Healthcare spending could be lower than anticipated, CMS says

Overall healthcare spending under the Senate's health reform won't be as high as previously thought, and fewer people would be uninsured, CMS Chief Actuary Richard Foster predicts in a new report. A House reform bill analysis by global think tank RAND Corp. came to a similar conclusion about uninsured patients. 

Foster previously reported that spending would increase to 0.7 percent over 10 years if the Senate healthcare bill becomes law, but now says that number is closer to 0.6 percent ($222 billion). He cites "greater utilization of healthcare services" through more and better quality coverage as one of several reasons for the lower anticipated cost.

He warns, though, that current health provider resources may have trouble meeting the initial wave of added demands, which ultimately could result in increased prices and "willingness to treat patients with low reimbursement health coverage." 

Foster also said that under the Senate's bill, mandates and Medicaid expansion would bring the number of uninsured patients down to 23 million from 57 million. RAND's analysis of the House's healthcare bill, which consisted of using a simulation model, came to a similar conclusion. It determined that by 2019, the number of uninsured patients would be reduced to 24 million people. 

RAND also determined that policy change will be to the benefit of the population, reporting that people who went without insurance before would spend more on healthcare than in the past, "but would face a lower risk of very high expenditures and a higher level of consumption of healthcare services." 

For more information:
- read Foster's report
- check out RAND's study