I am generally a supporter of the Ryan budget and Medicare plan. While I’m skeptical of how the voucher portion will play out – will it really ensure that viable Medicare offerings for seniors are available in the market at $15,000? But I think it’s worth trying. And in the absence of any other serious plan to curtail cost, I have nothing legitimate to compare it to. I’ll state unequivocally that I would support any plan, Republican, Democratic, or other, that fixes the problem. But let’s take a step back and understand the problem.
The problem with Medicare is that the federal government has promised to cover medical care to seniors at an unlimited, and uncapped cost to taxpayers. That means, that no matter how many seniors there are, no matter what care they need, taxpayers have promised to pay.
Medicare is wildly popular among seniors – OF COURSE IT IS – ITS FREE AND THERES NO LIMIT!
This approach however is expediting the bankruptcy of our country. The average Medicare recipient pays in approximately $150,000 in Medicare taxes over the course of their lives. The average Medicare recipient receives $350,000 of medical benefits over the course of their life. So society must pick up the $200,000 short fall, which is funded from the tax dollars of all American. It’s easy to see how this can’t work long term.
Its time to ask the really tough questions which the Ryan plan has the insight to answer in the form of tactical action, but not the courage to point out and put on the table for honest discussion.
- Is it truly the responsibility of the federal government to fund unlimited health care for those 65 and over?
- Is it not reasonable to ask seniors to pay higher premiums and deductibles for the healthcare that they receive?
- Is it unfair to provide seniors a basic level of healthcare, and ask them to get their own supplemental insurance for things like organ transplants, hip replacements, or heroic treatments to extend life a few more months?
- Is it OK to continue to borrow more money for benefits today, and stick future generations with the tax burden of figuring out how to pay for it?
These are really uncomfortable questions. They should be at the heart of the debate, and no one is talking about them.
The federal government should be 4th in line to cover catastrophic or end of life medical care for seniors.
Who should be responsible for seniors’ healthcare? In order?
- The senior
- The seniors family
- The local community and charities (including hospitals)
- The federal government (as a last resort safety net)
We’ve had for too long the idea that avoiding using the assets of seniors and their families to pay for healthcare is the right thing to do. There is a whole cottage industry of lawyers and accountants who strategize of how to hide the assets of those over 65 so healthcare and long-term care is picked up by their neighbors.
We have to start asking if it is morally right to pass our burdens on to someone else, and then complain when they stop accepting that burden.
How do you answer these four questions?
Guest Blogger Jeff