Republicans won’t come out and say it, and neither will Democrats. But there is no way to solve American’s deficit problems simply by cutting Medicare.
The American health care system is corrupt and broken and unsustainable, because it is controlled and driven by profits – and nothing else. No other county in the world has a profit-based health care system, and there is good reason for that.
Health care does not fit the standard business model for capitalism. For one thing, unlike other forms of insurance, like auto or homeowners, it is not required by law in many instances. Additionally, you are not likely to die if you don’t buy car insurance, but you might if you don’t have health insurance.
So what we have in America is a health care system that puts health insurance and drug companies in charge of the fate of every American. They decide how much a policy costs, what it covers, what it doesn’t, and who they will sell one to. Those decisions are essentially based on the statistical odds of specific groups of people who are less likely to use their insurance, which makes their policies more profitable. It is the same formula used to determine auto insurance rates on good drivers, and homes in areas prone to hurricanes.
When it comes to driving profits, drug companies may be even worse. They hold the cures for what the doctors diagnose. If a pill can mean the difference between life and death, most people will pay whatever the price – if they can.
The capitalist laws of supply and demand do not work with prescription drugs. Some medications with enormous medical benefits might be relatively inexpensive to produce, yet carry a high price tag. It's strictly about numbers, not caring for the sick.
Obamacare was an attempt to rein in costs while appeasing lobbyists by creating a nationwide pool of both healthy and unhealthy customers for private insurance companies to cover. By using premiums from those less likely to need care to offset the costs of covering people with serious, long-term conditions, insurers can still make a profit. If they can’t, they just keep raising premiums until they do. And that is the problem in a nutshell.
As America’s population ages and more people have jobs that do not offer health insurance coverage, the system gets more and more out of balance. The only way for insurance companies to maintain their profit margins with more sick people in the "pool" is to keep raising premiums.
Over time, more people find that they can’t afford insurance. When they get sick or injured, they end up going bankrupt paying for care, passing the cost on to others as indigents, or they don’t get any care at all, which in some cases is fatal.
Despite what many believe, America has the worst case of health care rationing in the civilized world, because it is distributed entirely on the basis of money.
People with high-paying jobs or those that include health insurance benefits get to see a doctor when they need one. Other's don't.
The elderly have Medicare. The very poor can get care through Medicaid, if they qualify in their state and they can find a doctor who will accept it. But there are so many cracks to fall through when it comes to health insurance, some 44 million of Americans simply do without.
The American health insurance industry is enormous and a major player in the US economy.
“Spending on hospital visits, medications and other health care rose an estimated 3.9 percent in 2011 and consumed about 17.9 percent of GDP, the same as the previous two years… The increases in such expenditures will continue to outpace economic growth projections, jumping 7.4 percent in 2014,” according to Business Week.
Health care costs do not continue to rise because there is limited supply and an increase in demand, as the standard rules of capitalism would dictate. They rise because the insurance and drug companies want more profits.
Following the 2008 Wall Street financial meltdown and during the height of the ensuing recession, health insurers maintained a consecutive string of yearly record-breaking profits. While millions of Americans lost their jobs and their homes, pharmaceutical companies and health insurers filled their pockets with cash.
As budget talks and deficit reduction plans drag on in Washington, it seems that the political forces tugging at different ends of the problem are completely missing the target.
Much like a misdiagnosed disease that cannot be cured with the wrong treatment, cutting Medicare benefits will never be enough to control costs. There is simply no way to cap the eternally ascending spiral as long as the enitre health care system is being driven by nothing but profits.
Either America becomes a third-world country when it comes to medical care for its citizens, or the federal government runs the health insurance system in a Medicare-for-all type model.
Universal government-run health care is not socialism, it's just smart business, as more than 180 other capitalist countries and the relatively efficient Medicare systems have proven.
Wall Street wheelers and dealers make terrible bankers and even worse pseudo-doctors.