Medicare

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ISSUES:

 

 

 


MEDICARE ISSUES:

Putting the Medicare Issue Into
A Proper Perspective—
Hang On To Your Hat!
 

Medicare...Medicare...Medicare...Where are you going?  In November of 2003, the House and Senate passed the Medicare bill.  What started out as a "Medicare Prescription Drug" bill, became everything but that, by the time the bill had grown to an eleven hundred page document.  We are told that this measure will cost about $400 billion over the next ten years.  It will be more.  The new bill suddenly became a full-blown Medicare REVISION bill, and  while tending to some of the problems of the program, even it's proponents had to settle for, "It's a start." 

Sadly, the prescription drug portion of the measure provides little help for most Medicare recipients, while the drug lobby achieved unprecedented "protectionism" from America's lawmakers.

Guarding Your Gold II" has a chapter devoted to the Medicare Issues, and points out that with the coming demographic problems, Medicare needs some serious immediate changes. Sadly, we won't be getting them soon enough.

"NOT ON MY WATCH" seems to be a rather contemporary term uttered by people in positions of policy-making and control.  Why then, is it that NOBODY seems to be concerned about making hay over the waste in Medicare that has proliferated during the past decade?  Medicare overpayments and fraud, which may well have allowed a skewering of America's elderly (and American taxpayers) to the tune of $150 BILLION DURING THE LAST DECADE, seems to be off-limits to national media attention.  What aggravates me is that this money could have been used to provide prescription drug coverage to millions of retired Americans. 

The "Medicare Issue" chapter of this book offers a call for action with some solutions as to how to combat the Medicare inefficiency, by using a simple numbers game.  A game that had better get played before America's baby boomers swell the Medicare numbers, and ten percent of an expected $500 billion per year program becomes a $50 billion per year problem!

From The Book: (Excerpted from the sixteen page chapter)

"Medicare carries an immensely large bill in America.  In 1995, Medicare Benefit Payments for Elderly and Disabled went over $190 billion.  The turn of the century sees costs in the $250 billion neighborhood, and not-too-distant "baby-boomer" retirements will continue to fuel an incredibly astonishing spiral in Medicare costs.  Now, here's the distressing part.  Medicare projections from the Congressional Budget Office in 2000, concluded that "Medicare spending will resume growing at an average rate of 7 percent in the decade after 2000, and when the baby boomers begin enrolling in Medicare after 2010, Medicare spending will increase at an even faster rate."  Hang on to your hat!  The current $240 billion (Medicare spending for 2001 was nearly $241 billion according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, who administer Medicare) will look like play money when we compare the figures in say 2020, or 2030.  It looks like an annual half-trillion dollar baby will be born over the next thirty years.  An "old" baby, with less than the necessary number of parents (taxpayers) to support it."

"Medicare health care utilization has increased and will increase, in proportionally far greater amounts than ever seen before, during at least the next thirty years.  First, remember that Medicare is the nation's second largest social insurance program, exceeded only by Social Security."

"In the 1930's, at the time of the New Deal and the birth of Social Security, all levels of government spent only $1 annually per person on health care for the elderly.  By 1965, the figure was closer to $100—by 1975, roughly $1,000 and—by 1995 Medicare spending reached nearly $5,000 per person per year.  By 1999 the spending per beneficiary had increased to $5,500 (not including any Medicare Supplemental Insurance privately paid), and is expected to reach $10,700 by 2009!  The total bill for all health spending in the US is about 15% of GDP, and is expected to rise to 18% by 2005.  In fact, over the past 25 years, Medicare spending has gone up at a rate of 5% per year, twice that of inflation.  Remember, that was for a 25 year period But during the last ten years we have seen Medicare inflation in the 9-11% range, and as the demographics tell us, these percentages will be compounded by even greater utilization during the next thirty years."

"As we pass into a new era of a greatly increased utilization of both Medicare and Medicare supplements, and with the obvious need to solve this country's prescription drug problems, as well as inflation in health care costs, no one can predict with certainty, or even optimism, what Medicare will look like a decade from now.  We will live through it, some people will be satisfied and others dissatisfied, but one thing is certain, you will have to protect yourself as well as you can, and prepare today, against all future health care costs.  As you know, in the long term care arena, and even in the Home Health and Home care delivery system, you will not be receiving a great deal of additional consideration from Medicare."


 

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