Before I begin, my owner’s rules still apply. Be polite, or your reply won’t be posted or if it slips through and does an autopost, I’ll delete it, K? If you need to review those rules, see the first two posts in this blog.
Now, on to this topic. Recently I tweeted a question about a public option for Medicare. The Tweet was as follows:
In business volume = profit; If private citizens had the OPTION to join Medicare, wouldn’t that up the number of users and make profitable?
I guess I was a bit unclear in that and subsequent tweets, and that’s when I realized this needs to be discussed here, on a blog post. Here goes.
First and foremost, Medicare is a social insurance program administered by the United States government, providing health insurance coverage to people who are aged 65 and over, or who meet other special criteria. It is NOT the same as Medicaid, which is the United States health program for people and families with low incomes and resources. It is a program that is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, and is managed by the states. I need to make that clear: I have no desire, intent, or thoughts on Medicaid. I’m wondering about Medicare.
Second, I was NOT advocating changes to the CURRENT Medicare clients’ eligibility. I was not saying I think we should increase the price of Medicare to our seniors, who are mostly on fixed incomes, and who seem to be seeing their income power dwindling. Remember, although Danny and I are painfully aware that we are better off than most Americans, neither of us are without empathy to those who don’t have our resources – because growing up, neither of us did, and our siblings still don’t! We see our parents worrying about what’s going to happen to them just as much as we worry about our own futures. Certainly my brothers and I will do whatever it takes for Dad, and certainly Danny and his siblings will do whatever needs to be done for his parents – but we also don’t want their pride to take a hit. Moms and Dads expect to take care of their kids, and I don’t care if they’re 30 or 80. When I bring a gift to Dad for no reason – maybe a new sweater or some homemade apple butter, he still tries to reimburse us (when he’s lucid, but that’s a whole other topic that I respectfully ask you not to bring up. Thank you.). It’s what parents do.
So let’s talk about Medicare. Let’s talk about opening it up as an OPTION to all individuals.
NOTE: I will now stop emphasizing OPTION with all caps. Do NOT reply with a post about how I’m a socialist and am trying to force everyone to socialized medicine. I’m not saying that. I’m saying OPTION if you WANT to join.
My understanding is that small businesses want to become big businesses because volume is the way to increase efficiency in systems. I remember that from my days of retail while working my way through college. In a nutshell, the more people you have coming in the door, the lower your overhead becomes. You have to pay for the same amount of electricity if you have 20 customers or 200 customers, so getting 200 through the door means the bill gets paid with more left over at the end of the day.
So if more people were eligible for/buying into Medicare, wouldn’t that make it more efficient? Wouldn’t that mean there would be money left over?
If so, because it’s a government program – and so not trying to turn a profit, couldn’t we lower the costs to all members? Or increase the threshold at which a member is carried without personal cost? Wouldn’t that mean we could start increasing current benefits and getting rid of the Part B plans our parents have to carry?
Danny mentioned another interesting thought – currently Medicare is for seniors only. If younger, less physically worn out people were joining, wouldn’t that also make Medicare more efficient and so less costly to the paying members?
I know from my experience, as I age, I get more and more times the doctor says, “We need to talk.” For instance, I am at my correct BMI. I don’t smoke. I tend to eat out as little as possible and then only at local establishments using local ingredients because I want to keep my sodium levels as low as possible. We don’t use packaged, boxed dinners. We cook from the garden or whole foods. We work out for 60-90 minutes, 5-7 days per week. And still, my blood pressure has crept higher and higher, just like my brothers’, and just like Mom’s. We’re simply wired for high blood pressure as we age. When I was 30, there was no problem. As I’ve aged, I’ve needed a prescription, and a closer eye from the doctor. That costs me and the system money.
And we all know about the added tests that come our way as we get older. All those things cost money, but if those costs were offset by a whole load of 25 year olds who were just starting their careers, so they wanted to have insurance for sports injuries, but not much else, then wouldn’t that be a good thing? Wouldn’t the entire country benefit if more small businesses could afford to hire someone full-time because Medicare was an option for them to use as insurance? And wouldn’t more people decide to take that dream job in the small business, following their passion because they could get affordable insurance through Medicare?