We’re Outa Here!

Stei090903

The medigogues demonizing health care reform have scared people most with the boogeyman of “government-run health care,” whatever that means. What’s bizarre about the effectiveness of this approach is that Americans much prefer the government-provided health care we already have to private insurance. I’m speaking, of course, about Medicare and the Veterans Administration, both of which are extremely popular with patients.

I came up with this flight of fancy after overhearing a conversation in which someone said he was so fed up with the direction Obama was taking us that he was considering leaving the country. It was a very short leap to get to this cartoon.

9 thoughts on “We’re Outa Here!”

  1. If anyone read the column by Mike Rosen on this subject recently, you would know that Medicare is popular because it’s cheap and it’s cheap because it’s so heavily subsidized and you would also know that Medicare is not sustainable under current conditions. They are either going to have to raise prices or cut coverage. Facts are facts.

    Medicare is not a good example is you are trying to sell a public option.

    Having said that, I would like to see something passed on Health Care. I have recently heard of this “Trigger” option that will allow a public option is insurance companies fail to meet certain requirements. I am still not sure how that would work or what the specifics are, but at least it would be a step in the right direction if they could get that passed because I know the bill would force the insurance companies to go away with the pre-existing conditions crap.

  2. No, John, this is a typical semantic diversion by Mr. Rosen, who you have to remember is a shill for the Republican Party posing as a commentator. Medicare is neither cheap nor “subsidized.” It’s paid for with taxes instead of with policy premiums. When you pay an insurance premium, you are “subsidizing” the medical care of other policy holders who may be using many more medical services than you are. We pay taxes to cover the cost of Medicare; the difference is that one is a private system and the other is public. The public one happens to have a much lower overhead than private insurers because it doesn’t employ an army of adjusters whose job it is to save the company money by denying benefits, and it spends that money on care instead, much as the much-maligned public option would. It doesn’t matter one whit to me whether I pay $1000 in premiums or $1000 in taxes for insurance, so long as I buy insurance with it, except that I’m pretty much convinced by my research that, contrary to the widely-held (but unsubstantiated) belief that government it always less efficient than the private sector, that $1000 will buy more and better service from a government plan.

  3. The elephant in the room (or different animal if you prefer) that you are ignoring, Ed, is that the option you say has less overhead would have long been out of existence if it was privately run. A recent study showed that, averaged out, an individual born in 1944 would have contributed almost 65k in Medicare payroll taxes over his/her lifetime, while ultimately receiving an average of 174k in benefits. How is the discrepancy made up? It seems the money has to be borrowed, printed, or diverted.

    It’s one reason, and not a small one, why our financial outlook as a nation is so grim. Mr. Jackson was right to point the unsustainability of Medicare out – it’s not a “typical semantic diversion.” It’s something that proponents of government run enterprises choose to leave out of the discussion.

    1. What recent study? by whom?

      You know what You know what Mark Twain (and Disraeli) used to day: “There’s three kinds of lies: lies, damed lies and statistics”.

      I learned a long time ago, that you can always get the numbers to back your thesis, just throw in some clever assumptions or ignore some facts that are obvious.

      That may not be the case but I would like to see them.

      1. I assume Ed does not have problems with links being posted.

        http://blog.american.com/?p=3990

        The data seems to be fairly well backed up, relying on historical tax rates and the Medicare Trustees Report. To help in objective reading, you can ignore the first few and last paragraphs, and focus simply on the numbers provided in the middle. It would be great if you can run the numbers and prove me wrong. I’ll make sure to consistently give any source of such information in any future posts. I don’t appreciate implications of lying.

        1. BG – thanks, I’ll take a look. I certainly did not mean to imply that you were lying. I have always taken the Twain quote to mean that statistics can lie and I have found many occasions when the very same numbers were being used by both sides of an argument.

  4. Twain was a pretty perceptive fellow.

    Lets start with the source: The american Enterprise Institute – conservative think tank. AEI scholars are considered to be some of the leading architects of the second Bush administration’s public policy

    You mention that this was a “study” and from what I read, this can hardly be called a study. It is a projection using MANY assumptions. The starting point is this year so the hypothetical benefits are to occur over the next 18 years. I certainly don’t havethe time to do a real study either but a few things stand out (from what I can tell):

    1. It look like he ignores the employer contribution (or the amount a self employed would have paid). One can debate whether the worker “paid” that with lower wages but it certainly was paid and will not need be made up by money that has to be borrowed, printed, or diverted. So, that doubles what has been paid.

    2. It also seems to ignore all money collected over the past 40+ years from people that have died and will never collect anything.

    3. It looks like he used the FICA maximum earnings over the years but in 1991 the cap was taken off of Medicare taxes and while the “typical” person didn’t pay, I know I have paid a great deal more and so have many others. That also won’t have to be made up.

    Intuitively, I have problems with some of his other assumptions but I don’t have the time to figure them out. Having said what I’ve said, though, I still believe that we do have a problem with medical care costs. Just one example is percentage of overall medical costs that are spent in the last year of life.

    The net (as Mr Biggs would say)? I really don’t have the expectation that I will receive $108,915 more in benefits than I have paid in taxes. That’s because I believe we are really going to do something and make the necessary changes to get us in line with the rest of the world’s industrialized countries on health care costs and outcomes. We have to.

    1. Twain was also a good author. We probably can agree on that.

      1. If the employer contributions were left out, then yes – huge error. Let’s assume they were and that the whole contribution shown is doubled. We’re still left with a deficit still of over 40k.

      2. There are people who die and never benefit. There are also people who benefit in excess and exceed normal life expectancy. Albeit there are almost certainly fewer cases of this.

      3. Even with the cap gone (are you positive he included the cap?) Medicare has still reached the tipping point where costs are exceeding revenues, and the trust is being diminished. The trustees (Geithner, Sebelius, etc. in their report showed that even in the short range outlook, Medicare does not pass and assets are expected to be exhausted by 2017. Sources are available upon request. What is the fix for this situation other than to somehow cut costs or raise the rates? (i.e. taxes.)

      To me, such a paradigm inspires zero confidence in the government’s ability to successfully take on an even more monumental task.

      1. Yes, we can both agree that Twain was a good author.

        I don’t know what Biggs left out or in. I just read the one page study as you did. I took his statement: “This typical person paid around $64,971 in Medicare payroll taxes over his lifetime” and used his timeframes and inflation factor and couldn’t get close to his number if the employer/self employment was used. I think the taxes from people who died are extra as the folks who are 65 and don’t make it to 83 will balance out those that live longer.

        You are correct as to the state of the “trust”. During calendar year 2008, total revenue amounted to $230.8 billion, and total expenditures were $235.6 billion. That’s a 2% overage but the problem gets really bad because of the baby boomers and unchecked health care costs. You ask (rhetorically?): What is the fix for this situation other than to somehow cut costs or raise the rates. Yea… you either need to increase revenue or decrease the expenditures. The REAL questions should be how do you cut costs or how you raise revenue and there are thousands of answers to those questions.

        Candidly, though, I don’t see how the facts inspire zero confidence that our government can fix the situation.

        Another of my favorite quotes is from Winston Churchill: “Americans will always do the right thing . . . After they’ve exhausted all the alternatives”.

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