Paul Ryan’s new Medicare plan…

 

Source: Paul Ran’s new Medicare plan could be tip of the iceberg (+video) – CSMonitor.com.

A parallel factor is rising income. As a society grows richer, it tends to spend more of its income on health care. Add in demographics (an aging population) and a lack of competition among health-care providers in many markets, and you have a recipe for more people to consume more health-care services at higher prices.

For once I am not going to comment on Mr. Ryan’s seemingly enthusiasm to balance his budget on the backs of the poor while asking for increases in our bloated military budgets and more tax breaks for the rich. That continues to be insane to me but is not the focus of this particular post.  Instead this post is about fixing Medicare and Medicaid. The quote above is at the end of this news article but says much about how some view the problem of spending our healthcare dollars.

The quoted argument seems to say that we choose to go to doctors because we can.  I don’t know about you but I don’t sit down in the morning and try to decide whether I will go to the mall, the park, or to the doctor that day.  I go to the doctor when I am sick or have what I think might be a serious medical problem. I don’t use doctors as a form of entertainment! Yeah, I know about the hypochondriacs out there but I hope they are a very small group.

Of course the quote also deems that the lack of competition is the cause for increasing prices for healthcare.  We just don’t have enough McDoctors and McHospitals around yet I guess.  Maybe I am naive about all of this but I kind of  believe that competition is more of a cause than a solution.  When Hospital “A” gets the latest multi-million dollar piece of medical equipment then Hospital “B” has to get it too so they can compete.  It doesn’t matter that one machine could provide all the tests needed by the community. It doesn’t matter that hospitals will use the machines where they really aren’t necessary because they have them.

If we really want to get our healthcare costs down we need to do what the rest of the world already knows and that is a single payer regulated system.  We spend more than twice as much as everyone else and actually live shorter and less healthy lives. It continues to amaze me how we in the U.S. fail to understand this very basic approach to healthcare.

8 thoughts on “Paul Ryan’s new Medicare plan…

  • My own family’s exposure to healthcare costs (visible because my family includes a primary care physician) is that an inordinately large % of medical expenses are (i) end of life care, extending life slightly but often with no quality of life, (ii) unnecessary medical tests to avoid litigation or to “please” the patient and (iii) very expensive care for “lifestyle” diseases owing to horrible eating habits and lack of exercise. Add that to a rapidly aging population with fewer working youngsters and we have looming fiscal disaster. So, without a better approach than taxing our way to financial solvency (probably impossible) or closing the doors on Medicare altogether (an obvious non-starter), a single-payer approach may be the only viable solution.

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    • Thanks for the comments Steve. Yes, I too have heard that half of healthcare cost happen in the last two weeks of life. If I have any say that won’t be the case with me but …

      I don’t think we should deny care to people because of poor life choices but you are right about that topic too. The rest of the world has already determined that the single payer system is the way to go. Its just a matter of when we will stubbornly accept that.

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  • If you want to be scared silly be sure to read Time Magazine’s expose of medical costs in the March 4th issue. The villain is more often than not the hospital. With markups as high as 10,000% (yes, that is ten thousand) hospitals are massive money pits for patients. Medicare pays what it actually costs for a procedure. Hospitals charge everyone else hundreds to thousands of dollars more because they can. There is no oversight and no control. After reading this article I have come to believe the banks were amatuers when they helped tank the economy 5 years ago. The true masters at raping their customers are hospitals.

    True, many Americans bring on their own health disasters due to their eating and lifestyle choices. But, the most expensive diseases to treat (cancer, etc) are not usually lifestyle-generated. Hospitals know a cancer patient is not going to say no to tests or treatment that cost many, many times more than they should because there is no alternative.

    If Medicare is ever put in a postision to not pay what has been earned but what private companies demand, we will see a mortality rate and health crisis in this country worse than any 3rd world country in any part of the world. Bankruptcy will skyrocket all due to medical bills that are so far out of touch with reality as to be laughable it they weren’t so tragic.

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    • Hi Bob, I know you are not quite of Medicare yet but it interesting to see the paperwork that comes out of it. For instance, I recently had an endoscopy to enlarge my esophagus. It was constricted to half its normal diameter and resulted in some emergency room visits. The total charged was $3400 for the fifteen minute procedure. The Medicare approved amount as $650. As you say there is quite a markup. But what really gets to me is that Medicare pays 20% of the charged amount (as payment in full); insurance companies usually pay more but not by much. The only folks who are stuck with the full amount are those without insurance! They are the ones who can least afford it but have no champion in their corner.

      I know hospitals get a lot of no-pays and have to inflate charges to cover that but there has to be a simpler answer; of course that is single payer and too many of us are adamantly against that to make it a reality. So, we are stuck with this unworkable system until we get over our stubborn resistance to what the rest of the world already learned.

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  • The Time article points out that the no-pay customers barely make a dent in the obscene profits hospitals make. And, so-called non-profit hospitals make the most money. Non-profit just means they don’t pay out profits to shareholders. The CEOs of these hospitals are usually paid well over $1M a year.

    But, you are so right. Hospitals charge the most to those who can least afford it. They are quick to turn over bills to collection agencies, who eventually force the person to go bankrupt. It is usury, immoral, and completely legal. It is like a shark picking on the weakest. Why we tolerate it I have no idea.

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  • As my friends often hear me say,” you have to die.” The huge treatments of cancer and full blown pneumonia on people over the age of 80 is a bit out of control.
    I like the idea of being floated out to sea for me.

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    • Like I think I said above, if I have a choice for me I will know when to tell them to stop. One of my favorite sayings is “Everyone wants to get to heaven but no one wants to die to get there”. I just don’t dread death that much. That is easy to say if you are not at death’s door I guess 🙂

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