18 August 2009

There Is A Simple Solution

Yes, there is a simple solution. Maybe not for the entire broken health care system but at least for a significant portion of it. And, yes...it is simple.

Never mind the squabbling about a Public Option versus Co-Ops. Forget about all that garbage about how a government administered plan would drive the insurance companies out of business and force their CEOs to drive taxis for a living. Just forget about it and move on.

Here's what I propose. Open up Medicare for those who do not have insurance now. OK, maybe not everyone, but let's just say, for the sake of argument, that we open it up to those 55 to 64 who will soon be in it anyway.

Medicare is a very effective program providing health care benefits to older and disabled Americans. Certainly, it has some issues. No system is absolutely perfect. But consider this.

Right now Medicare is disproportionately skewed toward health care's heaviest users, old people and disabled persons. If it were opened to younger demographics the risk would be spread among those who would use the system less. Simply put, more premiums and fewer services per capita used. An actuary's fantasy.

Yes, there would some increase in costs, but we're incurring those costs now--we just don't see them. But, even with that there are some real opportunities for savings in the plan. For example, end the overpayment to Medicare Advantage plans which receive about 14% more per beneficiary than does standard Medicare. And, allow Medicare to bid for lower drug prices as does the Veteran's Administration.

Sounds simple and easy doesn't it. Well it is, and it's time we started asking our legislators about it while they're home on recess.

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