Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn’t afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
The law is prompting Beigel and others to spend more at the doctor’s office and pharmacy. Consumer spending climbed by $20.4 billion at an annualized rate adjusted for inflation in February, and $13 billion of the increase came from outlays on health services spurred by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, according to Commerce Department data.
The Urban Institute in Washington estimated this month that about 5.4 million people have gained insurance since January. That could be unleashing pent-up demand for medical procedures that are boosting out-of-pocket household spending on co-payments and prescriptions. Those who enrolled in more comprehensive insurance to meet Obamacare requirements may also be spending on newly-covered services.

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