Going to the supermarket with my mother was always a test of patience. She would carefully examine the produce, looking for defects that only she could see to make sure that she found the best head of lettuce or bunch of carrots. If they were too expensive, she put them back.
She was a careful shopper when it came to items that cost a few dollars. It is not very likely that she would be less careful if the price was much higher. Yet that is what the latest study of Medicare reform seems to imply.
The Kaiser Family Foundation published a report this week showing that 59 percent of Medicare beneficiaries—25 million people—would pay more to remain in their current health plan if a premium support system was fully implemented. This matters because premium support is the reform advanced by presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan, and we are three weeks from the election. The headline suggests that Mom would stick with her expensive plan even though plans are available that offer the same benefits for much less.
There is bipartisan agreement that Medicare needs work. The program’s spending is growing much faster than the country’s ability to pay for it, and the money that is being spent is often wasted and fails to deliver high value health care. (That’s not a Republican idea; Donald Berwick, who recently stepped down as the administrator of the Medicare program, has saidthe same thing.)
The traditional Medicare program that most seniors choose pays more when health care providers deliver more services, essentially without limit. That’s a major reason for anexplosion in medical imaging (including X- rays and CT scans) in recent years, and it has driven up the growth of overall Medicare spending.
Image Credit: Sunwalk999 (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)
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