Health care reform, primarily under the label of Obamacare, has been a part of the national economic dialogue for the past few years. It was a big talking point during the recent presidential election. And as we near the implementation of more of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2014, the conversation certainly will continue.
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But health care reform as it stands doesn’t address the real health care problem in the U.S., according to Andrew Duguay, senior economist for ITR Economics. The biggest economic factor in the U.S. isn't whether everyone is covered by insurance, Duguay says in MDM’s 2013 Economic Outlook webcast, "it's that we spend more on the health care of the elderly" when compared with other Western nations.
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"I'm not saying that's good or bad," he says. "But it is a choice we make."
On top of that, the U.S. has an aging demographic, with 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day through 2020, Duguay says.
Repealing Obamacare won't address that issue – "It's a problem we already have today," Duguay says. And it will have an impact on the U.S. consumer through higher taxes to support that increased cost of health care in the older population.
"We don't think that health care reform in itself will send the U.S. back into a recession," Duguay says. But it is one of several factors that will lead to increased costs on the consumer in 2013 and 2014, which in turn may cause some deterioration in the economic health of the country.