What’s beautiful about the Medicare Advantage program is that it has provided us with a real-life laboratory experiment which allows us to compare the functioning of highly-regulated private insurance plans as contrasted with the functioning of a public insurance program: traditional Medicare. The results are in, though that would be tough to ascertain if you simply observe the response of Congress.
What have we learned? The private plans take away the choice of health care providers that the traditional public program offers. The private plans insert intrusive interventions between the patient and the physician – interventions that are not found in the public plans. Private plans divert more resources to excessive, wasteful administrative services while increasing the administrative burden on the health care providers and on the public stewards who must provide oversight of our tax dollars that are diverted to this industry. Private plans also provide more entry points for the criminal element to cheat the taxpayers, patients, and providers. And for this we are paying far more of our tax dollars than we do in the traditional Medicare program for comparable levels of care. The obvious lesson is that we should dump the private plans.
What has Congress learned? They have decided that we should provide more subsidies to the private plans so that they can expand their markets!? And they have apparently decided that we will not even have a genuine public plan because it would provide unfair competition to the private plans because of Medicare’s greater efficiency and lower costs!?
It is true that a fragmented, multi-payer system is much more expensive and much less equitable, leaving too many exposed to suffering and financial hardship. But our Medicare Advantage experiment has demonstrated that it is the private plans that must be jettisoned, and it is Medicare that must be granted to everyone after modest, appropriate reengineering so that it works even better than it does now.
We need to send this urgent message to Congress and the administration, immediately:
IT’S THE INSURANCE COMPANIES, STUPID!
Read it all at PNHP