People worried about Obamacare’s impact on the American health care system should remember one key number: $621 billion. That’s the amount that non-partisan actuaries at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said Obamacare would increase national health spending over the next 10 years, in a report released yesterday. So much for the law being the “Affordable Care Act.”

In addition, the report by the CMS actuaries debunked the notion that Obamacare helped cause the recent slowdown in health spending—or that the slowdown is likely to continue:

Annual national health spending growth is projected to remain near 4 percent through 2013, primarily as a result of the recent recession and modest recovery. This projection is consistent with the historical relationship between health spending and economic cycles….

Continued slower health spending growth after the recent economic downturn has raised the question of whether a more fundamental change is occurring in the health sector. However, econometric and actuarial analysis by the CMS Office of the Actuary of the past fifty years of National Health Expenditure Accounts data…suggests that health spending growth is likely to accelerate once economic conditions improve significantly.

Instead, the actuaries conclude, the recession and anemic economic recovery bear the bulk of the “credit” for the current slowdown in health spending growth.

Finally, the actuarial report analyzes the sources of some of the increased health spending due to Obamacare. And, as Exhibit 4 (below) notes, one of the fastest sources of growth in the health sector will be “government administration.” Spending on government administration—which includes salaries for federal, state, and local bureaucrats, as well as computer and other overhead costs for government programs—will more than double, rising from $31.1 billion in 2010 (the year Obamacare passed) to $70.4 billion in 2022.


So even as Obamacare is raising overall health spending, despite the lingering effects of the economic recession, more of that spending will pay the salaries of government bureaucrats and regulators. That’s not the kind of change Americans can believe in.