September 11, 2014

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Health Care Takes Bigger Bite out of Americans’ Shrinking Budgets.

Health care took a bigger bite out of Americans’ budgets in 2013 than in 2012, even though Americans spent less overall as their incomes decreased. A new report from the Department of Labor found that, in 2013, overall U.S. consumer spending declined .7 percent, after a 3.5 percent rise in 2012. Many constituent areas saw big drops (for example: clothes, 7.6 percent and entertainment, 4.7 percent), but spending in two areas rose despite the overall decline. . . . Policy makers must make choices that will make health care cheaper, and some tools for lowering costs already exist. Clinics are cheaper places to receive care than emergency rooms and nurse practitioners provide care at a lower cost than doctors do. Laws that restrict the scope of NPs’ practice could, therefore, be relaxed. Price transparency all on its own can lower spending; state governments can be much, much more proactive in collecting and disseminating that information. Hospitals could do a better job adopting technologies that lower costs instead of technologies that increase costs.

Related: Obamacare Premiums Are Magical Mystery Tour.

The important thing to keep in mind is that when the “benchmark rate” goes down, that doesn’t mean that the cost of the old benchmark plan has fallen. It just means that whatever plan is now the second-cheapest “silver” plan on the exchanges is cheaper than whatever was the second-cheapest plan last year.

Uh huh.