As a young man on Medicare

(8 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

It’s been a while since I’ve last posted on here (health issues).  But given the recent developments concerning a certain senate committee, I’d figure it was time.  So yes, this is another healthcare reform posting.  I’ve been reading the ones posted on here, and my take is from a different perspective.  You see, I’m disabled and I’m on Medicare.  Frankly, I think you should be on it too. There are plenty of medicare health insurance providers so there’s really no excuse, and the benefits are huge.

Medicare has its problems, and like many talking heads have said, it may very well go broke unless we do something about it. Compared to what we have now, it’s more worth saving than Humana.  Now for those who know me, I’m more libertarian on my economics, but I’m also not blinded to see that when the market fails someone needs to step in.  My libertarian friends think that there is no difference between the America of the 18th or 19th century and that of the 21st. But it is different, very different. Health care coverage, that is the method of payment, really isn’t as “marketable” as many would believe.

In the past, one could say that you could easily purchase medical care like you could a fridge.  From the country doctor to the city hospital, medicine wasn’t as complicated nor as expensive.  But our country has grown more complex, and so has the health issues.  

Lately, the big push is for national competition for health insurance. I’m sure you’ve heard the argument.  Why, if in state X a similar plan is significantly cheaper than where I live, that I can’t purchase it?  At first I was for this, then reality hit.  Market competition can breed lower prices, and as many proponents have pointed out, look at those laser eye surgeries which have come down in price.  But there is a major flaw this argument.  For starters, medical treatments that are not deemed “medically necessary” will always fall under the economic law of elastic demand, and thus prices won’t always be “sticky.”  Second, and this is the most important thing, the quote you see from that relatively affordable plan in state X is based on the pool of risk for that given region.  Even my local Blue Cross Blue Shield which serves as my supplement, thinks this idea is nuts.

Ah, but a national pool would insure lower prices, because the risk would be lowered.  Yes, the risk would be lowered, but the cost for medical insurance may necessarily not be.  Why? All private insurance plans have deductibles.  And what is presented to folks, under the various “reform” proposals contain high deductible plans.  Let me ask you this, can you really come up with $2780?  Because that is the average I have calculated (my math may also be off, but I only looked at plans from major states).  Lastly, despite promises, there is still no real guarantee of privately-run “death panels” (sorry Sarah, but the market has had it first…for years) saying no to a treatment or that prices won’t go up.

All this leads to one rational conclusion, that instead of a hodgepodge of regional insurance cartels (and that’s exactly what they are), we need one outfit paying our medical bills.  Look, medicine is advancing, but so is our health ailments, especially as baby boomers reach those golden years.  We are finding new illnesses and treatments, but despite what you may have heard, private insurers aren’t on top of these new fixes.

As mentioned early on, I am on Medicare.  I’ve been severely disabled since I was born.  Yet, until a couple of years ago, I had private health insurance.  To be honest, I was an idiot not to try and get on Medicare earlier, but thought my condition would not qualify.  Since 2001, I’ve had a plethora of surgeries and even more doctors visits.  Yes, Medicare doesn’t cover everything (you’re looking at an 80/20 situation here), and that is were the supplemental kicks in. Anyways, in all that time, never have I had a problem.  One walks into the hospital, present your white paper-like card with the red white and blue logo, and the plastic supplemental card, and that’s it.  No worries about bills or bankruptcies.

To be honest, I’m happy to have it.  Prior to going on Medicare, my rates had over the decade gone from $200 every two months to five times that amount.  While I would love Medicare to cover 100% of the costs, it is not unreasonable to think that, given budget constraints, not everything is doable.  And perhaps this is where those private insurance bastards can come in.  If I had a choice between my tax dollars covering a

face lift or more cancer treatment, my vote is for the latter.  

Medicare won’t be cheap on the public finances.  It may very well be that our taxes may have to go up, or introduce a new tax on consumption to pay for it.  But the current system is a lot more costly on the economy.  Our manufacturers are at a disadvantage, and I dare say our entire economy is as well.  Costs will continue to rise for employers, especially if it were just a public option along with these others.  Employers don’t like complications, they want efficiency.  Well I ask you, which is more efficient, the Baucus plan or plain old Medicare?

I’m testimony that Medicare works.  I wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for Medicare.  Had I still been on Blue Cross’s PPO, I would have dropped it, and soon whatever doctor I had.  Someone in my condition, this is fatal.  How many others are in a similar situation?

The opposition has been screaming “government health care” this or that.  In reality, that hasn’t been proposed at all with the so-called official reform plans.  Well, dammit, lets quit pussy-footing around.  This nation will NOT get what it needs with a coterie of public options and private health plans.  It will not get what it needs with some jazzed up national exchange that only benefits the status quo. It will not prevent the death of a public plan in what is proposed, if future GOP congresses can squeeze such measures.

No, my fellow citizens, what we need is Medicare.  It has worked for me, and I’m sure it can work for you.

5 comments

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  1. I hope you can join me soon!

    • Joy B. on September 30, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    …people don’t just do the math. It’s not that hard. ALL health care spending in this country in the last year for which there are figures (2008) works out to $3750 per person across the board. That’s two to three times higher than first world democracies with universal, single-payer systems, but it’s TEN times less expensive than what a year’s worth of premiums to a for-profit “provider” (ha!) will be by 2019. Why are we paying for corporate and shareholder profits – in a futures market on human suffering – when we could just pay for health care?

    I’m a boomer. I haven’t been to a doctor in over a decade, paid for it out of pocket then (twice as much as if I were insured). Hadn’t been for more than a decade before that, and before that I was getting 100% government health care. Didn’t use it much either, just for having a baby and getting my tubes tied. Yes, I’m lucky to be healthy, but a lot of that (besides fate and genes) is because of choices I’ve made in how I live. People I know who started out healthy but got into the drug-and-bodily-violence allopathic system died of it or are in the process. I don’t know if they’d be better off without, but I often suspect so. There are of course conditions that need care. But a lot of conditions are side effects of conditions that are side effects of conditions treated by drugs with side effects. It’s a regular Way of Death.

    In a general, single-payer pool, those like me who pay into the system but hardly ever use it, pay for those who need it and cost a lot more than $3750 a year. Once you realize that Medicare/Medicaid already handles the most expensive care (people like you and end-of-life for the elderly), per capita cost for extension goes way, way down. Cost controls and centralization of claims processing could save even more. We are ALREADY paying for the most expensive care. Tax increases to extend universal coverage to everyone wouldn’t be very steep at all, and could be graduated just fine.

    • triv33 on October 5, 2009 at 2:33 am

    I’m also disabled. For a little while I was also on a BC Medicaid plan and it turned out that I needed a biopsy when my lichen planus spread to inside my mouth.

    Well, BC just could not decide whether it was a medical or dental issue and kept bouncing me back and forth, it really didn’t matter because none of the oral surgeons in my area wanted anything to do with that BC Medicaid plan. Finally, in desperation, I called an Ear, Nose and Throat guy that had done something similar for a friend. I explained my situation and told him I had been bouncing around for six months. He didn’t want anything to do with my BC Medicaid either, but he said, “Do you have Medicare?” and I got my biopsy that week. Medicare works.  

  2. …I love my “government sponsored” Medicare.  May we get it for everyone.  Medicare for All.

  3. … in any of the plans on the table, but I’ll be willing to work on scotching any of them if they do not include a genuine public option.

    Ideally it would just be a premium based buy in to Medicare, with the same pricing pools as the exchanges, but that would cause too much competition, but if we get something that is not DOA, that is something we can fight for as we primary the bastards that did this too us.

    And if it includes an individual mandate and no public option at all, burn it down to the ground, still primary the bastards that did this to us, and start over again when the survivors realize that we mean business.

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