Auriandra over on Daily Kos provides the perfect summary of why the left does not understand Medicare, particularly the much-beloved-by-the-left "Medicare as we know it."
He or she says
"Medicare is a single-payer system in which the government pays hospitals (Part A) and physicians (Part B) for services."
What the Daily Kos writer does not tell the reader is that "Medicare as we know it" doesn't pay those providers very much in two dimensions.
- It is terrible insurance in terms of benefits. "Medicare as we know it features" relatively low lifetime limits but lacks annual out of pocket limits (the opposite of what good insurance should do), requires up to $6000-a-year hospital-admission deductibles and unlimited 20% co-pays for hospital observance/outpatient/doctor visits, has no vision/dental/annual-physical/drug coverage, and restricts seniors geographically.
- It fixes the prices artifically low so that fewer and fewer doctors accept the insurance.
The writer says:
"Under Medicare, payments are made... based on the patients (sic) diagnosis (DRG). One hospital may perform twice the number of procedures as another to treat a patient with diabetes, but both will receive the same payment."
This is fundamentally incorrect and the fact that most Medicare is "fee for service" is one of the biggest and most legitimate criticisms of "Medicare as we know it" by the left and right.
The article goes on to say:
"Medicare also has much lower overhead (or "administrative") costs than private insurance (6-7% for Medicare; 15-30% for private insurance)."
The reason Medicare's administrative costs are slightly lower (the difference is not as wide as cited in the article) is that Social Security collects the premiums for Medicare. No private insurer has the luxury of getting guaranteed payment of its premiums at no expense. And the writer makes no mention of the fact that the Medicare administration process pays out 20% of its dollars in fraud, waste and abuse. No private insurer does that either.
Attempting to scare seniors, the Daily Kos says:
"Remember, now the Supreme Court appears about to decide the government cannot interfere in this market."
Nothing in the current Supreme Court session has anything to do with Medicare except that the court could possibly restore the $500 million cut made to the Medicare program by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (but only if the court throws out the whole law).
The Daily Kos dramatically concludes
"Seniors will be left to fend for themselves."
Us seniors are already fending for ourselves. "Medicare as we know it" is so bad that we already pay thousands of dollars a year in out of pocket costs and premiums.
But we're not complaining. It beats the alternative as they say.