Quote-of-the-day mailing list
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: qotd: Should Medicare patients pay more?
Date: Fri, 19 Oct 2012 14:14:27 -0700
From: Don McCanne <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Quote-of-the-Day <email@example.com>
Allsup Medicare Advisor Seniors Survey
Medicare Planning and Trends Among Seniors
An independently conducted telephone survey of 1,000 randomly selected
individuals 65 years and older who currently have Medicare coverage
Thinking about retirement, are any of the following concerns for you?
61% - Future of Medicare
52% - Having enough money to enjoy retirement
43% - Paying for long-term care
41% - Paying for health care
38% - Outliving money
24% - Paying for housing
In general, how satisfied are you with your current Medicare coverage?
45% - Extremely satisfied
44% - Somewhat satisfied
6% - Not satisfied
5% - Not sure
As you may know, costs for the Medicare program are rapidly increasing.
New funding or benefit restructuring will likely be needed. To keep the
Medicare coverage you have right now, would you be willing to pay: 20%
more/10% more/5% more/1% more?
32% - Pay 20% more
19% - Pay 10% more
10% - Pay 5% more
10% - Pay 1% more
23% - Pay nothing more
4% - Don't know
2% - Medicare won't need new funding
Comment: This survey confirms what we already knew. Most seniors are
satisfied with Medicare, but a majority of them also are concerned about
the future of Medicare, doubtlessly provoked by the current political
threats to convert Medicare into a defined contribution (voucher) under
the rubric of the imperative for entitlement reform. An intriguing
inquiry in this survey is whether or not Medicare beneficiaries would be
willing to pay more in order to keep their current Medicare coverage.
Sixty-one percent of responders indicated that they would be willing to
pay five to twenty percent more to keep their current Medicare coverage.
This probably does not communicate their belief that they should be
paying more, but rather expresses the view that they are protective of
Medicare and would be willing to reach deeper into their pockets to
preserve the program.
It would not surprise anyone if the politicians used this result to
decide to increase the out-of-pocket expenses for Medicare
beneficiaries, again in the name of entitlement reform. But this would
be a mistake. In a recent Quote of the Day message, we discussed
Medicare's failure to protect personal finances
Instead of increasing out-of-pocket costs, financial barriers should be
removed by providing first-dollar coverage. You could do that by
adopting a single payer system. Health care costs can be controlled by
using the other economic tools of a well-designed single payer system.
Rather than using premiums, deductibles and coinsurance assigned to the
individual Medicare beneficiary, an improved Medicare program that
covered everyone should be separately funded through progressive taxes.
The current proposal to adjust Medicare premiums based on income would
seem like a step in the right direction, but it would add more
unnecessary administrative complexity to Medicare financing. It would be
far better to establish a single, separate universal risk pool, funded
based on ability to pay, and then to provide health services based on
need regardless of the individual's financial status. We should totally
separate health care funding from the delivery of health care services,
just like we do with police protection, fire protection, highway
systems, public education and the many other government functions that
we rightfully take for granted.