Healthcare Cost Increases, by President

“Since taking office, President Bush has proposed and implemented commonsense reforms designed to reduce health care costs, expand health care coverage, and improve the quality of care.”

“Every American deserves reliable, high-quality, and reasonably priced health care that will be there when needed.”

Both quotes from Reforming Health Care for the 21st Century”, released by the White House on February 16, 2006

In my last post, I noted that while the GOP seems to have the loyalty of voters who consider abortions and marriage their primary issue, the rate of abortions actually decreased faster under Clinton than under Reagan, GHW, and GW. Clinton was also the only one under whom the number of births to unmarried women (per 1000 women) decreased. Thus… a President who talks a lot about a given issue may not perform well at that issue. (Recall cactus’ 1st law: “Those who talk a lot about ethics, morality, and/or patriotism generally don’t have any.”)

A more bipartisan issue, but which also seems to lean GOP over the last few decades, is the cost of healthcare.

The yearly percentage increase in real private expenditure per capita on healthcare:


It seems that in general, Democrat presidents have tended to do a better job of keeping down real private healthcare costs than Republican presidents, and this has become especially true more recently.

Now, perhaps you are thinking – sure, one can keep down private healthcare costs by increasing public healthcare expenditures. The table below shows total real expenditures – private, federal and state:


Under JFK and LBJ, total expenditures rose by quite a bit due to the launch of the “Great Society.” But for the most part, the pattern is the same whether one looks at only private or total healthcare expenditures… real per capita spending on healthcare increases more slowly when a Democrat is the President than when a Republican is President, and this pattern is becoming more pronounced.

Which brings us to right now. GW has given a number of speeches on the issue of healthcare, and he seems to be looking for a way to keep costs from spiraling any more out of control. I think the obvious suggestion is for him to do whatever it was that Clinton was doing.

Cost of healthcare
Population (NIPA Table 7.1)

My spreadsheets are available to anyone who wants them.

Update. Added in a few words to ensure it is clear – the expenditures referred to in the post are real, not nominal.

Update 2. In my first pass, I did not take geometric means… this produced the wrong yearly percentage growth rates, which has since been corrected. Apologies.