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A New Health Care Survey and the Affordable Care Act

A look at a new survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and how reforms of our health care system will affect costs.

Today, a new survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) looks at the cost of health care and to no one’s surprise, finds that costs are rising. But the survey also notes that the Affordable Care Act has the potential to help bring down health care costs. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you are reviewing the study:

  • Timing is everything. The survey was done in the first quarter of 2010 – before the Affordable Care Act was enacted and highlights some of the problems the Act was designed to address
  • Praise for the new law. PWC officials note that the Affordable Care Act “could bring significant new cost savings opportunities for employers and payers as well as new choices and transparency for workers buying insurance” and that it is “designed to reduce costs and improve efficiency."  PWC officials also note that increasing the number of Americans with insurance will help reduce shifting costs from employers to employees. And the new health insurance exchanges can help create new opportunities to bring down costs. 
  • The Affordable Care Act helps solve important problems and strengthen the health care system for all of us. Several provisions of the Affordable Care Act are designed to address the very issues raised by this report. For example:
    • Market reforms that limit cost-sharing in new job-based plans and discourage unreasonable premium increases will help keep prices down for businesses and their employees.
    • Premium review grants that provide incentives to states to review health insurance premium increases before they take effect.
    • An early retiree reinsurance program to encourage employers to maintain coverage essential to retirees not yet eligible for Medicare will provide $5 billion to businesses to make it easier for them to cover retirees.
    • Delivery system reforms will help improve the quality of care and decrease costs by paying for the quality of care, not the quantity of care.

The Affordable Care Act is less than three months old, but it is well on the way to making the health care system better for all of us. The President has directed his implementation team to extend coverage to young adults early, and most insurance companies are already extending coverage.  Small businesses are already taking advantage of the small business tax credit, the first round of  $250 rebate checks to seniors who have hit the prescription drug donut hole have been mailed, and the employee retiree reinsurance program has been implemented before the law requires. In the weeks and months ahead, we will continue to implement the law carefully to help make health care affordable and accessible for all Americans and give Americans more control over their own care.

Stephanie Cutter is Assistant to the President for Special Projects