Health care economist John C. Goodman writes:
Paul Ryan proposed a private health insurance alternative to Medicare for future retirees, liberal critics pounced. It’s another scheme to undermine health care for the elderly by “privatizing” and “voucher-izing” the program, they said.
Yet, almost one third of seniors are already in private health insurance plans. They are called Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage, plans. And you would be hard pressed to find any Democratic office holder who wants to abolish them. The reason? Seniors choose to be in these plans because they like them better than traditional Medicare.
Read more: Let’s Privatize Medicare – John C. Goodman.
Next time someone decries insurance company profits, remind him that fraud and waste in Medicare and Medicaid far exceed these dollar amounts. Check out Jeffrey Anderson’s article in the Weekly Standard: Medicare Loses Nearly Four Times as Much Money as Health Insurers Make.
See also: Medicare & Medicaid fraud far exceeds insurance company profits.
Paul Gessing is president of the Rio Grande Foundation has written a good article summarizing some problems with Medicare and why “Medicare for all” would be a disaster. They include:
- “Medicare’s expected future obligations exceeded premiums and dedicated taxes by an astounding $89 trillion. That’s about 5 1/2 times the size of Social Security’s ($18 trillion) unfunded liability and about six times the size of the entire U.S. economy.” See also this post on Medicare insolvency.
- “according to an Associated Press story late last year, the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 70 percent of Medicare payments in 2008 for patient medical supplies for the elderly and disabled should not have been approved.”
- “A news story by MSNBC, based on an investigation by a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee, reported that more than a billion dollars in claims were paid between 2001 and 2006 without valid medical diagnostic codes. The result has been a host of cases involving senseless waste.”
- cost-shifting to those with commercial insurance: “when Medicare does try to cut costs, it usually does so by cutting reimbursements to doctors. This results in cost-shifting from the government onto the backs of private insurers, employers, patients, and most of all, doctors. The most recent data available show that Medicare alone shifted $48.9 billion in costs onto the backs of the private sector one year.” Read more on the cost-shift from Medicare and Medicaid.
Read the whole article, ‘Medicare for All’ Will Bankrupt the United States.
The Daily Camera published my comments on this on Saturday print edition:
If “Medicare for all” gives you that intoxicating “government as nurturing parent” feeling, think again. The Camera reported that “thousands of patients” … “will have to find new doctors” because Boulder Community Internal Medicine is closing — in part because of the “low reimbursement rates of its Medicare patients.”
Expect more of this. The 2008 Medicare Trustees report says Medicare’s financial outlook “continues to raise serious concerns.” It will be underfunded without “very substantial increases in tax revenues and/or reductions in expenditures.”
“Reduction in expenditures.” This means government will tell you when you can or cannot receive medical care. “Medicare for all” will make these problems worse. As a tax-funded insurer, Medicare would drive out competition from non-government insurers and become a monopolistic insurance provider with little incentive to satisfy patients needs.
Medicare for all means more waste. A Washington Post headline reads “Medical Fraud a Growing Problem: Medicare Pays Most Claims Without Review.” Dartmouth researchers concluded that “nearly 20 percent of total Medicare expenditures” provides “no benefit in terms of survival” and that it’s unlikely that the “extra spending improves the quality of life.”
Government shouldn’t be in the insurance business. Before Medicare retirees were buying insurance in increasing numbers. They would again if politicians phased out Medicare and lifted controls that make medical care and insurance so expensive.
But if you must have government involvement, why not replace Medicare with a voucher for private insurance? Government doesn’t run its own grocery stores – it issues food stamps.
Other ideas: Make Medicare eligibility requirements more strict. Life expectency has increase since its inception. Raise the qualifying age gradually. Also, why is everyone eligble? I’m no fan of means-tested welfare programs, but limited Medicare to poor people is better than offering it to everyone.