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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Vanderbilt: How the ACA Dented the Health Care Cost Curve

A decade after the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act(ACA) of 2010, there is evidence that the landmark health legislation has contributed to slower growth U.S. health care spending.

An analysis published in the March issue of the journal Health Affairs coincides with the 10-year anniversary of the law’s passage and illustrates how the law has impacted health care spending, which currently consumes nearly one-fifth the entire gross domestic product in the U.S.

“It’s clear that a number of the provisions in the ACA have dampened cost growth,” said lead author Dr. Melinda Buntin, Mike Curb Professor of Health Policy and chair of the Department of Health Policy at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

The analysis examines key policy reforms included in the ACA, including Medicaid insurance coverage expansion, Medicare payment reforms and reforms of private insurance markets.

The study, co-authored with associate professor of health policy, Dr. John Graves, highlights areas where savings have been found including lower Medicare payment rates and slower growth in areas where the insurance exchanges are more competitive.

“While the ACA has made a dent, what also stands out to us is that further actions will be required in all sectors and at multiple levels of government to maintain the relatively slow rates of growth we have seen since passage of the ACA,” Dr. Graves said.

“Disentangling the exact effects of a major piece of legislation from underlying trends is nearly impossible, but it is also nearly impossible to deny that the ACA has had far-reaching cost effects on the entire health care industry,” Drs. Buntin and Graves wrote.

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