Disappointing government report shows declining health care spending; Obamacare partly to blame

 

By Jennifer Popik, JD, Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics

Editor’s note. This appeared in the December digital edition of National Right to Life News. You can read the issue in its entirety at www.nrlc.org/uploads/NRLNews/NRLNewsDec2014.pdf.

downwardtrendThe resources being devoted to life-saving and health-preserving health care in the United States are at a near-record low, according to a newly issued annual spending report from the federal government’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The period from 2009 to 2013 saw the slowest health care spending growth since 1960, with 2013 earning the dubious title of having the lowest single year rate of health care growth since 1960.

While it is typically true that in a recession, many people are forced to spend less on health care, the reduction in spending has lingered far longer than is typical.

Many mainstream media and commentators are unwisely hailing this slowdown. Lost in the praise is that this historic slowdown in spending means those who need life-saving and health-preserving treatments are getting fewer of them, especially the cutting-edge innovations that make healthy survival more probable now and which increase the prospects for improvements in health care in the future.

Obamacare-imposed rationing is now being openly cited as among the reasons for the slowdown. The CMS report cites several limits set by the Obama Health Care law as contributing to the spending decline. The actuary report lists the law’s cuts to the private Medicare option for seniors in the Medicare Advantage plan, as well as limits that were set on insurer profits.

When the government limits what can be charged for health insurance, it restricts what people are allowed to pay for medical treatment.

But while everyone would prefer to pay less–or nothing–for health care (or anything else), government price controls prevent access to lifesaving medical treatment that costs more than the limits set by the government.

If these dangerous Obamacare provisions continue to take hold, Americans can expect to spend less on health care – yes – but can also expect that access to life-saving medical treatment will also dwindle. It is important to continue to educate friends and family about various ways that the government can limit what resources Americans will be permitted to devote to saving the lives of themselves and their family members (documentation at www.nrlc.org/HealthCareRationing).

For evidence that, contrary to conventional wisdom, America could continue to devote more resources to life-saving health care, see here.

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