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Top Six Facts About Medicare August 20, 2012

Posted by geoff in News.
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Mark Miller, a columnist for HuffPo, wrote an article a few days ago entitled, “Top Six Myths About Medicare.” It is a pathetic, willfully ignorant attempt to rewrite the facts about Medicare.

Let’s take it one myth/fact at a time:

MYTH ONE: MEDICARE COSTS ARE OUT OF CONTROL

Facts: Medicare spending will soar in the years ahead as the number of seniors grows, but its per-capita growth is slower than private health insurance – and it is getting better.

This is stupid, because he’s already said “Medicare spending will soar.” Do we need to reform Medicare because we can’t afford it? Yes. End of story.

He also goes on about Medicare’s low admin costs. That’s nicely debunked here.

MYTH TWO: MEDICARE IS GOVERNMENT HEALTHCARE

He spends some time arguing this point, which I’ve never heard anybody make in the first place. Medicare is government-funded healthcare. Duh.

MYTH THREE: OBAMACARE SLASHES $700 BLN FROM MEDICARE

Since everybody’s talking about this I’m not going to get into it, except to note that his defense, “the cuts are adjustments in payments to Medicare providers, which are mostly meaningless to patients.” is a fallacy if the cuts cannot be sustained by providers. The real difference between the Romney and Obama plans is that Romney isn’t putting physicians out of business.

MYTH FOUR: DOCTORS WILL NOT ACCEPT MEDICARE BECAUSE OF ALL THESE CUTS

This issue is monitored closely by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), an independent Congressional agency charged with advising Congress on Medicare. The agency’s most recent annual survey of Medicare patients found that just 2 percent of beneficiaries had problems of any kind finding a new primary care doctor willing to accept Medicare – the same percentage of patients aged 50-64 with private insurance who report problems.

He’s pulled a switcheroo here. It is true that only “2 percent of beneficiaries” had problems, but only 6% of those beneficiaries were even looking for a new primary care doctor. Among patients looking for a new primary care doctor, 35% reported problems finding one.

MYTH FIVE: THE WEALTHY ARE GETTING A FREE RIDE

Hadn’t heard that one either. And I wouldn’t have cared much even if it was true. After all, they’re 1%, right?

MYTH SIX: RISING LONGEVITY WILL SINK MEDICARE

It is true that people are living longer, and Medicare’s eligibility age is fixed for everyone at 65. But that does not mean Medicare costs are rising as a result. That is because nursing homes, which are the biggest area of expense incurred in advanced age, are not covered under Medicare.

Ummm – you know that rising population of seniors you talked about in the first myth? One of the reasons it’s rising is that people are living longer. When Medicare was implemented, life expectancy was 70.2 years. Today it’s 78.7 years. That’s more than 2.5X the number of years of coverage.

Has it had an impact? You bet.

Comments»

1. Retired Geezer - August 20, 2012

Good one, Geoff.


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