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The Affordable Care Act's spending and coverage in graphs

To better visualize the findings of the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services report that has some Republicans in such a tizzy, here are two graphs using the report's data. The first looks at national health expenditures with and without the Affordable Care Act:

national_health_spending_with_and_without_reform.png

Now look at the change in the uninsured:

uninsured_population_with_and_w_out_reform.png

And that actually understates the case. Third Way, the centrist policy outfit, sent over its own analysis of the data. "The fact is that by 2019, national health spending per insured person will be $15,132 compared to $16,812 without the new law," they write. "That’s 10 percent less spending per insured person than it would have been, according to the actuary’s report."

So though total spending nudges up (though by the end of the first 10 years, it's coming back down), spending per insured person actually comes down. As Third Way says: "The actuary’s report shows that the nation will be getting a bigger bang for its health care buck. For a mere two-tenths of one percent more in health care spending, the new health care law will cover most of the uninsured and more Americans will be healthier and living longer because they will be getting treatments like cancer care and heart surgery that had previously been denied them."

The basic question here is whether covering 34 million Americans is worth adding a percentage point or two more to our health-care spending for a couple of years, at which point total spending should actually fall below what it would've been if this bill had never passed. There's a different question of whether we can stick to the cost controls in the bill. I think we can, and that if we can't, we're doomed one way or the other. But so far as the report's estimation of the bill's projected costs go, we're getting a much more decent society for a very low price.

By Ezra Klein  |  April 23, 2010; 4:32 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Next: Reconciliation

Comments

Interesting graphic!

So, despite the cost, we should all look at the "uninsured population." That is, regardless of the cost per person, the per capital cost, we should look only at the number of uninsured.

Let me repeat, we should look only at the number of uninsured, not the per capita cost per insured individual, not the lifespan per insured: we should look only at the number of uninsured, even if they die while insured.

Just want to be clear about this: we should look only at the number of uninsured, not the per capita cost per insured, and not the lifespan of each insured.

I'm looking forward to Rachael Maddow's take on the numbers. A bikini graph would be nice.

Posted by: rmgregory | April 23, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Rmgregory

I can you why you aren't clear about things.

Posted by: Lomillialor | April 23, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Couple comments:

1) It would be more informative to have both graphs on comparable scales. For example, the cost of providing care for the insured for 10 years is about $1T--the cost of the PPACA. If you average that out to $100 billion a year, and re-draw graph #2 correspondingly then graph#2 looks very very puny.

2) The CMS figures don't include any "bending of the curve" savings, so when you have a decrease in uninsured and no decrease in health spending that means Medicare benefits are being cut. As CMS says, time will tell if that is sustainable.

Posted by: bmull | April 23, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

More importantly, what are we doing about the remaining ~20 million?

Posted by: adamiani | April 24, 2010 4:10 AM | Report abuse

Under new Bill, Medical insurance is a must, but now you can easily find medical insurance under $40 http://ow.ly/1AqF1

Posted by: taramila24 | April 24, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Under new Bill, Medical insurance is a must, but now you can easily find medical insurance under $40 http://ow.ly/1AqF1

Posted by: taramila24 | April 24, 2010 7:13 AM | Report abuse

Under new Bill, Medical insurance is a must, but now you can easily find medical insurance under $40 http://ow.ly/1AqF1

Posted by: taramila24 | April 24, 2010 7:14 AM | Report abuse

Star Wars is voweless Jedi Jude Judah establishment of the Elders Of Zion as masters of the universe by Luke the medical apostle. The civil service federal bureacracy Death Star is blowed up before socialized medicine could be established by a new Gonzo Gregory Harrison generation of cool kid hockey pucks. Jedi Jude Judah are said to be heridatary religious good guys the Chosen by the Light to help the good and harm the bad. Sith will help just about anybody allowing for Lando Kalrissian, Jabba the Hutt and the motley crew at the space bar to thrive. No aid and comfort to enemies foreign and domestic. Matriarchal mitochondrial mitochlorian DNA is rumored to hold the "God" gene if you believe Joo lies. Padme is jooess Natalie Portman and Princess Leah is daughter of Joo Eddie Fischer and Jooess Debby Reynolds. The Chosen are God's people and look down on the masses as monkeys and livestock to be managed or destroyed. AIDS HIV was synthesized and spread through hepatitus vaccine to gays and Africans by American medical. Great Satan.

Posted by: Uoughtano | April 24, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Star Wars is voweless Jedi Jude Judah establishment of the Elders Of Zion as masters of the universe by Luke the medical apostle. The civil service federal bureacracy Death Star is blowed up before socialized medicine could be established by a new Gonzo Gregory Harrison generation of cool kid hockey pucks. Jedi Jude Judah are said to be heridatary religious good guys the Chosen by the Light to help the good and harm the bad. Sith will help just about anybody allowing for Lando Kalrissian, Jabba the Hutt and the motley crew at the space bar to thrive. No aid and comfort to enemies foreign and domestic. Matriarchal mitochondrial mitochlorian DNA is rumored to hold the "God" gene if you believe Joo lies. Padme is jooess Natalie Portman and Princess Leah is daughter of Joo Eddie Fischer and Jooess Debby Reynolds. The Chosen are God's people and look down on the masses as monkeys and livestock to be managed or destroyed. AIDS HIV was synthesized and spread through hepatitus vaccine to gays and Africans by American medical. Great Satan.

Posted by: Uoughtano | April 24, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"So though total spending nudges up ..., spending per insured person actually comes down."

In other words, those of us with insurance will be getting less care and paying more for the uninsured. And you wonder why this law is so unpopular.

Posted by: tomtildrum | April 24, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

This graph VASTLY understates the benefit. Remember that, in addition to the uninsured, 10s of millions will also receive the benefit of substantially improved coverage over what the currently have. Most small bsns & self employed people who are insured have high deductible/out of pocket with many limitations and coverage carve outs, not to mention the elimination of pre existing and recission. The cost/benefit improvement implied here is huge and touches a large % of those currently insured.

Posted by: sowsage | April 24, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

I was wondering how WaPo was going to spin the announcement yesterday that health care costs will go up, not down, as promised. Nice graphs, though.

Posted by: bethg1841 | April 24, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

"The basic question here is whether covering 34 million Americans is worth adding a percentage point or two more to our health-care spending for a couple of years, at which point total spending should actually fall below what it would've been if this bill had never passed. "

This is nonsensical analysis. We can't even afford what we have now. Why don't we look at what the costs would be if we had passed the bill without the "expansion of coverage"? Basically, this bill takes some of the cost saving approaches that could have been used to save Medicare, and blows it on a massive expansion of Medicaid and subsidies to insurance companies.

Let's review what happens when the government subsidizes the price of something: the price goes up.

Posted by: staticvars | April 25, 2010 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Memo to klein and other lefty bloggers from communications office: Guys, can you see that Klein is using approved terminology -- "Affordable Care." It goes under that name from now on. Some of you, jealous of his rise to fame, whisper behind his back that he is a toady, stooge, sycophant, courtier. If the rest of you (Yglesias, listen up) would get in line and follow his example you might find yourselves with better access and on better tv shows and not left behind in the blogging heads ghetto. DP

Posted by: truck1 | April 25, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, you are so naive!!! It will be fun to watch you grow up! In your mid-20's, you don't have a clue! How idealistic the world must seem to you! Let's see how you feel when you are 40!

2010...WITHOUT DOUBT, VOTE THEM OUT!

visit: http://eclecticramblings.wordpress.com

Posted by: my4653 | April 25, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you are so naive!!! It will be fun to watch you grow up! In your mid-20's, you don't have a clue! How idealistic the world must seem to you! Let's see how you feel when you are 40!

2010...WITHOUT DOUBT, VOTE THEM OUT!

visit: http://eclecticramblings.wordpress.com

Posted by: my4653 | April 25, 2010 8:05 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you are so naive!!! It will be fun to watch you grow up! In your mid-20's, you don't have a clue! How idealistic the world must seem to you! Let's see how you feel when you are 40!

2010...WITHOUT DOUBT, VOTE THEM OUT!

visit: http://eclecticramblings.wordpress.com

Posted by: my4653 | April 25, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

So, Ezra, who in the administration emailed you these graphs? I don't think you or anybody at WaPo for that matter is bright enough to make any sense of any set of numbers. Nice graphs!

Posted by: darkskin1977 | April 26, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

When has ANY govt estimate of costs EVER,EVER been even in the ball park of what it ending up costing only a few years after enactment? How do the American citizens continue to get conned?

Posted by: wpcharowhas | April 26, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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