The Obama administration often has cited the ACA as a reason for the historic slowdown in health spending that has been seen on the heels of the Great Recession. But that view is not universally shared. Some health-care experts outside of the administration say it is not clear, at all, that the ACA has had a big impact on bending the cost curve.
On Wednesday, Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said, in light of the new projections, "The Affordable Care Act continues to help keep overall health spending growth at a modest level and at a lower growth rate than the previous two decades."
"This progress is occurring while also helping more Americans get coverage, often for the first time," Slavitt said.
During a conference call with health reporters on Wednesday, officials from the Office of the Actuary were asked whether they are able to detect whether things such as moderate price growth over the past several years, or slowdowns in health services usage is being influenced by the provisions of the ACA.
Sean Keehan, an economist in the office, said that "the expansion of narrow network insurance is one factor that is expected to keep cost growth and price growth low."
A network is the collection of hospitals, doctors and other health providers covered by an insurance plan. Narrow networks often have lower premiums than plans with larger networks because they have negotiated lower prices from providers in exchange for effectively steering insured customers to use their services.
But Keehan's colleague, John Poisal, deputy director of the National Health Statistics Group in the actuary's office, added that "in terms of our ability to sort of quantitatively estimate what the impact [from Obamacare] will be, we do not have that capability at the moment."
Correction: Andy Slavitt is acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and he spoke on Wednesday. An earlier version misstated his title and the day he spoke. Officials from the Office of the Actuary had a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. An earlier version misstated the day.