What's behind slowed health spending?

Healthcare costs are rising at their lowest rate in a half-century, but there is no consensus as to the reasons behind the trend.

Why healthcare costs are at a metaphorical crawl are multi-faceted, according to the National Journal. Former President Bill Clinton and some healthcare economists, such as Harvard University's David Cutler, attribute the slowdown to provisions in the Affordable Care Act. "The slow economy is only part of it," Cutler told the New York Times.

However, many other industry observers do blame a combination of the nation's slow economic growth and more cost-shifting to consumers as to why the spending brake has been depressed.

"Whatever is going on, it's very hard to attribute it to anything in the ACA. It was starting before that," Gail Wilensky, a former administrator of the Medicare program in the 1990s, told the National Journal.

Wilensky blamed it on both a loss of household incomes and household wealth during the Great Recession, which began in December 2007 and was the biggest economic downturn in the United States since the Great Depression.

Robert Berenson, a fellow at the Urban Institute, said providers are becoming aware that they are not going to get paid for every procedure they perform, and are beginning to act accordingly, the National Journal noted.

For more:
- read the National Journal article
- here's the New York Times article