Thursday, June 16, 2011

Medicare is NOT the problem

We hear a lot of talk about Medicare these days, but no one is addressing the real issue, nor are they providing solutions to the real problem. From 1969-2009 Medicare spending per beneficiary rose by 400% after adjusting for inflation. Admittedly, nothing to brag about. However, over that same period of time, premiums for private health insurance rose by 700%. So how is giving seniors vouchers to buy private insurance (assuming they can find someone who will insure them) a good solution for any American, rich or poor? Adding a private insurer into the mix only increases administrative costs, not better health care, and means there is someone else who must make a profit at the expense of people when they are most vulnerable. Plus, that would mean many young families would be forced to make the tough decisions of caring for their aging parents or sending their children to college. There are even those who refer to the Ryan budget plan as the “Bring your Mother-in-law home to live with you bill.” Why is that a good thing? Social Security and Medicare do as much for the financial security of the young as they do for the old.

And, why isn’t anyone talking about controlling the costs of health care? That is the real problem. Why aren’t we talking about wellness programs and other preventive measures that will help more people stay healthy and thereby reduce costs? If we take better care of ourselves before we get old, we have a better chance of being healthier in our final years. Why aren’t we making sure all tests and other expenses are necessary and actually add to the probability of our recovery from illnesses instead of just helping to pay the costs of medical providers? And, more importantly, why aren’t we talking about end of life issues. If, as has been reported, we spend 25% of our lifetime medical expenses in the last year of our life, why aren’t we doing everything possible to insure those final measures are necessary and useful and not simply keeping us alive by artificial means with no hope of ever fully recovering while medical providers get every dime they can. When given an informed choice, and allowed to understand the full ramifications of medical decisions, most people would not opt for expensive procedures which add little if anything to the quality of their life, and may actually reduce it.

We need an honest debate about Medicare and about controlling health costs in general, not an either/or choice between privatization, which only funnels more tax dollars to private corporations, or allowing Medicare to run out of money.

Where are all those people who insist on displaying the Ten Commandments everywhere? They should be standing up for the 5th commandment, “Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” How does the Republican plan live up to that commandment? They should be demanding we strengthen, not weaken Medicare.


health insurance plans said...

Looks like there is no longer a need for debate at this point. Whether we like it or not, for better or for worse, government spending on Medicare has to be reduced in order to survive the debt crisis.

health insurance australia said...

I agree with you. I've been thinking about it for so long, why this is an issue in the US, and have arrived at the conclusion that the coverage of Medicare is far too vast and expensive for the government to support.