Comparing Presidents, Healthcare Costs

Rdan-This post is from last year 2007.

by cactus

This post updates an earlier one I wrote on healthcare costs last year, with a few added details. This update shows Federal spending on healthcare as a percentage of the GDP over time and Federal spending on healthcare as a percentage of the federal budget over time. Additionally, it shows how the total (private plus plublic) healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP has evolved over time.

Before we begin, let’s get some data issues out the door. Data on healthcare comes from the Department of Health and Human Services (note… zipfile… pulled off this page). Data runs from 1960 to 2005. The table also includes data on GDP. Additionally, data on the Federal Budget is obtained from White House OMB Table 3.1.

OK. Enough with the yadda yadda. Here are the graphs…

And summaries…

So what do we get from this?
1. Clinton did the best of job keeping federal health expenditures in check, followed by Carter and Reagan. Coming in at the bottom (no surprise after this many series have been looked at) were the Bush boys.
2. The ability to keep federal health expenditures in check doesn’t seem related to the share of the budget going to healthcare.
3. In terms of keeping total healthcare costs in check (public and private), presumably the most important of the series, Clinton, JFK/LBJ, and Carter lead the pack. Once again, the Bush boys did the worst among the various administrations.

How did Dems exert this influence on healthcare? Different ways… JFK/LBJ got the government into the healthcare business in a big way (I didn’t graph it because this post is getting long, but in 1960, the Federal government accounted for 11% of all healthcare spending, but by 1968 it accounted for 24%. The annualized increase was more than triple that of any other President.) Clinton, on the other hand, scared the beejeezus out of the health insurance providers… Hillarycare could always be resurrected. I don’t know enough about the Carter admin to say what happened there.

Or it was all a big coinkidink that good things tended to happen when the Dems were in office. As with a lot of the series we’ve gone through so far.