While the Affordable Care Act ensures that money will flow into the industry in the near term, that spending can’t keep rising exponentially. At some point, the focus will turn to the cost of the reforms, particularly if the initial spending estimates are exceeded, causing renewed uncertainty for the industry.
‘‘That’s a longer-term concern that is going to come into play at some point,’’ says Invesco’s Taner. ‘‘Right now we’re in the honeymoon period. People aren’t thinking about that.’’
And if history is a guide, the cost estimates will likely prove too low.
Upon passing the Medicare bill in 1965, the House Ways and Means Committee estimated total program expenditures would amount to $1.3 billion in 1967. That estimate proved to be ‘‘wildly optimistic,’’ with the actual cost coming in at $4.6 billion, according to research by Citigroup health care analysts.
To counter the rising costs, governments and employers will increasingly try to shift more of the cost to individual consumers, transforming the industry from an ‘‘employer-driven insurance market’’ to an ‘‘employee-driven consumer market,’’ says Eddie Yoon of Fidelity.
‘‘The companies that are the most innovative in helping drive costs down are going to be the growth companies of tomorrow,’’ says Yoon, who manages the investment firm’s Select Health Care Portfolio.
AP Business Writers Matthew Perrone and Linda Johnson contributed.