No Pot of Gold for Obamacare
One of the White House’s biggest talking points for Obamacare is that it’ll save lots of money through new government-required prevention and wellness programs. Greg Mankiw points out that, yet again, the CBO is raining on the president’s parade:
Preventive medical care includes services such as cancer screening, cholesterol management, and vaccines. In making its estimates of the budgetary effects of expanded governmental support for such care, CBO takes into account any estimated savings to the government that would result from greater use of preventive care as well as the estimated costs of that additional care. Although different types of preventive care have different effects on spending, the evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall.
And those mean old insurance companies? It turns out that they already cover a lot of preventive-care services:
Many studies of preventive care compare the costs and benefits of a preventive service to the costs and benefits of doing nothing; in practice, a great deal of preventive medicine is already being performed, and many insurance plans already cover certain preventive services at little or no cost to enrollees. So a new government policy to encourage prevention could end up paying for preventive services that many individuals are already receiving—which would add to federal costs but not reduce total future spending on health care.