Debates about "health care costs" or "health care spending" oftentimes conflate two separate issues — the prices paid for health care services and the quantity of health care services received. But these are different things. Outside the health care sector, we take it for granted that people getting more stuff is one thing (rising living standards) while rising prices for stuff is another (inflation).
So here's Jason Furman to draw the distinction:
slow rise in health care prices continued in Q1; y/y health care prices up just 0.9%, while utilization is up 2.6% pic.twitter.com/Iin9QL9LOc— Jason Furman (@CEAChair) June 25, 2014
This is super important. The only caveat is that in the health care sector there's a third wrinkle. More doctors visits is a lot better than pricier doctors visits, but what we really want out of the health care system is good health outcomes.