Thursday, November 14, 2013

So You Hate The ACA, Now What?

One of the major “arguments” against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that is repeated ad nauseum is that it is an economic disaster. The unarguable fact is that health care costs have been rising at an alarming rate for many decades. As far back as 1963, Kenneth Arrow, a pro-capitalist, Nobel prize-winning economist, wrote an important paper explaining why health care costs were rising, and they’ve increased exponentially since.

The first row in the table below shows total US government expenditures on health care from 1960 to 2011, during which time it increased almost 100 times. Total individual spending on personal health also increased just over 100 times in that period. Going further, if we look at how much people have spent per person, we see costs have increased roughly 70 times. Hospital expenditures increased about 90 times in that period. The US population only increased by 156 million people—less than double. And here’s the kicker—the average median income only increased by $8000 in that 50-year period.

Total National health expenditures: 
$27.4 Billion
$2700.7 Billion
National expenditures on personal health
$23.4 Billion
$2279.3 Billion
Per person expenditures 
Hospital care aggregate expenditures
$9 Billion
$850.6 Billion
US population
186 million
311 Million
Average Annual Income*

In almost half a century, the cost of health care severely outpaced household income. This situation is unsustainable, and there's no sign of it rectifying itself anytime soon. Hating something is not good enough; you have to come up with a solution.