by Lloyd Streeter
An argument advanced, time and time again, by Democrats in their Town Halls is that Social Security and Medicare are successful government programs. “Therefore,” they say, “we should have government health insurance, also.” But both SS and Medicare are failures. Both of these forced government annuities are broke.
Why is Social Security a failure? First, because, if, at age 66, you had all of the money you paid to SS, plus interest, you would have far more than the average person ever collects from SS. And, you would still have enough money left over to purchase an annuity to give you a SS-like income after your savings is expired.
Secondly, remember, that you now pay 12.4% of your income to SS. That is equivalent to paying to SS one full year’s salary out of every eight. If a worker’s wages are less than $106,800.00 per year, and he works from age 20 through age 67, SS will take the equivalent of 100% of that worker’s wages for seven of those years. Imagine that! Seven years labor to pay for Social Security. Most people never draw out of SS the amount they paid, plus interest. Those who die before age 62 get nothing back from SS except $200 toward their funeral. Most men are dead before age 70. Those who die at age 70 will have received less than $100k on average. Women tend to live longer, but their average monthly payments from SS are less than what men receive.
Thirdly, there have been many cuts in SS, contrary to what politicians would have us believe. Survivor benefits have been cut. Full retirement age has been raised. Eighty percent of benefits are now taxed by the Federal government and by some State governments. Cost of living payments have been suspended for at least the next two years. These are all cuts. Politicians do not want to admit that these are cuts because anyone favoring cuts in SS would not be reelected. So, they have brought these cuts in through the back door.
And finally, SS is broke. No surprise, with all of the government abuse of this program. If the President and Congress cared as much about our seniors as they do about the irresponsible big banks, the radical false environmentalists, and the greedy automobile labor union executives, they would find money to rescue SS and Medicare.
Government’s mishandling of SS and Medicare is typical of the ineptitude and inefficiency of any government bureaucracy. It would not be any different with government run health insurance.
If the SS taxes had been saved and invested instead of raided and spent, how much better it would have been. Through the magic of compounding, the money paid into the system, over the 45-50 years of the average beneficiary’s working career, would have been so great that SS would be solvent, and no one would have found a reason to make cuts.
As it stands today, SS is certainly an example of poor government planning and poor government management. Government management of our health care would be even worse. It would be a disaster.
Medicare is a similar example of mismanagement. It is unfair to medical providers, approving only a fraction of the cost of treatments and diagnostics. The result is that Medicare patients and the taxpayers are the losers.
How are patients the losers?
- Patients may have trouble finding a doctor. Doctors, and other providers, are losing money on medicare patients. Therefore, some doctors will not take any more medicare patients. Probably all doctors will keep all of their patients who turn 65 and go on medicare. But, if the patient moves, or for any other reason, is looking for a new doctor, he may not be able to find one
- Medicare patients may not be able to go to the doctor of their choice. They can only go to a doctor who will agree to take them as patients.
- Medicare patients may not be able to get the tests, treatments, or surgeries that their doctor says they need. Medicare decides what procedures it will cover. Of course, private insurance companies also decide what procedures they will pay for, but these decisions must be according to the policy, and the patient can shop for the best policy. The Medicare patient does not have that option.
- There is another way that Medicare patients and all tax payers are the losers. When hospitals and other providers are forced to take less than the procedures cost, the real high cost is passed on to other insured patients, and, in the case of public hospitals, to the tax payers. This, in turn, drives up the premiums on all private health insurance. This premium busting cost is often overlooked. Indeed, the liberals are now using the cost of health insurance as an excuse for a “government option.” This is ironic because the Federal government is one of the biggest reasons for the high cost of private insurance.
And now, Mr. Obama is saying that he plans on helping to pay for government health insurance for all Americans by taking the “waste” out of Medicare, five hundred billion dollars of “waste.” By “waste,” he means those “unnecessary tests and procedures” that our doctors think we need to keep us alive and keep us walking. Obama and the liberals in Congress do not believe that seniors are worth the expense to the Medicare system (which the seniors bought and paid for). To Obama, it is a “waste” to keep these old, non-productive people alive.
The Federal government is breaking faith with its seniors. Social Security and Medicare are “bait and switch” programs because the rules have been changed in the middle of the game. These programs are not what seniors thought they would be, and not what seniors were told that they would be at the time that those seniors were forced into them.
These programs are no longer what seniors paid for. America is indeed turning its back on its seniors.
Now the liberals want the government to take over the entire health care insurance business and the entire health industry. Those liberals want a government panel to decide health care standards and treatments for the various “classes” of people. They want the government to have power to hand out penalties to individuals, employers, insurance companies, and providers that do not do as government wants. They want a Federal Health and Insurance Commissioner with enormous, unimaginable power.
If it becomes a reality, the “government option” and government health care program will be a bigger failure than Social Security and Medicare combined. (9/23/09)