Two pretty cool charts

I posted two pretty cool charts yesterday. The first, “Projected Federal Spending on Health Care,” was created for me at by Barb Etzkorn. The projections come from the Congressional Budget Office’s extended alternative fiscal scenario.

This graph is important because it distinguishes programs too-often lumped together in the politics of federal budget policy. Medicare is on a truly scary fiscal trajectory, which tends to make the financing of other government health programs look scarier than they are.

Because of health reform, the federal government will support coverage for millions of new people this decade through Medicaid, CHIP, and the new health insurance exchanges. This will cause a noticeable bump between now and 2023. In the long-run, though, predicted spending on these programs will grow more slowly than spending on Medicare or spending on the privately insured.

Spending on these efforts is predicted to grow from about 3% of GDP in 2023 to about 4.5 percent in 2050. That’s an issue, but a much more manageable one than we face in Medicare. To the extent Medicaid really does have cost issues, these reside among the aged and the disabled, not among the millions of other low-income Americans likely to be the principal losers in Republican “repeal and replace” efforts. More here.

The second chart is by Yale economist Ebonya Washington. It shows voting scores of House members on an index developed by the National Organization of Women (NOW). Controlling for many confounding factors, members with a high proportion of daughters were markedly more likely to support access to contraceptive and abortion services than were similarly-situated peers with the same number of children but who happened to have a greater proportion of sons..

Apparently, there’s something about having a child who carries a uterus with her everywhere that concentrates legislators’ minds. Maybe some fathers ponder the possibility that a precious daughter might someday be left alone to bear crushing consequences, or simple humiliation, resulting from an unintended pregnancy.

More here.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect,, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

4 thoughts on “Two pretty cool charts”

  1. Harold

    Interesting stuff. Any idea why proportions and not presence/absence of daughters, which seems more intuitively reasonable as a measure?

  2. I find the first chart confusing. What is the meaning of the shaded area? If the lines are Medicare and Medicaid &c separately, the sum is something different.

  3. Why don’t we focus our attention on what’s causing the problem and do something about that, instead of worrying about how we’re going to deal with it, as though it’s something inevitable? Health care costs, all health care costs, are off the charts in an incomprehensible and ridiculous sort of way, don’t you think? When I was a kid and got a sore throat, my mother took me to the doctor and paid a reasonable sum on the way out, antibiotics in hand. Now she’d have to shell out $150 for the 10 minute look-see and another $30 or $40 for the medicine, which, while absolutely typical, is a jaw-dropper as far as I’m concerned. Why is that? Why does it cost $150 to see the doctor for 10 minutes? Why does staying overnight in the hospital with, say, a broken leg result in a bill for $3,500? Why must every single medical service cost a truckload of money?

    Medicare problems are not, for the most part, the result of a bulge in the population. They’re the result of incomprehensibly high costs. I wish someone would address that that issue for a change.

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