Ryan's Medicare Proposal Is Another Scam to Swindle the Elderly

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

2012 election, behind the vote, election, health care, in the news, mitt romney, politics


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bills... billsfan1104

Since you admit you do not know what you are talking about with Medicare, why even write a blog about it??  No matter what, you hate Romney and Ryan.  You already made your feelings known.  Even if this plan was good, you would still hate it, because it didnt come from your King Obama. 


nonmember avatar Smart mom

Wait- I thought that Ryan wanted to keep the system the same for those 65 and older? Why are you distorting the truth here?

nonmember avatar RH

You also fail to mention medicare participants will have a choice between a voucher or medicare system as it is. This also doesn't affect anyone older than 55. I agree with billsfan1104 that you shouldn't write about something you know nothing about.

MomIWant MomIWant

"Why would our own government be a part of that treachery?" - it is.  Our Government IS swindling Medicare right now..is $700,000,000.00 being removed from Medicare not significant enough for you? 

You drape your concern of the elderly over your hatred of anything involving the Republican party. 

"Do our leaders care more about the financial deficit or the moral deficit our country faces?" Some actually think that being financially responsible, NOT spending money we DO NOT HAVE and continuing to borrow from China for today's benefits, is completely irresponsible and destructive to the PEOPLE of this country. 


Lulu425 Lulu425

What do you think Medicare ALREADY is? Medicare isn't some wonderful plan. While it provides seniors with health coverage, it comes with huge deductibles and co-payments. Under Medicare, seniors are NOT covered at 100%. The lucky ones who can afford it purchase an additional supplemental plan for an additional premium to cover the deductibles and copayments, and those who can't suffer financially. Medicare also doesn't cover medications, and seniors have to purchase an additional "Part D" for an additional premium for any sort of prescription coverage.

I don't know what magical fix you think the existing Medicare system is, but it's broken and seniors living entirely off social security are suffering. The voucher system would allow seniors to move towards a privatized system with better benefits of their own choosing.

Billsfan has a point -- if Obama had suggested this, would you support it?

Lulu425 Lulu425

"Patients become numbers, statistics, and actuarial data. Doctors and insurance companies see dollars. More energy is spent caring about money than caring about people."

Because health care isn't free. Someone has to pay for it. And yes, insurance companies see dollars. Doctors provide care, insurance companies pay for it. Your insurance company isn't prescribing you medication or putting a cast on your broken arm, they're PAYING FOR IT.

I don't get why lefties find it so hard to fathom that someone, somewhere, has to pay for all this medical care. Seniors need medical care, children need medical care, John Q. Public needs medical care. There's no infinite checkbook. America is pretty fucked right now and we're borrowing money we don't have. What happens when America can't subsidize anymore and Medicare goes under entirely because people who write shitty articles without researching first complained that moving to a privatized system was a bad move? Who's going to pay for Grandma's medical care then?


Lulu425 Lulu425

Where's Rightside when you need them?

bills... billsfan1104

I would like to also that at least Ryan is putting forth something. Is it perfect? Nope. But thats why its debated and discussed. But in todays politics it wont get that far.

LoveM... LoveMyViolet

Under Ryan's original plan, the government would give seniors an amount of money, in one form or another, to buy insurance on their own. Seniors would have had to pay for the difference between the cost of the insurance and the amount the government was willing to pay.

The problem was that his original plan saved money by limiting how quickly the voucher seniors would get to buy health care would grow. This meant that by 2030, seniors would have been responsible for 68% of the cost of their insurance, likely too much for most to afford.

Ryan has made significant alterations to his proposal. With Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, he produced a plan that more closely resembles Romney's (although he changed things again in his 2013 budget, which Wyden does not support).

Instead of tying the amount of the voucher to an arbitrary increase in the future, it would be tied to how much insurance costs. Each year, companies will submit bids for how much it will cost to provide insurance for a senior that year. The voucher would then be set at the price of the second-lowest bid. In other words, seniors could get the second-cheapest plan for very little. If they chose the cheapest plan, they would actually get a rebate. If they want anything more expensive, they would have to pay for the difference

LoveM... LoveMyViolet

With respect to Medicaid, Ryan would like to get the federal government less involved. He wants to convert the current program, where benefits are set at the federal level, and costs are shared between the federal and state governments, to one in which states are given far more flexibility to set benefits, and a block grant payment with which to pay for them. Savings to the federal government would come from drastically cutting the amount of money they will give states in the future. The only way states would be able to provide insurance to Medicaid recipients on way less money would be if they reduced the benefits or the number of beneficiaries.

If benefits aren't cut, and already low provider reimbursements aren't further reduced, then by 2021 about 19 million people will need to be dropped from coverage. Many of those covered by Medicaid are very poor elderly people, or those who are blind or disabled. If states acted to preferentially protect those groups from cuts, then 27 million other people, many of them children and pregnant women, would be dropped from Medicaid.

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