing views on the role of the Affordable Care Act and reasonably quotes former Republican chief of CMS Gail Wilensky, who points out that it's hard to credit something whose major provisions haven't gone into effect yet.

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