Credit the ACA for suc­cess in slow­ing cost growth

Modern Healthcare - - COMMENT -

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.

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