White House: Trends in Health Care Cost Growth and the Role of the Affordable Care Act

The White House released a report today with the most recent data on U.S. health care costs, including the fact that real per capita health care spending grew at an estimated average annual rate of just 1.3 percent over the three years since 2010, the lowest rate on record for any three-year period since 1965. Moreover, health care inflation is currently running at just 1 percent on a year-over-year basis, the lowest level since 1962.

While the report cannot conclusively link these slower rates of health care cost growth to the enactment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the report does note the “structural” changes in the U.S. health care delivery system that have resulted from the ACA. More specifically, implementation of some sections of the ACA have reduced Medicare overpayments to private insurers and medical providers and are reducing hospital readmission rates and increasing provider participation in payment models designed to promote high-quality, integrated care.

The primary data used in the report’s analysis are the most recent National Health Expenditures Accounts projections prepared by the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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