Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Beneficiary Satisfaction, Medicare-Fix Myths, Medicare Age Increase, Cost Effective Medicare

Medicare Beneficiaries Well Satisfied

"A vast majority (82 percent) of our nation's middle-income Americans on Medicare say that they are extremely or very satisfied with Medicare's access and quality of healthcare, according to a new study ...."  "The study, Retirement Healthcare for Middle-Income Americans, which focused on 400 pre-Medicare Boomers (age 47 to 64) and 400 older adults (age 65 to 75) with an annual household income of between $25,000 and $75,000, found that only two percent of Americans on Medicare are not satisfied with the access and quality of healthcare Medicare provides."

"For pre-Medicare Boomers, the numbers are not as favorable.  Less than half (46 percent) report being extremely or very satisfied with their access and quality of healthcare and one-fourth (24 percent) are dissatisfied."

This study has a different approach than many; it's not just a popularity contest -- "How do you like Medicare?"  This study actually measures consumers' satisfaction with access and quality -- two key measures.  It doesn't get any better than that -- i.e., Medicare.  Shouldn't the private health insurance industry try to emulate Medicare?

How Not to Fix Medicare

"Here's a political proposal that sounds reasonable: Fix struggling government entitlement programs by cutting the benefits of rich people, who don't need them anyway."  " . . .GOP presidential candidates have endorsed cutting entitlements for the wealthy, and President Obama has flirted with it, too.  But as seductive as it sounds, the math on means testing entitlements just doesn't work, because there aren't enough wealthy seniors to solve the long-term problems of either Medicare or Social Security."

Looks like the rebuttal is simpler and easier to understand than one would have thought.

What Happens With Older Eligibility for Medicare

"A new Congressional Budget Office report details the likely impacts of gradually raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, which President Obama privately offered to do last summer but has since backed away from."

"Though the policy would save $148 billion from 2012 - 2021, the impacts on seniors illustrate why some progressives are happy that the President’s effort to reach a 'grand bargain' with Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) ultimately failed.  In short, uninsured rates would rise, as would their out-of-pocket costs, and their access to care would be diminished."

Medicare Is Cost Effective

"Last year, both the Congressional Budget Office and Standard & Poor's reported that the growth of costs in Medicare has slowed significantly, much more slowly that the growth of costs for private care.  Turns out, it's not just a one-year trend."  "Despite competition and choice in the private insurance system, Medicare spending has grown more slowly than private insurance premiums for comparable coverage for more than 30 years."

"Which proves the problem with plans like Wyden-Ryan, or just plain old Ryan, which has been embraced by just about every House Republican, and most GOP presidential candidates.  In four decades of data, there's no evidence to suggest that competition in health care has done anything to bring costs down.  Rather than working to figure out how to make Medicare work more like private insurance, policy-makers need to be figuring out how to get more people in Medicare."


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