Credit the ACA for success in slowing cost growth
Regarding the article “Health spending growth hit 53-year low in 2013” (Dec. 8, p. 11), in my judgment, the patient-protection provisions of the Affordable Care Act probably are the most significant factor bending the cost curve.
If anything, the $12 billion cost savings and 50,000 deaths avoided in HHS’ recent report may be understated. The 17% decline in hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2013 would not have occurred without the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Another driver is the act’s cap on medical-loss ratios of 85% for large insurers and 80% for small carriers. It has always astonished me that Medicare, which is a public-sector program administered by the private sector, spends 97% of premium dollars on medical care while supposedly more effective and efficient private-sector insurers struggle to hit the ACA caps.
Prior to the ACA, America spent twice as much per capita for healthcare for significantly poorer results in terms of life expectancy. It’s probably too early to measure whether the gap between us and the rest of the developed world has narrowed. I for one would welcome a current comparison. John Dalton
Treasurer St. Joseph’s Healthcare System Paterson, N.J.