Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's the Spending, Stupid

One of the primary benefits touted by proponents of MassCare was that forcing people to buy health insurance would drive down the cost of health care. On its face, this was clearly illogical, but enough folks bought into the idea that it became "common knowledge." Still, it was certainly the right of Bay Staters to test the hypothesis, which they have been doing now for some years.

The good news is that this gives the rest of us a way to gauge the relative success of that experiment:

"[A]mbulatory healthcare spending per capita was declining relative to the national average when Governor Romney first took office, but has steadily increased every year since then"

Okay, that's one data point "mittigating" against the thesis. Perhaps there are others which support it.

Or maybe not:

"Governor Romney inherited rising relative expenditures on health facilities, which fell slightly in his second year, but then continued to rise"


Still, that's just Massachusetts; perhaps the other 57 states also experienced these trends. Add in the massive expenses associated with Medicaid and other Federally mandated programs, and surely the differential evaporates.

Stay with me here:

"As of 2009, Utah had the 13th least regulated health system in the country whereas Massachusetts had the second most regulated health system and Texas was in between, having the 29th most regulated system."

Now, each of those states has very different demographics, but they are still bound by the realities of budgets and requirements. Neither Utah nor Texas force their citizens to buy insurance, so based on the original hypothesis it would be reasonable to assume that these states would see dramatic increases in the cost of health care.

And yet the actual figures don't bear this out. The empirical evidence fails to demonstrate that forcing people to buy insurance reduces the cost of health care. So what now?

[Hat Tip: Ace of Spades]
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