One way to cut health care spending

Total national health spending grew by 4 percent in 2009, the slowest rate of increase in 50 years, as people lost their jobs, lost health insurance and deferred medical care, the federal government reported on Wednesday.

Here is more.  This was also striking:

“Federal Medicaid spending increased 22 percent in 2009, the highest rate of growth since 1991,” Ms. Martin said, while “state spending decreased 9.8 percent, the largest decline in the program’s history.”

Retail spending on prescription drugs, however, continued to rise at a rapid rate, higher than in 2008.

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So, the lesson is transferring more of health care costs to government control limits heath care spending growth. Right?

It still grew, even with so many losing coverage. When spending growth falls, rates increase even faster, then when growth rises, rates will rise slower. Healthcare is a cost plus industry.

as people lost their jobs, lost health insurance and deferred medical care

And yet people are healthier and living longer.
http://www.overcomingbias.com/2011/01/beware-frui...

Christopher Ruhm … examined statewide mortality fluctuations in the U.S. between 1972 and 1991 and found that a 1% rise in a state’s unemployment rate led to a 0.6% decrease in total mortality. … In a review of such studies … Stephen Bezruchka … suggests the results could be explained by declines in smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and overeating during recessions as people look for ways to save money.
<a href="http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1919447,00.html
" target="_blank">http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1919447,00.html

"So, the lesson is transferring more of health care costs to government control limits heath care spending growth. Right?"

How do you even get close to that here? The more centralized, the more it went up. The only parts that didn't go up at all would be the people who lost insurance. On average, in the middle people still have insurance and it still went up. On the other end, the Feds and prescription drugs (Feds Meds) went up a lot.

That probably doesn't mean anything other than Federal policies are less responsive to economic conditions.

Reducing health care costs -- or rather health-care spending -- by reducing GDP is indeed a cure that's worse than the disease.

Furthermore, I'm in agreement with Mickey Kaus: I'm a hypochondriac who thinks we should spend at least a sixth of our GDP on health care, and probably more.

@MPS Whether or not the government can provide cost-efficient health insurance is one question.

I agree, and I think it's pretty obvious that the answer is "no" or even "of course not." (Unless you mean "giving everyone a voucher (to buy private insurance) equal to the estimated cost of Medicare/Medicaid for that person, including any pre-existing conditions.")

In fact, I'd give that answer to the question of whether or not the government can provide cost-efficient *anything*. It's all about the incentives; I always say "Show me a government agency where people are rewarded for good performance (and punished for bad behavior) the same way they are in the private sector and I'll show you a government agency that works as well as the private sector." But I'm not holding my breath.

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