By Denny (Mark) Weinberg
There is nothing like an election season to solve even great mysteries of our time. A current example – an answer to decades of real or perceived health care access and affordability in the US.
True, financing and accessing medical care is now a topic where everyone has become a self-appointed expert, and simple solutions with clear concepts like Medicare For All are seductive.
Each year, or at least each election season, some new Health Care panacea emerges. Historically, many emerged from within the industry; the HMO, Medicare Advantage or Health Savings Accounts are good examples.
But increasingly, panaceas emerge as candidate/election slogans, as though Americans are that naive and gullible even with massive and complex challenges. For those of use who have worked with the stubborn science of health care financing, these movements are frustrating, sometimes downright frightening.
So, with that in mind, I will examine this latest Medicare-For-All movement.
First, I should confess that am an actual Medicare beneficiary. In the good old days, being a real customer might matter; especially when most elected officials or employed members of the media generally have little first hand experience with Medicare.
Beyond that, I spent a good deal of my professional life trying to solve the health care financing crisis from inside the insurance industry. Unfortunately, that too is now practically a disqualification. Nonetheless, I see that experience as highly leverageable too.
I am not going to offer a nice, single slogan solution or tag line for a new movement. Neither will I dwell on the extent to which fully taxpayer funded schemes in many other countries are also unsustainable. That is for another time.
But I can help expose 10 pretty basic myths about this current sensation, Medicare-For-All.
I will follow up with a deep dive on each of these, one at a time, in subsequent posts. But so you see where I am going, here are those 10 topics I will cover:
- If Medicare is so great, why do nearly 40% of eligibles opt out in favor of alternatives provided directly from private insurance companies?
- If Medicare is so great, why do so many well respected doctors throughout the US refuse to participate?
- If Medicare is so great, why don’t all of our elected officials and millions of federal and state employees participate?
- Medicare is not “free”; in fact it is downright expensive, especially for middle class Americans who have to buy into it.
- Administration of the Medicare program is not really lower cost than private insurance plans when compared correctly.
- Medicare coverages have become poor over the years, due to increasing Deductibles and Annual / LifeTime Limits…things not allowed or imposed on private insurance
- Some Medicare coverages are irrelevant to younger populations, and some younger population coverages are irrelevant to the Medicare populations, making a simple expansion quite illogical.
- Changing Medicare coverages to mimic private insurance coverage for younger people will completely alter program performance and costs in unknown and unpredictable ways
- Many “big bad” insurance companies that would be decimated by Medicare-For-All, are actually your local hospital system these days.
- If you think health care is costly now, wait until it is free.