Is Obamacare Raising or Lowering Health-care Costs?

Two federal agencies have lowered their estimates for U.S. health-care spending over the next five years. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said this week that U.S. health spending in 2019 will be $4 trillion. That is about $500 billion less than the agency projected in 2010 when President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul became law. Earlier that same week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) lowered its five-year cost estimates. This may come as a surprise to many.

Congressional Republicans have made no secret about their intention to repeal the President’s signature health care law, calling it both costly and unsustainable. Now, four years after it was originally passed in 2010, mandated program cuts and the medical practices it encourages, such as limiting unneeded procedures and keeping people out of the hospital longer, seem to have a reducing effect on overall U.S. health-care spending projections.

By now, it is well known that the American public is split over Obamacare. But, recent polls suggest that a growing majority of Americans seem to feel as though the 2010 Affordable Care Act should be given a chance to work.

Despite passage of Obamacare, health-care remains a central domestic policy issue–not only for the 2016 presidential campaign, but for the decade in general. Health care costs have been a heavy burden on the private sector. Even with the recent revision in the health-care spending estimates by CMS and the CBO, costs continue to rise in an environment where the middle class is shrinking. Since Obamacare expanded Medicaid in many States to cover these costs, many people view this as just a shuffling around of who is paying. The current divided government does not seem likely to pass any sort of compromise legislation that might fix what many say are flaws in Obamacare. This, many say, has hampered the nascent U.S. economic recovery and has put U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage by global standards.

These days, the first place one might be inclined to look for healthcare technology is in the cloud. Of course, the entire healthcare industry has been slow to embrace the cloud. But, as the cloud is further developed and the general population sees its power and becomes more comfortable with it, there is mounting evidence that cloud just might have the potential to spur big improvements in healthcare and could come to define—or at least be a major factor—in the next phase of healthcare.

The press coverage of Obamacare is filled with premature declarations of both victory and defeat. But, it seems that the real battle over the cost of health care has just begun. The questions are, where will it lead? What course will it take? And, where will it end? There is a lot hanging in the balance.

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