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Maybe George W. Bush did know something about health care

articleInline.jpgPeople don't bring this up very much, but one of the best ways to control costs in health care -- or any private sector, really -- is to have a huge recession. Robert Pear explains:

Health spending topped $2.3 trillion in 2008, up 4.4 percent from the previous year. But the rate of growth in 2008 was down from 6 percent in 2007 and an average increase of 7 percent a year in the decade from 1998 to 2008. Health care accounted for 16.2 percent of the gross domestic product in 2008, up from 15.9 percent in 2007, according to the report, by the Department of Health and Human Services.

By slowing the growth of health spending, the recession achieved what a generation of public officials tried unsuccessfully to accomplish. But in their annual report on the topic, federal officials said the deceleration in health spending was a result of the soft economy, and they did not cite any factors that would alter the long-term outlook for continued increases in health spending as baby boomers age and doctors make greater use of new medical technology to treat patients.

Hopefully, we'll figure out a cost control strategy that's a bit easier to stomach than continually depressed economic growth.

Graph credit: New York Times.

By Ezra Klein  |  January 5, 2010; 12:36 PM ET
Categories:  Health Economics  
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yeah and Cheney/Bush were environmentalists also.

look at all the development projects put on the shelf or aborted...

think of all the wetlands not filled in, just in time for Cheney to retire and put his "hunters hat" on full time and sit in a blind (there is a metaphor there somewhere) with his pay Scalia without whom there never would have been a Cheney/Bush.

Posted by: hughmaine | January 5, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, all I can think of is all the families sitting down and deciding: medicine or food?

Posted by: KenInIL | January 5, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

"Hopefully, we'll figure out a cost control strategy that's a bit easier to stomach "

Here we are at the final stretch of the health reform process, and the best we can do is "hope" to figure something out?

How pathetic our political system and the punditry which observes it has become.

Posted by: jc263field | January 5, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Ezra - In case you missed it, 2008 was the 5th year in a row that per capita private sector spending grew MORE SLOWLY than per capita Medicare spending (according to the CMS/HHS report). So much for the government being better able to control costs....

Any thoughts on this??

Posted by: MBP2 | January 5, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

This is somewhat obvious, and clearly implied by Ezra's comments, but to state explicitly....

Unfortunately, this makes the outlook worse fiscally. Since revenues growth is also depressed and is depressed more than healthcare growth, it actually makes healthcare harder to pay for.

This graph shows healthcare cost growth dropping by about 2% while it looks like GDP growth dropped by something like 4%-6%. The capability for government, individuals, and employers to pay healthcare commitments should be roughly proportional to GDP.

Posted by: zosima | January 5, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Notice how it tanked in the mid-90s. Just saying...

Posted by: leoklein | January 5, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Ezra - Haven't you claimed in past that fed government was better at controling health care costs than the private sector? Does the fact that the private sector has held growth in health care costs below Medicare growth for 5 straight years have any impact on your view?

Check the HHS report, table 13 on final page of PDF.

Posted by: MBP2 | January 5, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

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