It’s Still True: The Health Care Cost Problem Is the Deficit Problem

I’ve said it myself, as have many others. It is worth repeating. And Krugman just did.

[W]hen you look under the hood of those troubling long-run budget projections, you discover that they’re not driven by some generalized problem of overspending. Instead, they largely reflect just one thing: the assumption that health care costs will rise in the future as they have in the past. This tells us that the key to our fiscal future is improving the efficiency of our health care system — which is, you may recall, something the Obama administration has been trying to do. …

Care for a figure with that? Here’s one from the Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator, produced by the Center for Economic and Policy Research. It shows the effect on the U.S. budget deficit as percent of GDP of a continuation of baseline health care cost trends (yellow line) and of a change to health cost trends of high income OECD countries (blue line).

hc costs

Just imagine what we could do if we got health spending growth down to a reasonable level.

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