About That Efficient Medicare

Medicare is wonderfully efficient. It spends so much less on administration than those evil … what was that?

Much has been said about the growing gap between the program’s spending and revenues — a gap that will widen as baby boomers retire — but little attention has been focused on a problem staring us in the face: Medicare spends a fortune each year on procedures that have no proven benefit and should not be covered.

Read the whole thing. Medicare routinely pays for diagnostic tests at ages long past when those tests are useful and procedures that have been shown to have limited effectiveness. They are estimating that Medicare spends between $75 and $150 billion unnecessarily. I have no idea how this overlaps with the $50-100 billion they spend on fraud. Let’s just take a happy medium — say that fraud and waste cost the taxpayers $100 billion a year, 20% of Medicare’s budget. That’s what we get for those “low administrative costs” (which aren’t really so low).

Only part of this waste is from a lack of review. Another part is because Congress simply refuses to do anything about it. And the Democrats are already trying to disable the cost controls Obamacare put into the Medicare system. Less than a year later and they’re weaseling out of any restraint on how much healthcare seniors can use. As is usual these days, the media reports this problem as “unexpected” even though people like me (and the CBO) totally expected it.

Ezra Klein ran a graphic the other day showing that all the world’s socialized medical systems spend less than we do. But this is only true because those nations — which are much smaller and have more centralized authority — have the guts to actually ration care. Our Congress has demonstrated no such ability and its doubtful that they can. America is not Europe.

I’ve said for a while now that the most dangerous thing about government healthcare isn’t that it will ration care; the most dangerous thing is that it won’t and will drive us to bankruptcy. Well, looks like we’re headed down that path.

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  1. Kimpost

    Rationing is a loaded term pretty much wherever you go. It’s certainly a term politicians here would avoid using, except maybe while demonizing political opponents.

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