I am not well versed in the inner workings of Medicare. I do know that the plan, like all things related to health care and health insurance, needs some tweaking. We face an aging population and swelling health care needs. There is always room for improvement. What strikes me most about the terminology we use is the irony; there is very little focus on “care” when it comes to all things health related. Patients become numbers, statistics, and actuarial data. Doctors and insurance companies see dollars. More energy is spent caring about money than caring about people. And now we’ve come to a point in our country where our choices can impact the most vulnerable among us, the elderly. I encourage you to read what the Brookings Institute has to say on the issue of Medicare reform.
I am not here as an insurance expert, but as I write about the topic of Medicare from a lay perspective, I cannot help but cringe at the thought of a voucher system. Something about this system seems sketchy to me. We continue to implement consumer compromises in an effort to reduce costs, but have yet to hold insurance companies accountable. Unfortunately, there are no lobbyists for regular people, and we don’t have the muscle to throw our weight around Congress.
The voucher system sounds good on paper alone. It does not take into account realistic increases in health care costs that seniors would have to pay out of pocket. The plan on paper would have you think seniors would actually make money by pocketing the difference between coverage and actual costs. The truth is, coverage would be eroded over time as health care costs and premiums rise.
There are no guarantees.
Vouchers are supposed to fuel competition. There is still no solid evidence on how that plays out. The crux of the challenge continues to be the insurance companies. How can we ensure they are regulated and not participating in deceptive practices? The fleecing of the elderly is rampant in all things financial. I spent almost 10 years working in the financial services industry and worked a great deal with the elderly population. Policies, tax codes, investments, and such are confusing to the most knowledgeable among us. The complexity is simply mind-numbing and exponentially so for many seniors.
This is how I see it from a purely human perspective ... We are talking about one of our country’s most vulnerable populations here. There are stories in the news everyday about people who try to swindle the elderly. Why would our own government be a part of that treachery? We are talking about 50 million Americans here. Not numbers, not statistics. People. The question to ask is this: Do our leaders care more about the financial deficit or the moral deficit our country faces? We must take care of our people.
This post is part of a weekly conversation with our Moms Matter 2012 political bloggers. To see the original question and what the other writers have to say, see Should Medicare Be Replaced by Subsidies?
Image via James McTaggart