Should Medicare be the Public Option?

Leading Blue Dog suggests opening Medicare to all


Blue Dog Rep. Mike Ross, who made headlines by rejecting a compromise he'd negotiated on a public health insurance option, has suggested to Democratic leaders that the government-run Medicare program be opened to those without insurance.

Here's the problem: # 1 - It's complex

Nearly 65? Time for the Medicare Maze


NOW that you’re about to retire, there’s good news and bad news about your health insurance. The good news: When you turn 65, you’re eligible for Medicare — all in all, a pretty affordable way to get coverage for doctor bills, hospitalizations and, more recently, prescription drugs. The bad news: You’ve got a big job ahead of you, sorting through the Medicare bureaucracy.

For someone new to the system, the hundreds of options Medicare provides can be daunting. “We’ve seen C.P.A.’s get stymied,” said Paul Gada, personal financial planning director at Allsup, a provider of Social Security and Medicare consultation services that is based in Belleville, Ill. “The process can be difficult for even the most savvy individuals.”

More important, the choices you make now as a new retiree may have consequences down the line when your health care and financial needs change. Confusing as Medicare may be, it is better to learn the ins and outs of the system early than to try to figure it out 20 years from now. The newly eligible have a seven-month period to enroll, starting three months before their 65th birthday. And numerous resources are available to help both newcomers and veteran Medicare users.

Not long ago, retirees simply went to their local Social Security office and signed up for Medicare A, which covers hospitalization, skilled nursing facilities, hospice and some home health care. Then they signed up for Medicare B, which provides coverage for doctor’s fees for a premium ($96.40 a month in 2009). That was the end of it.

[Read on (link) for the complexities!]

Here's the problem: # 2 - It's going broke!

Medicare Will Go Broke By 2018, Trustees Report


The financial troubles daunting the Medicare system have deepened during the past year, according to a government forecast that says the federal fund that pays for hospital care for older Americans will become unable to cover all its bills a dozen years from now.

The annual report, issued yesterday by the trustees who monitor the fiscal health of the Medicare and Social Security programs, said the trust fund for the health insurance system for the elderly will run out of money in 2018 -- two years sooner than predicted a year ago and 12 years sooner than had been anticipated when President Bush first took office.

The problem, the report says, has accelerated largely because hospital costs last year were greater than expected.

Comment: And the above article is 3 years old .... Latest

Medicare insolvency due to high MA payments

The recent report on the deteriorating financial condition of the Medicare trust funds heightens the sense of urgency in overhauling the nation's high-cost but inefficient healthcare system. The Medicare hospital fund now faces depletion by 2017, two years earlier than the previous projection. The nation's economic decline has reduced tax revenues to support the program, while healthcare spending continues to climb.

Medicare expenditures are expected to increase at a faster pace than either workers' earnings or the overall economy, with outlays rising from 3.2% of gross domestic product (GDP) last year to 11.4% by 2083. These gloomy projections reflect continued growth in the volume and intensity of healthcare services over the next 75 years; an increase in the number of beneficiaries as the baby boomers begin to hit age 65; and the addition of the Part D prescription drug program in 2004.

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