A number of new interesting reports and studies were issued last week.
- According to a new analysis by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, health insurance premiums would rise by as much as 25 percent if the healthcare law is implemented without an individual mandate. Furthermore, the study found that removing the mandate from PPACA while still expanding Medicaid eligibility would decrease the number of people with private coverage by 3.6 million. Uncompensated care would increase by $20 billion.
- The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality issued a report that shows that only one percent of the population accounted for a whopping 22 percent of healthcare costs in 2009. Furthermore, only 5 percent of the population accounted for 50 percent of healthcare costs. The high cost patients “tended to be white, non-Hispanic women in poor health; the elderly; and users of publicly funded healthcare.”
- Also out last week were the results from Aetna’s ”HealthFund” study on consumer-directed products, including health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements. Compared against standard plans, Aetna found that employers who offered consumer-directed plans saved $21.8 million over a five-year period for every 10,000 members. The study also surveyed 2.3 million Aetna clients and found that those with consumer-directed plans “received screenings for cervical cancer, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer, as well as mammograms and immunizations, at a higher rate compared to members in PPO plans.”
- Finally CMS’ Office of the Actuary released its annual report on health spending in the United States. Spending is growing at a historically low rate, which is attributed to the country’s general economic decline. Total health spending grew just 3.9 percent in 2010—only slightly faster than the 3.8 rate of growth in 2009—reaching a total of $2.6 trillion. This represents the slowest rates of growth in the 51 years that CMS has collected the data.
Concerning the last bullet point, the decline in healthcare spending is not attributable to PPACA, since the data collected is for 2010, and few of the laws provisions were in effect then, and none were in effect for the entire year. Also, it is important to note that in 2010, the federal government’s share of national health spending increased to 29 percent. As PPACA’s subsidy provisions take effect in 2014, the amount of national health spending incurred by the federal government is only expected to grow further.