Friday, June 12, 2009

Medicare for All!

You’ve probably noticed a lot of discussion on healthcare – how many people don’t have health insurance, how a medical calamity can cause a family to lose their home through foreclosure, how universal healthcare is socialism, etc. You may have become confused with the new terms “single-payer”, “public option”, and so on. And what about the confusion between “healthcare” and “health insurance”? President Obama seemed committed to getting something done, but “single-payer” was “off the table”. What is going on? I see the whole thing from the point of view of a person who, for most of my life, could never afford health insurance, but who always got good healthcare for myself and my family by paying for it. As luck would have it, we all stayed pretty healthy, and never suffered a medical calamity. When I reached the age of 65, I enrolled in Medicare parts A and B. I didn’t get “supplemental” insurance to pay my parts of A and B, and I didn’t get Part D (Bush’s give-away to the big drug companies). So far I’ve done okay with that as well. Learning how the system works has been quite interesting. Here’s my example. 1. I went to the emergency room at PSL on Jan. 5 with severe abdominal pain. I gave them my Medicare card and signed a statement that I would be financially responsible for the bill. 2. Among other tests, I was given two ct-scans, one before and one after an iodine injection. The ER doctor talked to me for about 5 minutes and said I might have irritable bowel syndrome, but that the tests showed nothing unusual. I was given a shot of morphine and a prescription for a pain killer. 3. Days later the invoices began arriving. The total for the ER visit was $7,304.00. The ER doctor was an additional $789.09. Had I not had insurance of any kind, these are the amounts I would have had to pay. However, based on my prior experience without insurance, I know that PSL would have offered me a deal – pay now and we will give you 50% off. But with Medicare as my insurance provider, I was going to get a much better deal. 4. The ct-scan charges were listed as $2,064.00 and $1,766.00. Medicare actually paid $176.00 and $111.63 to PSL. I had to pay a total of $24.55 for both. In total, I paid about $200.00 for the $7,304.00 ER visit. 5. BTW, Medicare is administered by the Government at an agency called CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). I understand their “overhead” is 3%. From this example we see that: 1. Soaring medical expenses are the “list” or retail price. 2. Medicare allowed about 10% of the list price. 3. The poor schlumps without any insurance were the ones who would pay the highest price (50% off), and, I presume, those with other kinds of insurance would pay somewhere between the list price and the Medicare price. 4. Everybody should have Medicare. But how will we pay for this? you may ask. Well, we could stop trying to be the world’s police department and cut the military budget in half. But most likely, we would pay for it the same way we are paying for the bailouts, the stimulus plans, the wars, and that $250.00 check I just got along with 50,000 other Coloradoans. We would simply have the Federal Reserve cartel print the money, and use that money for “quantitative easing” to monetize the debt by having the Fed buy Treasuries, just like they are doing now. Of course this “fiat money” path leads to inflation and eventual ruin. But that’s coming anyway, so why not get good health care along the way. Medicare for all! Addendum: I forgot to add that this Medicare "insurance" costs me $96.40 per month, automatically deducted from my Social Security payment.


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