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Friday, November 6, 2015

David Brooks, "Great News! We’re Not Doomed to Soaring Health Care Costs": And the Moon Is Made of Green Cheese

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Great News! We’re Not Doomed to Soaring Health Care Costs," David Brooks writes:

"If health care costs start to rise again the way they did before, then health care spending will swallow the economy and bankrupt the federal government. If they are contained, then suddenly there’s a lot more money for everything else, like schools, antipoverty efforts and wages."

Well, I have news for David: US national debt now exceeds an unsustainable $18.53 trillion, amounting to some $57,500 for every American man, woman and child. This compares with some $30,000 for every man, woman and child in America in June 2008, which, at the time, elicited presidential candidate Obama's declaration:

"That's irresponsible. It's unpatriotic."

Bankrupt the federal government? I don't think so. It can always print worthless money.

David acknowledges that there is controversy concerning the direction of health care costs:

"There’s still a lot of uncertainty about which side of the debate is right. The most recent numbers have indicated a scary surge in health care prices, and some firms are projecting 6.5 percent inflation for 2016. While parts of the law reduce spending, other parts may lead to more spending, especially as the industry gets more concentrated."

Only 6.5 percent inflation for 2016? Brooks might want to read a New York Times article entitled "Many Need to Shop Around on as Prices Jump, U.S. Says" by Robert Pear and Abby Goodnough, which last week informed us:

"In Tennessee, the state insurance commissioner approved a 36 percent rate increase for the largest health insurer in the state’s individual marketplace. In Iowa, the commissioner approved rate increases averaging 29 percent for the state’s dominant insurer.

Health insurance consumers logging into on Sunday for the first day of the Affordable Care Act’s third open enrollment season may be in for sticker shock, unless they are willing to shop around. Federal officials acknowledged on Friday that many people would need to pick new plans to avoid substantial increases in premiums.

. . . .

Rates will rise next year by an average of 4 percent in California, one of the few states that actively negotiate prices, state officials said. In New York, state officials said rates would rise by an average of 7 percent. In Florida, consumers will see increases averaging 9.5 percent, the state said.

But in Hawaii, the insurance commissioner this month approved rate increases averaging 27 percent for the Hawaii Medical Service Association and 34 percent for Kaiser Permanente health plans."

Yes, I would call that "scary."

Brooks's conclusion:

"We seem to be making at least some incremental progress toward a structural reduction in health care inflation. Many Americans are feeling gloomy about accomplishing anything these days, but progress is possible. We haven’t whipped health care inflation, or defeated our intractable budget issues. But the evidence suggests we’re landing a few serious blows."

And the moon is made of green cheese.


  1. Growing up in the US during the height of the Cold War, I would never have imagined that WE would have our very own version of Pravda. Why can't the White House just print their own newspaper and cut out the middleman altogether?

  2. the real cost savings kick in when the draconian Medicare cuts since 2009, and the 70,000 + Medicare codes that distract the de-motivated placebo doctors, kill enough of us.

    all it takes is one false code in your e-file to make any access to actual health care a vague memory.

    fundamentally transforming America into the gulag, too late to reverse course.