Feb. 14, 2013
In his State of the Union address this week, President Obama took credit for a puzzling but welcome trend: milder increases in health care costs. “Already, the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care costs,” Obama declared.
But the president’s optimism may be premature. It is true that the United States has just experienced four straight years of modest health care growth, a trend with huge implications for the federal budget, wages, and household budgets. If the slow growth lasts, it could mean the end to yearly spikes in insurance premiums. It could tame federal deficits for years to come and also help to ease state budget woes. But what’s causing the trend and whether it’s here to stay are big unanswered questions.
“If anybody tells you they know, they’re lying,” said Bill Hoagland, a senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center and a former Cigna executive and Senate Budget Committee staff director.
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