A version of this post appeared at Forbes.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis has released the second estimate of second quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP). There is good news — especially for those of us concerned with health policy.
First, the BEA seems to have figured out how to measure health spending under Obamacare, no longer giving huge updates to initial estimates, like it did in the first quarter. The second estimate is little revised from the advanced estimate: Real GDP increased by 4.2 percent (annualized) versus an advanced estimate of 4.0 percent; and health spending accounted for just 0.05 percent of the increase, versus an advanced estimate of 0.08 percent.
So, the question of the day seems to be: Where is the Obamacare spending boom? We’ve seen some contradictory evidence. On the one hand, for-profit hospital chains have reported significant increases in top-line revenues, attributable to Obamacare’s newly insured patients. This is coherent with evidence that Obamacare enrollees are sicker than the general population.
On the other hand, there is evidence that much of Obamacare’s insurance coverage is Medicaid crowd-out of private coverage.
Today’s release tells us that annualized health spending measured at the end of the second quarter is lower than it was in 2013. The Obamacare health spending boom may yet come. However, according to the latest data, Obamacare is looking like a bust for the healthcare sector which championed it.