WASHINGTON (AP) - The nation's health care tab will go up - not down - as a result of President Barack Obama's sweeping overhaul. That's the conclusion of a government forecast Thursday, which also predicts the increase will be modest.
The average annual growth in health care spending will be just two-tenths of 1 percentage point higher through 2019 with Obama's remake, said the analysis from Medicare's Office of the Actuary. And that's with more than 32 million uninsured gaining coverage because of the new law.
"The impact is moderate," said Andrea Sisko, an economist with the nonpartisan unit that prepared the report.
Factoring in the law, Americans will spend an average of $13,652 per person a year on health care in 2019, according to the actuary's office. Without the law, the corresponding number would be $13,387.
That works out to $265 more with the overhaul.
The big picture numbers are $4.6 trillion with the overhaul in 2019, and $4.5 trillion without it. The nation will spend $2.6 trillion on health care this year.
The new bottom line is guaranteed to provide ammunition for both sides of a health care debate that refuses to move offstage. Republicans are vowing repeal if they win control of Congress this fall, although they are unlikely to have enough votes to override an Obama veto.