Keelan: Medicare for all? Not so fast

By Don Keelan

It was only a few years ago that presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders was advocating that the country adopt a Medicare for All concept, eliminating all private insurance plans.

The concept was that the federal government would be the sole provider of health insurance for all Americans. It would be an expansion of the existing Medicare coverage, which currently covers approximately 60 million seniors.

So not to be outdone, almost all of the other 23 Democratic presidential primary candidates have signed on to eliminate the private health insurance market and have Washington take it over.

Don Keelan

The rationale for this is that it will lower the cost of health insurance for the 180 million Americans who obtain their coverage through private insurance carriers, and eliminate the high deductibles and costly out-of-pocket expenses. Added to which, the 30 million uninsured would be provided health insurance.

In advocating for such a drastic change, the proponents advance that everyone who now has private coverage will continue to be able to use their present health care provider, chose any hospital they wish for care, and have drug prescription costs that will be far less than what they are currently paying.

What all this implies is that the 2010 Affordable Health Care Act is not working and needs to be scrapped.

What puzzles me is that, out of a country of 330 million, we are about to go to great lengths to provide insurance for the 30 million who do not have any coverage. Why not just focus on this group?

Rarely does this writer introduce personal information when preparing a column, but in this instance I believe it is necessary, and I hope helpful.

My wife and I, both well into our 70s, have been Medicare enrollees for many years. Contrary to popular belief, it is not inexpensive to be enrolled. For example, our combined annual out of pocket cost for the insurance payments in 2018 came to $11,217.

How was this figured?

The amount taken directly out of our Social Security payments was $4,812. The cost of supplemental insurance with Continental and Progressive was $4,995. The cost of prescription drug insurance was $1,410. The total came to $11,217.

Even with this annual cost, Medicare and the supplemental insurance companies balked at paying the total billings from providers. Furthermore, the prescription insurance does not cover the full cost either.

But it gets better. On a recent visit to the hospital by my wife for a six-month blood draw ordered by her doctor, the hospital check-in attendant was taking an inordinate amount of time. When I had asked her why, her response was, “We are checking with Medicare to see if they will approve and pay for the test.” They did. It was just for a simple blood test but required pre-approval.

There are serious issues with the country’s health care system. One of the most perplexing is cost. The same hospital we went to for the blood test announced last year that it must update their Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems at a cost of $25 million. This makes no sense for a hospital that is certified for about 90 beds.

The state’s largest hospital, UVM Medical Center, is looking at a price tag of $151 million to convert its EMR. Other hospitals around the country have spent hundreds of millions, if not billions, to abide by the federal mandate to have EMR.

Getting the federal government to become the sole provider of insurance (“Medicare for All”) makes great campaign rhetoric, but in reality, makes no sense — not until we, as a country, get the cost of health care under control. Having Washington be the sole insurance provider is ridiculous, especially since not one of the 24 Democratic Party candidates is capable of showing what it will cost.

And of course, no one has the courage to address the elephant in the room — the absolute need to adopt medical, dental, and prescription rationing. It is a delicate topic that no one wishes to address.

Don Keelan writes a bi-weekly column and lives in Arlington, Vermont.

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11 thoughts on “Keelan: Medicare for all? Not so fast

  1. The Medicare-for-all proposed by Bernie-ites is illusory – iow *it doesnt exist*. Medicare is not free – 80% is paid-for – remaining must be paid by individuals receiving services, or a supplemental which due to Medicaid expansion sometimes includes low income seniors, esp in VT.

    Medicaid is Medicaid bc workers have paid into it *all of working life* and only eligible for those 65 and older regardless of whether Social Security benefits are also collected. Therefore cannot exist w/o this criterion.

    Does not include many of the costly services in ACA and even Medicaid used by seniors for long term care is costly and results in seizure/forfieture of property and finances. But the leftists don’t tell us that.

    Even with Medicaid for those qualified I’m appalled by the number of seniors I know who have had to sell or have lost homes and moved in w/children or low-income Section 8 housing.

    And the other ‘industrialized nations’ Bernie crows about – and as all good card-carryings Marxists lies like a rug – who supposedly have ‘free health care for all’ doesn’t exist either. Its paid for by all residents whether citizens or not from cradle to grave by a hefty VAT aka Value Added Tax – pls note its Orwellian-sounding name.

    Beware of leftists bearing free healthcare for all.

    • Corrections: Medicare is Medicare not Medicaid is Medicaid
      Should be:Even with Medicare for those qualified

  2. You see, Bernie’s plan for free Medicare for all didn’t fly. That’s why his new trial baloon is the cancelation of college loans in an effort to get the melliniels on board. Wonder what he’ll come up with next when that one pops.

  3. I wish I could contact Don through E Mail but it seems not available!! Don you do such a great job with your columns, thank you!!

  4. 2 months ago burnee was saying we can’t afford to support all the
    illegal invaders that swarming the boarder. Now he say’s we need
    to pay for free insurance for any that invade our boarders for the
    gravy train. My how his tune has changed…Does burnee explain
    why Canadians who can’t get the care they need end up coming to
    the US as they can’t wait the 6 mos’ needed with failed gov care?
    Or the people that go with out. I don’t see any great exodus to commie
    and socialist countries that have “free” health care.. they all jump our
    borders…

  5. Wow, if Canada, China, Indonesia, ALL of Europe, and most of South America can do it why, why, why can’t this country?

    • Because we vote, and we voted against the Progressives who tried to nationalize health care because we couldn’t keep our doctor, we couldn’t keep the health care plan we’d negotiated with our insurer, it didn’t save us money, the deductibles were astronomical (so we paid for our own health care anyway) and it went bankrupt despite sucking many billions of dollars out of Medicare, other social programs, and never repaid the Treasury the five billion startup money which it was obligated by law to repay from the amount of money it saved. It was implemented in Progressive desperation despite every rational thinker (but not the stupid voters cited by Gruber) understanding that it was not economically feasible – something other countries that have it are finding out, but it’s much easier to jump into that hole than it is to get out of it – e.g. Venezuela. As a nation, we are reluctant to forego freedom of the individual to trust, instead, in the collective which “lives” only at the expense of the individuals supporting it who become serfs dependent upon the government. The VA medical plan shows you how well Government manages health care.

    • They don’t do it, and if you did your homework, instead of listening to liberal nonsense you would know that. — The only people what this are those who want other people to pay their way in life.

  6. This was an interesting episode of the Bob Murphy Show on alternatives to socialized medicine. Dr. Keith Smith mentions how Vermonters are more hamstrung than those in other states.

  7. Sanders and the rest of the democrats fail to admit that medicare costs 2.9% of everyone’s income from their first job until they reach 65 (and continues if they work).

    At that point they get 80% of hosiptal costs for a limited time, usually about 3 months. If they pay for part B covering 80% of everything else, it costs at least $135 a month, and then there are around $500-600 in deductibles that must be met every year before Medicare pays anything. Drugs, dental, vision are not covered at all, unless pay hundreds more on your own for a supplemental plan.

    The total cost per person who does not have medical problems probably averages out to $3000 – 4000 per person, per year over a lifetime for 80% coverage. Now multiply that by the 330 million people in the US, and you get a minimum cost for a national 80% coverage program, minus dental, drugs and vision.

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