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Here's the take home message, the money quote, if you will, of this important new Commonwealth Fund study.

The experiences of people covered by Medicare and those with private employer insurance can help inform policy debates over the federal budget deficit, Medicare’s affordability, and the expansion of private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. This article provides evidence that people with employer-sponsored coverage were more likely than Medicare beneficiaries to forgo needed care, experience access problems due to cost, encounter medical bill problems, and be less satisfied with their coverage. Within the subset of beneficiaries who are age sixty-five or older, those enrolled in the private Medicare Advantage program were less likely than those in traditional Medicare to have premiums and out-of-pocket costs exceed 10 percent of their income. But they were also more likely than those in traditional Medicare to rate their insurance poorly and to report cost-related access problems. These results suggest that policy options to shift Medicare beneficiaries into private insurance would need to be attentive to potentially negative insurance experiences, problems obtaining needed care, and difficulties paying medical bills.
Here's a link to the full report in the journal Health Affairs.

Let me add something personal.  Have you ever been with a Medicare recipient at a medical visit?  I have. I often take my elderly mother to her appointments.  It is a very different experience from what the rest of us endure with our very defective private insurance.

My mother has traditional Medicare, and yes, she is blessed to be able to afford a Medigap policy. I recognize MediGap is a luxury few Americans are able to afford.  But even if she didn't have MediGap coverage, she goes in and out of a doctor's office without anyone demanding a co-pay, a credit card, cash, or telling her she hasn't met a deductible.

All Americans should be entitled to this.

There is talk of adding co-pays, deductibles and all manner of means testing to Medicare, this would be unacceptable and unthinkable.

Medicare is not free, not by a long shot, there is a significant monthly premium deducted from the Social Security payment, the premium is a fraction of what we pay for private junk insurance.

And most important, the costs of administering the Medicare program are a fraction of the costs associated with private, for-profit insurance, which devours a huge amount of every premium dollar on profits for Wall Street, sales, marketing and administration of their very defective product. Just think of the number of hours you spend on the phone fighting for a claim to be paid.

Imagine for a moment, life without Medicare.  Medicare is a single-payer program that covers every senior, and though it doesn't pay for every last procedure, because of Medicare's universality, there are essentially no uninsured seniors in America.  American seniors are not subject to the grotesque mercies of the for-profit insurance industry. You don't hear very often of seniors being denied coverage.  Seniors do not need to worry about their pre-existing conditions or their lifetime limits, co-pays, co insurance, deductibles and all the other indignities those of us still able to pay for private insurance face.  As I said, imagine life without Medicare for your mother, father, grandmother or grandfather.

And let me leave you with what I consider to be a truly frightening report from Families USA breaking down the crisis of pre-existing conditions state by state. As most of you know, in 2014, if Obama is re-elected, insurers will no longer be permitted to turn you down simply because you need medical care. In this country, we consider this bold new paradigm to be a radical change.  It is a radical change in our country because, for those under 65, Americans have for-profit healthcare, a system which no other industrialized nation would tolerate.

Our heathcare costs are the highest in the world (though we have 50 million uninsured) and our outcomes are shameful.  All of this is a subject for many other diaries which will follow in the coming days, weeks and months.

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Comment Preferences

  •  How does medicare compare (7+ / 0-)

    with other systems around the world ?

    "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

    by indycam on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 03:55:43 PM PDT

  •  Good to see you on the beat, nyceve (24+ / 0-)

    American seniors know a good thing in Medicare, and it is my devout hope that Mitt Romney and Republicans generally will be spit-roasted by them in November for daring to privatize it.  That'll be a warning to Obama and Democrats not to get too Simpson-Bowlesy after the election, lest they be next.

    Our group is just beginning to move into the managed care environment the ACA and CMS regulations are pushing for in the future.  We think this kind of care will be better and more cost-efficient than the current system, and will save Medicare a lot of money going forward.  Those resistant to change who make good money gaming the current system will whine and try to stall these changes, but the country can't afford to play the game as it is now for much longer.

    I'm so glad you and other health care activists are keeping the pressure on.  Washington is very prone to kill a good thing without constant reminders to our "leaders" that they'll be cut off at the knees if they try.

    Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. --- Howard Zinn

    by Dallasdoc on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 03:57:12 PM PDT

    •  Love you, Dallasdoc and I love this too (16+ / 0-)
      That'll be a warning to Obama and Democrats not to get too Simpson-Bowlesy after the election, lest they be next.
    •  Nevertheless, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dallasdoc

      I am sure you know that on balance traditional Medicare reimbursement does not cover the cost of care, particularly on the inpatient side. And that's a significant problem, especially as the costs of implementing PCMH/NCQA/ACO standards are going to increase costs for many providers. Especially at the primary care level. What most people don't realize is that the costs for EMR, per provider, can range from $3K to $7K per provider, per year.

      We primary care providers who accept insurance (and there are many moving off the grid; I had thought this model would be saturated but it sure isn't, at least in my area) are about to be slammed with a huge influx of new enrollees, with increasing pressure to report and provide documentation. And that takes time.

      Look, overall, I am supportive of the ACA. But I live in the town where CMS is located. They don't give a rat's ass about input from providers, they only look at statistics. Lies, damned lies, and statistics, as it goes.

      Studies look at populations, but we providers have to deal with patients on an individual basis. And honestly, if I have a patient whose condition is not "textbook," for whom I need to do something that is off the grid, I would far, far rather deal with a private insurer that try to get an exception from the Medicare guidelines. I am far more likely to deal with a human being in the former situation.

      Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without - W S Coffin

      by stitchmd on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 06:48:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm very aware of that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        congenitalefty, stitchmd

        That's why I've joined a multispecialty group, and why we're looking at new strategic partnerships to position ourselves to maintain a going practice in the new environment.  I feel sorry for private practice solo or small group practices, but then I've been predicting the death of solo practice ever since I've gotten into the business.  

        The way to deal with coordinated care payments is to build the patient base to tolerate the risk of high-cost patients, and to develop programs to manage them efficiently.  Some groups are good at this, and they improve the quality of care and patient satisfaction while doing so.  But to do that you have to have a certain size, otherwise the cost of doing it right is prohibitive.  That's what we're planning for, and intend to stay on the right side of.

        Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. --- Howard Zinn

        by Dallasdoc on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 07:25:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Capitation by another word (0+ / 0-)

          and it's just as likely to smell like skunk cabbage. It didn't work in the 90s. Coordinated care payments are just another attempt, but it's putting the onus on the primary care doctor again to tell the patient not to get the service s/he has been heavily lobbied and marketed to to request.

          CMS is apparently floating the idea of raising payments to primary care providers and cut them to specialists. I'm sure you have seen, as I have, how well that has worked for cardiologists (as one example:) the effect around here, in the land of multiple potential ACOs, including the now second-place Johns, has been to have the cardiologists increase the number of the procedures they are doing.

          I remain highly skeptical on more levels than can be described in the space of a comment.

          Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without - W S Coffin

          by stitchmd on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 05:12:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Why don't the democrats run on single payer? (14+ / 0-)

    It is a winning system.

    What are they waiting for?

    They can follow the lead of Vermont.

    •  Hi Don, Democrats are owned (13+ / 0-)

      by the insurance industry and as we now tragically see, by the NRA.  

      Single payer will go state by state, not from Washington.  The for-profit system will implode and bring us fiscally to our knees--it's only a matter of time. And the time is running out.

      Democrats are slightly better on the margins than Rethugs.  We got Rethug healthcare legislation from a Democratic pres. and Democratic House and Senate. this should tell you everything you need to know.

      •  It can't go State by State without some very (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nyceve

        surprising court victories.

        It's not legal.  No waivers can be granted until 2017. If history is any judge, we will get Republican in 2016, and you can be sure they won't be granting waivers.

        Starting in 2014, the insurance industry is going to have hundreds of billions more every year to help them buy politicians to make sure the new system isn't changed to their disadvantage.  They will be nearly as powerful as the MIC.

        The PPACA shut the door on Single Payer for a generation.  Surrender was, well, surrender.

        We're much better served, now, to fight to reduce premiums and co-pays for the people the PPACA is going to hurt most.

        Thinking the "food stamp challenge" teaches you about being poor is like thinking a camping trip will give you insight into being homeless.

        by JesseCW on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 04:18:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hi Jesse, from what I'm hearing (6+ / 0-)

          when the actual rates and plans are finally posted on the ACA exchanges, the American people are going to feel well, really duped.

          Very bare bones coverage, at lofty prices. There is a lot of feeling that the implementation was delayed until 2014, yes, due to CBO scoring but also because if it happened prior to the election, it would not be good.

          We'll have to just wait and see, I guess.

          •  The American people are going to be the ones now (0+ / 0-)

            funding the lobbying efforts to keep the current deal in place.

            Whether we like it or not.

            Thinking the "food stamp challenge" teaches you about being poor is like thinking a camping trip will give you insight into being homeless.

            by JesseCW on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 05:04:19 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Share your fears, afford-ability????? (0+ / 0-)
            from what I'm hearing (0+ / 0-)

            when the actual rates and plans are finally posted on the ACA exchanges, the American people are going to feel well, really duped.  

            Duped and set up to lose DC.

            "Lets show the rascals what Citizens United really means."

            by smiley7 on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 06:03:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  "Fears"? Check the math. (0+ / 0-)

              There's a reason Progressive Caucus arms had to be broken to pass this.

              It's got nothing to do with "duped".

              Please stop battering the working poor.

              Thinking the "food stamp challenge" teaches you about being poor is like thinking a camping trip will give you insight into being homeless.

              by JesseCW on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 02:23:42 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Because we want (0+ / 0-)

            everything to be covered, but don't want to pay for it?

            I'm not going to get on the "free stuff" bandwagon, I know it's crap; but seriously, why is it that healthcare is the one thing people think they can get for free? You can't get food for free, even, in this country.

            I overheard someone, who was insured, saying yesterday he went to the doctor and refused to pay a copay because it was supposed to be free. Really? I could go on at lengths about this. From an office administrative standpoint, this is a mess.

            We have to make choices in this country. Every country that has universal coverage also has some means of rationing. Rationing is not inherently a bad thing. Remember, "rationing" has the same root as "rational." There are ways to rationally distribute appropriate levels of healthcare. But we need to be willing to have that discussion. On our side of the aisle too. Maybe particularly on our side of the aisle.

            Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without - W S Coffin

            by stitchmd on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 06:57:32 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Why are you babbling about "free"? (0+ / 0-)

              You don't seem to be involved in the conversation taking place in this thread.

              Thinking the "food stamp challenge" teaches you about being poor is like thinking a camping trip will give you insight into being homeless.

              by JesseCW on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 02:26:53 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I was referring (0+ / 0-)

                to the "free stuff" conservative meme going around in their own little world.

                My point is this: of course premiums are going to be high, because medical costs are high (and the ACA really does nothing to directly address that) and we aren't allowed to mention the "r" work - and I don't mean republican, I mean rationing. As I said. Responding to the idea that the exchanges will provide "bare bones coverage, at lofty prices."

                Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without - W S Coffin

                by stitchmd on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 05:05:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It does not logically follow that because premiums (0+ / 0-)

                  are high, we have to fuck over the working poor and force them to pay those premiums in order to keep expenses down for privileged members of the middle class.

                  The out of pocket premiums, after subsidy, are absolutely crippling and unjust for people between 138% and 200% of FPL.

                  Thinking the "food stamp challenge" teaches you about being poor is like thinking a camping trip will give you insight into being homeless.

                  by JesseCW on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 05:26:41 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  They suck for everyone (0+ / 0-)

                    good thing is the "penalty" is less.

                    We cannot continue to have healthcare be 18-20% of our GDP. But until we address the basic issue of cost and the fact that we cannot provide everything to everybody, that we cannot fix everything and, frankly, that we are all going to die, we are not going to address the underlying issue here.

                    It's far too complex for a soundbite, or a comment.

                    Oh, and btw, I am in the sector. Would like to think I am more on the solution than the problem side, but it's kinda murky.

                    Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without - W S Coffin

                    by stitchmd on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 05:43:34 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  "Wait and see" and "Capitulate when paid to (0+ / 0-)

            do so" are how we got here.

            Thinking the "food stamp challenge" teaches you about being poor is like thinking a camping trip will give you insight into being homeless.

            by JesseCW on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 02:27:49 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  It can with Market Failure (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          happymisanthropy

          I think the Financial Elites deciding the profit margins "just aren't worth the trouble anymore" are going to outpace both the courts and our legislative process and force all of us to catch up very quickly, if very chaotically.

          We won't be sufficiently ready when it happens, and many of our fellow citizens and institutions will continue to resist it even when there are no other realistic options.

          When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

          by Egalitare on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 05:11:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Obamacare opens the door for future single payer (0+ / 0-)

          and that's what scares Republicans.

          "Tax cuts for the 1% create jobs." -- Republicans, HAHAHA - in China

          by MartyM on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 03:35:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  No, it doesn't. It locks that door down tight. (0+ / 0-)

            You need to look at what the bill actually did.

            It's staunchest supporters are generally as ignorant of the bills details as it most vocal opponents.

            It explicitly prohibits States from enacting single payer.

            Medicare and Medicaid were steps toward single payer - they opened the door 40 years ago.

            To say that the PPACA "opened the door" is to argue that American history started last Tuesday.

            It's an ignorant thing to say.

            Thinking the "food stamp challenge" teaches you about being poor is like thinking a camping trip will give you insight into being homeless.

            by JesseCW on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 02:26:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Sort of cynical (0+ / 0-)

        Politics is the art of the possible.

        Would you rather have held out for perfection and ended up with nothing?

        I was and remain critical of the house and senate leadership for failing to have at least a symbolic vote on Medicare for all.

        At least the ACA requires 85% spending of premium dollars for patient care. A lot of good has already been achieved by ACA. It should be viewed as a stepping stone towards single payer not as the end point.

        One of my more ironci moments over the past couple weeks was having a vet complaining about the tax penalty and "not trusting government to do anything right." All while sitting in a VA facility with minimal out of pocket coverage and receiving purely socialized medicine. I took great pleasure pointing out that he was not a matter of concern for ACA because he was soon to be eligible for medicare and currently received VA health services.

        The hypocrisy of the moment was stunning. The "I want my change back" mindset is the tea party writ large. (I get government healthcare because I deserve it so too bad for you.)

    •  Both sides protect their corporate sponsors... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert, nyceve, elwior

      A few Dems stand up for people... not enough.
      Perhaps next election D's will grow a spine?

    •  The Democratic Party is Economically Conservative (4+ / 0-)

      We only have a few economic liberals in it. The most liberal senator isn't even a party member he just caucuses with us.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 04:48:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Joe Biden is from Delaware, the corporation state. (0+ / 0-)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      Just for starters.

      The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

      by lotlizard on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 03:20:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  CommonWealth Fund Lies about its Own Research (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    The CommonWealth Fund research referred to in this article  is the most deceitful Medicare information ever released.  It appears the author never read the report.

    According to the report's Methodology section, It is based on two-year-old data.  

    That section also shows that over 80% of the seniors surveyed by CommonWealth Fund volunteered that they depend on private insurance such as from a former employer or on a private Medigap or Medicare Part C plan. But CommonWealth Fund incredibly says these opinions in favor of and overwhelming choice of private insurance instead of Medicare proves government-run Medicare is better than private insurance.  What an absurd conclusion to reach after talking to hundreds of seniors who choose private insurance over Medicare.

    Medicare is terrible insurance.  It has no catastrophic coverage, high deductibles for hospital admission, even higher co-pays for hospital observation and outpatient hospital treamtement or doctor visits, no drug/vision/annual-physical/dental coverage and severe geographic restrictions.  

    To think that your mother would waltz out of the doctor's office if she didn't have Medigap is also absurd.  She wouldn't even get in that office without Medigap most likely. But the good news is that more than nine out of 10 of us seniors on Medicare are blessed like your mother.  80% of us have private insurance just like the Commonwealth Fund research said. Another 14% have Medicaid.

    According to the 2012 MedPAC Data Book, seniors pay for half of their healthcare costs via OOP and private insurance premiums; Medicare only pays half.  What kind of insurance only pays half and still does not protect the insured against catastrophe?

    •  Recipe for crepes: (4+ / 0-)

      Directions:

      In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.
      Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
      Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Serve hot.

      "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

      by elwior on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 04:44:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  cute, elwior, I just read and ignore (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        elwior, Williston Barrett
        •  Well, he/she wanted a bit of attention, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nyceve

          so why not?

          "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

          by elwior on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 05:21:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  why? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          nyceve

          there are points in the comment that are correct.
          -there are high copays. 20% with Medicare B. No regular outpatient coverage for those with Medicare A alone. As the commenter mentioned.
          - high deductibles, see above.
          - observation codes. These are a scam.
          - no routine care coverage. Seriously. This is true. For preventive care, you get a one time "welcome to Medicare" physical, and the rubric for it is ridiculous. If you have no major medical problems, you are allowed very limited lab tests and other screening procedures. The interval preventive physical exam doesn't even cover a physical and is a joke. Seriously.
           I would like to see the data about Medicare beneficiaries paying half their costs, but given the high costs of Medicare B premiums and of Medigap, part D, or Medicare advantage premium and out of pocket costs, I could see this being true.

          And, I will mention again, while Medicare may be one of the most reliable for reimbursement, their reimbursement to providers is lower than that for most private insureres, to the level that overall Medicare reimbursement alone statistically does not cover the cost of care.

          Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without - W S Coffin

          by stitchmd on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 07:06:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  source of spending data (0+ / 0-)

            The information about how much the government pays for vs. what Medicare pays for is in the Dual Eligibles section of the June 2012 Medicare Data Book.

            It provides the per-capita total expense for both dual eligibles and non-dual eligibles, You have to know how many there are of each (also in the Data Book), do the multiplication and subtract the total $877.6 billion from the amount Medicare spent that year (2008 -- most recent data) and you see that seniors pay about half their costs (and Medicare pays about half).  

            This does not include non-skilled nursing or assisted living costs (nor should it in my opinion but a lot of official U.S. government health care spending data does include that, particularly the data that is then compared against other countries that do not include non-skilled nursing or assisted living to "prove" to lefties that U.S. healthcare is 50% more expensive than everywhere else).

          •  I stand corrected, stitchmd (0+ / 0-)

            I always want to learn more when it comes to our broken healthcare system. Thanks!

    •  medicare benefits (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      congenitalefty, WakeUpNeo

      Your are way off base and totally ignorant of the facts. Where private insurance stops, medicare picks up the rest. Of course you have to have your private insurance listed as primary and medicare as secondary.
      We just received over $100,000 in claims not paid for my husband's deep brain surgery for Parkinsons. I called Blue Cross, and found out that it was taken care of-each and every charge, and what they didn't pay MEDICARE DID! We will owe $25 or $0.
      Seems like that is proof it works. The Affordable Care Act will also help because no one can be excluded from coverage due to pre-existing conditions, can't be bumped because they get sick, and there will be no cap on lifetime medical care costs paid by insurance companies or medicare.
      Also the so-called donut hole or gap for prescription coverage is closing, and people will not be out thousands of dollars for their medicines when that hits.
      The premiums for meidcare are SMALL, one trip to the dr., to the ER, one MRI, one CT scan, one blood panel, one heart test and it's more than paid for the entire year's premiums.
      In one month, medicare will become our primary coverage, and we will carry supplemental insurance, plus a Medicare approved part D plan for prescriptions. I will be saving almost $200 a month, even with what the school district paid toward my Blue Cross policy. So, you're way off base, completely wrong, and I think you need to get away from the Tea Party rhetoric and do something reading and thinking for yourself before making these incorrect claims that you evidently know nothing about-just repeating the "talking points" of the Fox News crew.

      If a man claims to speak for god he will assure he is also gods' banker.

      by AuntieM on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 06:43:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  auntieM (0+ / 0-)

        I am sorry about your husband's illness but it is unfortunately affecting your ability to think logically. You say:

        "I called Blue Cross, and found out that it was taken care of-each and every charge, and what they didn't pay MEDICARE DID!"

        In other words, you depended on private insurance.  Instead of $25, you would have owed tens of thousands of dollars with Medicare without the private insurance.

        How do you convert that to "Seems like that is proof Medicare works."

        Of course from the rest of your comment, it appears that you and/or your husband are not really on Medicare at all because you say that won't happen until next month.

      •  AuntieM too (0+ / 0-)

        Much of what you say about the Patient Protection and  Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is way off the Medicare topic but I am sorry to tell you -- since you are just going on Medicare with a supplement and Part D next month --

        1. In some states, some private insurers who sell Medicare supplmements can exclude you from coverage
        2. Medicare does include a cap still (not changed by PPACA) and there are lifetime medical care cost limits under Medicare. Medicare does not include catastrophic coverage
        3.
        -- The donut hole is not closing.
        -- Before PPACA, thousands of dollars were not involved unless the Medicare beneficiary had over $20,000 in prescription costs and then the maximum cost to them would be  a little more than $4000
        -- (The relatively few people in this terrible situation thank George Bush every night in their prayers; before George Bush passed Part D they would have been liable for the whole $20,000 or more),
        -- Less than 5% of seniors are involved in this situation at all.  
        --And oh by the way the donut hole is actually getting bigger after 2020 but I'm not going to try to explain that to you.

        4. The Medicare premiums may be small to you because as a government employee you didn't pay tens of thousands of dollars in Part A Medicare taxes for forty years.

        Hopefully in the school district that just kicked its retirees over to Medicare (you need a better union) you weren't a teacher.  Calling people ignorant is not a good way to teach, especially when you don't know the person you are talking to. Everything I have written above is on the Medicare web site. But I will cut you some slack because of your husband's medical condition.

  •  You are absolutely right (7+ / 0-)

    Let me tell you the BEST thing about turning 65 was access to Medicare.  I had spent the previous ten years only occasionally able to afford medical insurance.  Luckily, I'm healthy, and never had major problems, but turning 65 and being able to qualify for Medicare (and Medicare Supp) was unbelievably wonderful.  I don't worry anymore, and I know if I need care I can get it without bankrupting myself.  Medicare for all is the way to go, and I hope one day we will get there.  

    My aunt, by the way, lives in Switzerland, and at 87 just had to move out of her own apartment and into an assisted living home.  Boy what a difference from what we get here.  She has a beautiful single room with a view of the lake, she is cosseted by educated and knowledgeable nurses, physicians, and gerontologists, and treated in the most humane and respectful way.  Compared to what you get in an assisted living home or convalescent home here (where you weep just walking in the door to see a loved one treated the way many in such homes are here in the U.S.), it is unbelievable the difference in treatment.  No wonder Michelle Bachmann didn't want to give up Swiss citizenship until she had to!

  •  I Proposed Medicare for Sole Proprietors to the 08 (6+ / 0-)

    campaign and later the transition team. I felt it would put Republicans on the spot making them reluctant to vote against "business."

    I also felt it would be a jobs creator because so many people who moonlight can't leave employment to work for themselves full time because of health care.

    This would work all up and down the economic ladder. Every kind of work from child care, clothing alterations, home repairs, artists and craftpeople up thru white collar has moonlighters. There would be jobs of all levels opening up as those who took Personal Responsibility™ quit to self employ full time.

    In the last few days I've also proposed medicare buy-in for uninsured victims of mass shootings or really any kind of violence or accidents.

    I think we should consider musing about sympathetic demographics that we could propose adding to Medicare.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 04:54:37 PM PDT

    •  gun tax (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Williston Barrett
      in the last few days I've also proposed medicare buy-in for uninsured victims of mass shootings or really any kind of violence or accidents.
      How about a !000% tax on guns and ammo to cover the buy-in cost ?

      If a man claims to speak for god he will assure he is also gods' banker.

      by AuntieM on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 06:55:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As if there was a question about this. (0+ / 0-)

    This study should slap the Obama Administration upside the head for their foolish handling of health care reform.

    Want to know why there is a Democratic enthusiasm gap? Look no further than ACA. And for those that want to reply about the so-called wonderful benefits of ACA then why isn't the campaign running any ads touting it? They know they fucked up.

  •  yes, but... (0+ / 0-)

    who cares about metrics when you have PACs??

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 05:25:36 PM PDT

  •  Why is our government impotent unless (4+ / 0-)

    the 1% are getting their kickbacks and profiting.   Both Parties have a problem with this.   Neither is willing to act wholly in the interests of the 99% of all Americans unless the Wall St or CEO crowd or another lobbyist group gives them the OK.

    Medicare for all should be the goal.   Healthcare needs to have the overhead and management of insurance companies removed from the  cost structure.   They provide little or nothing of worth and add enormous costs.    

    We need to encourage whistle blowers in the system that can come forth and expose the corruption and mismanagement and fraud and there is much.   We also need top examine what works in other countries and begin to emulate it.  

    But the relatively few powerful wealthy people and bankers who  have undue clout over our politicians are known as the 1% and they oddly have the ability to stymie others.  

    Victims of bigotry are the poorest, least influential members of society.......never the wealthiest, most educated, most overrepresented in high levels, and most influential. Bigotry hurts the least influential. To claim or say otherwise is absurd.

    by dailykozzer on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 05:46:13 PM PDT

  •  And they do it (5+ / 0-)

    with a customer base that is uniformly old and sick. Can you imagine private insurance trying to function with the same set of conditions as Medicare?

    "A lie is not the other side of a story; it's just a lie."

    by happy camper on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 05:53:48 PM PDT

  •  Medicare is a great retirement program (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    congenitalefty

    The benefits one can count on receiving are life altering to the positive at least for most retirees.  No doubt this benefit has been worth about $100,000 so far for my mother, and that is not figuring in the cost of her previous insurance surely dropping her for or massively increasing rates for a silent heart attack and then minor stroke.  I just can not imagine what her insurance premium would be with these conditions if they would even insure her at all.
      so thats $100,000 she she did not have to deduct from her retirement savings and that is huge in terms of how she continues to conduct her life.
     God I hope its a program I will be able to use in 15 years. I doubt I will be able to save $200,000 to 300,000 I would need to replace it.

  •  I am a 66yo 3 time cancer patient for 8 years now. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JimWilson, Williston Barrett

    Chemo has caused heart attacks, seizures, stroke and TIA's. I live in constant neuropathic pain.

    A month after the amputation of my left arm, my insurance company canceled, after paying in for almost 30 years I had been in America. This left me to pay out-of-pocket for almost two years while SSI Disability agreed that amputation of my arm and cancer were indeed disabilities which qualified me for Social Security.

    Over $250K in medical/hospital bills took all my assets in those years, and my marriage. Until this stone age system becomes "single payer" with the leeches of the insurance companies removed and the greed of the drug companies reined-in the system will continue to make profit on the death of the unfortunate.

    Don't get me wrong. Medicare, when I finally qualified, was a godsend. Most of my docs (I have 5 specialists) accept the Medicare payment as their full fee. I have never received a bill for the difference in billing from a lab, and I have a blood test at least weekly. My docs are great, I live a full and satisfying life. I only wish that, for my children's sake, the dinosaurs of the right would just crawl back to the past and let the rest of us get on with a brighter future!

    Now I host KosAbility with Nurse Kelley on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons.

    Peace

    CJ

    Some people make you want to change species

    by ulookarmless on Wed Jul 25, 2012 at 11:50:56 PM PDT

  •  Really> You mean it's actually cheaper (0+ / 0-)

    without skimming off enough to gild the 2nd-best yacht?

    Who could have predicted?

    Don't let millionaires steal Social Security.
    I said, "Don't let millionaires steal Social Security!"

    by Leo in NJ on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 04:15:13 AM PDT

  •  Medicare worked for us (0+ / 0-)

    A couple of the previous commenters used the example of Medicare being secondary to a private policy.  So, I want to add our situation which is slightly different.
    When we turned 65, our private insurer specified that in order to continue coverage we needed to enroll in Medicare Part B (as well as the default Medicare Part A) and name Medicare as the primary provider.
    For a few years, my wife would complain occasionally about the amount deducted from her Social Security to pay for Medicare.  No more.
    While on a blood thinner, my wife developed a subdural hematoma - bleeding inside the skull but outside the brain.  It was serious by the time it was discovered and she had to be taken by helicopter (we live in a rural area) to the nearest trauma center 70 miles away.  That night, they removed a section of her skull and suctioned off the bleeding, cauterizing the leaking veins.  
    She was recovering well, when a few days later she had a stroke.  If you ever have a stroke, try to arrange for it to happen in a hospital, especially a trauma center.  The care she received was excellent and within a week, she was in a rehab facility for intensive physical, occupational, and speech therapy.  Now, she's home and in her third month of outpatient therapy.  Her recovery has been amazing.
    All through this, though, I had no need to worry about expenses as the doctors shuttled in and out of her room.  I cannot imagine the additional stress on families that aren't fortunate enough to have the coverage we have.
    I noticed a couple of things -
    The providers (hospitals and doctors) all charge a high amount, then Medicare set the approved fee much lower (about one third to one fourth the original bill) and paid 80%.  Our private insurance picked up the remaining 20%.
    Our total out of pocket was $42 for the wheel-chair taxi from the hospital to the rehab facility.
    Because Medicare was the primary payer and set the lower fee, the private insurance was saved significant bucks by only having to pay 20% of Medicare rates.
    (It left me wondering if those that want to privatize Medicare are really being paid by the hospitals because of Medicare's lower reimbursement rates.)
    I think that because we were fully covered, my wife's condition attracted lost of specialists.  She was seen daily by the intensive care specialist, the hospitalist, the neurosurgeon, the neurologist (different guy), the cardiovascular surgeon, and the cardiologist, as well as being evaluated several times by speech and physical therapists before any therapy started.
    After she was stable and well on the road to recovery, I took the time to comb through the medical bills, even though both insurers were covering everything.  I felt that I had a responsibility to assure that there weren't any duplicate or fraudulent charges - my small part in trying to Medicare costs low.
    We are not religious, so I don't have a deity to thank.  But I am thankful to all of those planners and politicians that put medical facilities and Medicare in place.

    . . . in dog we trust

    by don corazon on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 06:01:39 AM PDT

  •  Aetna CEO Twitter HORROR Story MUST READ! n/t (0+ / 0-)

    Read this entire thing, seriously.

    http://storify.com/...

    And note, towards the bottom, how the Aetna CEO @mtbert chastises a Stage IV cancer patient for not treating his capped, crap-surance health policy more like 'auto insurance'.

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